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Last 50 reviews
 Zones by HAWKWIND album cover Live, 1983
2.32 | 34 ratings

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Zones
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This is a weird old odds-and-sods collection from Hawkwind. Side 1 comes from two sources in December 1980 - the Lewisham Odeon gig gives us Dust of Time (misnamed here as The Island) and Motorway City, whilst the three preceding tracks (or rather, two tracks plus a brief intro) were recorded in a mobile studio in the same month. Flip over to side B, and we've jumped forward two years to an October gig on the Choose Your Masques tour.

Whilst this might have been useful when Zones first came out, subsequent releases have left it entirely redundant. Though not from the same gig, Coded Languages gives us a full live set from the 1982 tour recorded somewhat after side B here, and incorporating all of its material. Meanwhile, the 3CD rerelease of Levitation includes the most complete version of the Lewisham 1980 gig yet, including live runthroughs of the two studio pieces here (Running Through My Back Brain and Dangerous Vision) which are more than satisfactory substitutes for the studio material here.

Still, the album cover is very pretty.

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 This is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic by HAWKWIND album cover Live, 1984
3.32 | 30 ratings

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This is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Don't let the cover of This Is Hawkwind - Do Not Panic deceive you; only the last two tracks actually hail from Hawkwind's 1984 performance at the Stonehenge Free Festival. The remainder all come from a December 1980 concert at the Lewisham Odeon on the Levitation tour - hence the presence of Ginger Baker on drums. That material is solid, though you only get extracts from the concert here. (Other bits would emerge on the Hawkwind Anthology series and on the Zones collection of odds and sods.) If you are interested in that concert, I'd say you are much better off getting the 3CD expanded rerelease of Levitation, since the two bonus CDs there offer the most complete official release of that gig extant and the remaster reveals the Levitation-era band on top form.

Overall rating: 2 stars for the rather poor Stonehenge recordings, 4 stars for the Lewisham material, so I'd say this comes to 3 stars on average (whereas the nearly-complete version of the Lewisham material on the Levitation reissue would come to, say, 4.5 stars).

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 BBC  Radio 1 Live by HAWKWIND album cover Live, 1991
3.20 | 28 ratings

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BBC Radio 1 Live
Hawkwind Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Stardate: 28th September, 1972. The personnel of starship Hawkwind disembark at the Paris Theatre in London to deliver a live set, with the BBC there to record it. Over subsequent years numerous bootlegs of the set circulate until in 1991 Windsong finally issue the concert in mono. However, the version of the gig occasionally broadcast on the radio is clearly in stereo. Debate rages as to which is the definitive version; the mono CD release, which is unedited but has poorer sound quality, or the stereo "Broadcast" mix which has superior sound quality but a number of edits (mostly minor, but a big chunk is dug out of Brainstorm).

Thankfully, EMI have stepped into reissue the set under the title of At the BBC - 1972, with new cover art. This 2CD release not only includes both the mono and stereo versions of the set, but also includes two songs recorded for a Johnnie Walker session the previous month. For my money, I value the higher sonic quality of the stereo mix over the sometimes muffled completism of the mono mix, but thanks to EMI we now don't need to choose between one or the other.

So, how's the material itself? Well, this was some three months before the Space Ritual recordings, so if you've heard that, you've got a good idea of what this is like. Perhaps less crushingly heavy than Space Ritual itself, and perhaps catching a few more subtle textures, At the BBC stands alongside Leave No Star Unturned, the expanded Greasy Truckers Party reissue and Space Ritual itself as a crucial live document of Hawkwind during the magical year of 1972 where all the constellations pointed in the right direction for them and they truly cemented their legend. Not as essential as Space Ritual, but if you love that album you'll probably dig this too.

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 Dream Object 5 by EX-VAGUS album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.61 | 10 ratings

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Dream Object 5
Ex-Vagus Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Ex-Vagus is a Swiss five-piece formation rooted in 1996, their musical goal was to blend progressive rock and French vocals. The information about Ex-Vagus mentions : "the band joins together five authors and creators in a permanent creativity, having for 'Leitmotiv' the systematic association of the visual world with the auditive world, from where principal will to dramatize their music". Ex-Vagus concretized this artistic line by creating two rock opera's (Par Dela Les Legendes from 2000 and Seconde Lumière from 2000) calling upon original lights creations, a particular scenography and external actors. Ex-Vagus produced an EP, a demo CD, 3 studio albums, a live CD and was the support-act for progrock bands Ange, Barclay James Harvest, Focus, The Watch and Ars Nova.

Well, I can write the same about their fourth album Dream Object (2009) but there's one big difference: the vocals are in English, pretty good but you can hear the accent. In my opinion the reason to change from French to the English language is a better understanding of the interesting lyrics: about dark subjects like the sea pollution, the corrupted power and the native indian genocide, the band welcomes us on their musical trip. During that trip we can enjoy seven compositions that deliver a lot of tension and compelling atmospheres, topped by inspired vocals that give an extra dimension to the often dramatic music. In fact Ex-Vagus their music sounds as a dark modern rock-opera with many inventive musical ideas and excellent work on keyboards and guitars.

Exciting interplay between a distorted electric guitar and organ in Trash Vortex.

A strong build-up from dreamy with acoustic guitar and soaring keyboards to a compelling climate with tight drums and a powerful guitar solo in Lostaway.

An ominous atmosphere with an aggressive undertone in The Conqueror's Weapons.

From mellow to a slow rhythm with a fiery guitar solo and slow synthesizer runs in Some Fallen Dust.

Great dynamics and a sensational break with heavy guitar riffs and exciting sumptuous keyboards in Stravinsky's Gondola.

And cascades of shifting moods in the very dramatic and cynical One Upon A Dime.

The long final composition is in the great tradition of the epic early Marillion songs featuring a lot of tension between the dreamy and bombastic parts, moving electric guitar, lush keyboards and dramatic vocals and a compelling conclusion delivering emotional vocals and howling guitar runs, goose bumps!

I conclude that this second Ex-Vagus is superior to their previous efforts, but you have to be up to the very special, slightly theatrical vocals (with an obvious accent).

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 Diablo by MAXWELL'S DEMON album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.67 | 18 ratings

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Diablo
Maxwell's Demon Heavy Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars This is an interesting musical project from the USA featuring keyboard player Graig Beebe and guitarist John Galbraith as the beating heart of the band. In 2001 Maxwell's Demon released their debut album entitled Prometheus, then we had to wait eight years for the successor named Diablo (2010). This second album features Graig and John, along a rhythm-section and as guest musicians a classical guitarplayer and a string quartet. On the band their website I read about the impressive vintage gear, from the Hammond organ with Leslie speaker, Minimoog - , Prophet V - and Oberheim synthesizers to a Rickenbacker bass, Gibson ' and Fender guitars and Moog Taurus bass pedals, wow, mouthwatering!

Now about the music, that sounds as a blend of many styles, with a lot of variation and an adventurous mind. The one moment it's 24-carat symphonic rock like Swedish Anglagard (compelling with Hammond, Moog and Mellotron a fat Moog Taurus bass pedal sound and some classical guitar) or fiery and propulsive like Red-era King Crimson (growling bass and soaring Mellotron choirs). The other moment the sound is more experimental like Larks' Tongues In Aspic- era King Crimson featuring captivating interplay between violins and percussion, avant-garde overtones and chamber music with a genuine string quartet (duelling with the Mellotron choirs and violins, not average prog, to say the least). The hints to legendary Classic Prog bands are obvious, but Maxwell's Demon have succeeded to blend these elements with strong own musical ideas, embellished with an awesome vintage keyboard sound.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 El Vuelo de los Olvidados by CANTURBE album cover Studio Album, 1980
2.96 | 12 ratings

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El Vuelo de los Olvidados
Canturbe Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Truth to be told, I didn't even know this Argentinan band a couple of hours ago. What makes me want to review this album - that I was just listening to from YouTube as a background listening for working - is the fact that there's only one rather unfavourable review. Apps79's objective description of the music actually isn't anything I would strongly disagree, but to me two stars feels a bit hard for such a pleasant album like this. "Anyone expecting the participation of [keyboardist Charly] Garcia would made a huge impact will be extremely dissapointed, as the album contains sporadic and very mellow keyboard colors throughout", he writes. Well, I had no expectations of any kind, and because of the low ratings I was prepared to change once again the haphazardly PA-picked Crossover Prog band in the Tube. I was happily delighted during my listening.

Yes, there's a strong ballad atmosphere on most tracks. But I find the album entity also dynamic enough to recommend it for anyone interested to hear mellow late-70's prog sung in Spanish. Something not so every-day stuff, right? The lead vocals of Jorge Garacotche are tender and clean, a bit like Don McLean on his highest, and the harmonies work well. The instrumentation favours acoustic guitar, and I wonder if this could be categorized as Prog Folk as well. On some songs piano does a great effect as the lead instrument. There's also at least one instrumental track (understandably I can't go into track-by-track details as I'm listening the album from YouTube).

The key word is mellowness, no doubt of that. Forget this if you're searching for edgy and complex prog. If you're fond of soft, pastoral and emotionally oriented Crossover or folk-oriented prog with light arrangements, I bet you'll have lots to enjoy here. 3½ stars rounded upwards.

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 Beyond Belief by AZURE AGONY album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.13 | 5 ratings

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Beyond Belief
Azure Agony Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Azure Agony, this unknown italian progressive metal band started in 2006 and released their debut in 2010 named Beyond belief. This is an etirely instrumental album and a quite good one from start to finish. The music doesn't differ much from Dream Theater school, with keyboards and guitars running all the time and some fine druming aswell. The music is from up tempo to slow, but always Azure Agony done a good job, they shifting from mellow parts to up tempo with an amazing ease, always capture the attention of the listner. I don't find at all the pieces and song writting uninspired as many pretend to be, maybe originality lacks, but the musicianship and ideas overall are quite strong. Pieces like Mystic Interiors , Ante Tentora, ets showing potential in the band ability to craft some strong tunes. From me 3.5 stars for sure, I find it enjoyble from start to finish, I must add that is diffrent from their second offer who has vocals. Keyboard driven prog metal with a good doze of guitar works, from prog metal fans.

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 Esoteric Malacology by SLUGDGE album cover Studio Album, 2018
5.00 | 1 ratings

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Esoteric Malacology
Slugdge Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by javajeff

— First review of this album —
5 stars They advertise an unnatural interest in gastropods, but there is nothing unnatural about it. A group and albums concept based in nature. The music is some of the best progressive black metal ever created. Every album is phenomenal, and there is no reason not to give the first three a shot since they are free on Bandcamp. I opted to support the band by buying a compilation of the first three albums called The Cosmic Cornucopia. Esoteric Malacology has more Progressive Metal elements and may be softer than the previous three, but preserves the incredible harmonies, excellent musicianship, and stellar songwriting. I find their music to be addicting high energy, and I can easily listen to all four albums in one sitting at work or on the go. Anyone that craves heavier music should definitely give them a listen. From War Squids to Limo Vincit Omnia, there is plenty of prog for progressive ears.

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 Sleepers In The Rift by MORBUS CHRON album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.87 | 4 ratings

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Sleepers In The Rift
Morbus Chron Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Sleepers in the Rift" is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Morbus Chron. The album was released through Pulverised Records in August 2011. Morbus Chron hails from Stockholm and were formed in 2007. They released the "Splendour of Disease" demo in 2010 and the "Creepy Creeping Creeps" EP later that same year. "Sleepers in the Rift" was recorded and mixed in 5 days in November 2010 at Gutterview Recorders and produced by Morbus Chron and Nicke Andersson (Entombed, The Hellacopters).

The choice of one of the forefarthers of Swedish death metal as co-producer and the choice to record and mix "Sleepers in the Rift" in 5 days, have payed off big time for Morbus Chron, who has ended up with a pretty great product. The basis of the music is old school Swedish death metal with an authentic, raw, and organic sounding production, which brings exactly the right atmosphere to the music. While that all sounds tried and true, Morbus Chron still manages to put their own spin on the sound though, and "Sleepers in the Rift" is therefore slightly more interesting than your average old school Swedish death metal release. To some extent Morbus Chron have more in common with the darker and slightly more twisted Norwegian death metal style of the early 90s, and artists like early Cadaver and early Darkthrone, than they have with the contemporary Swedish scene. I hear a nod or two toward Autopsy too.

So they have that ekstra something, which is required to stand out on the scene, and the fact that the music is well performed (the growling vocals are performed in a shouting reverb laden style, which suits the music well), and as mentioned above, well produced too, aren´t exactly issues either. All things considered "Sleepers in the Rift" reeks class, and although there is still space for improvement in the songwriting department when it comes to catchiness and memorability, it´s still a very interesting album as it is. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

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 Aja by STEELY DAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.17 | 260 ratings

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Aja
Steely Dan Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars By now, most everyone has probably heard this album, either partially or completely. To review this album again is almost like repeating everything everyone else has already said about it. It is a gem, the perfect pinnacle for Steely Dan's career as a group and a homage to two great jazz rock greats, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker. They did have some great material before this album and even after, but nothing matches the perfection of this album. And the amazing thing is, you listen to it and it all seems so effortless. That could have been part of the trouble prior to this album, in that not every album was consistently as good as this one turned out to be, that maybe they were trying too hard.

The jazz is smooth, mostly, and the music is very catchy. The tunes stay in your head, even the instrumental parts. You can search Steely Dan's discography, and yes you will find some great music, but the closest thing you will come to that compares to this album is Donald Fagen's "The Nightfly". This album set the bar for me as far as jazz rock is concerned, and the title track "Aja" set the standard for individual jazz/rock songs. What a perfect song, plenty of smoothness and progressiveness, a perfect blend of both. Trying to describe the title track is impossible, it must be heard and re-heard to appreciate it.

There are other great songs here including "Deacon Blues" with it's amazing sax-led instrumental sections, the somewhat funky "Black Cow" and "Josie", the lilting piano hook of "Home at Last", it's all good. There is quite a line up of jazz musicians contributing to this album also, and even with this many players, everything sounds so cohesive. Even Michael McDonald's supporting and background vocals sound perfect here, and I'm not a McDonald fan at all.

So anyway, for such a masterpiece, this is a short review. But the music here really speaks for itself. You can talk about jazz chord progressions and techniques all you want, and you can analyze the music to death, the best way to experience it is to listen to it, but not just once, several times. Every jazz/rock fusion fan should be familiar with this album.

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 Bankstatement by BANKS, TONY album cover Studio Album, 1989
2.74 | 76 ratings

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Bankstatement
Tony Banks Crossover Prog

Review by FalconBleck

3 stars #20 Review

I find really weird that this album was intended as a band project, and it is still listed in some sites as a separate entity to Tony solo works, when this is in fact a work composed and writen (mostly) by Tony Banks, even knowing that, i really apreciate the talents that he got for making this album.

And now the review:

1.- Throwback 8/10: A song that i first ignored, that has some really good moments, i don't usually talk about lyrics, but i really like the ones here, i like what it tells and how the singer reaches those notes. Another thing to point out is the video, wich has several nods to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, the video overall is really entertaining. The song itself may feel too happy with those horns, or sometimes really repetitive, but the Tony Banks factor clearly plays into here, wich makes the song be entertaining... and by the Tony Banks factor i mean that he has difficulties to do something simpler, but also he says that its intentional because he believes that pop songs need more beef, like his musical inspirations have done (The Beatles, Pet Shop sounds).

2.- I'll Be Waiting 4/10 Those synth clap sounds are back, this time for a more forgetable song (spoilers from a future review), this song would fit Calling All Stations, i can already imagine Ray Wilson singing this. With this song i really feel like i'm waiting for a more entertaining song to happen... the wait ain't so bad tho, there is interesting material here, expecting to have a better usage, like the pieces of music i have writen myself, except that i don't release them. Also, as i say to many songs... this one is also repetitive.

3.- Queen of Darkness 8/10: Based on the song "Lorca" from "The Red Wing Suite", feels like a new version from a song that i already like (spoilers), and "Lorca" feels based on "Final Chase" from the "Quicksilver Suite". If you have followed my reviews, you should know that i'm a fan of soundtracks, and that before Prog i was into movies and videogames soundtracks, and this song feels like an HD remaster of Lorca with interesting lyrics "If you wanted a creature from another dimension... i'm the answer", what is with that? I like it, and the voice work is excelent as well, the only downside to this song is the ending, wich feels boring, should've done a little more instead of a remaster with lyrics of "Lorca", but anyway, it still made for an entertaining song.

4.- That Night 7/10 A song clearly made from someone that specializes on keyboards, one really beautyful and melancholic song, really good voice work here. This song has a really interesting concept where the music and voice work contradicts each other on every verse until they mix together for the final, really nice idea that makes the song don't get old, but i feel like this song could've been expanded, made a part of a really large song, the fade-out at the end comes too soon.

5.- Raincloud 4/10 What is this? What a change from the last song feelings-wise, either way, it makes me feel really similar to what "I'll be waiting" did, except that this one could be on We Can't Dance and its repetitive, but it is more entertaining and has more variations than that one... if this song lasted 1 minute, it wouldn't lose that much.

