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Crossover Prog • United Kingdom

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Archive biography
ARCHIVE started off as a trip-hop outfit back in 1994 when Darius Keeler and Danny Griffiths got together with female singer Roya Arab and a young rapper named Roski John. They released a few singles on their own Swam label and broke up in 1996 following some dispute. A year later, they reformed with new personnel to record their first official album entitled "Londinium" - purely trip-hop. After a brief split-up once again, Keeler and Griffiths hired yet another couple of musicians and in 1999, released "Take My Head" - strictly a pop album. In 2002, with yet another set of helpers, they finally decided to go prog and gave us "You All Look the Same to Me".

From the very first notes of "You All Look the Same to Me", you can tell the boys all hold their PINK FLOYD collections in high esteem. It incorporates mainly floydian elements with some RADIOHEAD and COLDPLAY, and features some well orchestrated epics that merit its inclusion on this site. However, the fan base is much divided as to its progressive merits: some rave about it while others would much rather have the boys stick to their trip-hop shenanigans. One thing they do agree on is the excellent musicianship displayed throughout.

If you're a true-blue PINK FLOYD affionado, ARCHIVE's latest release won't live up to your standards. If RADIOHEAD or PORCUPINE TREE meet your prog criteria, then there's a fair chance you will appreciate it.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : ;

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Original Album SeriesOriginal Album Series
Box set
Warner 2015
$27.21 (used)
Universal I.S. 1997
$4.34 (used)
Controlling CrowdsControlling Crowds
$17.27 (used)
You All Look the Same to MeYou All Look the Same to Me
Warner 2009
$12.46 (used)
Archive - Take My HeadArchive - Take My Head
$15.95 (used)
Imports 2014
$12.26 (used)
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ARCHIVE discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

ARCHIVE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.31 | 42 ratings
2.80 | 35 ratings
Take My Head
3.68 | 105 ratings
You All Look The Same To Me
3.22 | 32 ratings
Michel Vaillant
3.33 | 46 ratings
3.43 | 21 ratings
3.46 | 50 ratings
3.50 | 72 ratings
Controlling Crowds
3.79 | 56 ratings
Controlling Crowds Part IV
3.66 | 60 ratings
With Us Until You're Dead
3.38 | 41 ratings
3.53 | 58 ratings
3.42 | 15 ratings
The False Foundation

ARCHIVE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.48 | 20 ratings
Live At The Zenith

ARCHIVE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.86 | 7 ratings
Live Athens

ARCHIVE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.89 | 9 ratings
Michel Vaillant (Bande originale du film)
4.30 | 10 ratings
Controlling Crowds Complete Edition I - IV

ARCHIVE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.14 | 7 ratings
The Absurd


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The False Foundation by ARCHIVE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.42 | 15 ratings

The False Foundation
Archive Crossover Prog

Review by King Manuel

4 stars Exciting, Innovative and progressive

This is probably Archive's most progressive release so far. Progressive not in the sense of Progressive Rock (it's probably the album with the least "Rock" in Archive's discography), but in terms of progression in sound and structure; a demonstration that on Album Nr. 10 Archive are a progressing collective that is not standing still after all those years. This album, although in many ways still radiating Archive as we know them, definitely feels different. It is more electronic, more machine beat driven, darker and the individual songs often deviate from the initial path they started on. And this is what makes this album one of the most interesting, exciting and rewarding Archive albums to listen to. There are surprises lurking around every beat and harmony keeping the listener engaged from the first to the last second. It is definitely an album requiring undivided attention and concentration - or in other words this is a typical headphone album I would say. Highly recommended to the open minded Archive fan!

 Restriction by ARCHIVE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.53 | 58 ratings

Archive Crossover Prog

Review by Gallifrey

3 stars My only other experience with Archive to this date has been with With Us Until You're Dead, about 6 months ago. And that was a very weird experience.

