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ECLECTIC PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Eclectic Prog definition

The term 'eclectic' in the context of progressive rock describes a summation of elements from various musical sources, and the influences and career paths of bands that take from a wide range of genres or styles. While progressive music can be, in a larger sense, eclectic, the 'Eclectic Prog' term is specially meant to reference bands that trespass the boundaries of established Progressive Rock genres or that blend many influences.

Eclectic Prog combines hybrids of style and diversity of theme, promoting many elements from different sources. The Eclectic category recognizes bands that evolved markedly over their career (in a progressive, evolutionary way), or have a plural style without a clear referential core.

The basic features lie within the music's variety, rich influences, art tendencies and classic prog rock elements. Among the representative bands are KING CRIMSON, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, and GENTLE GIANT.

- written by Ricochet (Victor)

Current Team as at 20/06/2017

Rob (Epignosis)
Sagi (Sagichim)
Logan (thellama73)
Kevin (Magnum Vaeltajas)
Ian (Tapfret)

Eclectic Prog Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Eclectic Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.61 | 3741 ratings
IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING
King Crimson
4.54 | 2948 ratings
RED
King Crimson
4.49 | 1785 ratings
GODBLUFF
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.42 | 2518 ratings
LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC
King Crimson
4.42 | 1898 ratings
PAWN HEARTS
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.36 | 1463 ratings
IN A GLASS HOUSE
Gentle Giant
4.31 | 1436 ratings
H TO HE, WHO AM THE ONLY ONE
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.30 | 1680 ratings
OCTOPUS
Gentle Giant
4.30 | 1360 ratings
THE POWER AND THE GLORY
Gentle Giant
4.29 | 1317 ratings
STILL LIFE
Van Der Graaf Generator
4.28 | 1309 ratings
FREE HAND
Gentle Giant
4.31 | 738 ratings
THE SILENT CORNER AND THE EMPTY STAGE
Hammill, Peter
4.26 | 1316 ratings
ACQUIRING THE TASTE
Gentle Giant
4.23 | 1232 ratings
VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE
Hackett, Steve
4.27 | 481 ratings
ANABELAS
Bubu
4.27 | 428 ratings
BANTAM TO BEHEMOTH
Birds And Buildings
4.25 | 369 ratings
MEMENTO Z BANALNYM TRYPTYKIEM
SBB
4.20 | 649 ratings
SLEEPING IN TRAFFIC - PART TWO
Beardfish
4.16 | 762 ratings
SPECTRAL MORNINGS
Hackett, Steve
4.12 | 1881 ratings
LIZARD
King Crimson

Eclectic Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Eclectic Prog experts team

DADARUHI
Replikas
KOROWOD
Grechuta, Marek
KRYWAN, KRYWAN
Skaldowie
NOT OF SOUND MIND
Zapotec

Latest Eclectic Prog Music Reviews


 War and Peace by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.92 | 117 ratings

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War and Peace
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

4 stars

Having really enjoyed the Russian band's live album from last year, I have now finally come across their debut studio album from 2015. Yet again I am amazed at the quality of the music and just how enjoyable this is the very first time I played it, growing to love it even more with each repeated play. Virtually instrumental, the band that one immediately starts to compare them with is Kansas due to the way that the violin is often taking the lead role, but they are influenced by way more than just one band and acts as diverse as King Crimson, Art Zoyd and Frank Zappa have all had their part to play with this album. It is complex and highly structured, with melodies and counter melodies repeated on different instruments (always nice to hear pure piano take a lead role), yet there is a vitality and breath of life through the whole piece. It is music that in some ways does take a lot of listening to, to gain the most benefit, yet at the same time is also immediate and transparent.

This album certainly never comes across as a debut, and I have heard that it took five years from the recording for it to see the light of day, and if that is the case then that is nothing short of travesty and tragedy as this is a super piece of work. There are a great many bands coming out of Russia at present, and Pandora Snail should be viewed as being at the vanguard of the progressive rock movement as this is superb on just so many levels. I can only hope that given the reviews I have seen over both this and the live album that they soon follow up with another visit to the studio.

