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MAD FELLAZ

Eclectic Prog • Italy


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Mad Fellaz biography
Initially an experimental trio formed in Bassano del Grappa in 2010, Mad Fellaz, comprised of Emanuele Pasin and Paolo Busatto on electric guitars and Marco Busatto on drums, soon added Carlo Passuello on bass, Enrico Brunelli on keyboards and Rudy Zilio on flute and clarinet. The group are influenced by a diverse range of vintage worldwide progressive artists such as King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd, Italian legends Area and Banco del Mutuo Soccorsso in addition to newer bands like Opeth and Porcupine Tree. Jazz, blues, metal, electronic and classical Italian progressive sophistication are all combined to fascinating results by this band, their objective being to find the highest creativity without musical limits or specific genre categorization, and always looking to express music naturally in exciting ways.

Improvised, yet carefully focused and recorded completely live with little in the way of overdubs, the full instrumental debut self-titled album from the band is comprised of five songs running an hour. The longer suites contain everything from smooth jazzy meanderings, playful grooves, ambient dreamy atmospheres and ethnic flavours with stirring electric guitar soloing and shimmering keyboards. Other shorter numbers are energetic jazz-fusion workouts and quirky eclectic rockers. The constant use of flute and classical piano aligns the band with numerous other RPI greats, and it is comparable to the recent debut by Progenesi. It works equally well as a background listen or a compelling musical experience, and despite incorporating a range of styles, the album holds together as a cohesive whole.

2015 saw the band add female vocalist Anna Farronato, taking their music on their second album `II' in something of an eclectic Rock-in-Opposition/Avant-Garde direction with a healthy dose of the Canterbury sound, Zappa and 80's King Crimson, but still maintaining all the instrumental flair present in the band from the beginning.

Highly recommended to fans of daring and unpredictable music, the Mad Fellaz are a professional and talented young band brimming with endless potential, already producing exquisite and sophisticated cultured progressive music.

Biography by Michael Hodgson (Aussie-Byrd-Brother)

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MAD FELLAZ discography


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

4.23 | 33 ratings
Mad Fellaz
2013
3.89 | 74 ratings
Mad Fellaz II
2016

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MAD FELLAZ Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mad Fellaz II by MAD FELLAZ album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 74 ratings

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Mad Fellaz II
Mad Fellaz Eclectic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I was one of the mad fellas who fell in love with this unique Italian prog band's 2013 debut , a curious style that had both familiar and original features, the spirited playing of an all-instrumental set list of epic sized pieces that simply blew many fans and critics away. Everything about "Mad Fellaz" was inspiring: beautiful cover art, a 'squaddra' featuring a dual guitar approach, sensational bass and drum tandem, a flute/ clarinet to add some flavor , two monsters epics to start off with a bang and a general feel of sophistication. I, among many other reviewers, gave this an easy 5 star rating, a very well-deserved appreciation, especially for a debut album. It took three years to come up with a follow-up, a pretty much intact line-up with only a few minor changes but one major one: a lead singer! Anna Farronato sings in English (maybe a hindrance, maybe not), which threw everyone somewhat off guard, at first.

Just like the first album, the Mad Fellaz initiate the recording with another two sizable back to back epics, proving a point of style I guess. The first is the 14 minute "Hollow Shell" , a whopping instrumental that continues where the band left off, hurling inspired notes at break neck speed and oozing with class and flair. Lavish percussion and electric piano always gets my attention, so it took a mere 3 seconds to get me fixated on Paolo Busatto's stinging guitar as the bass and drums impel the theme forward. The vocal does take a few seconds of adaptation, as her style has a strange tone, a squeaking, girlish rant that hints at Annette Peacock or even Kate Bush perhaps, definitely frantic and deranged at times. Lots of perfected details here, Carlo Passuello's chunky and rambunctious bass guitar muscles along beautifully, amid the intricate drum patterns from Marco Busatto (who shines throughout) and stellar keyboard work from Enrico Brunelli, who also provides a mind blowing sax solo. These well- oiled elements do coalesce into a more Canterbury-like sound, complex rolls and loops that give way more width and depth than other more RPI like bands. Jagged, blurred, distorted, angry and then suddenly serene and almost apologetic, the roller coaster intensity is a unique pleasure to discover and rediscover again. It only gets better with repeated listens anyway.