On first listen, I was totally fascinated. It was like a merger of Porcupine Tree with bleep bloop- era Radiohead, simultaneously being rocky and groove-ridden as electronic and intricate. So naturally, I put it straight in my 'regular rotation' playlist, as I thought it would be a record I needed to listen to a bit more. But strangely, the more I listened to it, the more it stopped being interesting and started being really, really annoying. Parts I once considered great now frustrate me to no end, and some parts I'm left wondering what I even liked about it at all. The compositions were so rooted in repetition of annoying fragments, very little in terms of strong melodies or ideas, and the idea of listening to it again makes me more nauseous than exciting.

And strangely enough, on Restriction, I've sort of had the opposite happen. On first listen, I felt the same way that I felt about With Us Until You're Dead at the end - this is lazy, uninteresting music that puts about as much effort into the songs as they do life into the performances. All the songs sounded like B-sides from a band like The Gathering, songs that have little blips of goodness in them, but overall just don't stand up on their own to be called 'songs'. But now that I've given it a bit more time, it's actually grown on me quite a bit, to the point where I'd nearly call it a 'good album'. It still has that feeling of laziness to it, and some of the tracks are utterly maddening, but there is more good than bad here, and at times the album's actually surprisingly solid.

The best part of the album happens at the end of the first half, with the run of 'End of Our Days' through to 'Half Built Houses', with Archive playing three of the best songs of their modern era in quick succession, all being slow, solemn, melodic songs. After a poor start to the album, 'End of Our Days' comes in with beautiful piano and vocals, but the track is really made by the fantastic use of vocal samples as ambience, creating beautiful layers of layers of sound during the song's climax. This then leads into 'Third Quarter Storm', another very soft ballad track, using the male vocalists this time, and proves that Archive can write some really nice melodies when they need to, there's some more great vocal layering here, and the song breaks into a thick synth section which is honestly the first time Archive do something electronic that doesn't sound uninspired. Thirdly we have 'Half Built Houses', which has some fantastic ambience again, this time made using distant tremolo guitars. It's honestly surprising how different these songs are to the first three, and I feel the album could be a bit better if they were more spread out.

But the album does pick up again after another gap of uninspired electro nonsense, for the last four tracks, and while they aren't as good as the three solemn tracks in the middle, they're still pretty decent and inoffensive. 'Crushed', despite continuing with that poor guitar tone, actually manages to get a bit of power and grit behind the song, actually feeling somewhat intense as opposed to weak and dated. 'Greater Goodbye' has a nice Anathema-esque vocal part over more ambient guitars, and like many songs here, feels like it could be a great track with a bit more work (although those 'la la la' vocals near the end are awful). 'Ladders' is a bit repetitive and annoying but it also has some nice melodies in it.

But while I enjoy these songs, there is still a great feeling of annoyance coming with these tracks. Taking big influence from Radiohead, the drums on the entire album sound straight off Kid A's title track, and not in a good way. Repetitive, uninteresting timbres riddle the entire record, with not so much as a glitch or a twist coming in to show of their producing skills. They use electronic percussion, but only use it for its bad parts, and not the good. And to add to that, and some of the less interesting timbres here (read: all the guitars and all the drums), many of the songs just quite simply don't have the substance to be worth anything.

The album's title track, and 'Ruination' are the only songs here I would really call bad, getting there by repeating one uninteresting line over and over and over until it becomes beyond the territory of uninteresting and into the territory of absolutely maddening. Especially in combination with that bloody guitar lick at the end of every phrase in the title track. God, I want to bloody punch my speakers every time it comes in. Opening track 'Feel It' starts off with a hellishly dull instrumental beat and one of the worst guitar parts I have ever heard, with only the vocals there to hold it up, but as the song progresses, some piano and raised intensity comes in to (almost) save it. In combination with the awful title track and the poor 'Kid Corner', the entire album gets off to a very poor start, which many will inevitably judge it on. 'Riding In Squares' starts off as one of the worst on the record, but about halfway through a truly awesome synth part comes in and turns it into one of the best. As I have already said, so many of these songs sound like low- effort b-sides that took five minutes to write. It's like I'm listening to a bunch of computer demos for a band about to go to studio to sort the bad from good.

