Monday, May 21, 2018

Top Albums of the Year 2018, Part 2: The Others



CANTURBE Flotteur

I can't help myself: I love prog with some accordion/bandeon! This band is from Argentina's Viajero Inmóvil label--a label whose 2018 releases alone may make them my new favorite label!

Line-up: 
Jorge Garacotche - guitars, bass, vocals
Gabriel Herrera - keyboards, vocals
Daniel González - bass, percussion, backing vocals
César Carreras - drums, backing vocals
   With
Eva Fiori - vocals
Marcela Torresi - vocals
Diego Souto - stick
Jorge Senno - steel guitar
Lucas de Carlo - bandoneón
Santiago Faryna - bandoneón
Alvar Llusá-Damiani - violin
Nicolás Hashimoto - shamisen

1. "Los Jinetes Del Apocallipsis Viajan En Subte" (2:44)
2. "En Bajón" (3:54)
3. "Autres Yeux" (3:55)
4. "Nostos" (3:33)
5. "Los Intocables" (3:17)
6. "La Mar" (4:35)
7. "Jíbaros" (3:58)
8. "A La Orilla Del Tiempo" (5:03)
9. "Me Vas A Ver" (2:31)
10. "Una Canción Detrás" (5:46)
11. "Informe Sobre Ciegos" (5:32)
12. "Un Cronópio Como Yo" (Extra Bonus Track) (3:35)
13. "Nuevo Berlin" (Extra Bonus Track) (4:03)

Total Time 52:26





MARK WINGFIELD Tales from The Dreaming City

Great jazz fusion from guitar wizard Mark Wingfield with one flaw: the production/engineering sometimes leaves the guitar feeling isolated from the other musicians. Otherwise this guitarist sounds like an extension of ALLAN HOLDSWORTH, JERRY De VILLIERS, JR. and DAVID TORN with a very solid backup band and some nice jam-over song constructs.

1. The Fifth Window (5:09) (8.5/10)
2. I Wonder How Many Miles I've Fallen (7:19)
3. The Way To Hemingford Grey (5:54)
4. Sunlight Cafe (5:57)
5. Looking Back At The Amber Lit House (6:47)
6. This Place Up Against The Sky (5:46)
7. At A Small Hour Of The Night (8:03)
8. A Wind Blows Down Turnpike Lane (4:27)
9. Ten Mile Bank (5:36)
10. The Green-Faced Timekeepers (7:52)

Total Time 62:50

Line-up:
Mark Wingfield: guitar, soundscapes
   With
Yaron Stavi (Robert Wyatt; Phil Manzanera; David Gilmour): fretless bass guitar
Asaf Sirkis (John Abercrombie; Jeff Berlin; Nicolas Meier): drums, konakol singing (10)
Dominique Vantomme: synth soloist (3, 5, 9, 10)




SEVEN REIZH L'albAtros
 
1. Le Pavillon Chinois  (3:59)
2. Brizh  (14:48)
3. Tiqit Weman  (5:52)
4. Dalc’h Mad (6:55)
5. Klasker-bara (4:40)
6. Kriz (9:27)
7. Lostmarc’h  (9:59)
8. Er Lein  (9:30)

Total Time 65:10

Line-up
Gérard Le Dortz: Roman, lyrics, graphic design and production
Claude Mignon: Compositions, arrangements and musical realization
   With
Farid Aït Siameur : Kabyle vocals
Laurène Bourvon : English & French vocals
Bleunwenn Mével : Breton vocals
Stefanie Théobald : French & German vocals
Louis Mével : Harmony vocals
Marcel Aubé : Erhu
Loïc Bléjean : Uilleann pipes
Cyrille Bonneau : Duduk
Olivier Carole : Bass
Mathilde Chevrel : Cello
Jonathan Dour : Violin
Philippe Durand : Horn
Ronan Hilaireau : Piano
Régis Huiban : Accordeon
Bernard Le Dréau : Tenor saxophone, clarinet
Erwan Le Gallic : Scottish bagpipes
Shane Lestideau : Violin   
Gurvan Mével : Drums, percussions
Gwenaël Mével : Tin & low whistles, bombarde
Gwendal Mével : Flute
Claude Mignon : Piano, synths, lap steel, electric & acoustic guitares, voice (Klasker-bara)
Michel Hoffmann : Oboe
François Pernel : Celtic harp
Thierry Runarvot : Double bass      
Olivier Salmon : Electric & acoustic guitares
Mihai Trestian : Cimbalom
Bagad ”Bro An Aberioù”, Plabennec, led by Goulwen Bono




NOT A GOOD SIGN Icebound

With this, the third album release from AltrOck band Not a Good Sign, we see some lineup changes as founder Francesco Zago has moved onto other projects and vocalist Alessio Calandriello makes his final contributions before moving on. Founding members keyboard whiz Paolo "SKE" Botta, bassist Alessandro Cassani, and drummer Martino Malacrida remain, while familiar Gian Marco Trevisan (From a Distance and live performances since 2015) picks up the guitar and some of the vocal duties.    