The second opus is a two-part affair, "Blood Pressure I and II", a swooning and otherworldly voice haunts the fluid acoustic guitar phrasings on the short Part one, before that delectable bass rumble sets the wheels in motion for a shockingly delirious ride, doctored with that unmistakable band characteristic of combining comfortable and original in one whopping missile of music. Stinging and biting rhythms while the organ ruffles a few feathers, Anna blasts angrily into the fray, seemingly unafraid of the musical maelstrom being surgically placed at her feet. The electric guitar performs like a scalpel, devouring sinew and tissue alike, blistering and obtuse, hinting at some Italian cousin of Allen Holdsworth, while Anna resorts to sadistically emote urban poetry into the mix, the sax sounding like a car horn gone berserk in a traffic jam (trust me Italians know how to drive and are the world's best at beeping the bejesus out of their klaxons). Penetrating sounds, forcefully intimidating and pulsating furious with unabashed zeal, this is some kind of devilish progressive rock. This track is also a shocker.

Ti Piace? (You like?) "Me Gusta" (I like it) is, at first, a welcome relief after the 2 previous cataclysmic pieces but these fellaz like to keep the blood pressure on high, providing a rollicking promenade of exotic and ecstatic themes. At times, it sounds almost like Santana on steroids, complete with brassy blasts in a Latin frame of mind, slashed by an old school guitar solo that will bring your house down and a drum solo that winks at Michael Shrieve at Woodstock. This owns not only class and style but humor as well. Daring, adventurous and cool.

"Ovo" offers another 11 minutes of exhilarating enjoyment, giving the piano a chance for Enrico to show off more of his talent. Combining with flute is always a great concept, as the two work well together. As the luxuriant percussion?fueled beat intensifies, the electric guitar starts beaming its illumination in all directions, with Anna adding smooth vocalizations that throb and excite to no end. There is no doubt that there is a pronounced National Health vibe here, not exactly the worst influence one can hope for, as that British band certainly carved a reputation that is now legend. Burdened with endless stops and starts, twists and turns, this a perhaps exhausting labyrinth to deal with but if there is one absolute characteristic of Mad Fellaz, it's definitely their loyalty to ingenious insanity. Note the athletic drum work, the roiling organ forays a la Dave Stewart, the booming bass monster keeping everything in check.

The brutal and austere "Moslem Sabbath" could easily be a soundtrack to some Middle Eastern tragedy (like Aleppo), the lethally pounding drums akin to the devastation falling from the skies, the guitars raging and bloodied, all hammering mercilessly. And then there was ambient serenity, a mournful Arabic-sounding wisp of clanging hand percussion, glittering electric piano ruffles and aromatic flicks of the wrist over the guitar strings. The mysterious blare of the saxophone reprises the sense of forlorn doom displayed earlier, the sinuous clarinet offering prayer to the almighty and finally, the exotic entrance of both the electric guitar and the whirring organ, blasting a linear passage through the Kasbah of sounds. There is a quasi Mahavishnu Orchestra vibe going on here that is exquisite. The short finale resorts to more playfulness, though maintaining the oppressive feel, almost like a Post-rock exercise, slashing guitar panels throbbing wildly in some kind of agony. The theme grows into a crescendo and then, basta! Wow!

I stayed away from comparing this sophomore release to their magnificent debut, and even though it took many repetitions to finally feel comfortable to critique this album on its own merits, I can truthfully announce that it's a marvelous continuance for one of Italy's most promising acts and a beacon of unending entertainment for those who worship originality and style. The sublime cover art maintains the fine reputation that began with the first album. This is one hell of crew, certainly deserving of an avid following in Progland.

5 likes

PS. this review is dedicated to Aussie-Byrd-Brother, a hopefully kindred spirit who never steers me wrong. Ever!