 In A Glass House by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.36 | 1463 ratings

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In A Glass House
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N║ 135

'In A Glass House' is the fifth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1973. It became with 'Octopus' as one of Gentle Giant's most popular albums. 'In A Glass House' is another conceptual album. Its concept is very original and strange and is allegedly based around the idea that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Curiously, the album begins and ends with the sound of breaking some glasses. It was the band's most directly and psychological effort ever. 'In A Glass House' is probably their most ambitious work, with four lengthy songs as 'The Runaway', 'Way Of Life', 'Experience' and 'In A Glass House'. With it, they delivered another masterful work.

'In A Glass House' represents a very important landmark in Gentle Giant's musical career because it marks the definite departure of one of the three Shulman brothers and former member Phil Shulman. He left the group because he was burnt out and discouraged after some problems with the public, especially after the difficult live concerts done by the band when they supported a live tour of Black Sabbath, and so, he had realised that the lifestyle of a touring musician was damaging his family life. Instead of finding a replacement, the remaining band members decided to continue just as they were. So, 'In A Glass House' became the first Gentle Giant's album released by the group after the departure of Phil Shulman. John Weathers even sustained that they became a stronger band after Phil left Gentle Giant.

The line up is Gary Green (6 and 12 string guitars, mandolin, percussion and alto recorder), Kerry Minnear (vocals, keyboards, tuned percussion and recorder), Derek Shulman (vocals, alto and soprano saxophones and recorder), Ray Shulman (vocals, bass, acoustic guitars, violin, trumpet and percussion) and John Weathers (drums and percussion).

'In a Glass House' has six tracks. The first track 'The Runaway' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is a song with an extraordinary and surprising beginning where the band seems to break some glasses. This is a very rich song with rich varieties of styles and textures, extremely melodic but is also at the same time complex and very creative. This is an extraordinary track, one of the best tracks ever released by them and a perfect way to open the album. The second track 'An Inmate's Lullaby' written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman is a completely different song from its previous track. It's an avant-garde and strange song especially performed by drums, xylophone and vocals. This is probably the most experimental song on the album, it isn't particularly melodic and we need some time to be familiarized with it. The third track 'Way Of Life' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is a song with driving rhythm, fast tempo and tempo changes all over the track. We may say that this is another progressive experimental song with some extremely beautiful and melodic moments and at the same time it has also some strange musical parts. It's a very solid and variable song with melody and improvisation at the same time. This is a truly Gentle Giant's track. The fourth track 'Experience' written by Kerry Minnear, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman is another extraordinary song, very inventive and with a very complex musical structure. Basically, this is a perfect example of Gentle Giant's medieval complex sound, but the song comprises also many others and varied forms of music. The song is also rich of wonderful vocal harmonies. This is probably the most complex track on the album. The fifth track 'A Reunion' written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman is the smallest, simplest and most calm song on the album. It's basically a soft acoustic ballad that reminds me a quartet in the classical music. It's a fine and emotional song with beautiful melody, but it seems be dislocated on this album and is probably the weakest track on it, despite its beauty. The sixth and last track is the title track. 'In A Glass House' was written by Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman and is the lengthiest song on the album. It's another excellent composition with great harmony between all musical instruments. The chorus performed by the four singers is also of superior quality. It has also a hard rock section with a memorable guitar riff, in the second part of the song. This is a great track that closes magnificently this amazing piece of music.

Conclusion: 'In A Glass House' is a very important album after their two great masterpieces 'Acquiring The Taste' and 'Octopus'. 'In A Glass House' is also a very important album because it was their first album without the participation of one of the Shulman brothers. Phil was one of the main composers of the band. It's interesting to note that the quality of the music performed by them hadn't lost nothing and probably even improved a bit. Probably, I agree with them when they said that Gentle Giant continued with Kerry Minnear and Ray Shulman writing great stuff and that probably they became a stronger band after the departure of Phil Shulman. So, 'In A Glass House' is without any doubt one of the greatest prog rock albums from the 70's. It's with 'Acquiring The Taste', 'Octopus', 'The Power And The Glory' and 'Free Hand' one of their best works, and all of them are some of the best prog rock albums ever made too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 De l'Autre C˘tÚ du Monde by HUNE album cover Studio Album, 2009
4.23 | 24 ratings

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De l'Autre C˘tÚ du Monde
Hune Eclectic Prog