1. Second Thought (2:33) 
2. Frozen Words (7:06) 
3. "Hidden Smile" (9:08) (8.5/10)
4. As If (0:58) 
5. Down Below (7:41) 
6. Truth (7:13) 
7. Not Yet (1:28) 
8. "Trapped In" (9:42) (9/10)
9. Uomo Neve (2:32) 

Total Time 48:21
    Line-up:
    Paolo «Ske» Botta  (Yugen, Ske)- Keyboards, Glockenspiel
    Alessio Calandriello (La Coscienza di Zeno) - Vocals
    Alessandro Cassani - Electric Bass, Vocals
    Martino Malacrida - Drums, Trumpet
    Gian Marco Trevisan - Electric Guitars, Vocals
       With
    Fabio «Ciro» Ceriani - Percussions and Sounds
    David Jackson (VDGG) - Saxes, Flute
    Eloisa Manera - Violin
    Margherita Botta - Toy Glockenpiel, Voice
    Marcello Marinone - Timpano
     





    THE AMAZING In Transit

    For me, this album represents a big step up from their 2017 release Ambulance. The volumes and dynamics are much more lively here, but I still find the over-active drumming grating.

    Favorite songs:  the dreamy 10. "Asleep" (4:38) (Reine Fiske's best) (9.5/10); 11. "Je travaille dans la banque" (9:10) as it harkens back to their 2011 masterpiece, Gentle Stream, with some outstanding grooving bass and steady drumming and guitar interplay (9/10); 1. "Pull" (7:39) (9/10); 4. "First Touch of Light" (5:38) (9/10); the CURE-like 9. "Leave Us a Light" (7:24) (despite its odd "second part" for the final minute and a half) (9/10), and; "Benson se convirtio completamente furiosa" (9:55) (8.5/10)

    Kudos to Frederik Swahn for some outstanding atmospheric keyboard work.






    GLASTON Inhale / Exhale

    Simply constructed instrumental Post Rock songs that receive wonderful embellishment from the extraordinary musicians and songwriters that make up this band. The piano and/or guitar foundations are simple, but the contributions from guitar, bass, and especially drumming weave magical tapestries out of the minimalist starts. 

    Line-up:
    Selina Maisch - piano
    Jake Gutzwiller - guitar
    Timo Beeler - bass
    David Preissel - drums


    1. "Game Of Tones" (7:10) (9/10)

    2. "Levitating" (5:56) chamber orchestra instruments support the minimalist guitar and piano parts over the first minute. The drums and bass break in at the one minute mark causing a shift into a more jazz (like Hugo Selles' PSYCHIC EQUALIZER album from last year). (9.5/10)


    3. "Sunnar" (9:51) nice but nothing exceptional or innovative to add to the lexicon of Post Rock music. (8/10)

    4. "Noir" (7:57)
    5. "This Isn't Happening" (1:36)
    6. "Implosions And Her" (5:53)
    7. "Mariana Trench Skycrapers" (7:36)
    8. "Better Luck Next Time" (3:57)

    9. "Ritou" (9:03) jazzed-up Post Rock with some interesting sudden and quick stop and starts intertwined within. (8.5/10)

    10. "In The End" (3:01)

    Total Time 62:00




    BOMBER GOGGLES Gyreland

    Line-up
    Steve Bonino - Vocals & Bass
    Peter Matuchniak (Gekko Projekt) - Guitars
    Vance Gloster - Keyboards
       With
    Jimmy Keegan (Spock's Beard) - Drums

    1. "Land Of Plastic" (5:18) (8/10)

    2. "The Gyre" (5:41)
    3. "Building" (5:23)
    4. "Telepathy" (4:31)
    5. "Oh Gyreland" (3:33)
    6. "The World We Really Want" (4:02)
    7. "Renewed World" (3:17)
    8. "We Are Not Alone" (3:52)
    9. "Triangle Of Power" (5:01)
    10. "Uneasy Truce" (4:31)
    11. "Invasion" (3:52)
    12. "Wistful Waves" (5:37) (/10)
    13. "March Of Tides" (5:50)