6.- The Border 8/10: I really like the piano here, its repetitive but mesmerizing, the voice gives intensity and strenght to this song, that already feels more serious than everything previous on the album. Even with the little changes near the end, the song is still very repetitive, this song could be shorter... also, on a video for a certain Tony Banks tribute group (yes, there is one, i don't remember the name) they use an instrumental version of this song for introducing their concerts, it sounds really sweet. This song does what some songs previous on this album tried to do, a catchy sound to get us interested.

7.- Big Man 5/10 This starts like a SNES song and then it transforms into a Genesis/Mega Drive song, Tony would be really good at making videogame music... ok, aside from that, now Tony is singing, and he does a good job while telling bullies how they are. The problem with this song is that it gets repetitive quickly and tried to do an interesting chorus that comes out as boring.

8.- A House Needs a Roof 6/10 Tony really needs to make music for the Yamaha YM2612... this song is as 80s pop as a song can be, why wasn't this a hit? And as always, he needs to add something more and added a really minuscule keyboard solo, this is good, probably no for this site, but what can i do, this song works for what it is.

9.- The More I Hide It 4/10 This again reminds me to "The Waiting", yet this song tried to be interesting at one point, to add more, it really feels like this song was calculatedly crafted to add more "beef to pop", but in the end it falls short again, its the same case.

10.- Diamonds Aren't So Hard 7/10 It starts a little funny with happy music while telling horribly bad and ridiculous situtations, then the music makes you travel to a fictional world where diamonds aren't so hard to find, and that's how the song keeps being interesting, the changes one the song are welcome and the rythm is well done.

11.- Thursday the Twelfth 8/10: What an ending to this album, its as if a portal is distorting the world and re-organizing every physical entity while also making me dizzy. This instrumental track its a really interesting ending to an album that was supposed to be filled with pop-hits, yet Tony Banks can't contain himself from being weird, and you know, weird isn't bad. My problems with this song are that the intensity of the start decreases too fast, i feel like some people won't like this song for how it sounds or for being on 4/4, i like to be subjective on my reviews but i always seem to not make it that way, and in this case i can tell you, i'm clearly being biased because i just like this song.

So in the end this album gets a 62/100, wich is just 3 stars, almost 2.

My "5" review got lots of atention and i forgot to add on that one that i was updating my older reviews with "B-Sides", right now "Abacab" and "... And then there where three..." are already done, but i plan to continue with "Invisible Touch" and "Trespass". I'm sorry if it took so long for me to post, but i was so busy that i even forgot that i was doing reviews and now i'm back, hope you give Bankstatement a chance and for Tony Banks in general, he is a really good keyboardist and composer, probably one of the best and my biggest inspiration... well, not for that i'm gonna make inflated scores, i don't want to spoil it, but there's an album that "still" dissapoints me to this very day... ok, that was mean, goodbye.

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 Affenstunde by POPOL VUH album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.16 | 97 ratings

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Affenstunde
Popol Vuh Krautrock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This certainly sounds nothing like Florian's 70's albums but then this was his debut released in 1970 and he seemed to be experimenting a lot with his moog here. POPOL VUH were a four piece here with synths, tablas and percussion rounding out the instruments. I remember when I picked this up I thought that despite the poor rating I would like it given the descriptions. Well... not so much as those first two tracks in particular really annoy me, while the third track is more what I was expecting throughout this album. The final track is hit and miss so 3 stars is the best I can do.

""Dream Part 4" yes I'm skipping the long title before the first three songs. Anyway it opens with birds chirping before some brief water sounds then atmosphere. Then these high pitched bleeping sounds come in that drive me crazy. This continues until around 3 1/2 minutes but they do return. Just not into this one. "Part 5" opens with atmosphere before this annoying percussion with tablas takes over, again not my scene.

"Part 49" is much better as we get some spacey sounds and this is fairly dark and sparse with some faint percussion. The final tune is the title track at over 18 1/2 minutes. Interesting sounds come and go before the drums rumble in. It sounds pretty cool before 3 minutes. I like this. Drums stop before 5 minutes as a haunting soundscape continues. A change 6 1/2 minutes in as we get a pulsing sound with a humming over top. Blipping sounds join in and it stays this way for a long time right to the end.

I rate pretty much all his 70's albums 4 stars and up so yes this was disappointing to say the least. A low 3 stars from me.

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 Wired by BECK, JEFF album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.86 | 157 ratings

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Wired
Jeff Beck Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars New line-up with Narada Michael Walden and Jan Hammers brings new dimensions to this album. The songs are generally calmer than on its predecessor album. I feel that the guitar is less present on this album than before also because the keyboards are sometimes handled by both Hammer and Middleton. Although the compositions are of high-quality, I find here less instrumental magicianship than on Blow by Blow. Blue wind is the collaboration between Hammer and Beck containing no other musicians. Love is green features the acoustic guitar and is a welcome addition. Overall, this an album worth acquiring and exploring for any proghead that likes the latter calmer 70's fusion.

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 Blow By Blow by BECK, JEFF album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.10 | 236 ratings

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Blow By Blow
Jeff Beck Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

5 stars This is the only masterpiece from Jeff Beck that qualifies for 5 stars also at the Progarchives. The songs are well composed, there is enough instrumental prowess and intensity, the album does not necessarily drags on for too long. Thankfully, all the songs are without vocals. The music is dominated by the guitar and keyboard duelling just like on most of any other fusion albums of that era, however the rock side prevails and more jazz influence is apparent in keyboards than the guitar. She's a woman is an originally executed cover version of the Beatles song. I like hearing it when I hear this album and don't necessarily like it hear it live again and again. Scatterbrain bears traces of more furious fusion jam with nice fills and tempo changes on the drums. Diamond Dust is a nice mellow and recognizable ballad song. This album is highly recommended to all fans of fusion and Jeff Beck.

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 Airbag/How Am I Driving? by RADIOHEAD album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1998
3.82 | 50 ratings

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Airbag/How Am I Driving?
Radiohead Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was an EP put out by Radiohead specifically for the North American market to bridge the gap between the albums "OK Computer" and the more experimental and electronic "Kid A". It consists of "Airbag" which is from the album "OK Computer", and this version is the exact same except that it has the original ending, where the album version flowed into the next track. It is a harder song and very good, with some prog elements in the final few minutes going on while the main opening theme plays again.

The rest of the tracks are most of the B-sides that were recorded at the same time as OK Computer, but were originally left off the album. "Pearly" is another hard song, but the vocals are more reminiscent of what was to come on the next album. It quiets down half way through with Thom's falsetto vocals, then builds again. "Meeting in the Aisle" is Radiohead's first instrumental. It consists of a repeating echoing guitar and is later joined by orchestrated sounds. Very mysterious sounding yet nice. You hear early experimental sounds from Radiohead here, but no vocals. "A Reminder" is very experimental, starting off with an automated announcement recorded from the Metro station at Prague. A slow rhythm is established with shimmering guitars and Thom's vocals start. There is a slow build, but it remains mostly mellow until the last minute where guitars start to whine and groan and then eventually drop off just before the end. "Polyethylene Pts. 1 & 2" starts off with an acoustic guitar and Thom singing. This goes on for a short time before it abruptly ends seeming like a false start almost, then goes into the full band which carries it through the rest of the song. This one is an excellent track and would have fit on perfectly to the main album. This is also a fan favorite but is more rock oriented than it is experimental. "Melatonin" is a beautiful song driven by lush synths and Thom's voice. It sounds simple but is a very challenging song to sing because of it's jumps in range. Percussion starts on the second verse, but it is quite subdued. Last of all is "Palo Alto" which in it's early stages, was to be the title track from "OK Computer". It starts out mellow, but becomes more intense after the first verse with an instrumental break, and continues with that pattern. The bridge after the 2nd verse remains intense and continues through the next instrumental break, then quiets again for the third verse, but feedback is added this time. It finishes intense with the last chorus and ends with sustained feedback. This is another track that would have fit well on the main album.

This EP was nominated for a Grammy, and competed against full length albums. It also fulfills it's purpose quite well as a bridge between two different kinds of albums in that all of the tracks would have fit quite well on either "Ok Computer" or "Kid A". These songs are all good as stand alone songs too, and that is why this EP works so well. The only issue here is this, is it worth searching for? You might be better off getting the Collector's Edition of "OK Computer" which is subtitled "OKNOTOK". This one has an extra disc (I'm talking about the vinyl version now, which is amazing} that has all of these tracks plus 3 others previously not available; "I Promise", "Man of War", and "Lift", plus two other B-sides not on the EP; "Lull" and "How I Made My Millions". So, if you see the EP in the discount bin,, definitely pick it up, but it has pretty much been made obsolete by the Collector's Edition of "Ok Computer". Still, it is a great collection of songs that would satisfy any fan and/or casual listener and still merits a 4 star rating.

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 Pampered Menial & At The Sound Of The Bell by PAVLOV'S DOG album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1992
4.04 | 4 ratings

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Pampered Menial & At The Sound Of The Bell
Pavlov's Dog Crossover Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 186

"Pampered Menial & At The Sound Of The Bell" is a very special compilation of Pavlov's Dog. This is an economic package that includes the first two albums of Pavlov's Dog. I'm talking about "Pamperd Menial", released in 1974 and "At The Sound Of The Bell", released in 1976, on only one CD package. This is a very interesting compilation because it includes two very interesting albums of an original band at a very cheap price, what will be a very worth purchase for those who don't have yet the two original albums. "Pampered Menial" is an excellent album with some great tracks and "At The Sound Of The Bell" despite be not as good as the previous debut album is, has some really nice tracks too.

For those who aren't familiar with this group, one of the most important characteristics of Pavlov's Dog's sound is their vocals. Their front man David Surkamp owns a very peculiar and strange voice usually compared with Geddy Lee's voice from Rush. So, for those who don't know the band yet and don't like Lee's voice, compared by many as a sound of strangling a cat, certainly Pavlov's Dog isn't the best band that you are looking for. Anyway, their music style was very song based and actually not all that far from some British bands but still with an American touch into their sound.

As I've already reviewed these two albums previously on Progarchives, in a more extensive way, I'm not going to do it again. So, if you are interested to know, in more detail, what I wrote about them before, I invite you to read those my both reviews. However in here, I'm going to write something about them in a more short way. So, of course, I'm not going to analyze them track by track, as I made before, but I'm only going to make a global appreciation of both albums.

"Pampered Menial": "Pampered Menial" was their first and supposedly best album. It consists of strongly melodic tracks that focus more on strong melodies and tasty arrangements than complexity. And I guess it's the arrangements here that give the music its progressive edge. The mellotron is present in the sound all the time, and some brief passages also include flute, violin, organ and tasty moog. The synth solo in "Late November" has a very Wakeman feel and atmosphere. Other highlights include "Julia", the hard edged "Song Dance" and "Theme From Subway Sue". The latter must have one of the most emotional endings I've ever heard on a song, and David Surkamp takes his very distinctive high pitched vibrato voice to absurd heights. The most progressive tune here is "Of Once And Future Kings" and this complex track starts with a very medieval sounding intro called "Preludin". The only track that I don't care for here is "Natchez Trace" and this limp hard rocker lacks the strong melodies that characterize the rest of the album and doesn't seem to belong here. "Pampered Menial" will appeal to progressive rock fans who enjoys strong melodies and who doesn't necessarily want everything to be as complex as Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator or King Crimson.

"At The Sound Of The Bell": Their second album was a lighter and less powerful effort then their excellent debut, but the album is saved by generally strong songwriting and tasty arrangements. The atmospheric ballad "Standing Here With You (Megan's Song)" and the great "Early Morning On" features lots of strings that give these songs the majestic lift they needs. The opener "She Came Shining" and especially "Valkerie" are Pavlov's Dog classics of the same calibre as "Julia" from the debut. The sound and atmosphere of "Gold Nuggets" reminds me of something from the second part of "Tubular Bells". This is a great track too. The nice ballad "Mersey" and the poppy "She Breaks Like A Morning Sky" features saxophone, giving these songs a slightly different feel from the rest of the album. And just as on the debut, the most progressive songs are placed last on the album. The earlier mentioned "Early Morning On" has a cool mid part with a boy choir. While the closing number "Did You See Him Cry" is a complex and dramatic song. It's perhaps the best song ever wrote by them. Oh, and David Surkamp sings in a lower tone and in a more normal way here than on the debut, perhaps making this album easier to adapt to for those who have problems with high pitched vocals.

Conclusion: If you have the two studio albums of the two individual works, you don't need to buy this compilation because it has nothing new to offer, like bonus tracks, unless you have a collector spirit. However, if you don't have these two albums yet and you like less complex prog music and you don't have problems with high pitched vocals in the same vein of Geddy Lee of Rush, you willn't lose your time and money if you buy both albums. Still, if you aren't convinced by all my arguments, at least, you must listen to "Pampered Menial". This is really an excellent album with some kind of originality. In reality, Pavlov's Dog made a very powerful and balanced album, indeed. I think it's an excellent example of some of the best prog made in U.S.A., in the 70's. Like most of us know, in the 70's, the progressive rock music was practically a European phenomenon. So, American bands like Kansas, Starcastle, Pavlov's Dog and Blue Oyster Cult were, somehow, exceptions. So, Pavlov's Dog is one of the best examples of those times.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 Robert Fripp & Andy Summers: I Advance Masked by FRIPP, ROBERT album cover Studio Album, 1982
3.60 | 78 ratings

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Robert Fripp & Andy Summers: I Advance Masked
Robert Fripp Eclectic Prog

Review by WFV

4 stars This is an excellent album if judged on its own merits. The listener must carefully discern the style and intent from the artists' more universally known projects, of course King Crimson for Fripp and The Police for Summers. Those expecting a lost King Crimson album will likely be disappointed. Those looking for poppy punky reggae hooks of the Police would likely be let down as well. This is a project for both artists to explore personal artistic freedoms that each man was afforded after showing exceptional talent and artistic endeavour with their main collectives. In my mind, this is a true collaboration as the style of each man is evident after digesting it all. This definitely bears resemblance to the experimental ambient tape loop albums Fripp would release during the '80's as well as the path Summers would cut on albums like Mysterious Barricades and The Golden Wire. Enthusiasts should know before listening this is a terrific album if judged accordingly. China - Yellow Leader really exemplifies this mode of thought and in my mind is among the strongest material each man has recorded through their lengthy careers. 4 stars.

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 Marsupilami by MARSUPILAMI album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.82 | 71 ratings

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Marsupilami
Marsupilami Eclectic Prog

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

5 stars The big bang of progressive rock music had only just got begun to break in 1969 when bands like King Crimson, East Of Eden, Soft Machine and Pink Floyd were redefining the context of the rock paradigm by wresting the exemplar blues oriented ingredients out of the standard status quo and expanding its horizons into levels of ever increasing complexity when one of the first adventurous bands, MARSUPILAMI took the newly developing sub-genre of rock and augmented its complexity in virtually every way. This band was born in 1968 when the Hasson brothers, Fred (vocals, harmonica, bongos) and Leary (organ) came up with the idea of naming their band after a famous Belgian comic book character that was created in 1952. The brothers were raised in Taunton in the Somerset region of England only in an Anglo-French household where they were exposed to both sides of the channel at an early age. The comic book character created by André Franquin was a strange hybrid of a monkey and a cat and was yellow with black spots but also a mix of being adorably cute and highly rebellious. Thus, the band MARSUPILAMI not only adopted the name of this character but the generally personality traits as well.

MARSUPILAMI formed after touring Spain in their previous R&B band Levitation but after scoring a coveted gig with the Joe Cocker band, the brothers realized that the other members weren't committed and went their separate ways. After many auditions and new members joining and quickly departing, the brothers cemented their new band by picking off their favorite talents from local band and thus the newly formed lineup included Mike Fouracre (drums) and Richard Hicks (bass guitar) who came from local blues outfit Justin's Timepiece and Dave Laverock (guitar) came from a semi-pro band, the Sabres. Leary's flute playing, art student girlfriend, Jessica Stanley Clarke (now Jecka McVicar, Britain's foremost organic herb grower) joined the cast and one of the world's most sophisticated early prog bands was born. Soon thereafter the members headed to a large unused country house and set up the barn as the 24/7 rehearsal studio where they would tease all their influences into the monstrous musical structures that appeared on their eponymous debut album in full-on progressive splendor.

With influences ranging from the classical greats such as Messian to jazz gurus such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner and Pharaoh Sanders with a little contemporary folk via Fairport Convention as well as the most innovative thinkers in rock via Zappa, Soft Machine, MARSUPILAMI carefully crafted through the painstaking alchemical amalgamations coupled with the ceaseless practice sessions and created some of the most daring and out of the box musical structures within the rock paradigm of the era. While having been released in April 1970, the album was recorded all the way back in June 1969 before King Crimson shocked the world with their progressive bomb "In The Court Of The Crimson King," so that means that MARSUPILAMI developed their simultaneous approach of more demanding strains of rock music completely independently ushering in a completely unique sound unlike any of the other artists of the day. In fact the debut album was actually much more daring and unpredictable as any of the better known early prog albums released by King Crimson, East Of Eden, Amon Düül II, The Nice, Pink Floyd or Soft Machine.