But even if this album is very amateurish, maddening, and plain bad at times, there obviously is still some good here, and enough to bring me back to this record a couple of times. But personally, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. The good is too scattered, and not worth going through the bad to get too. One thing I will give the entire album credit for is the flow - all the songs link together very well, although at times that is a bad thing and at times it's good, it certainly is the only thing that proves to me that Archive have put any real effort into this album. An okay album, but not one I'm likely to return to after this review.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

 Restriction by ARCHIVE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.53 | 58 ratings

Archive Crossover Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars Archive triumphantly return in 2015 with some of their best work ever, a wonderful way to start the new year in prog. Starting out as a hidden gem of '90's trip hop that uniquely programmed mellotron and Hammond sounds into their samplers, they ended up moving into prog proper, along the way shedding the hop but not the trip. Their LP debut "Londinium" was masterful, but in their prog days so far their work, enjoyable as it has always been, pales to a fair degree. Until now, that is, with "Restriction" finding the band managing to finally truly master their style, and on top of that add post-industrial influences and so sealing this album's greatness. Their progressive trip rock comes out fully formed and better than ever, grabbing listeners with the one-two punch of "Feel It" and the title track, and only getting better and more enjoyable from there. Going through the record, there are also the aforementioned post-industrial moments, mainly the closer "Ladders", my personal favourite and an eerie yet appropriate way to end this journey. The band just pulls out all the stops to truly show what they can do. Fans will be bowled over in ecstasy and many other listeners will become hooked. This does prog bleakness better than some of Steven Wilson's work, even. Highly recommended to modern crossover and trip fans.
 Londinium by ARCHIVE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.31 | 42 ratings

Archive Crossover Prog

Review by LearsFool
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

5 stars Before Archive became one of the hidden gems of modern crossover prog, they were one of the many hidden gems of the '90's glory days of trip hop. But, even then it seems they had prog on the brain: Keeler's programming on this album involves a lot of sounds that come out more like mellotron and Hammond organ than any other keyboard, which they are played alongside via sampler. Hmmm... I wonder what this band could do in a few years... Anyways, for what it is "Londinium" is one of the greatest ever trip hop albums, partially on the strength and use of mellotron and organ sounds. This adds an extra, extremely unique angle to most of the tracks on the record. Otherwise, this is some nice, smooth, tight trip not afraid to have both rapping and singing. The beats are well done, and well supported by Rosco John's drumming. Keeler's various keys are all excellent, not just the proggy ones. Roya Arab sings beautifully, and John raps wonderfully. As such, mainly a massive recommendation to trip hop fans, but adventurous progheads may wish to hear what prog keyboards sound like in a radically different genre.
 Controlling Crowds Part IV by ARCHIVE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.79 | 56 ratings

Controlling Crowds Part IV
Archive Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is the 2nd album to the Controlling Crowds concept. The companion album was released in the previous year before this and it contained the first 3 parts in 13 tracks. Part IV takes up this entire album and it is the concluding section of the concept which is about 50 minutes long compared to over 70 minutes on the previous album.

The format is quite close to the last album in that there are still 4 lead singers (one is a rapper who appears on a few of the tracks here). The vibe still echoes of trip-hop and lite prog with a lot of rock and pop sensibilities but with a lot of variety and quality in the musicianship. To me, this album seems more polished than the last one, but if anything, that actually works to make this one not quite as cohesive as the last album in that each song seems too distinct and not so tied together. These issues are quite minor though.

The music here is still heavy on keyboard and programming, but as I said on the previous album, this actually works well here. The writing on both of the albums is stellar and so is the sound. The album starts off in a faster tempo which is a nice change of pace after the mostly mid to slow tempo previous album. The 2nd track actually uses some interesting prog hooks and some great effects. "To the End" has some very original and beautiful harmonics in the vocals. "Pictures" features some quick percussion backing up an interesting slow and airy vocal and the strings build up nicely to a beautiful, strong dynamic more reminiscent of the first album in the series. Interesting sounds flow throughout the tracks, but also contribute to the somewhat disconnected feeling of the tracks as a whole.