    Total Time 60:28


    YUKA & CHRONOSHIP Ship

    Line-up:
    Yuka Funakoshi - Vocals, Keyboard, Piano
    Takashi Miyazawa - Guitar
    Shun Taguchi - Bass
    Ikko Tanaka - Drums
       With
    Sonja Kristina (Curved Air) - Vocals (1, 11)
    Hiroyuki Izuda - Vocals

    1. "ARGO - Tears Of Figurehead"
    2. "ARGO - Ship Argos"
    3. "ARGO - Landing"
    4. "ARGO - Golden Fleece"
    5. "ARGO - A Dragon That Never Sleeps"
    6. "ARGO - Islands In The Stream"
    7. "ARGO - Return"
    8. "Air Ship Of Jean Giraud"
    9. "Visible Light"
    10. "Old Ship On The Grass"
    11. "Did You Find A Star"




    FREQUENCY DRIFT Letters to Maro

    01. "Dear Maro" (6:23) (9/10)
    02. "Underground" (5:02) (8.5/10)
    03. "Electricity" (3:59) (9/10)
    04. "Neon" (6:10) (/10)
    05. "Deprivation" (3:36) (/10)
    06. "Izanami" (5:09) (/10)
    07. "Nine" (6:10) (/10)
    08. "Escalator" (4:27) (/10)
    09. "Sleep Paralysis" (6:04) (/10)
    10. "Who’s Master" (9:17) simple keyboard and harp dominated atmospheric music with a very interesting lead vocal using a lot of rapid fire speaking/pseudo-rapping (of often weird lyrics). (9/10)
    11. "Ghosts When It Rains" (3:05) (/10)

    Line-up:
    Irini Alexia: vocals
    Andreas Hack: keys, synths, guitar, bass, mandolin
    Nerissa Schwarz: electric harp, mellotron, synths
    Wolfgang Ostermann: drums, wavedrum
        With:
    Michael Bauer: guitar (1, 10)




    LUNAR CAPE Lunar Folk Tales

    Using an interesting format by releasing three different versions of the same album, the first instrumental, the second with vocals sung in the band's native Russian, and a third with the vocals sung in English, LUNAR CAPE has an intentionally non-pop motivation behind their light, folkie jazz tunes. Gorgeous melodies abound throughout.

    Line-up:
    Olga Scotland – flute, recorders, tin whistle, mandolin, spring drum, sound effects, VSTi
    Andrey Shashkov – bass guitar, basso recorder, vocals
    Roman Smirnov – guitars, washboard old school custom, vocals
        With:
    Paul Bulak – keyboards (3)
    Grigory Shelehov – drums (3, 7)
    Alexander Koval – drums (4, 8)
    Shahid Rashid – vocals (8)

    The instrumental versions:

    1. "History Of The Moon" (2:43) opens with nice guitar arpeggio repeated until wooden flute (basso recorder?) and, later, treated wooden alto flute enter. Cool Northern folk intro! Almost a N. Carlos Nakai feel to it. (9/10) 


    2. "Nymph Syrinx Amidst The Stars" (5:37) delightful upbeat prog folk that sounds like it came from the flower children of the 1960s and early 1970s. (9/10)

    3. "Doughball's Travels" (3:56) slightly more Russian/Eastern European informed Prog Folk here with balalaika, flutes, accordion and hand percussives weaving together with the electric bass and electric guitar. Could be a polka. Or a track from a Spaghetti Western. (7.5/10)

    4. "Old Man Crawley And Wood Goblin" (5:10) slower and a little more sinister, the flute makes it a bit more disarming. Electric guitar tracks in the end of the second minute turn it back to scary, but they disappear within 30 seconds and we're then treated to a gorgeous flute solo over gentle electric guitar arpeggi. This is then followed/joined by odd/eerie male vocalizations before everything crumbles into the end. Interesting. (8/10)

    5. "Blacksmith" (2:55) opens with electric guitar before mediæval wooden flutes bring in a mediæval folk melody (English). Halfway through the guitar starts strumming while mouth percussion (basso recorder) and breathy flute play off each other before returning to the pastoral beauty of the verses for the finish. (8.5/10)