MARSUPILAMI was somewhat of a hit on the live circuit as they played at a number of festivals at a rather relentless pace and even opened for Deep Purple in their Mark I phase. They played the famous 1969 Isle Of Wight Festival and even won the Exeter based South West Regional leg of Melody Maker Best Band Competition. They were also gaining quite the reputation as formidable stage presence on the mainland in Europe and after finding the perfect manager in Julian Palmer-Hill, they were approached by MCA for a record contract but opted instead to sign with the independent Transatlantic Records which was looking to diversify into the greater rock world beyond their avant-garde and folk based acts of The Humblebums, John Fahey, John Cage and even Zappa's "Uncle Meat," just to name a few.

This eponymous debut album is the essence of what would become the norm in adventurous prog that coming to fruition the following year thus in effect jump starting the arms race of pomp and awe that meant each band would attempt to outdo the other with ever increasing albums of complexity. Laced with psychedelic trips, instrumental workouts twisted into complex labyrinthine compositional constructs with jazz-tinged chord progressions with long extended passages to allow flute drenched motifs, heavy rock guitar and avant-garde meanderings, the eponymously titled debut from MARSUPILAMI is one of progressive rock's earliest crowning achievements, however due to a rather limited shelf life of band members cohesively sharing the same vision, the band was short lived and their existence has woefully fallen off the radar throughout the ensuing decades. All five tracks were recorded in relatively few takes and basically done completely live displaying the extreme dexterity and commitment to detail that MARUPILAMI so gracefully mastered.

While the musical mojo shifts stylistically at the drop of a hat randomly metamorphosing from heavy organ tinged rock to folky flute based dreamscapes with chanting and then off to full-on jazz-rock fusion splendor, the lyrics constructed a more ominous and apocalyptic vision such as on the all instrumental "Ab Initio Ad Finem" which is a musical interpretation of a sermon from the Old Testament of the Bible which narrates humanity's undoing through a global catastrophe. "Dorian's Deep" begins the album in a 60s psychedelic haze with a droning organ and ethereal chanting but quickly changes gear from a flute and bass driven military march to a bombastic guitar and organ driven progressive rock behemoth as it goes for the jugular with complex time signature outbursts, unexpected stylistic shifts and various moody elements battling it for domination as the rock guitar, bass and drums alternate with the flute dominated folk elements and psychedelic breakdowns. "Born To Be Free" sounds more like a throwback to the 60s with a jazzy flute dominated mellow vibe. Despite being one of the more "normal" tracks steeped more in a 60s psych throwback rather than 70s excess, the track still exhibits unorthodoxies.

"And The Eagle Chased The Dove To Its Ruin" totally goes off the deep end with not only the most gloom ridden lyrics of the album but also in its relentless attack on the senses with a tension driving build up that ratchets up the frenetic flute outbursts and heavy time signature rich deviations fortified by a heavy bass and drum attack with the guitar interacting at full fury. "Ab Initio Ad Finem (The Opera)" offers another slice of impending doom with organs riffing in a J.S Bach funeral march while a caffeinated bongo attack creates an impenetrable percussive wall of sound only to be uplifted by a somewhat contemplative flute that can't decide if it's having a good day or not. When the guitars finally emerge, they soar above it all and tamp down the competition until it finally mellows out into a somewhat funk meets flute vibe. The track continues to transmogrify into completely new unrelated territories and although instrumental indeed conveys a lifetime of emotions in its wake. The closing "Facilis Descencus Averni" opens with a call and response of flute and guitar but quickly settles into a more rockin' set with the oddly shaped angular vocal harmonics indicative of the album and goes to even further ends of changing things up frequently but with the intro melodic reprise grounding it somewhat. This last piece if by far the most adventurous and demanding piece and the perfect way to end this brilliant ahead-of-its- time album.

MARSUPILAMI's debut is without doubt the most complex progressive rock albums of the tender year of 1970 and having been created an entire year prior in 1969 ranks as one of progressive rock's most innovative and expressive constructs in its birth pangs. The skill and dexterity that the musicians exhibit is simply impeccable as they effortlessly meander in unison all across the bizarrely constructed soundscapes. Perhaps only dampened by the rather mopey vocal style of Fred Hasson for some as it certainly is an acquired taste and it goes without saying that this is one of those tough nuts to crack musical experiences as it takes a multitude of listening sessions to fully comprehend and then a few more to really let sink in. While emerging as the most angular and demanding listens of the year it was released, there are plenty of dark but beautiful melodic hooks that create a certain level of instant accessibility however they are indeed relentless in their abandonment just as things become familiar as well.

Psychedelic Krautrock tinged sections? Yep, the very first track "Dorian Deep" begins with a firm tie to the 60s with a nice lysergic mind-expanding intro that slowly gels into a creeping organ and spooky vocal 'aaah's' that coalesce into a bass, drum, organ and vocal melodic development which is revisited throughout. As the album continues it pretty much displays a various mix of freak folk flute action preceding the Comus masterpiece "First Utterance," symphonic pastoral interludes that Genesis would latch onto the same year, pugnacious organ rock aspects that Deep Purple were only beginning to develop and even full fledged progressive rock high energy deliveries that wouldn't be fully unleashed at this level again until Il Balletto Di Bronzo's groundbreaking "Ys." Add to that the extreme jazz-fusion sensibilities of syncopation without any melodic sacrificial lambs and you have a recipe for something totally brilliant and light years ahead of its time.

While it seems most reviewers feel reluctant to give this the full masterpiece creds, i personally have no problem pulling the trigger for a 5 star piece of heaven such as this. Virtually everything 70s prog had already coalesced at this early stage and although never to be repeated except by the band themselves with their second and last offering "Arena," MARSUPILAMI are a testament to how quickly the progressive rock big bang of 1969 evolved in a very startling short period of time with all subsequent acts merely latching on to certain aspects of what was unleashed here. This album truly makes me wonder how many other more successful bands were listening to this and latched onto some of the ideas presented. There is just so much on here that it's mind blowing. This is truly a Code Red, Phase 5, top notch prog album that registers a 10 on the prog-o-meter. Simply stunning and beyond belief. A personal favorite.

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 Home by FOREVER TWELVE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.84 | 13 ratings

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Home
Forever Twelve Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was 2012 before I really discovered progressive rock. Prior to that, I always liked bands that made the effort to create longer compositions or try unusual rhythms and technical playing. Bands that mixed jazz, or folk, or classical into their sound thrilled me. But I had no idea that there was a subgenre of popular music called 'progressive rock'. By 2012 however, I had embraced prog fully and went on a journey to discover as much as I could handle of this deep and broad music category. That led me to Syzygy, a band whose album impressed me so much that for the first couple of weeks I felt this was what symphonic prog, if not prog rock itself, should sound like. Of course, as my explorations continued, my exalted view of Syzygy's music became less lofty with many other new discoveries.

Skip ahead to the present, and a promo copy of Forever Twelve's 'Home' (2017, Melodic Revolution Records) lands in my mailbox. Upon first listen I was hit with mixed feelings. It was the Syzygy response for a moment certainly but for the second time, and with the law of diminishing returns, I was less excited this time. Adding a big 'HOWEVER!' here, I will go on to say that this band really cooks and knows what they are doing with the skill of seasoned veterans bearing youth's ambition.

Forever Twelve open their album with the 16:06-running 'The Seven Seas'. It begins with a showcase of guitar and keyboard solos ' synthesizer and organ blazing away ' before slowing down into the song-proper's intro vocal bit. Like many classic prog mini-epics (or is over 16 minutes an epic?), the music is a journey itself, weaving slow and melodic parts with faster instrumental showcases, and a grand build up to the climax. Right from track one, Forever Twelve have proven their roots are firmly implanted in traditional symphonic prog.

The following four tracks range between five and nine minutes and maintain this combination of remarkable and spot-on technical playing ability and the capacity for striking up strong melodic passages. John Baker's vocals are at first a bit of a sore thumb; his timbre a tad unusual for prog. But it soon becomes apparent that his voice gives Forever Twelve a quality to their sound that makes them recognizable from their peers.

Personal favourites of mine are 'Daisy Chain' and 'Karmageddon' for their incredible use of dexterity and speed and flexibility with time signatures. Very exciting music bursts out all over the place. Recently 'Home' has also begun to stand out for me. 'Acoustic Rose' is an interesting track with a beautiful if not brief a cappella conclusion. It's too bad the track is only 2:57!

The album closes with 'Fate is in Our Hands' and introduces some more traditional guitar rock music which is then given a Forever Twelve treatment. The vocals are different here, and as Tom Graham is credited with guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals, I am going to assume he takes the mic for this track.

After my initial, 'Oh, another deftly talented prog rock band that remind me of Syzygy' reaction, I began listening more for the purpose of simply enjoying the music, and the album has grown on me. At least three of the tracks now get added regularly to mixed playlists and have become familiar and something to look forward to when I play the whole album. The only criticism that I have is that the production is a slight bit dull and thick. Just listening to the album is fine, but when it plays after other recent releases with really bright and clear production, 'Home' seems to favour bass over treble.

Forever Twelve don't bring anything new to the table, but they do play with great skill and talent. My personal opinion is 3.75 stars (partly due to the production), but their skill is surely to be acknowledged, so I'll round up this time. Recommended for people who love technical and crafty symphonic prog with a strong slant toward the technical side.

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 Jeff Beck Group [Aka: Orange Album] by BECK, JEFF album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.07 | 55 ratings

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Jeff Beck Group [Aka: Orange Album]
Jeff Beck Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars I find this album more easy going than the previous album Rough and Ready. It is also more polished and commercially oriented. There should could have been fewer cover songs considering the strength of the band. The band sounds cohesive and more relaxed. The instrumental moments are very precious although there is no denying that the singer tries hard to sound soulful. The later jazz-rock influences and a few Stevie Wonder moves (most apparently the cover version of Got to have a song) are creeping in. I find the catchy Going down going on for too long and vice-versa, the last two tracks could have been longer, as they are instrumentally and compositionally interesting pieces of music. The guitar soloing in the last song is emotional and still technically solid. Still not that much for a proghead but enough for 3 stars.

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 Bran Coucou by PINIOL album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.97 | 42 ratings

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Bran Coucou
PiNioL RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by raigor

5 stars Featuring the current members of French bands PoiL, Ni., and Lunatic Toys, "Bran Coucou" is a long awaited debut album by PinioL from Lion, France. PinioL is a septet composed of two autonomous power-trios which are bound into the tight ensemble by a free conductor-keyboardist. From the very first movement in music, it becomes clear that these guys came to deliver complex, dense, ultra polyphonic and polyrhythmic, violent, loud and heavy Avant-Prog-Metal. The instrumental parts with multiple traces of RIO, Zeuhl, Art-Core, Math-Metal, Noise-Jazz, and other musical traditions are accompanied by gibberish singing which adds freakishly positive madness to the entire show. Don't be led astray by smooth and smarmy preludes or passages. This is a tough thing from the beginning to the end. But adventurous and open-minded music lovers will be rewarded for sure. If you enjoy brutal, deviant, and surreal Avant-Prog-Metal, "Bran Coucou" is a must have for you. P.S. Absolutely agree with the view that "Bran Coucou" is the best album (best of "Underground Prog") of the first half of 2018. Cheers to PinioL and Dur Et Doux label!

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 After The Ball - The Collection by WAKEMAN, RICK album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
5.00 | 1 ratings

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After The Ball - The Collection
Rick Wakeman Symphonic Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

— First review of this album —
5 stars "THE ULTIMATE VINTAGE KEYBOARD EXTRAVAGANZA!"

For me the colouring with vintage keyboards is an essential part of the Classic Prog era: Mike Pinder's Mellotron in The Moody Blues, the soaring Hammond organ in Procol Harum their sound, early King Crimson with legendary use of the Mellotron, Rick Wright and his Farfisa organ in the psychedelic Pink Floyd era, Keith Emerson with his sensational Moog modular synthesizer sound, Tony Banks and his ARP Pro Solist synthesizer flights in 73-77 Genesis. And, last but not least, Rick Wakeman , he epitomizes the ultimate vintage keyboard sound in the Seventies, from the Moog, Mellotron and Hammond to the Hohner clavinet, Steinway Grand piano and Fender Rhodes electric piano, it's on his awesome list! I am a huge fan of his work with Yes in the Seventies (except the boring TFTO) and his early solo work, layered with varied vintage keyboards and showcasing his jawdropping skills. I consider this this comprehensive compilation CD as an excellent start to discover the exciting world of Rick Wakeman solo in the Seventies.

It spans the era from his outstanding and highly acclaimed first studio-album The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1973) until his seventh effort, the disappointing Rhapsodies (1979). On this CD compilation Rick Wakeman not only shines with his keyboard wizardy, but also as a composer: he writes very melodic and harmonic music with flowing shifting moods, embellished with his wide range of keyboards. The one moment dreamy atmospheres with tender Grand piano or soaring Mellotron (wonderful interlude with violins section in Catherine Howard). The other moment swinging rhythms with Hammond and clavinet or sumptuous eruptions with sensational work on the Minimoog (in Anna Boleyn). A strong element is the contrast between the sparkling Grand piano runs and the fat Minimoog synthesizer flights (in Catherine Of Aragon), emphasizing the happy marriage between classical and symphonic rock in his music.

We can also enjoy work from his legendary and commercially very succesful album Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, featuring two live tracks.

Medley: The Journey / Recollection : the atmospheres are between bombastic with a choir and dreamy with warm vocals, the spectacular Minimoog sound is omnipresent).

The Battle : this song delivers a swinging rhythm, a choir singing "crocodile teeth, lizard head", duo-vocals and the distinctive Hohner clavinet, a captivating blend of classic and symphonic rock. To be honest, I miss the rest of the album, it's an 'incomplete musical experience' to listen to only a part of that exciting concept album.

A 'trademark Rick Wakeman Seventies solo album composition' is Arthur: an orchestra with a strong brass sound, a propulsive and fluent rhythm-section and strong interplay between the orchestra, a choir and Wakeman (with spectacular work on the Minimoog).

In Merlin The Magician our Caped Crusader delivers his most fat sounding Minimoog flights I have ever heard, how exciting, in a swinging rhythm and duelling with the cheerful honky-tonk piano. The climate ranges from dreamy with a female choir to bombastic, this is top notch Rick Wakeman solo!

One of the few songs with vocals is the alternating Prisoner, wonderfully coloured with Mellotron flute and violins, electric harpsichord and a church organ, the slightly raw vocals match good with the varied music.

One of my favourite Rick Wakeman solo tracks is the swinging White Rock featuring dazzling Minimoog runs, I love the bombastic atmosphere and Wakeman his virtuosic and sensational Minimoog play.

Between all the bombastic and swinging tracks After The Ball is an oasis of silence, with its romantic climate: tender classical piano, soft Minimoog flights and soaring Mellotron violins, wonderful!

Remarkable in the three tracks from his masterpiece Criminal Record (1977) is the awesome rhythm-section, this is the duo Chris Squire and Alan White (in that time Wakeman had rejoined Yes and everybody was happy and enthusiastic about the triumphant return with GFTO). We can enjoy Emersonian Grand piano runs and great work on the Moog and Hammond in Statue Of Justice, a captivating tension between the tender Grand piano and bombastic Hammond and Moog in the varied Crimes Of Passion and sensational Minimoog flights in Chamber Of Horrors.

The final track on this compilation is a beauty, the dreamy The Palais featuring a solo piece on the Grand piano, from tender to sparkling, Rick Wakeman in his full splendor as a classically trained musician!

This is the best you can get if you like Old School keyboard driven prog, "no fillers, all killers!"

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 Fever Kingdoms by PYRRHON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Fever Kingdoms
Pyrrhon Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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

— First review of this album —
2 stars Tech metal is one of those nebulous areas of music that i still find very difficult to figure out why some bands totally work for me and others don't despite all the tech chops being checked off like clockwork. While bands like Deathspell Omega and Gorguts have soared to the top of the charts for their innovative and creative avant-garde take on established sub-genera of the metal universe, others sorta fall between the cracks. PYRRHON is one such band that despite cranking out all the expected techy aspects in abundance, sorta fail to inspire beyond a certain level and that is no more apparent than on their debut EP release FEVER KINGDOMS which came out in 2010.

The band was founded all the way back in 2008 when guitarist Dylan DiLeila and bassist Mike Sheen met by happenstance on a subway platform and then found drummer Alex Cohen to join the crew. Along the way they found Doug Moore to join in as vocalist. While PYRRHON has in recent years upped their game and joined the ranks of the more known ranks of the tech death metal universe alongside other surreal noisemakers such as Portal, Ulcerate or Mithras, on FEVER KINGDOMS they take a rather generic sounding approach with a sound that somehow finds itself somewhere between death metal with the gutteral growls and frenetic angular riffs but with more of a mathcore in yer face grind that churns on relentlessly in full extreme metal fashion.