 Mad Fellaz II by MAD FELLAZ album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 74 ratings

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Mad Fellaz II
Mad Fellaz Eclectic Prog

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

4 stars Italian group Mad Fellaz began life as an all-instrumental group six years ago, releasing a superb self-titled debut in 2014 with `Mad Fellaz', an eclectic mix of vocal-free rock suites that incorporated everything from fiery jazz-fusion meanderings, playful grooves, ambient dreamy atmospheres, ethnic flavours and sophisticated RPI inclusions. But while they were always a stretch to consider ever being a true RPI-sounding group, two years on sees a rather surprising change in the set-up of Mad Fellaz with the addition of female vocalist Anna Farronato (controversially singing in English) that takes the group in something of a Rock-in-Opposition/Avant-Garde direction with a healthy dose of the Canterbury sound, but still maintaining all the instrumental flair present in the band from the beginning.

While those above mentioned styles are all present here again, the band citing Area and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso as original influences still holds in many respects, with a schizophrenic anything-goes variety of changing musical directions constantly in place, but always remaining melodic and avoiding the more shrill, jagged and loopy outbursts of many avant/R.I.O groups (we're not quite talking full-blown Henry Cow here!). Everything from Zappa, 80's King Crimson, Hatfield and the North and the Ozrics are worked in with a constant grooving finesse here, and you have one of the most punchy, fun and colourful discs of the year.

Opener `Hollow Shell' sets a template for much of the disc - diverse and frantic instrumental bursts wrapped around Anna's purring, menacing and whooping girly squeal. You get everything from electric piano trickles and spiralling synth soloing, trumpeting funky sax blasts, and brief twirling flute still holding traces of the proper RPI tradition that occasionally revealed itself on the debut. Constantly fluid murmuring bass grumbles and turns with power and aggression in an instant, slow-burn guitar embers smoulder with bluesy heaviness and grooving saunters, a gleaming Adrian Belew-era King Crimson-like ambience pervades, and there's no skimping on exotic, busy and constantly ballistic drumming - just listen to the 11:00 minute mark!

The two-part `Blood Pressure' suite fuses ethereal sighing harmonies and weeping guitar reaches with muscular grooving heavy riffs and vacuum-like rising/falling electronic distortion over a deranged spoken-word explanation of the medical symptoms of blood pressure - yes really! A soaring extended guitar solo is a highlight in a funky poppier stretch, topped off with a chiming dreamy solo spotlight for Anna, and her frequently spat dangerous catch-cry of `Your f*cking heart's exploding' throughout is sure to impress and annoy in equal measure! Also pay close attention to the gorgeous jazzy piano intro to `OVO', another lengthy workout of stop-start diversions and twisting time-changes that delivers classical sophistication, ethereal crystalline voices, drifting spacey passages, middle east mystery and symphonic power in a piece that sometimes reminds of Canterbury band National Health in little moments.

There's still wholly instrumental pieces - `Me Gusta' sounds like the Ozric Tentacles jamming with the Soft Machine's bursting noisy walls of sax and clarinet in the middle of a dusty desert whilst adding in a few polka, Latin and middle-eastern textures - phew, got that?! `Moslem Sabbath' crushes all in its path with punishing heavy-grooving riffing and monstrous pounding drums before culminating in mysterious drifting ambience and dark jazz blaring sax ruminations with lashings of dirty Hammond organ. Closer `Meet the Gooroo' has traces of Post Rock chiming guitars building in intensity for a victorious and confident finish.

The addition of vocals (and English ones at that) to much of what was a thrilling instrumental act is going to be a difficult thing to accept for some earlier listeners of Mad Fellaz, particularly when the group was doing so well already with the kind of music they were offering on their debut. However, if you pay proper attention, all the same instrumental skill and flair of the first album is always present here, just that it's sometimes in the background behind the vocals, or taking prominence in and out around the voice. Perhaps the group might have considered releasing a two-CD version of the album that included a purely instrumental mix of the main album, or even adopting a different name for this vocal-driven project?