    6. "Who Brought The Berries?" (6:15) plays like a whimsical Rockabilly song with rodeo bass, drums and guitar play while flute and percussives play around above, between, and below. The frenzied flute solo in the end of the third minute is cool. A slowed down section soon ensues in which a bluesy pick-less lead guitar solo ensues (somewhat reminiscent of legendary Roy Buchanan). Flute joins in while guitar continues to perform its magic. Truly an astonishing guitar sound and solo! Then at 5:25 we return to the happy-go-lucky sound and melodies from the opening section. (8.5/10)

    7. "Greedy Cousin Leprechaun" (4:29) brooding bass line opens before rapid-fire cymbal and fuzzy electric guitar "power" chords join in with a second electric guitar track of picking. Flute enters and takes the lead. Fuzzy guitar takes lead at 1:43 with a STEPPENWOLF-like solo. Flute returns in a higher octave. Flute, tin whistle, and guitar take turns in the lead to the end. (8.5/10) 


    8. What The Peacock Is Silent About (Oriental) (7:34) opens in a brooding manner like a song from RETURN TO FOREVER's Romantic Warrior album. At 1:25 the song shifts rather dramatically into a kind of C&W/Rock structure and sound over which flute displays the melody. Lots of neat shifts from the instrumentalists within the constantly changing weave here. Even the styles of flute play shift form time to time. Electric guitar takes a turn to deliver a 1980s-EDDIE VAN HALEN style solo beginning at 3:40. At 4:40 the bass takes a turn with minimal support (in a typical jazz style). At 5:40 guitar strums and Arab-sounding male chanting enter before bass and flute accompany. Cool section! The final minute feels like the end to a FOCUS or FROM.UZ song before emptying space for the wind-supported Arab chanter. (8.5/10)

    Total Time 38:39

    84.375 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; a nice addition to the creative, jazzy edge of Prog Folk.




    ADAM HOLZMAN Truth Decay

    Peppy smooth jazz from Steven Wilson sideman.

    Line-up:
    Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, Steven Wilson, Jane Getter): keyboards
       With
    Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Fish On Friday, The Mute Gods): vocals (7), Chapman Stick
    Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson, Lonely Robot, Pendragon): drums
    Theo Travis (Gong, Steven Wilson, The Tangent, No-Man): sax and flute
    Laurence Cottle (Don Airey, Black Sabbath): fretless bass
    Fred Cash: bass
    Abe Fogle: drums
    Steven Wilson (Blackfield, No-Man, Porcupine Tree): guitar
    Mark Egan (Bill Evans, Pat Metheny): bass
    Jane Getter: guitar
    Franz Hackl: trumpet and flugelhorn
    Stefano Olivado: bass and harmonica
    Davide Ragazzoni: drums
    Ofer Assaf: sax
    Randy McStine (Lo-fi Resistance, The Fringe): vocals (3)

    1. Ectoplasm (6:17)
    2. Bella Capri (5:53)
    3. A House Is Not A Motel (5:28)
    4. Phobia (4:13)
    5. Good Luck With Your Music (5:26)
    6. Are You High? (6:29)
    7. Truth Decay (5:42)
    8. I Told You So (4:13)
    9. Morphine Lollipop (5:56)
    10. You Knew (4:27)
    11. Picking Through The Wreckage (5:05)

    Total Time 59:09



    DOMINIQUE VANTOMME

    Creative, sometimes aggressive, sometimes jazzy fusion from a Belgian keyboard veteran in collaboration with TONY LEVIN, MICHEL DELVILLE, and MAXIME LENSSENS.

    Line-up:
    Dominique Vantomme: Fender Rhodes Electric Piano, Piano, Mini Moog, Mellotron
    Michel Delville (The Wrong Object; douBt; Machine Mass): Electric Guitar
    Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Stick Men): Bass Guitar, Chapman Stick
    Maxime Lenssens: Drums

    1. "Double Down" (7:36)

    2. "Equal Minds" (10:19) fairly laid-back bluesy-rock with fairly simple and straightforward instrumental performances (especially from drums, bass, and guitar). Keys get a little chance to shine, but fail to impress, in a long solo from the end of the second minute to the beginning of the sixth. Then, in the sixth minute, all song structure releases (drums stop) as synth, guitar, and bass play random anarchy. Cymbals reenter in eight minute before drum restores structure (in a cool way). This is a total shift in the song, much more interesting, playing out till the final minute when spacey entropy again sets in and rules. (8.5/10) 