Review by maryes

4 stars Very good album from Canada ! You realy can find various prog rock styles in ""De l'Autre C˘tÚ du Monde" something Space Psychedelic Prog in Pink Floyd, Nektar, Eloy musical line something Jazz Prog: Sloche,Octobre, Morse Code ( also Canadian bands), something from Symphonic Prog : Memoriance etc... The first track "De l'Autre C˘tÚ du Monde" have a strong Pink Floyd "flavour" specially after 13 min which reminds me "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" . The track 2 "Citadelle" brings some jazzy/heavy moments like Morse Code and Sloche mix. the track 3 "La Lettre de Marque" is the most "heavy" song in whole album ( a Morse Code/Eloy "meeting" with great guitar/keyboards solos and exciting rhythmic section, in my opinion one of best moments. The track 4 "Le Revers de la MÚdaille" in some moments shows an approximation with GG or Etcetera, another great moment. The track 5 "Mission en Mer" is the more Psychedelic moment and again follow Pink Floyd and Eloy "footprints" and is the weak point in ralation to other tracks. My rate is 4 stars !!!
 The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery by TANGENT, THE album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.19 | 114 ratings

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The Slow Rust Of Forgotten Machinery
The Tangent Eclectic Prog

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator PSIKE Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Back then the Canterbury homage 'The Music That Died Alone' hit me like lightning, I also thought 'COMM' to be another very recommended album, and now this one convinces right from the first listening session. When recovering from a heart attack in 2015 Andy Tillison's songwriting efforts understandably took a backseat for a while. But as somebody who's focussed on developing and playing sophisticated rock music as no other, he rebounded soon. And obviously felt challenged later on by the political development in Europe. Especially this Brexit affair, a quite exemplary result when some politicians, parties and even complete governments subtly and gradually are encouraging hate and nationalism.

How not to repeat yourself after so much prolific albums since 2002? Firstly, this is a very political album, A Few Steps Down The Wrong Road marks a strong statement due to his recitative. This may not meet everybody's taste. But at least music-wise it's definitely a top-notch result, and very jazz drenched stuff right here again. Furthermore he's effectually flirting with other styles on his albums, for example be it the excellent Pink Floyd oriented 'Aftereugene'. Alternatively, on this occasion, it's definitely Basildonxit, which opens very Lounge/2Step drenched. Well, and he surprisingly even goes the extra mile now when, for what reason ever, dealing with the percussion duties. I'm not sure, be it acoustic, electronic or via keys most likely. Presumably a little of each.

Apart from that Andy has some wellknown compagnions at his side, speaking of Theo Travis, Luke Machin and Jonas Reingold of course, my hero, when it comes to the bass guitar at least! As I'm not really fond of his work with the band Maschine, so much the more I adore Machin's contributions here, also being very present and virtuoso with a range from Gary Boyle to Santana and John Petrucci. If somebody is going to advertise a 2017 award for exceptional songwriting, here we have a strong aspirant waiting for. Another very personal statement, nothing to complain though, as this is always the fact, more or less. Groove, catchiness, complexity, sophistication, meaningfulness, experimentalism - all attributes will apply regarding this album. Is there any more of it?

 Octopus by GENTLE GIANT album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.30 | 1680 ratings

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Octopus
Gentle Giant Eclectic Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N║ 134

'Octopus' is the fourth studio album of Gentle Giant and was released in 1972. The symphonic sound of their second and third studio albums was partially abandoned in 'Octopus', which has at sometimes traces of hard rock and folk rock too. It became the band's hardest rocking album until that date. It maintained the Gentle Giant's distinctive broad and challengingly integrated styles, with one of the highlights being the intricate madrigal styled vocal workout 'Knots', whose lyrics are taken from various verses of poetry from the R. D. Laing's book, edited with the same name.

'Octopus' marked also a new change in the line up of the group. It marked the change of their drummer Malcolm Mortimore who replaced their former drummer Martin Smith on their previous studio album 'Three Friends'. He left the band and was substituted by John Weathers. This was also the last album of the band to feature Phil Shulman. This new line up of the group coincides also with what is generally considered the best musical period of the band. It's also interesting to note, that in 2004, Ray Shulman commented that 'Octopus' was probably Gentle Giant's best album.