Now, even though the quality and musicianship remain high for the rest of the album, the songs tend to lack a little bit of dynamic that was more present in the last album. I think the idea was to try to prepare the songs for more accessibility for the radio, but I think it makes the album suffer a little bit. In any case, it's still prog in the same vein as The Alan Parsons Project (not the same sound, but the same sub-genre and way of thinking) but with a more mature sound and musicality. In other words, better than the APP for the most part and not as cheesy. Don't get me wrong, it worked for APP in the early days, but Archive is just so much better.

So, where my personal taste for the first album was 5 stars, the PA rating system merited it a 4 star rating. In this case, I am more in agreement with the final rating on this one, personal and PA rating both sit at 4 stars.

 Controlling Crowds by ARCHIVE album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.50 | 72 ratings

Controlling Crowds
Archive Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I always wonder why Archive is not better known in North America like they are elsewhere. The music is a straightforward lite prog with a very accessible sound, a lot of pop and rock sensibilities and a lot of originality. Most of the music is slow to medium tempo. There are several vocalists and all of them with nice voices and one rapper that appears every so often. Their music is beautiful, even as beautiful as the best Pink Floyd tracks. They have everything going for them, except North America has not discovered them yet.

So, their roots are in trip-hop and you can hear a lot of that still in their music. But this is excellent quality music. I've used the term beautiful to describe their music and that term is the best way to describe this album. It is true that there is a lot of keyboards and programming on this album and in most of their music. There can be some repetition, and on some albums, it does go overboard from time to time, but not here. Everything works together beautifully, even the 3 tracks with rapping, because it is appropriate for the music. There is a lot of variety in the vocals and that really works well with this kind of music. It also works well with the concept on this album.

The album is divided into 3 sections. Part 1 takes up the first 5 tracks, Part II the middle 5 tracks and Part III the last 3 tracks. The atmosphere is mostly airy with a lot of build up in many of the songs. There is an amazing use of dynamics which helps to keep the few repetitive parts interesting, but repetition is done very well throughout the album and it is mostly kept to a minimum which is a huge plus on this album. I said previously that this is lite progressive, so don't expect a lot of groundbreaking sounds and sophisticated meter changes. The beauty here is in the simplicity of the music. There is an orchestra playing in most of the tracks and the arrangements are tastefully done and only work to make the music more poignant and lovely.

I know a lot of people probably get turned off by the trip-hop label attached to this band, but they do it all so well and it never gets old on this album. Most of the trip-hop is carried over in the instruments than the vocals. But even the tracks that feature rapping are not hard to enjoy, they add to the variety and the instrumentals in them remain as beautiful as on the other tracks. At over 70 minutes, you also get your money's worth in music quantity and of course the quality is definitely worth the time and money you invest in this music.

Originally, there was going to be a Part IV included in this CD package, but it was decided to release that on a separate album since it is a much longer section. The next album that was released is Part IV. Instead of releasing Part IV with this package, they released a 2nd disc that has four more songs that only work to add more enjoyment to the songs on the main disc. There is also a video to the track "Bullets" on the disc.

Anyway, I highly recommend this album to anyone looking for a well done emotional and dynamic album and Part IV is also highly recommended. My own personal rating for this is 5 stars, but the lite use of Prog on this means the ProgArchive rating is 4 stars. It definitely is an excellent addition to any music collection and those people who like an accessible lite prog with a great collection of beautifully written songs need to check this album out, or at least check out the band. I know that when I play this music for other people that they always are pleased with it. Definitely better than anything by another lite prog group called the Alan Parsons Project and more complex than that. And that's from a person that enjoys APP especially the earlier years. Again, highly recommended.