    3. "Sizzurp" (10:45) opens with a far more interesting and engaging jazz-rock structure and more straightforward instrumental sounds. The groove established by Lenssens and Leven is quite engaging and allows Delville and Vantomme to add quite some nice stuff--until the big shift at 1:55 into heavier, more frenetic hard rock. Tony loves this, you can tell, while Delville creates noise and Ventomme goes freaky. In the fourth minute the entorpic breakdown even starts to infect and affect the drums and bass. Delville is screaming nonsense while Vantomme's organ provides the only stability. Quiet at 4:30 leads to a restabilization of Lenssens drumming while Delville shreds frenetically over the top. Tony and Dominique are cool and minimal in support, but this is really Michel's time to shine. In the eight minute things quiet down with Tony and Maxime providing the steady but guitar and keys are very loose and intermittent in their contributions. At the end of the ninth minute keys step up to provide textural fullness over Tony and Maxime's steady foundation. This is a cool section--which plays out to the song's end. Some really good stuff, some I could do without. (8.5/10)  

    4. "Playing Chess With Barney Rubble" (9:04) starts out a little more jazz-oriented, especially in Tony's bass play. The stop and restart at 2:30 leads into a piano-based section which is definitely more founded in jazz sounds and stylings. But then Tony and Michel come in with some rock flourishes. And then Dominque's electric piano takes over. This becomes a truly excellent weave. At the five minute mark Tony gets a little solo before Michel gets a turn. I wish I could get past my distaste for the screechy, buzz-saw-like sound that Michel Delville likes to use with his guitar--and with very little variation. Tony's bass lines are extraodinary (I'm guessing this is a ChapmanStick song--or perhaps his finger extensions)--which is good cuz its the eight minute and I've long ago tuned out the screeching guitar endlessly soloing away. When things get quite in the last minute Tony's finger-extension work becomes obvious. Some stellar parts and some that are   

    5. "The Self Licking Ice-cream Cone" (13:08) opens up with much more of a smooth jazz feel. As Dominique's Fender Rhodes enters, it feels LONNIE LISTON SMITH or RAMSEY LEWIS-ish. Tony and Maxime's rhythm tracks are so solid! As Michel's rhythm guitar track starts to get louder I find myself annoyed because it's the same raunchy sound from all the other songs! Luckily it disappears at 4:15 and we are left with the dreamy DEODATO-JOE SAMPLE like scaled-down smooth jazz sounds. But it's all a set up for a guitar solo. Fortunately, this one is more "normal" and therefore, more tolerable. And, fortunately, the work by Tony and Maxime remains stellar. The guitar solo reaches climactic frenzy but then sustains, stays in orgasmic state for well over a minute. The creep-in of Dominique's Fender is the only consolation--leads the listener into believing that relief is on the way. Drums get an awesome solo (despite the fact that the guitar is still screaming) in the eleventh minute before relinquishing control back to the keys and a full-band meld for a final minute of enjoyable music. Again, this is so hard to rate when the song has such highs and lows. (9/10)   

    6. "Plutocracy" (4:38)

    7. "Agent Orange" (9:46) opens as a Tony Levin solo with spacey keyboard support. At 2:48 Tony's play begins to establish a patterned structure (while still displaying godly flourishes) as the rest of the band enters and begins a slow process of gelling around him. Still, this is all Tony. Bass players take note: this is what the Supreme God of bass-playing has to show you. Once again, we are schooled! Though the structure remains a little loose and spacey (reminding me a lot of songs from STOMU YAMASHT'A's GO studio and live sessions. For some reason the sound given Tony's bass either becomes fuzzy/distorted or is being drowned out by the combination of fuzzy/distorted keyboards and guitar (9.25/10) 

    8. "Emmetropia" (9:00) kind of free form music--not even sure if any of the players are tuned into or aware of what the others are doing. (7/10)

    9. "Odin's Wig" (1:54)

    Total Time 76:10




    ÁBRETE GANDUL Errores involuntarios

    Line-up
    Antonio Arceu: Drums, Wavedrum
    Pedro Santander: Electric Bass
    Rodrigo Maccioni: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Concert Flute, Effects, Electric Bass (10)
    Jaime Acuña: Keyboards, Piano
       With
    Miguel Ángel Cortés: Bassoon
    Paulina Mühle-Wiehoff: Cello
    Alfonso Vergara: Clarinet

    1. Diligencias Pendientes (5:44)
    2. Los Semejantes (6:24)
    3. La Carnada Y El Señuelo(2:16)
    4. Realismo Sin Renuncia (5:47)
    5. Agujas, Tijeras Y Vendas (1:30)
    6. Errores Involuntarios (9:52)
    7. Arraigo Nacional (6:25)
    8. Bajo Catarsis (1:13)
    9. Tango Ideológicamente Falso (5:41)
    10. Inconsecuencia Natural (1:55)

    Total Time 46:47



    JACK O'THE CLOCK Repetitions of The Old City, II

    The busy and genius mind of Damon Waitkus and friends follows up the late 2016 release with a new masterpiece of unusual "Prog Folk." 