The line up is Gary Green (guitars and percussion), Kerry Minnear (vocals, keyboards, vibraphone, cello, Moog and percussion), Derek Shulman (vocals and alto saxophone), Phil Shulman (vocals, saxophones, trumpet and mellophone), Ray Shulman (vocals, bass, violin, guitar and percussion) and John Weathers (drums, percussion and xylophone).

'Octupus' has eight tracks. All songs were written by Kerry Minnear, Phil Shulman, Derek Shulman and Ray Shulman. The first track 'The Advent Of Panurge' is a song strongly influenced by jazz music, full of energy, with varied melodies and different singing styles. It's apparently a chaotic song where all instruments seem to be played in different directions. Which is more impressive in this music is that in the end we have a song with an excellent harmony. The second track 'Raconteur, Troubadour', differently from the previous debut song, is a song with some medievalism influence, although it explores different types of music. It's a song where the violins and cellos reign and guide all the music. Once more it's a song with great vocals and is also very well accompanied by an excellent keyboard work. The third track 'A Cry For Everyone' is a completely different song. This is the first real rock song on the album. It's a very energetic song with an excellent melody, stunning vocals, a great guitar riff and it has also great keyboard work. It became a legendary and classic Gentle Giants' song. The fourth track 'Knots' is the less accessible track on the album and is also one of the most complex and intricate songs ever composed by them. It's an avant-garde song that explores a cappella vocal style by the four vocalists. This song is a perfect example how is good and astonishing the vocal work of this incredible group. It's true that this is a very difficult song to hear, but this is truly a great piece of music. The fifth track 'The Boys In The Band' is the only instrumental track on the album. It's a relatively complex and a fast jazz musical composition with different rhythms and tempos. It's a song very well arranged with some excellent solos by keyboards, guitar and saxophones. Again, we are in presence of a magnificent track. The sixth track 'Dog's Life' is one of the simplest songs on the album. It's an explorative song with the use of varied and really strange and weird musical instruments. It's a funny piece of music with classical orchestration and beautiful vocals. The final result is very good, nice and truly unique. The seventh track 'Think Of Me With Kindness' is the song which gives us the simpler, quiet and beautiful moment on the album. It's a song with a simplest and beautiful tune and where the singing is honest, simple and sincere with good musicianship. It's a soft piano based ballad where the theme is beautiful and that provides us some really nice musical moments. The eighth and last track 'River' is the longest song on the album and is a strange song but is also, at the same time, a melodic and a fascinating track. Basically, it's a rock song that flows progressively by different themes. It's a very experimental song which use a lot of studio effects like moving the sound from speaker to speaker. It's without any doubt a strange track but it's also, for sure, a perfect way to conclude this excellent album.

Conclusion: 'Octopus' represented my introduction to Gentle Giant's music in the distant 70's years. I'm very happy that my baptism in the progressive rock has been made with bands and albums like this one. 'Octopus' began a series of four studio albums, all followed, and all absolutely stunning. They make part of one of the most beautiful and brilliant pages ever written in the progressive rock music. I don't know really if Ray Shulman was right when he said that 'Octopus' was probably the Gentle Giant's best album. Personally, 'Octopus' is only my fourth choice. Sincerely, it seems to me that I prefer 'In A Glass House', 'The Power And The Glory' and 'Free Hand'. However, this option is only a matter of my personal taste. 'Octopus' is in reality a truly masterpiece and one of the best albums ever made, because it has strong songwriting, great composition, excellent musicianship and a perfect overall performance.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Nil Novo Sub Sole by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.37 | 88 ratings

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Nil Novo Sub Sole
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by proghaven

5 stars Their best - and unfortunately their last. What probably was to become the first chapter of a new novel in modern French prog became a game-over instead. (Though I'm unaware of the band members' subsequent solo and other projects if exist, so maybe...) While Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai was just an excellent example of Crimsonian progressive evolutionary departed very far from King Crimson, Nil Novo Sub Sole is a new word in prog. While listening to Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai may be attended by an involuntary analysis of possible influences of other artists on Nil, listening to Nil Novo Sub Sole rather evokes thoughts and conjectures about possible influence of Nil on other artists. A very profound, philosophical and pessimistic concept album, perfectly conceived and perfectly done.
 Snegs by SOM NOSSO DE CADA DIA album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.96 | 62 ratings

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Snegs
Som Nosso de Cada Dia Eclectic Prog

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

4 stars Formed in SŃo Paulo in 1970, Som Nosso de Cada Dia were a trio that performed an adventurous kind of heavy rock music drenched in all manner of keyboards, that frequently diverted into extravagant extended instrumental soloing and more overtly `proggy' touches. Performed in Portuguese (although little moments here and there slip into English) with often coarse lead vocals and lulling group harmonies, their debut `Snegs' from 1974 is a underrated minor gem that mixes hard rock with symphonic, blues, folk and space music, and in parts reminds of everything from Casa das Maquinas, Rick Wakeman, Atomic Rooster and even German bands like Birth Control and Eloy.