 Axiom by ARCHIVE album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.38 | 41 ratings

Archive Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I love this band and I love it when they release an album that is well done. However, throughout their discography, they have had a few misses. This particular album falls somewhere in the middle in my opinion. It is a concept album, but I am not familiar with the story behind it yet, so it might be loosely based upon a religious theme. But it seems also to be somewhat dark and has a very ambient feeling to it. There are 3 excellent tracks and 4 that are mediocre and I find them repetitive. The best tracks are 1, 2, and 5. They are beautiful, dark and inventive. The others are too repetitive but are nice if you are listening to them to relax and fall asleep except for the fact that they are dark and might influence your mind to give you some bad dreams. This is probably not the best place to start if you are interested in hearing some of their music, I would suggest the album "You All Look the Same to Me" or "Controlling Crowds" as the place to start investigating their music. This band is quite popular in some European countries and sometimes I think their taste is a lot better than what I hear on a lot of American Radio lately. Another band that has a huge following overseas and not so big in America is Porcupine Tree, so let that be something you can measure that comment by. BTW, Archive is not like Porcupine Tree, their sound is more electronic and considered by some as trip hop. But don't let that scare you away, I am not much of a trip hop fan, but I do like Archive for the most part for their inventiveness, their inclusion of prog elements in a lot of their music, and the variety and beauty of their music. Unfortunately, even though this is a good album, it is below what I expect from this great band.
 With Us Until You're Dead by ARCHIVE album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.66 | 60 ratings

With Us Until You're Dead
Archive Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams

4 stars Trip-hop is one of the things I feel myself more far from, so I can't imagine why a band like Archive has managed to become a so good prog band from their debut. After having discovered their excellent "Controlling Crowds" thanks to a radio, I have grabbed this latest release and even with some inheritance of their electronic dance past it's another excellent album.

In my last review I have tried to give up to long track-by-track reviews, but this album is not a concept and each song has its story and characteristics so I want to look separately to each of them.

"Wiped Out" opens the dances with a keyboard layer and the soft voice of Pollard Berrier who can reach very high notes and fits very well in the song. He drives the crescendo which leads to the "floydian" part. What follows his voice is an electronic patchwork based on percussion reminding of Saucerful of secrest and which don't leave when Berrier restarts singing. An excellent start.

"Interlace" has an electronic opening. The first time I've heard "Bullets" I thought that there was something of Tangerine Dream in their music. This song confirms my impression. It starts like a sort of techno chill-out song but what makes it different from TD is the lack of "squared waves". If from a point of view it can be a song for a post-rave, it's not too different and surely not less good than the Spheres of the Orb with David Gilmour.

"Stick In My Heart" is a radio friendly track. Melodic, short and based on major chords like a Coldplay song (not as boring as a Coldplay song can be, don't get me wrong). If a single has been released I guess it's this one.

"Conflict" makes me think to Moby's debut. The drone drumming below, the modified voice and the hammering melody have something in common, but with the melody itself, the screams and the keyboard background could be on Wright's Broken China. The coda sounds classical, full of diminuished chords.

"Violently" is sung by Holly Martin. it's a dark electronic act on which the singer sounds blues. Effectively it's basically a blues infected by electronics.

"Calm Now" Is compliant with its title. Strings mainly, wuth the harping which may be a classic guitar, a harp or a keyboard. A very atmospheric instrumental. Few chords and no percussion. The first track reminding "Bullets" a bit.

It's followed by "Silent". This time it's not what the title say. Imaine the drums of Phil Collins' In the air tonight but with the nice vocals of Marie Q and strings in the second half. Another excellent song with some classical flavor.

"Twisting" is a blues sung on drone percussion, then distorted guitar and keyboards change the song's mood, but not the fact that it's a (good) blues, even when the vocals are more similar to the MUSE than to Muddy Waters.

Maria Q sings with a subtle voice a short melodic song."Things Going Down" makes me remember of Kate Havnevik, a Norwegian singer who made only one excellent album. If you like this song try her album "Melankton".

"Hatchet" is an electronic piece but it's essentially blues again. It's a very captivating song with an easy melody enhanced by the tempo on which by coincidence Holly Martin performs very well. In some moments she reminded me to Sinhead O'Connor.

"Damage" is a very particular song. For the first half it doesn't have persussion and the vocals are the most relevant element. In the second half it's a different song. Drone percussion as usual but very melodic and with the chorus based on major chords. Another highlight.