But `Mad Fellaz II' is only disappointing when compared to the all-instrumental debut, and lovers of quirky vocal-focused R.I.O/eclectic rock with endless lashings of instrumental colour, technical skill, a sly sense of humour and unpredictable changes will be completely thrilled by what they find here, and there's no denying this talented group have released another winning progressive-music work. Play it loud, and you just may end up convinced you've discovered one of the best albums of 2016!

Four and a half stars - and bonus points for THE prog album cover art of the year!

 Mad Fellaz II by MAD FELLAZ album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.89 | 74 ratings

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Mad Fellaz II
Mad Fellaz Eclectic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Hey, are they kinda mad fellas? The allegory of painting. I mean, providing such a beautiful album with such an ... eh ... let's say odd cover picture? Probably only a matter of creative thinking though. Is this arising from the fact that they are hailing from a land of wine and grappa flowing in cascades potentially? Anyway, then again, who will be really bothered about that, when considering the fine musical content offered on their sophomore album. The most significant change, when considering the debut, may be the decision to invite a female singer, Anna Farronato is her name. Fortunato!

This is a call for a play of words, right? Anna is provided with a rather jazzy voice, which perfectly suits the main orientation music-wise. So what is this in the end? Here we have a blend of jazz, funk and heavy prog predominantly, a classical background is shimmering through here and there. Soaring psych guitars now and then. Woodwind instruments are playing an important role. Additionally, especially on Me Gusta, I mean to smell some polka tendencies. Thus a multi-varied, partially eclectic affair, this due to the rather complex compositions first and foremost.

I recently saw Helmut Hattler (ex-Kraan) performing with his band. Well, interestingly this is similiar in parts as for the soul and jazz impressions, though obviously provided with a heavier vibe (Anekdoten references) and surely deriving from a progressive rock basis on this occasion. It's not recommended to highlight any track actually, though I don't wanted to conceal that recently I loved to listen to Moslem Sabbath again and again. My experience: take one hurdle, ignore that cover image, and reserve your time for a listen. You won't regret!

 Mad Fellaz by MAD FELLAZ album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.23 | 33 ratings

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Mad Fellaz
Mad Fellaz Eclectic Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I have shown remarkable patience in trying to acquire this album, as previous reviews and a progstreaming audition had sealed the deal. Furthermore any recommendation by Aussie-Byrd-Brother has my stamp of approval unconditionally. My Oz mate has never steered me wrong. The debut album from Italian proggers Mad Fellaz is another fine example of what an instrumental prog-rock album should look, sound and feel like, the focus entirely on how the listener will perceive the music in both technical and inspirational terms. Fellow Italian instrumentalists Progenesi now have a partner in crime, as the talent displayed here is beyond the stars. With two guitarists on board, there will always be a fret board-centric appreciation, a mother lode of screeching strings, bending, weaving, caressing and exalting with unlimited zeal. Both Paolo Busatto and Emanuele Pasin know how to mesh together and also break off formation when required, agile axe pilots who are fueled by rapt exhilaration and heady adventure. They use a wide variety of tonal colorations, at times densely jazzy and at others, directly infused by the blues. Contributions from fabulous keyboardist Enrico Brunelli and flutist Rudy Zilo (who also wields that mighty Italian icon, the clarinet) simply add depth, melancholia and constant creativity to the mix, showcasing the piano one moment and the organ next, a dash of riffling flute to brighten the mood. Finally, a tight rhythm section that muscles the onslaught forward, as both bassist Carlo Passuello and drummer Marco Busatto show refined chops.

In terms of influences, one can easily cite Pink Floyd due to the bluesy approach, as well as mellower pieces by Wishbone Ash or even Robin Trower, a more progressive Eric Clapton (hey, that's a lot of lofty praise there but well warranted!) , a hint of Jethro Tull, some jazz improvisations, as well as some obvious PFM winks. Yet, one has the concrete impression of solid vision throughout, a clear and concise methodology with only one aim= prog heaven.