The group cover a lot of ground alone in six minutes of opener `Sinal da paranˇia'. It's a plodding rocker powered by churning Hammond organ, jangling acoustic guitars and spirited group vocals with moments of sweeter falsetto in the lead, before the piece not only drifts into a spacey interlude but straight into a frantic searing violin thrash over chugging upfront bass, wild rattling drumming and plentiful synth wig-outs! `Bicho do mato' is an infectious Birth Control-like Hammond organ dominated gutsier pop-rocker that bounces along with a boisterous vocal and a foot-tapping momentum with an early Eloy-like spacey finale, and `O som nosso de cada dia' is unpredictable and darts in several directions at once, offering everything from delirious keyboard bombast, softer dreamier passages and treated wafting sax in the final minutes.

The lovely and deeply dreamy `Snegs de Biufrais' opens the second side with chiming guitars, soft flute and soothing group vocals, but `Massavilha' dials the prog up to eleven with a extended intro of bubbling Moog explosions and cascading synth spirals along the lines of Rick Wakeman's first solo disc `The Six Wives of Henry VIII' before it settles into a more romantic tune with soothing harmonies. The melancholic and mysterious `Direccion de Aquarius' swaps the energetic instrumental moments for ambitious multi-part harmonies and murky ringing electric guitars that retain a darker grit and unease overall, and closer `A outra face' fuses lengthy bouts of mellow Hammond-flecked jazzy sauntering ala Atomic Rooster, drifting mellow bluesy reflective guitar soloing and Raw Material-like billowing sax.

So the vocals can be a little unlovable in a few spots, and in some parts the playing is more exciting and memorable than the actual tunes, but `Snegs' has a melodic toughness without being obviously radio-aimed, and is overloaded with endless spacey keyboard colour, making it an attractive yet overlooked little obscurity with so much going for it from a cool band. Definitely one for those prog fans looking to fill their collection with rarer and underappreciated efforts that often slip through the cracks, and the recent Moshi Moshi Produtora reissue from this year means the album has never sounded better!

Three and a half stars rounded up.

 Quarante Jours Sur Le Sina´ by NIL album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.70 | 52 ratings

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Quarante Jours Sur Le Sina´
Nil Eclectic Prog

Review by proghaven

4 stars Nil is a very interesting French prog affair from late 1990s - mid 2000s, an excellent example (e pluribus unum) of Crimsonian progressive with a spectrum of sources and predecessors much wider than King Crimson. Quarante Jours Sur Le Sinai clearly shows influences from the classic French prog school, first of all from Arachnoid, Shylock and Carpe Diem, much less from Acintya and perhaps early Pulsar. From the newer French prog scene, the most obvious are the influence of Michel Altmayer, Shub Niggurath and (in melody making techniques) Halloween. Echoes of early Runaway Totem (circa Zed) and even Dead Can Dance may also be heard. But most of all, Nil is Nil. As Mandelshtam said, 'the entire ship is knocked up of somebody else's timber but has its own state'. The album has an intricate structure, it is divided into 8 chapters with two intros, prologue and epilogue, and each chapter is in its turn divided into a few short tracks, so 29 tracks in total, but they follow with no pause and are taken as one giant epic, one musical drama if you like, so the track list seems null and void, all the more that sometimes a musical change does not correspond with the next track start.
 Live at Babooinumfest by PANDORA SNAIL album cover Live, 2017
4.03 | 10 ratings

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Live at Babooinumfest
Pandora Snail Eclectic Prog

Review by memowakeman
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars This band really knows how to play!