While these elements are not that bad within themselves, this EP unfortunately lacks any sort of variety or attention grabbing ideas. And along with that, i find the drumming style of Alex Cohen a little lackluster for the type of tech death they are trying to capture. Another band that is similar is Gigan who master the surreal and detached psychedelic metal sound that they strive to create. In their case the musicians are bombastic and unapologetically ferocious and have the chops to pull it off as well as an imagination that allows a flexibility that is needed for the cosmic metal ride. FEVER KINGDOMS seems to just plod along predictably with each of the five tracks sounding alike with the same riffs recycled.

What it boils down to with PYRRHON's debut is that something is woefully missing to give this sonic noise parade some sort of spirit. It plods along checking off all the boxes of extreme tech metal but doesn't deliver in anything that is very satisfying. In the tech death universe where sonic maelstroms can easily resemble any other, the differences are very subtle and the tight wire act between something outstandingly original and woefully cliche and lackluster can be a very small margin of differences and in the case of PYRRHON's FEVER KINGDOMS falls short of the interesting mark and leaves me quite unsatisfied especially after experiencing their more mature albums first.

2.5 rounded down

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 Underjordisk Tusmørke by TUSMØRKE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.69 | 46 ratings

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Underjordisk Tusmørke
Tusmørke Prog Folk

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This was the debut for this Norwegian band released in 2012. Quite a vocal dominated affair really but with some killer instrumental work throughout. If it wasn't so heavy on the vocals I would be considering a higher rating. Still I went from being kind of amused with what I heard after the first couple of listens to not being able to wait to play this album once again. Very melodic and catchy throughout. This band formed from the ashes of LES FLEURS DU MAL who never released an album but we do get a 17 1/2 minute bonus track by them that is the best song on this recording and it doesn't sound much like the same band as we get Andreas the current vocalist for WOBBLER singing and a much more Swedish sound in my opinion with the mellotron, guitar, upfront bass and melancholic sound. I agree with Andy from Planet Mellotron that this bonus track is almost worth the price of admission alone.

I don't usually even comment on bonus tracks unless they are exceptional and there's another one by TUSMORKE called "Singers & Swallows" that would be second favourite track on here, go figure. The main album features plenty of vintage keyboard work from WOBBLER's own Lars Fredrik Froislie as he brings in mellotron, spinet, chamberlin, clavinet, organ, synths, glockenspiel, musical box and the kitchen sink. He also produced and recorded it. Again the main album has lots of vocals, harmonies and catchy choruses which usually isn't my thing but I was won over fairly quickly. The album's title means "Subterranean Twilight" and this is a mellotron album for sure.

"Fimbul" is catchy with flute over top then the vocals join in. Shades of mellotron and chamberlin too along with synths. I like when it calms down after 2 minutes with mellotron, bass then flute. Reserved vocals join in along with keys. It all kicks back in around 3 1/2 minutes. Another calm with vocal melodies after 4 1/2 minutes which sounds really good.

"Watching The Moon Fall Out Of The East" has this excellent melancholic intro with flute, mellotron and more as these relaxed vocals join in. This is a top four track for me. Reminds me of SINKADUS and ANGLAGARD actually during the more laid back sections. Love when it picks up as well 4 minutes in especially that rickenbacker bass. We get flute, guitar, drums and more. It picks up even more late with vocals and vocal melodies. What a song!

"The Quintessence Of Elements" has melancholic flute to start as bass, drums and more take over with vocals. Catchy and melodic and we get organ on the chorus. A beautiful instrumental section starts after 2 minutes then it picks up before the vocals return. "Young Man & His Woman" is very uptempo and vocal led with plenty of flute and organ. I like when it settles down after a minute without vocals. It kicks back in and we get vocal melodies here and some passion in those vocals too. Themes are repeated.

"A Nightmare's Just A Dream" is laid back to start with flute, prominent bass and a beat as the vocals join in. It turns fuller a minute in, in fact it gets quite intense really. It settles again as contrasts continue. Check out the mellotron before 2 1/2 minutes and that incredible section starting before 6 minutes instrumentally. Love that bass!

"Hostjevndogn" features vocals in their native language and this is a top four song for me as well. It's more relaxed with drums and flute standing out to start then reserved vocals join in. Man that instrumental section sounds so good beginning 3 minutes in and ending around 4 1/2 minutes. This song reminds me of SINKADUS. "Singers & Swallows" one of the three bonus tracks is a top four. A chilled tune really with flute, a beat, upfront bass and more. Such a beautiful track. Some nice vocal melodies along with mellotron too.

"Ode On Dawn" is a classic and as I said in the intro I want more! Hopefully there is more archival material from this early incarnation of the band under the name LES FLEURS DU MAL. The percussion gallops along early on with the sound of wind as the flute arrives. The percussion ends but not the wind or flute. Vocals from Andreas before 1 1/2 minutes along with mellotron, bass, guitar and some brief spoken words. Flute, a beat and mellotron kick in too and what a great sound as it builds with that in your face bass. Vocals are back 5 minutes in as it settles with lots of mellotron and bass. A calm with wind before 7 1/2 minutes as the drums and bass build. Guitar joins in along with flute. So good! Vocals are back before 13 minutes but again like the first two times they don't last long as the guitar, bass and drums lead. So Swedish sounding with that mellotron. The percussion gallops away to end this stone cold classic.

So not counting the bonus tracks a solid 4 stars and an enjoyable release.

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 Continuum by SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI album cover Studio Album, 2018
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Continuum
Sons Of Alpha Centauri Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK band SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI was formed back in 2001, at the onset a duo consisting of Nick Hannon and Marlon King. They appeared as recording artists in 2007, and while active as recording artists after this as well, this has mainly been in various forms of collaborations and side projects. "Continuum" is the band's second full length studio production, and was released through Herman label H42 Records in the spring of 2018.

I see the self-description of this band citing them as something of an avantgarde and post-metal oriented band. Those with a taste for artists of that particular nature may well find that Sons of Alpha Centuari, at least as they appear in 2018, are a few tracks away from such territories, and then the avantgarde aspect of it in particular. There's not much I'd describe as being post metal here either when it comes to that. Instrumental progressive rock is probably where I'd categorize this band and this specific album myself.

In the main compositions here the band tends to alternate between two distinct modes of delivery. One features relatively gently wandering and often plucked guitar details as the key element, and the other is dominated by darker toned riffs, at times with a gnarly, almost primitive sound at that. In both cases relatively delicate, floating keyboards will be used as overlays, and then more often than not with a cold, subtly cosmic tinge to it.

In between those contrasts we do get quite a few variations and deviations of course, with tasteful guitar solo runs as well as more effects laden guitar details as well as a bass guitar that gets some booming, beefy limelight here and there as well. The songs tend to ebb and flow nicely in intensity, either building up to a more intense finale or going full circle and concluding on a similar note as the opening part of the track. By plan or accident there's a case to be made here on the hypnotic effects of repetition too, and one might also argue that a couple of the cuts here have a stoner rock and a post-punk vibe to them respectively.

There's also a few atmospheric laden cuts to be enjoyed here, although for my sake they are by and large not as interesting as individual creations, functioning primarily as parts of an album experience as far as I'm concerned. The one exception is the opening cut 'Into the Abyss', but that may well be due to this one reminding me ever so slightly of late 70's Eloy, which for me is a good thing.

While I do find this album to be a well made production throughout, my main impression is that this will also be an album with something of a niche appeal. A tad too primitive sounding at times to make a broad headway into the progressive rock oriented crowd, and arguably a tad too sophisticated to gather a strong appeal among those with a primary taste for instrumental hard rock that is borderline metal at times. Still, those with a taste for instrumental progressive rock that exist within those parameters should find this album to be a compelling experience. A good album, but with something of a limited reach in my opinion at least.

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 Magic Theatre by GANDALF album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.83 | 18 ratings

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Magic Theatre
Gandalf Crossover Prog

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

4 stars Austrian multi-instrumentalist Heinz Strobl goes by the alias of Gandalf for his musical journeys, and his conceptual LP from 1983, `Magic Theatre', is comprised of richly detailed instrumental passages that are frequently acoustic based alongside ethereal keyboards, sometimes even with soft ethnic touches, the artist crafting a fusion of ambient, New Age and the lightest of symphonic prog flair. His music can remind of everything from Mike Oldfield, Steve Hackett, Kitaro, Anthony Phillips and perhaps even Deuter's discs once he moved away from the more Krautrock-flavoured experimentation of his earliest works, but on `Magic Theatre' you can add in a pinch of the big symph-prog names like Genesis, Yes and Renaissance as well.

There's a touch of Genesis to the sleek guitar runs, upfront coursing bass, bubbly Moog spirals and announcing synth themes of opener `Entrance: The Corridor Of The Seven Doors'. `1st Door: Reflections From Childhood' bristles with strident acoustic strums and whirring Moog ruminations, but it's `2nd Door: Castles Of Sand' that will greatly appeal to prog-rock fans, being a thirteen-minute suite of multiple musical passages that move through everything from stark drama to intimate contemplations. There's Renaissance-like symphonic orchestral pomp, heartfelt solo piano reflections, sprightly jazzy bursts and an expertly revealing extended guitar run in the middle that is a masterclass in restraint and gradually building power, and many will identify it and the brief chanted choir-like climax with Mike Oldfield. `3rd Door: Loss Of Identity In The Labyrinth of Delusions' then closes the first side with a brief touch of danger to its heavy keyboard chords backed by distorted jagged sax and pounding drums.

The flip's `4th Door: The Magic Mirror' dazzles with victorious and crisp guitar runs dancing over fizzing keyboard washes with a touch of Mellotron creeping in, and the subtle `5th Door: Beyond The Wall Of Ignorance' channels Deuter's unfurling meditative atmospheres with careful reprising guitar themes flitting in and out, breezy flute, creaking sitar and controlled drum patterings. `6th Door: Peace Of Mind's mix of sighing Mellotron, sparkling electric piano and placid flute trills wrapped in the softest of eastern flavours hold several embracing reprising themes. Between drowsy and romantic sax wafting, `7th Door: The Fountain Of Real Joy's frantic guitar runs over buoyant thick driving bass and trilling synth noodling remind of the holy trinity of Howe, Squire and Wakeman of Yes at their most hopeful, and `Exit' is an uplifting and live-affirming farewell with lulling organ and sparkling acoustic/electric guitar ringing soloing that perhaps calls to mind Camel.

Such a crossover of styles means the LP has so much to offer. New Age listeners will get a weightier album than what would usually be expected to be found with something with that tag, ambient followers will find more colour and vibrancy than usual, and prog fans will discover something more tasteful and restrained than mere flashy show-off soloing. Full of wonder, instrumental flair and deep emotion, `Magic Theatre' is one of Gandalf's defining and most enduring works, and it even makes for a superb introduction to his musical world for newcomers.

Four stars.

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 Ahead Of Their Time by ZAPPA, FRANK album cover Live, 1993
3.23 | 76 ratings

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Ahead Of Their Time
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Frank Zappa said that this was to be the last "Mothers" album. It was released in 1993 before his death, but the recording is from a much earlier concert, performed in 1968 at the Royal Festival Hall in London. Frank said that the band was their own opening act and that all the band members put on a play written by Frank with music performed mostly by 14 members of the BBC symphony. This recording of the play was previously available on the "Mystery Disc", but the rock portion of the concert was not previously available. Frank thought it was an important concert to have on record, so he put the entire show back together for consumer purchase, but he himself said it was only a "fair - not outstanding - Mothers of Invention rock concert performance".

So, this is the album that resulted from that decision. The first part of the album is the play which was entitled "Progress?" and, from what I can gather, it was pretty much a comedy, or satire, of life in a rock n roll band called the "Mothers". Knowing Frank, this was all based on events in the band, made into a funny skit, with a lot of dialogue (spoken parts) and music thrown in as needed. As mentioned earlier, Frank said the music was done by part of the BBC symphony, but I believe that a lot of it was also done by the band. What ever the case, the music itself is quite Avant-Garde, as you would expect from Frank's classical music. A lot of the music coincides with what is going on in the play itself, dramatizing things further. The "Prologue" to the play has many classical themes and sections from Mozart among others. This is track 1. Tracks 2 - 10 are the different parts of the play, some are only spoken parts, others are a mix of spoken parts and music. The recording is quite excellent, so there are no worries there. The problem is that we only have the audio portion of the play, and, judging from the audience's reactions, we miss quite a bit of the point of the play not being able to see it. You do catch part of the humor, and if you have the lyrics in front of you, it makes a little more sense, but it would have been better to actually see what was going on. Because of this, the first part of the album seems confusing and disjointed, and, if you didn't know that it was a play they were doing, you would start wondering what kind of ridiculousness is this anyway.

The good news about the album, is that the rest of the album is the "rock portion" of the concert. Things do get better at this point. Tracks 11 - 20 contain some decent examples of classic Mothers and Zappa recordings in this live setting. The "Epilogue" of the play flows right into the first track of this section, which is a rendition of the Zappa improvisational classic "King Kong". it is a decent version, but there are better ones out there, as on the "Uncle Meat" album. Next is a very short and very different version of "Help! I'm a Rock" mostly consisting of percussion with an even shorter vocal compared to the original version on the "Freak Out!" album. This is the last of the vocals on the album, as the rest of the album is instrumental. You will recognize a lot of the classic Mothers tunes, some of them will be improvised on and others are short and straight forward. Seasoned Zappa listeners will recognize pieces of this part of the performance from various other recordings and that is because Frank spliced them into other albums, like, for instance "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" and so on. Each track flows right into the other. The best tracks are the longer ones where the band does more improvisation as in "Pound for a Brown" and "Orange County Lumber Truck", but being interspersed with shorter snippets of Zappa melodies, it does break up the density of the improvisational sections.

Overall, it's an okay representation of the Mothers in concert, but there are better examples out there. The best part of the album is the musical performances, but the first half of the album definitely takes away from the rock/jazz fusion of the 2nd half. There are also many recordings that are a lot worse than this, so we can throw this one in the middle with 3 stars.

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 Cycles by BOCK, WOLFGANG album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.78 | 11 ratings

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Cycles
Wolfgang Bock Progressive Electronic

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Once again I have to agree with Guldbamsen's review, even the 4.5 star rating. This was Wolfgang Bock's debut released in 1980 and produced by Klaus Schulze. What makes this so good in my opinion are those incredible mellotron choirs but I love that he uses real drums too. Two different drummers per album side and I was especially pleased to see Heab Hobb behind the kit on side two as I have the album he's on released this same year from the band NANU URWERK. And the album cover is pretty cool too.

We start off with "Cycles" the side long opener close to 19 minutes in length. It opens with atmosphere that slowly builds as spacey synths sweep in and out. Nice. Some quiet pulsing sounds as well and check out those mellotron choirs starting before 3 minutes! The slow pulses stop around 5 1/2 minutes and the mellotron before that. Soon sequencers and other sounds arrive as the tempo picks up.

The mellotron choirs are back at 7 minutes. Drums join the sequencers before 7 1/2 minutes then the mellotron will step aside as the spacey synths continue with sequencers and drums. The sound changes around 12 minutes in as we get spacey sounds only coming and going then more electronics but this is laid back and sparse. Sequencers are back before 14 minutes along with spacey synths and they are all going full force at 15 minutes before it settles right back before 17 minutes to the end.

Side two starts with "Robsai(Part I)" and it begins with some majestic organ before electronics take over before a minute. The organ is back quickly along with mellotron choirs. So good. "Robsia(Part II" sounds nothing like the first part as spacey sounds build as the drums join in and they are energetic here. It's pretty much drums only after 2 1/2 minutes then a calm arrives as we get a dark atmosphere only. Man this is good. Sequencers then kick in before 4 minutes.

"Changes/ Stop The World" is the almost 11 minute closer. Drums and electronics to start as the synths cry out. The second part of this track takes over just after 7 minutes as the organ and spacey sounds along with mellotron choirs arrive. The mellotron choirs eventually dominate until it's pretty much all we hear after 8 1/2 minutes. Man is this what it sounds like to be in the presence of God? So majestic I can't believe it. Church bells before 10 minutes as the song winds down to the end.

A killer Electronic album that suits my tastes really well with all the mellotron choirs.

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 Double Vision by ARENA album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.06 | 98 ratings

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Double Vision
Arena Neo-Prog

Review by javajeff

5 stars This is the biggest surprise of 2018 for me. I skipped the last album, and almost skipped this one based on the cover alone. I could circle around to The Unquiet Sky later, but right now I am going to spend time letting Double Vision marinate for a while. I do have most of their albums, and Double Vision is my absolute favorite. Paul Manzi on vocals is excellent, and everything else is just perfect. It starts off with Zhivago Wolf, which has a stellar sing along melody, and musicianship of the highest quality. The songs that follow are just as good, and then it ends with the extra proggy The Legend Of Elijah Shade. I absolutely love this album, and I could not recommend it enough. It is a must get for progressive rock fans. 4.5 stars.