    THE BLIZZARD
    1. Damascus Gate
    2. Miracle Car Wash, 1978
    3. Island Time
    4. Errol at Twenty-Three
    5. Whiteout

    INTERLUDE
    6. Guru On the Road


    ARTIFACTS OF LOVE AND ISOLATION
    7. My Room Before Sleep
    8. Into the Fireplace
    9. Unger Reminisces
    10. I’m Afraid of Fucking the Whole Thing Up
    11. Double Door
    12. A Sick Boy

    Line-up:
    Damon Waitkus - vocals, acoustic, electric, baritone and piccolo guitars, hammer dulcimers, banjo, mandolin, ukelin, keyboards, guzheng, flute, percussion, wine glasses, car horn, field recordings
    Emily Packard - violin, baritone violin, viola, melodica, car horn
    Kate McLoughlin - bassoon, vocals, recorder, car horn
    Jason Hoopes - bass, voice, piano guts, car horn
    Jordan Glenn - drums, percussion, vibraphone, marimba, bells, melodica, car horn
    Thea Kelley - vocals
    Ivor Holloway - tenor saxophone, clarinet
       With
    Art Elliot - pipe organ (1)
    Darren Johnston - trumpet (2)
    Dave McNally - piano blizzard (2)
    Sarah Whitley - samples (2)
    Cory Wright - clarinet (8)




    ALCO FRISBASS Le bateleur

    AltrOck's almost-Canterburians are back with their sophomore album and it will not disappoint those who loved their first album.







    CELL 15 River Utopia

    Very polished, professional Neo Prog from Pennsylvania! Great drumming, great keyboard play, and very full and sophisticated (if somewhat familiar in a kind of LIFESIGNS way but never over-the-top) soundscapes.

    Line-up:
    Robert S Richardson - Keys & Vocals
    Dan MacDonald - Bass & Vocals
    Bill Brasso - Drums & Vocals
    Shane Jones - Guitar & Vocals
    Andrew Coyler (Circuline) - Keys & Vocals

    1. "Castle Walls" (7:34) (9/10)

    2. "Streetlights" (9:53) (9/10)

    3. "The Junket" (7:03) (9/10)

    4. Revolution of the Soul (5:26) (/10)

    5. Looking Glass (7:40) (/10)

    6. River Utopia (10:34) (/10)




    THE PROGNOSIS Still Waters

    Very nice, familiar Neo Prog from UK veteran musicians.

    Line-up:
    Richard Flanders - Bass, Vocals
    Grant Harrison - Drums, Vocals
    Ian Twentyman - Keyboards, Vocals
    Simon Gardner - Lead & Rhythm Guitars
    Nelson Porter- Lead & Rhythm Guitars

    1. Topsey Turvey (7:43) (8.5/10)
    2. Meander (5:27) (7.5/10)
    3. In The Deep (5:27) (8/10)
    4. Silent Pool (7:29) Neo GENESIS in a pastoral, ANDREW MARSHALL kind of way. (8.5/10)
    5. Inside My Head (10:32)

    Total Time 36:38
    A little too familiar and derivative for my tastes.



    DURGHA ESMAEL Herbivora

    Interesting instrumental prog from Indonesia that tries to fuse a jazzy piano, rockin' drumming, classical cello, great electric guitar, and chunky, heavy bass.  