Two monsters jams start this debut off , "Il Colpevole" (The Guilty) has a Part 1 that focuses more on mood and atmosphere , while Part 2 is a colossal raunch-fest, a massive soloing platform that showcases the sheer talent on display, each musician getting the green light to flash, grind, sizzle and explode. Just like with Progenesi, the ever-evolving music offers such a huge variety of contrasts, twists, turns, loops, cascades that one has the impression of driving a sonic Ferrari down the German autobahn, no holds barred. These two leviathans will blow away any doubts that may be had by the musician-fans out there but also by the passive listener, as every second is wholly and completely unpredictable, even after multiple listens. Some may find this approach a tad show-offy but I beg to differ, you want a lot of exhilaration when the vocals (and its story line) are not there to guide you.

A couple of intermezzo cuts then make their entrance, the playfully rollicking "Banda Scajevoni" which has this retro 60's sound, the Hammond organ way in front, the flute weaving and the guitar jangling, sort of like bands Sugarloaf or Booker T and the MGs, which explains the James Bond/Our Man Flint atmosphere. "White Widow" has a similar TV music feel, again very period as if some time machine had taken them back to some studio in New York or LA. Loads of colliding moods here from brash and colorful to creepy and urban, a magical flute cruising down the avenue, ticki-tacka drums and utterly seductive groove.

But truth must be said, Mad Fellaz excel at the epic composition, as if such a wide berth inspires the players to even greater heights. They thus finish off this glorious album with 14+ minutes of "La Giunglia" (that should be easy, the Jungle), a lush expanse of massive rhythmic trees, luxuriant instrumental underbrush, fluttering flute mosquitoes, a missionary purpose and a need to slice through with musical machetes to find some aerate clearing ahead. Jungle jangle on piano and guitars provide this canopy of branches, swinging Tarzan-like from one shrub to another, a dense foliage that simply invigorates the by now not-too casual listener. The incredible guitars forge head-first into sandstorm Arabic guitar recon leads, screeching loudly all the way, battered by speckled winds yet determined to survive. The synths howl, the drums brutalize and the piano notes show only that hope will keep them going, relentless in the quest.

A remarkable piece of work, a sensational debut to slide between the afore-mentioned Progenesi and the recent Phoenix Again instrumental masterpieces from the Italian progressive rock fortress. Tremendous appeal to any prog fan. Not a single misplaced note, a magnificent cover, this is the real deal.

5 Angry mobsters

 Mad Fellaz by MAD FELLAZ album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.23 | 33 ratings

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Mad Fellaz
Mad Fellaz Eclectic Prog

Review by andrea
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Mad Fellaz are a young band from from Bassano del Grappa, a town in the province of Vicenza, that began life in 2010 on the initiative of Paolo Busatto, Marco Busatto and Emanuele Pasin with the aim of playing original music inspired by the prog masters from the seventies but also by more recent bands such as Porcupine Tree. After a first demo in 2012, in 2013 Mad Fellaz released an excellent eponymous debut album on the independent label Lizard Records with a line up featuring Paolo Busatto (guitar), Marco Busatto (drums), Emanuele Pasin (guitar), Carlo Passuello (bass), Enrico Brunelli (keyboards) and Rudy Zilio (flute, clarinet). The album is completely instrumental and the band showcase great musicianship and excellent song-writing skills. The musical fabric is extremely rich and combines vintage sounds and modern influences with surprising freshness and brilliant results: in my opinion there's enough originality thrown into the mix to keep all the compositions and arrangements forward looking and interesting from the first minute to the last.

The album begins by a long, complex suite divided into two parts, "Il colpevole" (The guilty), that could be the perfect score for an Italian crime film from the seventies. There are no liner notes, so the plot is completely left up to your imagination while the music flows away without weak passages for more than thirty minutes, going through many changes in rhythm and mood, from delicate, nocturnal piano passages to fiery, nervous collective chases...

Next comes the lively "Banda Scavejoni", the shortest track on the album that with its funky grooves recalls bands such as Calibro 35 and evokes more action and criminal deeds with a typical "poliziottesco" atmosphere.

The following "White Widow" starts with a drum roll, then a bluesy pace takes over while Jethro Tull's shadow looms large over the horizon. Who is the White Widow here? Is she a wicked, dangerous woman or just a powerful cannabis strain? The band give no clues and it's up to you to decide what the music is about...