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 Resurrección by ICONOCLASTA album cover Studio Album, 2009
2.52 | 9 ratings

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Resurrección
Iconoclasta Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars This legendary Mexican prog formation delivered a serie of strong albums in The Eighties featuring a progressive blend of jazz, jazzrock and symphonic rock, strong points are the outstanding interplay and inventive musical ideas. Ten years after their latest studio-album La Granja Humana (2000) Iconoclasta found new inspiration. The current line-up includes Iconoclasta veterans Ricardo Moreno (acoustic - and electric guitars, keyboards and compositions), Ricardo Ortegon (electric guitar) and drummer Victor Baldovinos, along new members Greta Silva (vocals and bass) and Alma Castillo (vocals).

The 10 compositions on Resurreccion sound melodic and elaborate, but don't expect their Eighties sound. Because Iconoclasta have a kind of reinvented themselves, with a varied mix of styles but not with the focus on jazz and jazzrock, like in their past. There is an important role voor twin-guitar play and duo vocals, almost in every track. I can't mention real highlights but the level on this comeback album is good, with lots of variety.

An exciting opener with fiery electric guitar, a catchy keyboard brass sound and a powerful rhythm-section in Sin Escape.

Dreamy with warm vocals and pleasant work on the acoustic guitar in Hijo.

A Mike Oldfield-like climate with a strong build-up featuring wonderful interplay between sensitive acoustic ? and electric guitar in the instrumental Deidad Solar.

Strong interplay between guitar and synthesizer in the instrumental Huatla ?Homenaje A Maria Sabina.

Great rock guitar (with use of the wah-wah pedal) in the songs La Resurreccion De Maquiavelo and El Perro De Pavlov.

And emotional vocals and guitar in de compelling in the final track La Etica Del Verdugo.

To me this album sounds as a pleasant and varied 'resurrection' of the legendary Mexican band Iconoclasta, but far from their Eighties sound.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 Tratando De Respirar En La Furia by HABITAT album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.64 | 22 ratings

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Tratando De Respirar En La Furia
Habitat Crossover Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Between 1998 and 2014 Argentinian progrock formation Habitat released five studio-albums, their latest effort is entitled Utensilios Y Artilugios. This review is about their previous effort Tratando De Resirar En La Furia from 2010. The musical brainchild is multi-instrumentalist Aldo Pinelli, supported by drummer/percussionist Roberto Sambrizzi.

The wonderful and instrumental opener La Luna Roja Y La Montaña Negra features guest musician Paula Dolcera, on flute. Obvious are the 70-75 Genesis hints: moving guitar like Hackett, then twanging acoustic guitars and dreamy flute play (also Camel comes to my mind). In the other 8 tracks the Hackett-like guitar is omnipresent, but blended with adventurous musical ideas, a few examples.

Periplo: bombastic keyboard sound with an Andalusian undertone, in the vein of Rock Andaluz gem Mezquita.

Torres: captivating final part with powerful drums and the distinctive clarinet sound (like in early Roxy Music).

The long Pastores De Renos: a bagpipe sound, then a swinging breaks with vibraphone and a beautiful end with classical guitar.

And the mellow Lenguaje Y Amber: it contains acoustic guitar and warm vocals.

The bonustrack is a very pleasant surprise, the Le Orme cover Gioco Di Bimba. The vocals are in Spanish, including the distinctive 'rolling r'. And we can enjoy the Argentine bandoneon and halfway a break with an ominous climate, like the Red-era from King Crimson, very special rendition of this Le Orme classic!

If you like early Genesis (or a Genesis inspired band like Neuschwanstein) and Camel (or Camel inspired bands like Rousseau and Lady Lake) and you are up to a typical Latin American Prog atmosphere, this is an album to discover.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 Sociedad Secreta de Melancolicos by CANTURBE album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.57 | 9 ratings

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Sociedad Secreta de Melancolicos
Canturbe Crossover Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Canturbe is an Argentinian band that released 5 studio-albums between 1980 and 1990 and returned to the scene after many years with this album in 2008. Later Canturbe also released the albums Tangos En Espera in 2011 and Flotteur in 2018.

The music in the 13 songs sound a bit subdued but very pleasant. A strong element is the warm, sometimes melancholical Spanish voice. And I am very pleased with the wide range of instruments, wonderfully blended into the songs. Like the distinctive bandoneon (strong interplay with the volume pedal electric guitar in Eternidades and Contrasenas) but also the vibraphone (Odiseo Por Buenos Aires), violin (Guarderia Para Melancolicos), saxophone and panflute (Tiro Al Argento) and acoustic guitar (beautiful soli in Guarderia Para Melancolicos and Una Mujer En Buenos Aires).

At some moments Canturbe their music evokes 70-77 Genesis, due to the lush keyboards, like the opener Tarde Ensayos and the dreamy final track Tarde Para Ensayos ' Instrumental. The composition Volando En Una Linterna even sounds like 24-carat symphonic rock, featuring a fluent rhythm and wonderful work on the electric guitar and synthesizers.

Canturbe their music is blended with strong musical ideas, emphasizing the captivating eclectic sound by Canturbe, this is an interesting comeback.

My rating: 3,5 star.

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 The Wandering Caravan by RAGNI, MARCO album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.16 | 41 ratings

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The Wandering Caravan
Marco Ragni Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by SatoSan

5 stars This Italian artist has aroused my curiosity after I learned that Luca Zabbini the Barock Project leader had played in "The Wandering Caravan" as a guest. The album is well structured and full of dynamics, really interesting. Not the usual Heavy Progressive album. An original album that excites more and more, with the passing of the plays. Let's start with the first track that starts with Middle Eastern tones and then explode into a very captivating mellotron riff. Then it becomes acoustic with excellent intertwining of guitar and flute that lead to a very groove part with the Zabbini's hammond solo that duets with Peter Matuchniak's guitar. A great track indeed which ends with a great passage of windwoods and electric guitar. Superb work of Dave Newhouse here with Sax and flute.

The second song is probably my favorite. It is very reminiscent of the Italian Prog of the 70's (Banco del Mutuo Soccorso) for the piano parts that Marco plays in an excellent way. The acoustic parts and the excellent work of Jeff Mack on bass, give this piece a magnificent aura. The sounds of the electric guitar are wonderful. The final with piano, sax and mellotron is really my favorite moment. Love it!

Promised land, the third song is a beautiful electro acoustic Prog ballad with beautiful vocal melodies.

The fourth song plays with the voices and continues the magic.

It's only fantasy, track number 5 starts with piano and vocals. Interesting lyrics here. The track explodes in a very psychedelic final!

The sixth piece is perhaps the least convincing even if it has an excellent bass and guitar groove. The voice here is pushed but the sounds remind me a bit 'Pink Floyd and the tune is less interesting than others.

"Keep dreaming" brings us back to the highest levels, with vocals intertwining worthy of the best Gentle Giants! Great rhythm and excellent guitar parts here.

The album ends with the exciting "Back home again", a Roger Waters style ballad with string arrangements and acoustic rhythm guitar. A beautiful closing of an album that continues to intrigue, listening after listening. For me this is a masterpiece, given the originality and the composition of excellent level. Talented musicians who support Marco and his ideas for nothing obvious. To have absolutely!

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 Lore by ELDER album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.38 | 22 ratings

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Lore
Elder Heavy Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars This is insanely good stuff. I bought the albums on Bandcamp, and have been listening to them together in one sitting. They are absolutely addicting. There is a high level of instrumentation, maybe 80/20 to the vocals, but I never feel bored in any way. Their sound is a grungy, psychedelic, spacey, perpetual jam that just ropes you in. They provide much of the same enjoyment of bands like King Crimson, Motorpsycho, or even Hawkwind, where the instrumentation can keep you entertained while you relax, work, exercise, or wash dishes. Nick's vocals remind me of a Jane's Addiction type of sound with a higher pitch tone, and they fit the music well. Elder Lore is probably the best place to start, but you cannot go wrong with any of them. I look forward to their next release. Head over to Bandcamp and see if they do not rope you in too.

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 Pawn Hearts by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.42 | 1971 ratings

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Pawn Hearts
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

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

5 stars In just a few short years, Peter Hammill's VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR project had evolved from a de facto solo effort ("The Aerosol Grey Machine") to an early progressive rock band ("The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other") and then up another few notches to one of the most innovative and boundary pushing pioneers within the prog world on "H To He Who Am The Only One." And as if the world were coming to end in the foreseeable future, this outlandish quartet that consisted of Peter Hammill, Hugh Benton, David Jackson and Guy Evans went for the jugular on their fourth album PAWN HEARTS, an album so gorged full of musical ideas that it seems like it's ready to collapse under its own bloated grandeur in a shriveled heap of sonic sesquipedalian entropy. But it did not and instead created a beacon of complexity that would continue the arms race of proposing which band could compose the most challenging and daring music set in a rock context possible. The album's title resulted from a humorous spoonerism where Jackson stated "I'll go down to the studio and dub on some more porn harts", meaning "horn parts".

It is without question that PAWN HEARTS ranks as VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR's most complex album and arguably one of the most demanding listens within the progressive rock paradigm. Often a rather love or hate sort of affair in no doubt due to Peter Hammill's Bowie-esque schizoid vocal style, this is a band that prog fans love or hate but perhaps the hate side of the equation is a result of simply not being indoctrinated fully into their own little private club of the prog universe. While my first exposure offered intrigue, i can't say that i loved it. What it did was make me want to investigate and delve into its idiosyncratic charm in order to unlock the secrets that await like an ET Bhuddist monk holding the key to longevity in some mysterious underground fortress in Mongolia or something. The virtuosic and tightened band effect was due to the fact that VDGG hit the road and relentless played their material from "H to He?" on the infamous "Six Bob" tour which featured other Charisma Records acts like Genesis and Lindisfarne. The band was said to be almost impossible to top as they reached their creative peak live performances as well as in the studio with the emergence of PAWN HEARTS, an album so sublime that it is one of the rare sonic portals into a truly alternative universe.

Despite the precarious balance of elements on board, somehow like a lion tamer in the circus, these musical pioneers subdued their wild and adventurous beast into one of progressive rock's most elegant displays of pomp and awe with an ever changing eclectic carousel ride through multi-layered suites that more often threaten to derail the melodic tightrope act but somehow emerge from the chaos like an egg dropped from the top of the Empire State Building only by happenstance to land on someone's lost down comforter. PAWN HEARTS has emerged through the decades as one of the pinnacles of progressive rock with its undulating relentless pursuit for complexity that takes the seemingly innocent although demented melodies of Peter Hammill's keyboardist singer / songwriting skills and teasing and torturing them until monstrous mountains of sound meander about in psychedelic hallucinations that realize the potentials of the 60s but taken to the proggy promised lands by raising the bar so high that very few have dared even tread these exalted elevations of exuberance.

While the late 60s was ground zero for the most experimental and adventurous musical explorations to have emerged since the dawning of recorded music, few took this opportunity to heart more than VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR. By 1971, the somewhat rotating cast of members had stabilized into the classic lineup with mainman Hammill forging his role as lead vocalist, keyboardist and conductor of everything demented, dark and dangerous. In accord, Benton would follow suit with his double role as bassist and second keyboardist which was one of the features that allowed VDGG an over-the-top and in-yer-face musical approach. And likewise Jackson, the band's one-man wind section provided the appropriate jazzy touches with healthy doses of the avant-garde in the forms of tenor, alto and soprano saxophones and flute would often bedazzle audiences with an uncanny propensity to play two different wind instruments simultaneously. While Guy Evans would provide the varied percussive sounds, he would also provide an extra layer of piano strewn throughout. Through the relentless tours of 1970, VDGG caught the attention of King Crimson's Robert Fripp who signed up as guest guitarist making PAWN HEARTS a veritable classic of the ages indeed. Granted, i agree with those who find the guitar duties a little underwhelming as they hardly take the limelight but if one listens attentively, they are there!

Despite the relentless strive to go where no musicians had gone before, in VDGG's native UK, it was a bit too much too soon, however Peter Hammill's passionate vocal style and rather symphonically driven eclectic prog was a major hit in Italy where PAWN HEARTS hit #1 on the album charts while failing to make even the smallest dent in Britain. And so it was VDGG's destiny to find solidarity in Italy where they would find themselves touring and pleasing their largest fanbase. The Italians were right on board with the outlandish, overwrought and passionate vocal styles coupled with classically infused progressive rock tendencies that pushed the limits as evidenced by some of the biggest Italian acts to follow. While Genesis got much credit for their symphonic pastoral contributions in the Italian prog scene, VDGG was in fact one of the main contributors with their ability to shapeshift pleasant yet seductive melodies into progressive powerhouse performances that let loose the full fury of psychedelic rock infused with the complexities of jazz, classical and the furthest reaches of the avant-garde.

PAWN HEARTS consists of a mere three tracks (except for the US and Canadian releases) but in reality contains more creative ideas than most bands muster up in their entire career thus making it not only VDGG's most ambitious and complex album of their entire career but also ranks way up there in terms of most intrepid, inspiring, emulous and zealous albums released in the entire era of recorded music with a burning desire to go where no musical entity had gone before thanks to the big bang of progressive rock inspiration fathered by the great Robert Fripp and his King Crimson outfit. I would be remiss to omit the contributions of Tony Stratton-Smith whose further explorations into the development and arrangements of PAWN HEARTS would have gone nowhere without his involvement. Despite the claim that PAWN HEARTS as well as any VDGG release is a Peter Hammill dominated one-man show, nothing could be further from the truth as much of the structural edification of the album was brought to life by the contributions of others. For some reason in the US and Canadian releases there was a fourth track added after "Lemmings" called "Theme One" which was written by none other than fifth Beatle member George Martin but has been demoted to merely a bonus track on newer versions.

"Lemmings" including "Cog" (11:39) While "H To He Who Am The Only One" seemed to castigate the powerful elite for their overweening misuse of testosterone in their relentless domination of humanity, on PAWN HEARTS, the opener "Lemmings" seems to take a jab at the populace themselves for relinquishing their freewill and allowing these tyrants to have their way. This opener immediately screams that VDGG has come of age. They have relentlessly nurtured their freak flag talents and taken them to the next level or two. While the backbone of the tune revolves around Hammill's usual piano based vocal style, the track takes no time at all to delve into schizoid dissonant segments that implement a psychedelic synthesized frosting with jazzified prog stabs and admittedly totally far out weirdness that is beyond bizarre even by modern day standards.

********** "Theme One" (2:55) Another mystery of the universe comes in this surprise. One that i wasn't even aware of until i started this review. Surprisingly this was written by George Martin, yeah that George Martin, producer or "fifth member" of The Beatles who wrote this track which only appears on the earliest of US and Canadian vinyl editions. This bouncy jazzy pop track has since been nixed as it totally feels out of place. Perhaps a slightly more digestible track to attract interest? I dunno. Shatters my personal experience for sure. NOT RATING THIS ALBUM on the basis of its inclusion. I'm going to pretend i never knew this existed.

"Man-Erg" (10:19) is perhaps the most "normal" track on the album. While beginning with a seemingly innocent piano ballad style that would become a Hammill solo staple, it retains a sense of melancholy and darkness. While the piano riff is recurrent it's not until the track shifts into the schizoid and jittery angular and bizarrely timed heavy rock section that alternates abruptly that things get really wild and out of control. It has been suggested that the title is an anagram of "German" and in actuality about Hitler, which in retrospect, 1970 was within an era not totally removed from the reality of the period. Perhaps about the duality of good and evil, the possibility that any man can attain a god complex and find a way to justify any atrocity. Some of the most thought provoking lyrics in conjunct with a dualistic compositional approach. The ultimate Jekyll and Hyde composition.

"A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" (23:04) is not only the album's magnus opus but even claimed by the band members themselves to be the pinnacle of creative fortitude. While the side long vinyl track that in reality was a multitude of individual musical pieces composed by the various members that were only later in the studio stitched together to create a meaningful unified theme as it was in essence a batch of snippets that were recorded between gigs only to emerge as the progressive behemoth that appears on the album. While deep analysis of a deeper meaning can spiral into a fertile imagination to infinity, the truth is that Hammill claims the track is really very simply about the story of a lighthouse keeper and the experiences of life and death and the psychological baggage involved. While the storyline is clear, the musical construct is anything but as it navigates through ten distinct movements with none logically connected to the others. However the main opening melodic riff recurs throughout offering a stabilizing factor to an otherwise nebulous journey through the sonic universe. PAWN HEARTS seeded the musical universe in unforeseen ways and many future bands would pick some of the ripe fruits that were never really further developed by the band itself. For example, at 16:37 this musical monstrosity develops into a schizoid marching band type of frenetic outbreak which seems like the blueprint for the spastic zolo style adopted by the Cardiacs and other bands like Oingo Boingo down the road.