    Line-up:
    Jimi Mahardikka - Guitar
    Tommy Ard - Bass
    Dimas - Drum
    Rarya Lakshito Jati - Cello
    Nadya Hatta - Keys


    1. Sun Rise (4:22) (9/10)
    2. Winds Of The White Poppy (5:56) (8.5/10)
    3. In Secret Between The Shadow (6:10) (8.5/10)
    4. Beach Life (5:26) (9/10)
    5. "Long Intervals Of Insanity" (6:30) slowly and careful development really pays off magically with this cello-led song. (9/10)


    6. "Steal The Night" (3:50) opens with solo piano for the first minute before band joins in and the song amps up. Too bad about the guitar being relegated to orchestral bar chords. (8.5/10) 


    7. "Sea Of Wonder" (2:14) 60s blues-rock bass line is joined by heavy guitar play--a great sound--but not mixing very well with Tchaikovsky-like piano melodies. (4/5)


    8. "We Slipped Into Midnight" (10:28) a straightforward jam to setup some pretty raw and raunchy solos by cello, guitar, piano--at least for the first half. At about the halfway mark everything comes to a quiet hault whereupon the scattered instruments kind of slowly rebuild, at first very independently, and then cohesively. This part is far more interesting and engaging than the opening half. Low marks for the opening evened out by the second half equals (8.5/10)


    9. "The Elevator Eyes" (4:43) back to the heavy, blues (Hendrix)-oriented sounds and stylings of song 6. (8.5/10)


    10. The Message Of The Strength (9:47) opens very loosely and with a rather rudimentary blues-scale being repeated over and over by varying sections of the band in a variety of different ways. Cello breaks out of the pattern at the end of the second minute to experiment. Jazzy piano experimentation begins in the fourth minute, nothing very special, and then fuzzed rock guitar takes a turn. So 60s psychedelic-ish! (7/10) 


    11. "Yellow Butterfly" (3:49) led by delicate guitar picking and gentle piano chord progressions, this song feels jazzy, especially as drum brushes enter. Long sustained bass notes join in as cello takes on the lead melody. Pretty song. (8.5/10)


    12. The Unity Of Being (10:22) imagine a Cure bass line from the 1980s with a Hendrix-imitator and some 80s techno-beat drumming with a Thelonius Monk-inspired piano player and a mystified Yo-Yo Ma looking on and you kind of get the picture of this one. As a matter of fact, the cellist is so conspicuously absent for the majority of the time that you have to wonder if he was sitting out in protest or in awe of his mates' obtusity. Sometimes I even find myself wondering if some of the individual musicians are even in the same universe as the others. (7/10)

    Total Time 73:37

    83.48 on the Fishscales = B-/low four stars; a good album worth checking out. This band can only get better.




    ANGLESEE Stories

    Interesting simplified music from a trio of young prog-inspired artists from Down Under, the chorus bass is interesting if rather boring and simple in its straight-imitation of the dominant notes of the song's chord progressions. The vocal of lead singer is strikingly similar to those of PREFAB SPROUT's Paddy McAloon, ARTO LINDSAY, THE DREAM ACADEMY's Nick Laird-Clowes, and even jazz singer MICHAEL FRANKS (except when he growls). With a gift for great melodies, a very likable singing style, and a desire to make progressive rock, this band shows great, though, as yet, unrealized, potential. The music is crying out for more complexity, subtlety, and nuance within simple albeit gorgeous foundational soundscapes.

    Line-up:
    Mathew Eichorn - Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
    Naomi Ryde - Bass
    Mathew Loveridge - Drums

    Favorite songs: the gorgeous 5. "Final Parting" (5:37) (9/10); 3. "Dance on The Waves" (5:56) (8.75/10), and the FOURTEEN-TWENTY-SIX-like 4. 'No One's Home" (5:12) (8.5/10); 

    1. Water (7:30)
    2. All That I Want (5:48)
    3. Dance On The Waves (5:58)
    4. No One's Home (5:12)
    5. Final Parting (5:37)
    6. Growing Tall (7:08)
    7. Where I Belong (6:02)

    Total Time 43:15

    82.14 on the Fishscales = B-/3.5 to four stars; a good album that prog lovers might want to try out for themselves--and definitely a band to encourage so that they keep striving for more. To be sure: a band to watch!




    LONKER SEE One Eye Sees Red

    Sophisticated jazzy psychedelic rock from this previously-stoner-rock band from Krakow, Poland, led by bass player/vocalist Joanna Kucharska.