I was lucky enough to be introduced by Nikolaj to Pandora Snail's music almost a couple of years ago, when this amazing Russian band released their War & Peace album (a personal 5-star album, by the way), which surprised me positively due to its variety of sounds and genres, creating a solid sound that reflects the musicians' likes and talent. A great progressive-fusion journey I had with that album! Early this 2017 they released their first live-album, which let us know that they are not only awesome in studio, but also they have a lot to offer on stage, which is why I cross my fingers and hope to see them live someday soon. This released is entitled "Live at Babooinum Fest", features 6 songs and a total time of 48 minutes.

The first surprise when I saw the setlist is that out of the six songs, just one was taken from that acclaimed War and Peace album, the rest I assume will belong to their second studio album, which I understand, is on the making nowadays, and can't wait to see its release! Well, this album opens with 'Way Up' and since the very first seconds violin appears, just as in studio, its role is very important in Pandora Snail's sound. After a couple of introductory minutes now the song changes and a structure begins to be built up with extraordinary bass lines, great drums, amazing classical piano notes which later turn into proggy keyboards, cool guitar riffs and that already mentioned violin. The sound is kind of folkish, kind of jazzy but in the end, exquisite progressive rock.

'Epsilon' is a very nice 5-minute piece that has a slow beginning but while the minutes pass more and more ingredients are being added to the saucer, creating a delicious boiling point in which a kind of nervous sound appears. Then it vanishes little by little until only keyboards sound. 'The Breath of Life' has a vertiginous piano & violin start, then several changes on time and mood appear, giving us again a nice journey. 'Moment of Eternity' has the addition of a trumpet, which together with piano and violin create a beautiful yet disarming sound. Something happens with their music, in moments I think I've been listening to them for several minutes but then I realize only one or two minutes have passed, which is why I adore their richness of sounds, textures and nuances.

'Watching the Earth' has a somber piano-bass-drums start, later guitar joins with a distorted sound creating a tense atmosphere that seconds later vanishes because a new feeling begins. It is great to see how they manage to change their sound and what that sound shares to the listeners in a split second. After 3 minutes trumpet appears again in a moment of relaxation. This live release finishes with the extraordinary 'James Port', a 16-minute epic that belongs to their debut album. My god, just as I wrote in my review of that studio album, this song is simply amazing and their live performance let us know how capable they are as composers and performers. This song is a monster, a great example of what progressive rock is, and why prog rock is still live and kicking asses.

Congrats to the band for this release, now I am eagerly waiting for their upcoming album. Enjoy it!

 Trisector by VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.52 | 435 ratings

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Trisector
Van Der Graaf Generator Eclectic Prog

Review by Seyo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars The last time D. Jackson left the band in early 1977 was almost simultaneosly with H. Banton, forcing P. Hammill and G. Evans to reinvent the group, adding new musicians and coming up with a sound quite different from all previous VdGG incarnations. This time, however, following the Present Tour of 2007, Banton remained in the band so they continued as a trio. And quite unusual trio at that, consisting of drums, organ and piano (with occassional guitar). Although Banton's organ was always a "trademark" of the VdGG sound, Jackson's reeds were equally important, so the question many fans (including myself) asked was how this new trio configuration would cope with this deficiency. The first time I heard "Trisector" I did not like it. I badly missed Jackson's mad saxophones and gentle flutes, while somewhat modernized sound did not draw my particular attention. So, I shelved this CD for many years.

Recently I decided to revisit some old VdGG albums and especially those I have not reviewed so far. For this purpose I listened again to this album three times in a row (a pun not intended) to see what I might have missed earlier. Quite a lot, I can say now!

As if to prove their coherence following the loss of a key member and to address the problem signified by the album title, all songs but one are credited to the whole trio. First, there is an odd couple of songs that invoke "punkish" attitude in using heavy and dirty riffs of electric guitar and standard rock beat. The opener instrumental "Hurlyburly" is kind of passable track with its guitar tremoloes, sounding like the Stranglers of the mid-1980s attempting to play early 1960s surf. Would probably fit better somewhere else on the album and not as the opening one. "Drop Dead" is much better and is perhaps the first VdGG pop song so far, the one to which you could easily dance to and singalong, thanks to its hard down to earth 4/4 beat. With punklike angst Hammill, who is no stranger to this kind of style, yells "drop dead" while elaborating on the retreat of masculinity and its obsolecence in face of the coming feminine power.