Despite VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR receiving lavish praise from some UK critics, the band unfortunately fell to deaf ears in their homeland and concentrated their efforts on their lucrative success in Italy where they engaged in a grueling tour schedule which ultimately led to burn out and the first break up of the band. Hammill continued with the other members on his less crazed solo albums and after a few years of recovery would return for 1975's lauded "Godbluff," but they would settle into a more streamlined prog sound and leave behind the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. PAWN HEARTS remains one of the pinnacles of progressive rock and a fan favorite as it exudes a brash bravado that transcends the time and space from which it was created. Desert isle pick if there ever was one.

The eerily constructed melodies are sadistically addictive and the labyrinthine compositional approach means that you can literally listen to this one over a hundred times and still be surprised by how it zigzags around through its many movements and schizophrenic outbursts. If you think you can understand PAWN HEARTS by a single listen or even ten, you'd be fooling yourself as this is one of those albums that is so bold and so daring that even for hardened proggers such as myself, it took many years to finally come to grips with. However in its wake it has emerged as one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time and i can say that despite not making such lists due to my preferences changing frequently. Needless to say, PAWN HEARTS is not only VDGG's creative peak but one of progressive rock's crowning achievements. You better believe five stars in every way. Compositionally, lyrically, performance-wise and creatively weird as bleep. It just doesn't get better than this one especially for the year it materialized.

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 Young Lions by BELEW, ADRIAN album cover Studio Album, 1990
2.20 | 32 ratings

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Young Lions
Adrian Belew Eclectic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

2 stars This was one of Adrian Belew's attempts at a more accessible pop which was released during one of the times that King Crimson was on sabbatical. It was released between "Three of a Perfect Pair" and "Thrak". He was also head guitarist for David Bowie's concerts during this time. He also released a few albums during this down period for King Crimson, some of them good and some of them questionable. "Young Lions" is one of those albums that is questionable at best and definitely not as progressive than some of the others if at all.

The album starts out well enough for a pop album with 3 decent songs; "Young Lions" which makes for a great upbeat opener, "Pretty Pink Rose" which is written by David Bowie and features him singing lead which is a great surprise, and "Heartbeat", a King Crimson song done to a pop beat, which actually sounds good considering the way it's been made radio friendly. So, you might have at least a 3 star album by this point and there is plenty of room to grow here. Unfortunately, things take a turn for the worst.

The next song is "Looking for a U.F.O. which is just a complete embarrassment. Pop rhythms with annoying lyrics and no feeling whatsoever. The downward spiral continues with "I Am What I Am" which is the spoken word of Prophet Omega talking over what might have been an okay guitar solo if not for his distracting ramblings. Then he does a cover of The Traveling Wilburys' "Not Alone Anymore". So this is a great song when done by the Wilburys and Belew does a decent job of the cover, but adds nothing and takes nothing away, so there really is no point.

"Men in Helicopters" has a good message, and is also a slight turn for the better here because it doesn't sound so forced as the previous tracks. There is some nice guitar work during the instrumental break with other sounds going on. "Small World" is just bland and uninspired. There is a some harmonization over a lot of drums that sounds like some bad Jeff Lynne impression. I'd almost rather hear Disney's version of "It's a Small World After All", but not really. I think he's trying to be Peter Gabriel here too, but failing miserably. "Phone Call from the Moon" has some nice jazzy Robin Trower style guitar work, but the spoken part of the lyrics is pathetic: "Time moves slowly like the curve of the Earth" and so on. Okay whatever. Bowie returns thank goodness, for the last track "Gunman". Just to prove that Adrian is actually a great talent, the guitar is excellent, what you would expect on a KC album or one of Belew's better albums.

Not sure what happened here, but it started off pretty good and ended good with one decent song in the middle, but more than half of this is just plain worse than mediocre. Not really worth looking into this one, but try some of his better solo albums, or get a King Crimson album released during his time with that band if you want to hear Belew at his best.

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 Visions Of Dune by ZED album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.05 | 12 ratings

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Visions Of Dune
Zed Progressive Electronic

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars ZED was a project out of France led by Bernard Szajner. An Electronic album for sure but we do get some real drums on 4 tracks and guitar on 3 songs. That was the appeal for me along with Klaus Blasquiz being on here. Sadly I have to agree with the majority that this is but a 3 star album. I do like the electronics enough but I was so disappointed with the treated vocals of Blasquiz on that one track. He simply speaks. I was hoping for some chanting that was distorted somehow in a cool way. This album failed to click with me really other than a couple of tracks that are excellent.

A lot of these songs blend into one another. Up first is "Dune" a good start really with those high pitched sounds that rise and fall before atmosphere rolls in. Some guitar follows as the synths growl away. A good start. "Bashar" has drums with swirling synths and more. "Thufir Hawat" has more of the same without drums but experimental sounds come in over top. Not into this one.

"Sardaukar" continues with the swirling synths as drums and more help out. "Bene Gesserit" has electronics that are buzzing with an electronic beat and more. A melancholic synths arrives before 2 minutes then abrasive sounds. It winds down late. "Shai Hulud" has odd sounds indeed along with a beeping sound before an electronic rhythm kicks in. That odd sound continues but it's in the background before being upfront again after 3 minutes with atmosphere and more. Sequencers before 4 minutes and they stop around 5 1/2 minutes. It changes late with deeper sounds and synths firing off.

"Fremen" is a top two and one I liked right away. Drums in this one but it's starts with buzzing synths that rise as others join in swirling around. Synths start to shoot off like fireworks after a minute then electronics and drums. This is good. I like those deep synth sounds starting before 3 minutes. "Harkonnen" is my favourite. High pitched synths before deep electronics kick in as we get a rhythm with drums and guitar too. Nice.

"Abab" has sequencers leading the way but there's more including spacey synths. "Gom Jabbai" has a few different sounds that can be heard, all electronic. "Ibad" has spacey buzzing synths and another electronic sound before a beat then guitar joins in. Treated spoken words from Blasquiz are disappointing after 2 minutes. Not a fan. "Kwizatz Haderich" has loud electronics that come and go along with higher pitched synths in tow. Deeper sounds arrive too. I like this.

An interesting album that could have been so much better in my opinion. HELDON is an example of using drums and guitar with electronics to great success. This not so much.

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 Ágætis Byrjun by SIGUR RÓS album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.14 | 514 ratings

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Ágætis Byrjun
Sigur Rós Post Rock/Math rock

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This would be the album that would bring Sigur Ros out of obscurity not only in their own country of Iceland, but in the entire world. Hard to believe that a band that sings only in their native tongue and also in another made-up language would be so popular in America also, but this band proved that it can happen. This was only the band's 2nd full album, but it is so innovative and beautiful, so well produced, that you would swear these were well seasoned musicians. These feats in and of themselves tell a lot about the artists involved, but it is only a huge plus that this album is one of the most beautiful experiences in modern music today.

People like to compare them to Pink Floyd, but there is no comparison to any band. The techniques they use are unique, like using a cello bow on guitar strings and then adding reverb to create atmosphere. And this album is completely full of atmosphere and emotion. When I listen to it, I marvel how some of this music is even earthly possible. It approaches celestial status at times, lifting you above everything. It is also very immersive music in that to fully appreciate it, you have to immerse yourself and really listen. There is so much going on even at regular levels, but also in many underlying passages. But you don't have to always be immersed to hear it's beauty. For example, the 3rd track "Staralfer", when I first listened to this album, I was not really immersed into it, but the beauty of the orchestration and musicianship pulled me in instantly. Just as another reviewer has mentioned, this album can bring you to tears, and this is one track that does it. It's hard to believe that the topic of the track is a child's fairy tale about a staring elf, but that is why I think it is important that the lyrics can't be understood, because it leaves that track and every song by the band open to complete interpretation. You can paint your own pictures in your mind.

But, the amazingness of the music isn't just limited to that track. It starts off with an "intro" which is simply the title track (Number 8) played backwards. But it prepares you for "Svefn-g-englar" which is also a lovely song, where the lyrics are repeated often, but the lyrics and the vocals are just instruments in the entire band. The birthing process through the perspective of a new born is the topic of the song. The use of the bow on guitar strings is used well in this song to increase volume and emotion of the track. Then the beautiful and heavily orchestrated "Staralfer" comes next and words can't express the emotion in this track. I love how the orchestra builds while Jonsi sings and then just drops off to what sounds like an electric guitar that is not plugged in to an amp being strummed while he continues to sing. An interesting side note here is that the strings in this track are palandromic, or the same forward and backward. I also find the track " Hjartað Hamast (bamm Bamm Bamm)" extremely interesting and amazing, with totally unique sounds and textures, and at times copying the sound of a hammering heart, as is hinted in the title. Throughout the album, there is such an effective use of dynamics, and that is very relevant in this track.

"Viðrar Vel Til Loftárasa" is probably the closest song to a Pink Floyd type sound. It has a very long introduction which features a solo piano and an orchestra crescendo-ing and then a sliding guitar sound very reminiscent of Pink Floyd joins in very tastefully. Then vocals finally start, remaining somewhat subdued and far away this time, but the instruments still swell and ebb around the vocals. The effect is amazing. Then suddenly, there is that huge sound of the treated guitar and bow again, and it is joined by strings which eventually drown everything else out as it builds and tempo and pitch are sped up. Then it drops off suddenly and flows into the familiar drum beat and bass line of "Olsen Olsen". This is another beaut of a song. The far off voice starts sounding like Jonsi is singing from a distance, like from a distant canyon. And that flute melody that comes in from time to time is perfect. It gives the track a definite Celtic feel. When that melody comes back, it is played by the piano with strings chugging underneath, and then joined by the band and the orchestra and chorus. Love the jubilant feel of this one. As brass joins in, things get slightly disjointed and dissonant as it fades out. Before the track is over, you hear the flute far away in the distance. The title track is more acoustic sounding and is probably more of a traditional love ballad sound, but lovely nonetheless. There is still enough ingenuity in this track to keep it interesting. The song is fragile sounding, like it is likely to go wandering off into non-traditional territory at any time, but something continues to keep it restrained to it's boundaries. Everything is finished off with "Avalon", which is simply the strings section and the strumming section from "Staralfer" slowed down to about 1/4 of the original speed, and sounding rather muffled. It serves as an ambient ending to the album.

When you listen to this album, you can see why it was so well received everywhere in the world and also lauded by critics. It is an amazing album, which strongly proves that Progressive Rock is alive and well. This is a definite masterpiece, though it is not universally accepted by all prog-heads, there is no denying that if you let yourself into this music, that it is simply amazing. Some have a hard time liking it, but to some, the love for this music just comes naturally and others need time to listen to it seriously. This is a definite 5 star masterpiece, and in my own rating system, it even gets that very rare 6 star rating. Perfect.

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 Precise Time by HAPPY 55 album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.05 | 2 ratings

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Precise Time
Happy 55 RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Happy 55 is a band out of Russia, but the lead keyboardist currently lives in the U.S. They have self released a few albums and E.P.s, which I have not heard yet. This is my first experience with the band, and let me tell you, it is an avant-prog party for the senses. "Precise Time" is the newest release to date, June 2018. It is listed under albums, but it only has 3 songs with a run time of only around 16 minutes, so it is really an E.P. But one thing for sure, it will leave you wanting more, especially if you are a fan of Rock in Opposition, or Avant Garde Progressive music.

I call these three tracks "compositions" because they are not songs in the traditional sense as much as they are compositions in the contemporary classical sense or the modern jazz sense. The sound is a combination of both styles with a lot of progressive aspects thrown in. They have quite a list of influences from Stravinsky to King Crimson, though it leans more towards the 21st Century classical music more than the rock influences, though they are definitely there. If anything, to me they sound more like "Henry Cow" than anything else, but even then, that's not completely right either. The best thing about all of this, and what makes me most excited about their sound, is that it is driven by acoustic piano. Drums are also in the mix, and they are used as both a standard rhythm generator and totally non-standard at other times becoming more than just a background sound.

The first track, which is the title track "Precise Time" is a very happy sounding track, but not because it's something you feel like whistling, because you can't. The piano drives this along with some great percussion, with support from electronics and synths. This added all together gives a very unique sound, never annoying, always interesting. They do consider themselves a combination of electronics and acoustics and it usually happens all at the same time. There are no standard sounding melodies here though, as there is a lot of dissonance, which makes it amazing that it is still a very happy sounding track even with all of these strange harmonies, scales, chords and sounds going on. The movement of the driving melodies (if you can call them that) are always moving. At about the 4 minute mark, there is a major change in the sound and things almost get frantic. This part gets me really excited as the speed increases and interesting repeating sounds come out of the synths.

The next track is "All Green" and this one immediately sounds different. There are 3 voices speaking in another language which I don't understand. They continue for a short time and then reverb is added slowly along with music until the voices are taken over altogether. This is more of a dark sound, again driven by the piano at first. About halfway through, the clarinet takes over the spotlight, and then eventually, both the piano and clarinet play notes that constantly move and weave around each other. It all seems to be done in a minor key, though I am not sure if there is a specific key here, and I certainly have no idea what mode they are using either, possibly even 12 tone. That would make sense since Prokofiev and Stravinsky are influences.

The last track is my favorite entitled "Tolk". This one uses the best example of standard pop rhythms at certain times and non- standard at other times. That is the only thing close to standard here because everything else playing here does not necessarily follow the rhythm. This is a very interesting combination. The standard rhythm drops out and comes back occasionally, but the non-standard percussion also continues. There is a lot going on here, lots of dynamics, rhythm changes, nice builds and releases throughout the track. Very enjoyable.

Overall, this is a very enjoyable EP that keeps you wanting more. It definitely has me interested in hearing their other releases. The production is excellent, the sound is mostly bright, but also dark in places. Dynamics are very, very well used here, and that is probably the strongest asset. These guys really know what they are doing, and I would say they sound like they are classically trained with an interest in Jazz and progressive rock. Nothing is predictable here, so don't expect that going in to this one. What it is though, is a lot of fun, which is something you can't always say about contemporary classical music since must of it (not all of it though) comes off sounding rather clinical, where this is anything but clinical. All lovers of RIO and Avant Garde Progressive need to listen to this, it is definitely an excellent addition to your collection. Besides, you are not out much as far as dollars go since it is only 3 songs, but you will probably want to invest more once you hear it. Excellent job by a very talented band.

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 Spirit of Place by FIRMAMENT album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Spirit of Place
Firmament Progressive Metal

Review by proghaven

— First review of this album —
4 stars To begin with, my congrats to all the PA community on the official debut of a new interesting band. It was classified as prog metal, guess just because the PA staff found no better definition. Tell me people, is the term 'prog metal fusion' at least potentially valid? You see, I think it may be closest to what we are dealing with in case of Firmament. Seemingly prog metal indeed, but with strong Crimsonian, jazzy and fusion hints, tunes and chords. Another moment to be noted is that Firmament's version of prog metal is prog metal with no keyboards (an exceptional case, isn't it?). And the third point I'd like to note is that it's prog metal not similar to Dream Theater. No idea why but it's commonly accepted to consider Dream Theater a founder of prog metal, though I was always sure that the year 1989 was later than the year 1983 (The Plague by Demon). Anyway, most of prog metal bands more or less imitate Dream Theater since 1990s. But Firmament doesn't. Absolutely. What they introduce to their listeners is a very specific and individual version of prog metal based on intricate rhythms and unusual melody making techniques with (apart from strong fusion elements) a slight but audible touch of Rush from late 1970s to early 1980s (Hemispheres, Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures) and - surprisingly! - even some echoes from Necromandus. The album's only (but serious) disadvantage is annoying drums sound & playing manner traditional for prog metal of Dream Theater/Symphony X/Rhapsody/Redemption type, hardly appropriate for the band's inventive and refined music. The result is an impression that the album is somewhat monotonous, though an experienced listener will surely see that this impression is false.

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 Is It? by TELIOF album cover Studio Album, 2008
4.45 | 26 ratings

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Is It?
Teliof Eclectic Prog

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

5 stars What a terrific soundscape.

An Israeli combo TELIOF's debut album "Is It?" has been released in 2008 as one of amazing stuffs all over the progressive rock world. It's apparent they've got extremely influenced by 70s British progressive rock especially Genesis or Earth & Fire (as for the latter, through the second track "Die For Us" we can hear their chorus texture obviously like "Song Of The Marching Children"), but crazy amazingly they should not play tiny imitation nor simple mixture of the pioneers.

Their complicated melodic structure blended with pop and catchy nuance sounds quite serious but charming. Such a fascinating phenomenon can be directly heard in the first track "They Believe We Exist" ... where we can accept easily and enjoyably what they've launched cynically, violently and weirdly. The female voices based upon fine male chorus are clearly delightful. we should get immersed into their sound kaleidoscope created, crystallized with all instruments (especially the electric piano) as a sound chaser, and get drenched in their energetic sound magma.