"Rise" is short and atmospheric. A slow melodic song, too slow to be radio-friendly with the keyboard layer so low that sounds like it's sung acapella.

What else to say? it's an excellent album and quite a sursprise. On their previous one I was astonished by "Bullets" and found the rest "good enough". This time the whole album is on a very good level even not reaching the heights of Bullets which remains my favourite Archive's track.

 Live At The Zenith by ARCHIVE album cover Live, 2007
3.48 | 20 ratings

Live At The Zenith
Archive Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I first heard of this British band when Alex suggested them in a PORCUPINE TREE thread on this site. The video he added for us to check out was a live version of "Again" and I liked it instantly. This cd i'm reviewing is from a concert held in Paris, France in 2007. I should mention that these guys started out as a Trip-Hop band with a rapper helping out before dropping him. They then became a Pop band before settling in here to an atmospheric, Alternative sounding style that brings PINK FLOYD and RADIOHEAD to mind. Man this album has some amazing music on it but it also has a lot of tracks that do nothing for me. Very much a fifty / fifty split, hence the 3 stars.

"Lights" is slow to get going but I like the atmosphere. Drums kick in at 4 1/2 minutes as that repetitive keyboard melody continues. Guitar 8 minutes and vocals after 9 minutes reminding me of BAUER. Emotion. Great track. "Noise" kicks in with strummed guitar and vocals right away. A beat and atmosphere follows. It's an okay tune. "Bridge Scene" is melancholic with reserved vocals. It kicks in hard before 3 minutes. Back to that beat with vocals as contrasts continue. Good song. "Veins" is poppy and doesn't do much for me. "You Make Me Feel" is fairly heavy but it settles when the female vocals come in each time. Not bad.

"Fuck U" drops the F-bomb many, many times. This song reminds me a lot of THE CHURCH. "Black" has a repetitive rhythm with vocals throughout. "Sane" is a catchy tune with some vocal melodies. "Sit Back Down" has a heavy beat with organ as the vocals join in. Very well done. "Again" like the opening track is over 15 minutes in length and a slow burner. It does pick up after 5 1/2 minutes and we get some harmonica too. It continues to settle then pick back up. Excellent track. "Pulse" ends it and while I don't think much of the beginning of this one I do like when she sings that repetitive vocal melody over and over to the end.

Before I reviewed this I watched that video again and thought to myself how can I not give this 4 stars ? So I listened to the cd one more time, and while it hits some real highs several of these tracks are average at best. A hit and miss affair for yours truly.

 Live At The Zenith by ARCHIVE album cover Live, 2007
3.48 | 20 ratings

Live At The Zenith
Archive Crossover Prog

Review by PostIndian

4 stars Archive - Live At The Zenith (8/10)

Beggining as a trip-hop act, among many others in the prolific britsh scene back in the 90's, Archive took a radical shift from it's roots with the superb 2001 album "You look all the same to me" with a truly original blending of emotional prog (with quite a gilmourish accent) to the repetitive and chilling beats of trip-hop. From then on they worked on the same formula in the albums "Noise" and "Lights". This live record is a picture of that period since most of the songs came from those three albuns. The production is crystal clear and balances the mood of the crowd with a clockwork instrumental, even too much clockwork since there's no improvisations or different "colours" in the sound, it goes almost like the studio album with the audience support. If by one hand it don't really add much to their discography the vibe of the album is awesome, and the well chosen setlist balance perfectly the most mellow moments like "Veins" from the explosive anger of tracks like "Fuck U" . But the cherry on the top of this pie are the long songs "Again" and "lights", both trespassing 15 minutes of psychdelic highs and lows (the trip-hop beats really add a powerful mood to the album), although the band is listed as "crossover" there's a huge post-rockish feeling with a superb balance between mood and energy, like on the "Lights" track with it's 5 minutes of intro that are really hard to skip. A great live album wich fits for a car ride or pointless streetwalking, just relax and let the vibe take you far away. Higly recommended for Post-rock or psychedelic fans who aren't afraid of eletronic beats.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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