Then, there is a killer duo of songs that are in a way connected with the album title and artwork and that tackle another band's favourite topic - science. Both "Interference Patterns" and "(We Are) Not Here" contain some typical VdGG musical madness of complex and loud interplay between organ, piano and guitar, and these are probably the moments when absence of Jackson's saxes is felt most strongly. From "wantonly quantum" musings about the nature of reality that is illusory and made of particles and waves to the disturbing thought that we as beings are not really here, these two songs epitomize the "progressiveness" of this band to tackle unusual, disturbing and difficult topics. Still, "Interference Patterns" is somehow deluded by the preceding surf-like instrumental and would better sound as a strong opener, but retaining the introductory machinery noise that also conclude the album after the final track.

On the more slow tempo front there is excellent "The Final Reel" with irresistable melody and beautiful organ providing dark mood for the story about a doomed couple "facing their decline". Then follows a slightly less convincing but nonetheless fine tune "Lifetime" (the one penned by Hammill only) whose more personal and emotional lyrics are nicely backed with yet another tremolo-like effect on electric guitar.

Excellent quality of compositions continue with "Only In A Whisper", a jazzy number featuring only drums, piano and bass guitar (played by Banton). Yet, I don't like Hammill's vocals when he seems to struggle with getting some higher notes. "All That Before" returns with more dynamical and aggressive sound telling, in a slightly humoristic way, about an elderly man suffering from memory loss in everyday living while surrounded with modern mobile communication technology.

And finally, the epic-long 12 minute "Over the Hill" does not impress me much. It is too long and boring at times. As if trying to reconnect with their past, this track contains elements that sound similarly to some parts of "Childlike Faith in Childhood's End" or "Pawn Hearts", but I could easily skip it because it brings nothing new to the album. No, it is not bad song by any means, it just isn't my cup of tea in this context.

So, in retrospect this was surprisingly good album given that it was the first one recorded by the trio line-up. And that trio was to continue performing and recording more wonderful and enjoyable music on the albums to come.

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Eclectic Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
16 DEADLY IMPROVS United States
17F Switzerland
4/3 DE TRIO France
8 DAYS IN APRIL Germany
A.C.T Sweden
ABRETE GANDUL Chile
ABSOLUTE ELSEWHERE United Kingdom
ABSURDCUS Romania
ACADEMIE OF FARSIDE Indonesia
ACINTYA France
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DARK AETHER PROJECT United States
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INTERPOSE+ Japan
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PANG╔E Canada
PEANUT BRITTLE SATELLITE United States
THE PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA United Kingdom
PENTWATER United States
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BRUNO PITCH France
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LAURI PORRA Finland
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PROGRES 2 Czech Republic
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PSI VOJACI Czech Republic
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QUARTETO 1111 Portugal
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RAW MATERIAL United Kingdom
REDD Argentina
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ROOTS OF CONSCIOUSNESS United States
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THE RUNNING MAN United Kingdom
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SEVEN IMPALE Norway
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SINATLIS TSELITSADI (THE LIGHT YEAR) Georgia
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SKALDOWIE Poland
SKE Italy
JËZEF SKRZEK Poland
SKY United Kingdom
SLEEPY PEOPLE United Kingdom
JULIE SLICK United States
MALCOLM SMITH United States
SIGMUND SNOPEK III United States
SOLUS3 United Kingdom
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SPECIMEN13 Canada
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SYLVIA BLISS United States
SYNKOPY Czech Republic
SYRIUS Hungary
TAAL France
TAGYERIT United States
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T┴NGER Argentina
TCP United States
TELIOF Israel
TELLAH Brazil
TERRENO BALDIO Brazil
THIEVES' KITCHEN United Kingdom
THORS HAMMER Denmark
TIME United Kingdom
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TRAFFIC United Kingdom
I TRENI ALL'ALBA Italy
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TRIPCYCLE Serbia
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TU United States
TULLY Australia
UK United Kingdom
UML─UT Australia
THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD United States
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VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR United Kingdom
LAURENCE VANAY France
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VELUDO Brazil
THE VIRIDIAN GROOVE Venezuela
VISITOR 2035 United Kingdom
VISITORS France
VISOKOSNOE LETO Russia
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WOOLLY WOLSTENHOLME'S MAESTOSO United Kingdom
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XL Finland
YEAR ONE United States
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