The third (and the longest) track "It Is" suite is kinda theatrical architecture. Easily able to imagine they have played fully with hope and relax in a studio. It's surprising every single member and instrument explodes forward his/her/its attitude and intention. No part cannot be beaten by other ones, and all are harmonized and synchronized perfectly. And another interest is that there is little minor key nor negative atmosphere all over the suite. Of our comfort are tremendously fine, fantastic melodic / sound footsteps from the beginning until the end. Yes 24 minutes will go away from our ear soon. Even the last two short tracks are sorta killers seasoned with incredible instrumental spices like violin madness or saxophone drone.

We can send them ungrudging admiration, the loudest applause via such a stimulating sound elegance definitely.

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 Live And Let Live  by TWELFTH NIGHT album cover Live, 1984
4.23 | 62 ratings

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Live And Let Live
Twelfth Night Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

5 stars "Lebensraum for megalomaniacs" (We Are Sane - Twelfth Night)

This line was written in 1982 by the late Geoff Mann, how actual!

In the first part of The Eighties the 'new British progressive rock movement' started to blossem (with the London Marquee as the beating heart), speerheaded by Marillion and in their slipstream formations like IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Abel Ganz, Solstice and, last not but least, Twelfth Night. They were 'a bit different', to say the least. In 2010 I did an interview with Brian Devoil and Andy Sears (they had just re-founded Twelfth Night and released the 2-CD and 2-DVD album MMX) and finally I got my chance to ask about their personal musical taste. And how the press did their best to pigeonhole their unique sound in the Eighties. Well, about the personal taste of the Twelfth Night members, according to Brian and Andy "this ranged from U2, Simple Minds and The Cure to early Queen and punk". And they quoted fellow Twelfth Night member Clive Mitten who said "that he wanted to sound as a cross between Van Halen and Frankie Goes To Hollywood!". Brian and Andy remembered that the press often compared them with Roxy Music, but also named Twelfth Night "the Duran Duran of the prog". Reading these words you can imagine why Twelfth Night sounds ' a bit different'.

This review is about the live album Live And Let Live that was recorded on November the 4th and 5th, 1983, in the legendary London music temple the Marquee Club. It was the farewell gig from their charismatic singer and frontman Geoff Mann, he had decided to go solo. In February 1993 he died, due to cancer, this review is dedicated to this wonderful and creative human being.

1. The Ceiling Speaks (8:26) : The atmosphere alternates between a mid-tempo, slow downs and bombastic outburst, embellished with powerful guitarwork, catchy synthesizer flights and Geoff Mann his distinctive emotional voice.

2. The End Of The Endless Majority (3:18) : A wonderful instrumental track that features a duet between the acoustic Ovation guitar (flageolets and twanging) and sensitive electric guitar play. In the end a surprising accellaration with propulsive rhythm guitar and howling electric guitar runs. It sounds unique, subtle and fragile, and showcases the strong compositional skills of the band.

3. We Are Sane (12:04) : This is a typical Twelfth Night longer track that blends Seventies symphonic rock elements with the Eighties New Wave sound, unique. The intro contains a cynical combination of "bla bla bla" and words like "unemployment'" and "the enemy" by Geoff Mann. Then soaring strings and high pichted, soprano-like vocals, gradually the music becomes more lush with wonderful volume pedal electric guitar play and Geoff his cynical voice. Suddenly a bombastic outburst featuring distorted guitar and fat synthesizer sounds. In the second part the music alternates between dreamy, catchy up-tempo and bombastic. This is wonderfully coloured with howling electric guitar runs, a deep Moog Tauras bass pedal sound, topped by Geoff his outstanding vocals, from tender to powerful. In the end Geoff theatrically shouts WE ARE SANE, then a short bombastic outburst, what an exciting and compelling music!

4. Fact And Fiction (5:27) : Another intro with spoken words by Geoff, this time a parody on politicians, "we are the fact and they are the fiction". Then a tight up-tempo beat with tasteful and varied keyboard work, topped with powerful vocals, "don't make me laugh, haha" Geoff sings with that distinctive cynical undertone.

5. The Poet Sniffs A Flower (4:03) : The other instrumental, starting with soaring keyboards, twanging electric guitar, then wonderfully build up to a fluent rhythm featuring dynamic interplay and howling electric guitar runs, how exciting!

6. Sequences (17:14) : Originally an instrumental, Geoff re-wrote it, fitted lyrics into it and the new version became 'a classic'. It's Twelfth Night their 'magnum opus', their answer to Supper's Ready, Karn Evil 9, Close To The Edge, Echoes, Grendel, but different. We can enjoy lots of shifting moods, from dreamy to up-tempo and bombastic, in the symphonic rock tradition. But the unique colouring with the guitar and keyboards is the Twelfth Night trademark: from flashy flights on the Moog Prodigy (the 'poor man's Minimoog') to biting wah-wah drenched guitar soli ,and from soaring strings to propulsive guitar riffs, often accompanied by the clapping cheerful crowd. And topped with Geoff his powerful and emotional vocals, with some exciting theatrical outbursts. In the end a short sumptuous eruption, with a pumping bass, tight drum beats and sensitive electric guitar play. "Seventies symphonic rock meets Eighties New Wave", Twelfth Night their trademark, here in its full splendour.

7. Creepshow (12:06) : This is Twelfth NIght their most unique and captivating composition with great lyrics, vocals and musical ideas. First a dreamy climate with tender keyboard runs, subtle electric guitar play and Geoff his distinctive voice. Then lots of shifting moods, coloured with Moog synthesizer flights, inventive guitar work (including the 'hammering' sound) and dominant bass runs. Geoff delivers lots of vocal ideas, theatrical, powerful and especially the part with spoken words is very compelling. Finally a bombastic atmosphere with moving guitar, loaded with howling runs, supported by sumptuous keyboards, this is 24-carat symphonic rock, but different, goose bumps!

8. East Of Eden (5:14) : This is a basically a straightforward rock song with a tight beat, but wonderfully embellished with tasteful keyboards, cynical vocals and in the end again a moving guitar solo with howling runs.

9. Love Song (8:29) : The lyrics in this beautiful, very emotional and compelling composition are rooted in Geoff his religious ideas, he liked to spread the words of Jesus that we should love each other. Because "jealousy is such a parasite, hatred a disease" he sings. The music matches perfectly with these words: first dreamy with tender vocals, twanging guitars and soaring keyboards, then a slow beat featuring wonderful volume pedal driven electric guitar and finally bombastic with very moving guitar work. Goose bumps, wet eyes, community singing, what a great atmosphere in this final track, Geoff his final contribution, and perhaps his best!

For me this is one of the masterpieces of the new British progressive rock movement, far away from those Nineties Neo Prog bands like Shadowland, Everon and Arena with their polished and predictable sound. Here it's variety, adventure, emotion, lyrics and ideas in an unique meeting between the worlds of Seventies symphonic rock and Eighties New Wave, highly recommended!

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 Brain Salad Surgery by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.14 | 1718 ratings

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Brain Salad Surgery
Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

4 stars Does the world really need another review of Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake and Palmer? Of course not, but a look back at this album, 45 years after it's debut, seems warranted. Often held up as the poster boy of everything bad associated with prog, BBS has a hell of a reputation.

To start off, let's look at the oft maligned lyrics to Greg Lake's lovely ballad "Still You Turn Me On". The cringe worthy plea of Greg's of "Someone get me a ladder" after declaring how sad and mad the world has become, as if Lake had lifted nonsense lyrics from an epic song by Spinal Tap. Clumsy perhaps, but not even close to absurd. The song is probably Lake's second best after "From The Beginning" with Emerson's accordion-like keys wonderfully melancholy and restrained, and without any input from Carl Palmer to break the song's magical spell.

The lead off track "Jerusalem" still sounds as awkward as the day it was recorded but it's still hard to find a similar opening album track in all of progdom, so it's charm remains. "Toccota", Keith Emerson's arrangement of the 4th movement of Alberto Ginastera's "1st Piano Concert" is still absolutely magnificent with it's tight as a glove playing and excellent tympani and drum work by Palmer . "Tocotta" really put ELP on to a plane almost above progressive rock, so outrageous and spell binding is the song's ability to captivate the listener no matter how complex and complicated the group's playing.

The throw away song "Benny The Bouncer" probably appeals to those who cherish "Jerusalem", but I wouldn't know about that. What I do know is that I'm still floored and intrigued by the fact that the title track "Karn Evil 9's" oft played on radio (Ist Impression part 2) in no way resembles the organ drenched opening of the song's (Ist Impression part 1) until some 3 minutes into the song proper. The familiar radio riff is no more than a tease until it's fully developed and played almost a minute later. Indeed, where Emerson's bank of Moog synths blast their way into the song's mix and into one's brain.

It's easy to see where the acoustic piano of Karn Evil 9's (2nd Impression) caused many to point out that the song was stitched together from disparate parts, regardless of how wonderful Emerson's playing is. The fact is that "Karn Evil 9" is no more or less disjointed than any other 20 minute prog epic with Jethro Tull's "Thick As a Brick" as a prime example and the group's "Baker Street Muse" as a secondary example. The closing of the epic's (3rd Impression) with it's spacy synths and modulated robotic vocal's signaled to all mainstream music reviewers the "Karn Evil 9" was preachy and pretentious while AOR hacks like Styx "artfully" decreed the same about Mr. Roboto in song just a few years later.

Brain Salad Surgery is still worthy of 4 stars in my book. It does have it faults, but much less than the ones that the chroniclers of music history have cast upon it. So, thanks to all the gods for the show that never ends.

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 Local Anaesthetic  by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.52 | 25 ratings

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Local Anaesthetic
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars So, here it is. A review concerning the infamous "Local aenesthetic" by Nirvana. It seems most people are put off by the fact or notion that it doesn't sound like Nirvana used to. Well, that may be true. I am really not too familiar with Nirvana, merely a casual listener of yesteryear. Nice enough but that's it. Anyway, since I have an interest in albums generally regarded as inferior I always feel the urge to examine it, discover it's secrets and lay bare a plethora of hidden gems and artefacts. In some cases it all comes out in glory and I hear angelic bursts of trumpets but sometimes (quite often) I find the same barren wasteland as others already have done. In the case of Nirvana I dare say I have struck gold and I am truly happy for it.

I will not go into detail regarding the line-up on this album or why things are that way. I will simply draw a conclusion, based on my own wild imagination, that Campbell-Lyons listened to and picked up the wind of progressive rock and let his ship fill it's sail with that wind and enter a new realm of musical plenty. 1971 was a year when alot of progressive plants already had been planted, so I assume he had been listening to the likes of King Crimson and Genesis. Now I am not saying that the music on "Local aenesthetic" is anything like the albums by just now mentioned counterparts but it belongs to the same species, and that is progressive music. When reading about the album one gets the feeling of a man collapsing under the weight of his own lofty ambitions and musical legacy, only to crash to the ground like a burning aeroplane. I do, actually, beg to differ and here is why.

Consisting of only two long tracks the album stretches out for 35 minutes and it is 35 wonderful minutes. The music is not at all as sophisticated, as elegant or as tightly arranged as the music of Genesis or Gentle Giant and not nearly as complex. It holds a much more raw, rough edged and loosely played quality. The two tracks, or suites, are based around more or less simple melodies tied together into a whole.

"Modus operandi" opens up with something truly unique for this album, a cacophony of sounds and screams that are quite avantgarde. Soon follows a boogie section (which I by now grown accustomed to) but soon settles into a more enjoyable blues-rock fashion. The whole things develop into a hard rocking affair where the tension is mounting. It is a wonderful composition that holds a jamming sensation where improvisation takes the center stage, though contained inside a delightful groove. There's a psychedelic section aswell, which only proves a well known point: the ingredients of prog are many and diverse.

"Home", the second track, starts off with bass and percussion before a beautiful melody enters and soft, trembling vocals comes in. To me it's irresistable. Simply gorgeous. The sound is somewhat Kinks-ish, only slightly rougher. The track is yet again a builder with denser and denser instrumentation. It really rocks quite hard and intensively. It ends, after more melodious and beutiful melodies, with blues-rock and a slight return to the initial melody. Fantastic track.

I suppose that if you're into the meticulous arrangements and delicate harmonies of Nirvana pre-"Local aenesthetic" you may be in for quite a shock. The music bears little resemblance to those albums prior to this one. What you get is a raw, rough sounding piece of early progressive rock where psych, blues, hard rock, jazz and (a slight presence of) avant-garde. I.e. everything you might expect from progressive rock during the very early formative years of existence. I just love it. Sure, it consists of fairly simple melodies and the intricacy of other more complex bands is not there but what you get is really a blueprint for progressive rock where a visionary approach to music breaks the chains and heads into unknown territory. I feel very little for Nirvana as a whole but in this instance I cannot do anything else than to bow down and stick both thumbs up in the air in awe and admiration. A terrific album from start to finish that might need a couple of spins to really appreciate but then again, isn't that the true nature of prog?

4 stars from me.

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 Islands by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.80 | 1695 ratings

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Islands
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by Ludenberger

3 stars The 4th and final album of the Sinfield era, "Islands" is romantic, experimental and jazzier than ever. It holds the advantage over "Lizard" in some ways, especially because Boz Burrell, a much better vocalist (and my personal favorite), and Ian Wallace, a much more creative drummer, hop on board for this mostly relaxed album. Robert Fripp also plays a much larger role, exemplified with his "Sailor's Tale" that is somewhat of a precursor to the wonderful experimentation that would happen in "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" 2 years later.

The album opens with "Formentera Lady," which isn't the typical King Crimson album opener expected of the previous albums, but it really sets the tone for an exotic experience. It begins with Keith Tippet's signature piano flourishes and some outstanding saxophone work from Mel Collins. The vocal work from Boz Burrell is some of the best on the album, and Ian Wallace's percussion in this song sounds like what was to come from players like Bill Bruford or Jamie Muir. The song is also a whopping ten minutes, but like most KC songs, it doesn't overstay its welcome.

"The Letters" is a somber song with more excellent vocals, especially near the end of the song. As I said, "Sailor's Tale" is one of the great experimental works from not only the band but also Mel Collins, however I think this song does overstay its welcome in length, especially after "Formentera Lady."

Speaking of overly long songs, one song that I've never been fond of is "Prelude: Song of the Gulls," which is pleasant for about a minute but goes absolutely nowhere. I get that it's supposed to be a calm buildup before the final track, but it's just not fulfilling enough and "Islands" just isn't as powerful as songs like "Lizard" and "The Court of the Crimson King."

Another great moment on this record is "Ladies of the Road," with harmonies comparable to that of The Beach Boys in the chorus, which is easily the highlight of the song. I also love how Mel Collins uses the saxophone on this track, making it work with a bluesy number such as this.

Overall, the record isn't nearly as strong as the previous ones, but it's pretty good regardless. 3/5

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 Lizard by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.12 | 1944 ratings

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Lizard
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by Ludenberger

5 stars After the release of "In The Wake Of Poseidon" and most of the original band going off to pursue other musical avenues, most bands would just part ways, not bounce back to release the eclectic masterpiece that is "Lizard." Not only did King Crimson managed to pull the impossible off like they always do, but they even managed to release it in the same year as the previous album. Like "In The Court of the Crimson King," this album shows that KC are already ahead of other artists by leaps and bounds.

Fripp and Sinfield remain from the original band, making even more of a collaborative effort this time between two creative minds. Not only does Pete Sinfield return to write the lyrics, this time he also designs one of King Crimson's finest album covers, as well as one of prog's finest. Mel Collins joins the band as an official member this time around, bringing his amazing flute and especially amazing saxophone skills to the table. As for other members, Gordon Haskell comes on to do most of the vocals and bass guitars here, and he does a fine job, but not an outstanding one. Andy McCulloch is the drummer of the band, but it seems like he was just told to do his best impression of what Michael Giles was doing.

Moving forward from where the last two albums left off, "Lizard" decides to go in the jazzier direction that the early band seemed destined to go in at some point. Flutes, saxophones, trombones, cornets, and more take the spotlight, as opposed to a more traditional rock format using guitars. Many jazz sections are found in the tracks on this album, especially on tracks like "Indoor Games" and the title track.

"Cirkus" is the perfect opening track, and it immediately grabs your attention with abstract lyrics, and the highlight of the song, which are the menacing mellotron and horn sections after each verse. It's also one of Haskell's finest vocal performances on the album, and overall, a circus I like coming back to again and again.

"Indoor Games" follows a similar bombastic format to "Cirkus," getting even jazzier this time. With a "hey ho" from Haskell, we're launched into the next attraction of the circus, which is "Happy Family." Many consider this to be a weak song, but I think it's the perfect culmination of what "Cirkus" and "Indoor Games" were leading up to. Oh, and it's about the Beatles, too.

"Lady of the Dancing Water" is similar to "Cadence and Cascade," and although I probably like "Cadence" a bit more, this is such a peaceful song to close off the first side, giving the first 3 songs room for a better experience. The best part of the song is Collins's flute playing, and it echoes the brilliance of Ian McDonald's playing on "I Talk To The Wind."