The album ends with the nearly fifteen minute epic "La giungla" (The jungle) where you can experience exotic flavours and a strong sense of adventure. You can find here a broad palette of musical colours, from oriental mysticism to flamenco sketches, from dark tribal rhythms to joyful Latin rock ą la Santana and while listening to this track I'm reminded of the adventures of fictional characters such as Arthur Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger or Henry Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain... A wonderful conclusion for a very interesting work!

 Mad Fellaz by MAD FELLAZ album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.23 | 33 ratings

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Mad Fellaz
Mad Fellaz Eclectic Prog

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

4 stars Hailing from Bassano del Grappa and forming in 2010, the Mad Fellaz are a young five piece who perform improvised, yet carefully focused instrumental progressive rock that refuses to be restrained to one style. Combining everything from guitar fusion workouts, metal, ambient, electronica, avant-garde experimentation, jazz, ethnic flavours and plenty of Italian classical sophistication, their atmospheric self titled album constantly showcases a band that greatly enjoys experimenting with different genres, yet they never over-reach or attempt anything they're not comfortable with. Even more impressive is that they succeed in performing these different styles effortlessly in a truly proficient manner, making for an album that is daring, unpredictable and endlessly thrilling.

The almost 17 minute opener `Il Colpevole - parte 1' shows how professionally the Mad Fellaz bring a sense of control and build to their music. Delicate David Gilmour-influenced bluesy electric guitar licks, brushed drumming, blissful flute and the most placid of Hammond organ washes over the listener. They move through chiming eerie King Crimson-like unease, as snapping drums, slinking bass and boisterous noisy spiraling guitars weave around punchy Hammond bursts. Ambient electronic oceans envelope and hypnotic percussion rises behind a deeply soulful electric guitar solo through to the finale.

It's tracks like `Il Colpevole - parte 2' that really align the Mad Fellaz with numerous Italian progressive artists. They cite RPI legends such as Banco del Mutuo Soccorsso and Area as influences, and this band share the same unpredictable energy and spontaneity as those acts. Highly evocative and moving classical piano confronts the listener, dazzling yet also subtly brooding. The softest synths gently enter for a briefly playful P.F.M quality, before maddening flute and break-neck drumming fuels an unexpected schizophrenic violent attack! Meandering bassy jazz ruminations, groovy slow-burning funk strutting take endless twisting turns, and the infectious second half of the piece instantly reminds of fellow modern Italian band Progenesi's superb debut album `Ulisse: L'Altiere Nero'.

The three minute `Banda Scavejoni' is an uptempo race of skittering drumming, sneaky guitars, funky clarinet and sizzling Hammond full of positivity, and it almost resembles a very cool James Bond theme in parts! Despite being another shorter piece at six minutes, `White Widow' manages to incorporate everything from jazzy strolling bass, cascading flute that recalls all the best vintage Italian bands, devilish guitar and even some wavering electronic weirdness. Just listen to how expertly the band increases the tempo and tension in the finale! Album closer `La Guingla' is a final reminder of a group of different musicians working in perfect unity with each-other. The electric guitars are a particular standout here, moving through everything from middle-eastern themes, punchy hard-rock chugging, blissful chiming melodies and shifting Post-Rock atmospheres. Tricky jazzy piano, breezes of flute, propulsive drumbeats constantly drive the piece onward, and it displays greater restraint and a more delicate touch than in frequent other spots throughout the album. It also offers numerous exciting possibilities for directions the band may wish to pursue in the future on further releases.

Certainly one of the most sublime, varied and exquisite instrumental albums of recent years, the band displays great taste, sophistication and technical ability. Had it been released earlier than late October of 2013, meaning audiences would have been able to enjoy the album over several months, I feel it would have likely made many `Best of' 2013' progressive music polls. But it's not too late, so let's everyone make an effort to catch up with this wondrous work in 2014, and experience just the start of a hugely exciting and talented band with a very promising future, already playing with a grand skill well beyond their young years.

Four and a half stars.

Thanks to aussie-byrd-brother for the artist addition.

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