Finally, the track that makes this album a prog essential is the title track of "Lizard." First and foremost, it is one of the first side-long suites in prog, coming in a year before ELP would release "Tarkus." It set a trend that other artists such as Genesis and Yes would take inspiration from. Speaking of Yes, one of the best things on the song is the fact that Jon Anderson, the vocalist for Yes, comes in to sing "Prince Rupert Awakens," and the song fits his voice perfectly. Next in the suite we move directly into "Bolero," the jazziest piece on the album which culminates in crashing cymbals, leading into the chilling opening notes of "The Battle Of Glass Tears." This section takes up most of the suite, but it doesn't disappoint and it really feels like a battle. Even Haskell's vocals fit the section well, representing a calm before the storm. The suite is ended off with "Big Top," a short nostalgic piece on the mellotron that never fails to give me chills.

Even though this album is said to be "hard to get into," it is worth it and overtime, its true musical excellence of "Lizard" starts to show. 5/5

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 Danger Money by UK album cover Studio Album, 1979
3.73 | 328 ratings

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Danger Money
UK Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars REview Nº 185

"Danger Money" is the second studio album of U.K. and was released in 1979. U.K. was one of the most prominent prog rock groups of the late 70's and one of the first of a concept that would be called "a super-group". The album was released in the following year of the release of their debut album. It features John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio. Of the original line up only Wetton and Jobson remained, having Allan Holdsworth and Bill Bruford, departed.

Following two lengthy American live tours, Wetton and Jobson decided to fire Holdsworth due to over musical differences. Bruford chose to depart as well. Bruford soon formed the jazz rock fusion group, Bruford, and invited Holdsworth to join him. After the departure of Bruford and Holdsworth, the remaining band's members decided don't bring another guitarist for the group. Instead, they became a trio with the presence of the new drummer Terry Bozzio. Bozzio was another one time band's member of Frank Zappa. So, U.K. became a trio with an ELP's classic line up.

So, the line on the album is Eddie Jobson (keyboards and electric violin), John Wetton (lead vocals and bass guitar) and Terry Bozzio (drums and percussion).

"Danger Money" has six tracks. All songs were written by Eddie Jobson and John Wetton. The first track is the title track "Danger Money". It's a song that begins with a very apocalyptic, massive and bombastic sound. Jobson's keyboards are the main musical instruments on this bombastic piece of music that construct the main body of the song. This song shows tthat this new album from the band has more straightforward melodies, many instrumental passages and quirky structure changes. This is a great opener for the album with pure powerful progressive rock. The second track "Rendezvous 6:02", points further more into a pop direction, resting gently on Jobson's acoustic sounding electric piano, playing in a jazzy musical vein during the instrumental section and competing against increasingly and beautiful musical cascades of the synthesizers. This is a lovely and sweet song very well performed that reminds to my mind the good old days of King Crimson's ballads. It was released as a single to promote the album. The third track "The Only Thing She Needs" represents Bozzio's showcase with a solo near the beginning of the song. Despite he is a great drummer he wasn't yet, in my humble opinion, in the Bruford's league. However, he was good enough to handle the chores. The song is also dominated by Jobson, and he is really a truly versatile and virtuoso musician. The piano sounds simply great and the song culminates into a great violin solo with a great bass line and a dynamic drumming. The fourth track "Caesar's Palace Blues" is a song that opens with a Jobson's demoniac electric violin alternately sounding like a heavy metal guitarist. This is another strong rock song, this time dominated by a Jobson's violin work. It's probably the jazziest song on the album with a Wetton's great vocal work too. It's also a great progressive track where, once more, Jobson shines. The fifth track "Nothing To Lose" was the track that I heard first on the radio. This was also a track released as a single to promote the album. In retrospect, now we can say this song pointed the way to a more digestible form of progressive rock that Wetton preferred, and provided probably the formula for his next progressive band, Asia. This is without any doubt the weakest, and the only weak track on the album. The sixth and last track "Carrying No Cross" is that obligatory epic track that you must find on any good progressive rock album. This is the kind of the tracks that a truly hard core progressive fan, prefers. With a temperament that flows meticulously like a truly symphonic piece of music, great vocals and frenzy of almost everything on Jobson's musical instruments. It was clearly constructed as a stage crowd pleaser with over twelve minutes length. This is a song that reminds me strongly Keith Emerson and the good old times of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. If you want to know why Eddie Jobson is considered a wizard keyboardist, this is the song you must hear. The guy is really an amazing keyboardist.

Conclusion: "Danger Money" represents a landmark in the progressive rock music. It marked definitely the end of the classic prog rock era. After that point, it seemed that the major participants in the decade of progressive rock golden era, or disbanded or moved on to a more commercial realms. Yes reformed with Trevor Rabin with simpler, shorter and radio friendly songs, Genesis continued their transformation to a pop rock band and Asia was formed with John Wetton and Yes' guitarist Steve Howe around the same time and with the same musical style. So, "Danger Money" is a great album and became a very special album in the progressive rock music of the 70's. This is almost a perfect album where "Only Thing To Lose" disappoints, and is the only obstacle that prevents me from giving 5 stars to this album. Unfortunately, this was the last studio album from this great prog rock band. But fortunately this virtuoso handful of musicians, left beyond two scintillating and genuine prog studio releases. It was a shame that U.K. has over, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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 River Of Life: The Manticore Years Anthology 1973-1977 by PREMIATA FORNERIA MARCONI (PFM) album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2010
4.01 | 19 ratings

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River Of Life: The Manticore Years Anthology 1973-1977
Premiata Forneria Marconi (PFM) Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars If you are (hardly) not familiar with PFM this double CD is an excellent introduction to the highly appreciated Classic Italian prog band. Because it spans the time between 1973 and 1977, PFM released four studio-albums in that era and were at their artistic pinnacle. This 2-CD also includes additional live material and an unreleased B-side of an UK single.

CD 1 focuses on the albums Photos Of Ghosts (1973) and The World Became The World (1974, the English version of L'Isola Di Niente) with additional the previously unreleased track La Carozza Di Hans (B-side of the UK single, this version fails to keep my attention) and songs from the live LP Cook (aka Live In The USA) from 1975. PFM their music has obvious hints of early King Crimson (mainly their debut album). But the inventive arrangements with captivating musical ideas, the both tasteful as virtuosic work on guitar, keyboards and violin and the shifting moods and changing styles turns PFM into an unique progrock formation. For example, in River Of Life PFM flowingly changes from classical with flute, acoustic guitar and harpsichord to mellow symphonic rock with Mellotron and Minimoog. And Photos Of Ghosts delivers a thrilling acceleration while in Il Banchetto we can enjoy a shift from classical to lush keyboard oriented symphonic rock in which the harp is subtly blended, concluded with virtuosic Grand piano. The way PFM succeeds to generate excitement and surprise is breathtaking! In the composition The World Became The World I notice a very delicate mix of Fender Rhodes electric piano and warm vocals, then a sumptuous eruption featuring majestic violin-Mellotron but the fat Minimoog flights give a special favour to the music. In the live track Four Holes In The Ground the band showcases their heavy side with fiery guitar leads and use of the wah-wah pedal.

But my highlight on CD1 is the long final track Alta Loma Nine Till Five (around 15 minutes). It opens with bluesy guitar and dreamy Mellotron, then the guitar gradually turns into more heavy, the interplay with the Mellotron is awesome. Halfway there's a break with bass guitar, then a strongly build-up violin solo, now the keyboard support is from the Hammond organ. In the end PFM delivers a grand finale with catchy violin work, culminating in a version of Rossini's Willem Tell Overture with fat Minimoog runs, goose bumps!

CD 2 opens with a 15 minute previously unreleased live version of Is My Face On Straight (USA 1974), the vocals lack a bit power but I am carried away by the cascades of solos, from flute and guitar (with biting wah-wah) to accordion, sensational Minimoog and delicate Fender Rhodes electric piano. The sound is not really optimal but PFM the remastering of the almost 35 years old material is good. The 3 songs of the LP Chocolate Kings (from 1975), immediately you can recognize Bernardo Lanzetti his distinctive, theatrical voice (like in Harlequin featuring an exiting break with swirling violin) and PFM their sound has move more towards early Yes (Howe and Wakeman sound), especially in From Under. Then 3 live previously non released tracks from 1976, these sound a bit sloppy but how classy PFM plays like the Fender piano intro in Dove Quando and the violin with Hammond in Out Of The Roundabout. Finally 3 tracks from the LP Jet Lag from 1977, now PFM their musical direction has moved more towards jazz-rock, especially in Storia In L.A. (fluent synthesizer solo) and the title track (wonderful Fender piano with powerful bass).

I don't know how many fans are pleased with both PFM their symphonic rock - as the jazzrock sound. But this double CD delivers a comprehensive view on their era between 1973 and 1977, embellished with interesting live material from 1974 and 1976.

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 Ultrasound by PIXIE NINJA album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Ultrasound
Pixie Ninja Eclectic Prog

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

4 stars Needless to say but the Scandinavian countries have had more than their fair share of totally creative and out-of-the-box approaches in the music scene over the past few decades conjuring everything up from creatively bizarre progressive rock to the most extreme forms of metal and all of this despite their population of human specimens being quite small in comparison to the rest of the planet. Norway in particular has seen some extraordinarily brilliant musical acts emerging with their latest prog superstars Wobbler making its way into the classic prog lineup with their latest album "From Silence To Somewhere." Emerging the same year in the middle of 2017 also comes another Norwegian act called PIXIE NINJA. This isn't your ordinary sort of band that is starting from scratch but rather the collaborative efforts of many seasoned musicians getting together to unleash their full eclectic and creative potentials.

Jostein Haugen (guitar, bass, keyboards) from Rusty Crown

Marius Leirånes (guitar, bass, keyboards) also from Rusty Crown

Mattias Olsson (drums, mellotron) from AK-Momo, Akaba, Ãnglagard, Kaukasus, Molesome, Necromonkey, Two Times Trauma, Vly, Walrus, Weserbergland, White Willow

Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (flute) from Geir Lysne Listening Ensemble, Jaga Jazzist, Kaukasus, Weserbergland, White Willow, Wobbler, Motorpsycho)

Johan Hals Jørgensen (keyboards) is the only newbie in the mix with PIXIE NINJA serving as his debut into the eclectic world of progressive rock music.

ULTRASOUND is the debut album of PIXIE NINJA who hail from Rognan in the frozen north of Norway and this album is the result of founding members Jostein Haugen and Marius Leirånes' love of the various styles of progressive rock that have flourished since the classic era. Given the eclectic mix of bands these guys have played in, one would expect an equally eclectic delivery of styles and that's exactly what PIXIE NINJA deliver. And while over experienced musicians can often cancel each other out instead of bring out the best in each other, i am happy to report that it is the latter that shines. While this all instrumental album starts things off with the aptly titled "Auditory Hallucinations" that utilizes a progressive electronic style not too far removed from such German acts as Tangerine Dream or Klaus Schulze, things turn to the dark side as it becomes more spacey and detached before jumping into a wild upbeat electronic segment that cranks out its best IDM before morphing into an Aphex Twin type frazzle that brings out the rock guitar and propels it firmly into space rock territory.

"Elusive The Wind Vane" takes a new route with a jittery time signature rich guitar riff and jazzified drum rolls is nevertheless smoothed out by a sweet fluttering flute riff that slowly gains power into a caffeinated virtuosic frenzy. The rhythm plods along in 7/4 timing relentlessly in motorik hypnotic fashion as layers of keyboards add increasing layers of counterpoints while the groovy bass and rock guitar plod along. After a few changes in tempo and dynamics, the track lets loose at the end and gets soooooo wild. One of my favorites. "Une Promenade" takes a breather as a short piano piece. Nothing exciting here. "Polysomnographic" jumps back into the mind muck freakery with some sort of distant "conversation?" on the keys while a simple riff slowly builds. While the main riff stays slow, a separate one gets faster and faster until voila?. a space rock track is born with jazzy drumming and super spacey keyboards and what sounds like a singing theremin.

The longest track "Personal Improvement Cult" which slinks in over the eleven minute mark starts with some vibraphone sounding tinkles and an almost symphonic drone that find a bass taking baby steps to a much larger universe. As it progressively ramps up, a drumbeat joins in which takes the whole thing through several moods and movements that meander through the allotted timespan. The longest piece is also one of the coolest with its incessant attention to detail and a road map to the boonies of the sound spectrum where you can get lost for a while. The short title track finds a strangely psychedelic flute fluttering around a down-tuned guitar that quickly turns into a heavily synthesized rock track before fading out with some strange electronic sounds that bloop and bleep around like a malfunctioning robot on Tatooine which finds the album ending much as it began in full electronic form.

ULTRASOUND is the perfect example of a high quality and creative 21st century progressive rock experience with well seasoned musicians taking a stab at an interesting slice of experimental approaches that are fundamentally rooted in the classic sounds of King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream and beyond. There is a lot more attention paid to the electronic aspects than the average rock band as the electronics seem to be the dominant focus with the heavier rock elements taking a backseat and only used for a more bombastic contrast, however when they let loose allowing the guitar, bass and drums to overpower the electronics, PIXIE NINJA sound most like the "Red" era of King Crimson. ULTRASOUND is an excellently performed and exquisitely produced album that allows every tiny sonic tidbit to shine and not to mention that the arrangements are friggin' perfect. While not quite a masterpiece of the ages due to some apparent filler segments, the overall run of this album is quite satisfying. A modern day favorite and i eagerly await more exciting musical constructs from the great PIXIE NINJA! Also one of my favorite album covers of the year!

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 In The Wake Of Poseidon by KING CRIMSON album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 1916 ratings

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In The Wake Of Poseidon
King Crimson Eclectic Prog

Review by Ludenberger

4 stars Even though "In The Wake Of Poseidon" lacks the impact and innovation of King Crimson's debut, it certainly isn't a sophomore slump. It isn't nearly as adventurous of an album, and most of the tracks derive from songs on "In The Court," but by no means does this make it bad. It does a pretty serviceable job of following up one of the best progressive rock albums of all time, in my opinion.

For this album, the only remaining and credited members in the band are Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield. Greg Lake still lends his vocal talent on most of the songs, but his bass parts were left unfinished after he joined ELP, so King Crimson alumni Peter Giles steps in to record the bass parts. Ian McDonald still holds writing credits to songs on the album, but the great Mel Collins fills in for his woodwind parts and Keith Tippett fills in the spot for a pianist. Fripp also picks up the keyboards, something that would be seen on every KC album to come, save for David Cross playing some here and there in the mid-70s. Gordon Haskell, one of Fripp's good friends at the time, sings on "Cadence and Cascade," since vocals were unfinished by Lake. Michael Giles also returns to bring his stroke of brilliance on the drums, but he just plays as a session musician this time around.

Even with all of these drastic personnel changes, King Crimson still manages to pull off a great album, although not as tight of an experience as "In The Court of the Crimson King."

One of the more notable and inventive tracks on the album is "Peace," which is scattered throughout the album in three sections, and the final section is just beautiful. The vocal performance from Lake is so touching and calming, and Fripp's simple guitar work makes all of the difference.

"Cat Food" is also the most adventurous, off-the-wall, and just amazing things on the album. The concept is absolutely bonkers: I originally thought it was a blues tune about how bad cat food is, but I was actually corrected (see comments) and the song is really about how frozen food and food manufactured to just be heated up is bad, so the band is comparing it to cat food. Still, a pretty bizarre concept and definitely progressive lyrically. It also contains bits of nods to the Beatles, such as the bassline being eerily similar to "Come Together." This is the best song on the album, and the things that really make it are Lake's amazing vocal performance and Keith Tippett's abstract piano additions.

"The Devil's Triangle" is a wonderfully intense instrumental piece mostly by Fripp on the mellotron, and some writing and arrangements done by McDonald. "Garden of Worm" is the best section on this monster of a track, and it even includes vocal samples from "The Court of the Crimson King" from the first album.

"Cadence and Cascade" is simply breathtaking, and still one of King Crimson's best tracks to date. Gordon Haskell does a fine job on vocals (even if they were pitched during mixing) and it is a beautiful song, especially during the section starting with the lyrics "Caravan hotel..."

"Pictures of a City" is good, but it is evident that this song is heavily based on "21st Century Schizoid Man" and it begs for more development. It's an enjoyable song, and I especially enjoy Peter Giles's performance on this track. The title track is also derivative of past songs, sounding similar to "Epitaph" and using lyrical structure similar to that of "The Court of the Crimson King." However, Lake's vocal performance is great here, and Fripp and Sinfield's chemistry is shown through the guitar sounds made in response to certain lyrics. My only real gripe about the song is its lackluster interlude entitled "Libra's Theme."

Overall, it's a 4/5. Yes, it has more flaws than the debut, but it is still a solid album and is worth it if you really liked the first album (I certainly did.) Thankfully, the ever-progressive King Crimson catalogue gets even better from here.

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