    Line-up:
    Bartosz Boro Borowski - guitar
    Tomasz Gadecki - saxophone, synth
    Michał Gos - drums
    Joanna Kucharska - bass guitar, vocal

    1. "Lillian Gish"(18:16) (8.5/10)
    2. "Solaris Pt. 3 & 4" (17:04)
    3. "One Eye Sees Red" (5:12) Joanna's haunting solo voice opens this song with no accompaniment other than her own background vocal tracks that join in after the first verse! At the one minute mark the bluesy psychedelic rock band bursts onto the scene in lieu of the vocals while retaining and supporting the original melody lines established by the vocals. Weird but cool (and very distorted at the very end)! (8.5/10)

    Total Time 40:32




    COTSWORTH-HAY Emblem

    Line-up
    Jeffrey Malone: Bass, Drums, Percussion
    Fernando Sotelo: Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
       With
    Mella: Vocals
    Nili Brosh: Guitar Solo (8)

    1. Silence Of Sleep (6:02)
    2. You'll Be Another (5:39)
    3. Emblem (6:27)
    4. Across The Sky (3:59)
    5. Pilgrimage (7:31)

    6. "Tell Me It Matters" (9:03) opens with an old jazz-rock feel, almost Dick Dale bass line, before the song settles into a groove to support Mella's vocals, then it's slower and more piano-based until the attempted heavy metal chorus. I really do not like the effect used on Mella's voice track--and the way it stays coldly isolated throughout--as if it is very much separate from the rest of the music. I really like both of the effects used on the guitar in the middle instrumental section. (7.5/10)

    7. Out Of Place (5:58)
    8. Faith Alone (5:48)
    9. Emblem II (5:12)
    10. The Way To You (5:43)
    11. A Grey Town (6:23)
    12. Fortune Smiled (3:23)

    Total Time 71:08




    WATTER History of the Future

    Surprisingly engaging soundtrack-like electronica from former members of SLINT and GRAILS.

    (Released October 20, 2017)

    Line-up
    Zak Riles - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Baglama [Saz], Oud, Sequencer, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Harmonium, Drum Machine, Bass (3), Drums  (1, 3, 5, 6)
    Tyler Trotter- Keyboards, Synthesizer, Lap Steel Guitar, Bass (5)
       With
    Britt Walford - Drums
    Rachel Grimes- Piano
    Bundy K. Brown (Tortoise) - Bass
    Todd Cook - Bass
    Dahm Majuri Cipolla - Drums
    Nathan Salsburg - Electric Guitar 
    Shawn Trail - Marimba 
    Jacob Duncan - Tenor Saxophone

    1. Telos (4:17)
    2. Shadow Chase (2:27)
    3. Death Knock (4:15)
    4. Sacrificial Leaf (4:11)
    5. Depth Charge (7:02)
    6. Liquid Of Life (3:01)
    7. The Cloud Sanctuary (2:17)
    8. Macho Milano (6:27)
    9. History Of The Future (7:26)
    10. Final Sunrise (5:06)

    Total Time 46:29




    OLA KVERNBERG Steamdome

    Jazz fusion from Norway

    1. Prologue (3:37)
    2. And Now (7:16)
    3. Caterpillar (8:43)
    4. Black Lemon (5:38)
    5. Go Up (8:33)
    6. Above The Dance, Pt. 1 (2:47)
    7. Above The Dance, Pt. 2 (3:32)
    8. Through The Mantle (4:34)
    9. Credits (6:00)

    Total Time 50:40

    Line-up:
    Ola Kvernberg (Grand General ) - violin, viola, Hammond B3 organ, Vox Continental, harmonium, guitar, theremin, Taurus, drums, percussion
       With
    Øyvind Blomstrøm - electric guitar, baritone guitar, pedal steel guitar
    Nikolai Hængsle (The National Bank) - electric bass
    Daniel Buner Formo - Hammond B3 organ
    Erik Nylander - drums, pandeiro, tambourine, quirky percussion
    Hans Hulbækmo - djembe, bongos, tambourine, drums
    Børge Fjordheim - drums, prepared autoharp






    THE VARDAMAN ENSEMBLE Is Land

    Very interesting, creative, and eclectic avant garde/RIO from these young artists from Portland.
      
    Line-up:
    Eric: Drums, Percussion
    Shampton: Sax
    HL: All Other Sounds
      Except:
    Zen: French Horn
    Melissa: Narration as Teacher


    1. Classroom/Doc 1 (1:19)
    2. There's No There There (5:59)
    3. Dromedary Drover (6:25)
    4. Doc 2 (0:06)
    5. Algorithmic Travel Through The Laws Of The Average (6:55)
    6. Doc 3 (0:31)
    7. Industrial Resolution (8:06)
    8. Doc 4 (0:27)
    9. 67th Annual Plastic Army War Theme (6:19)
    10. Anorak Flats (3:21)
    11. Doc 5 (0:10)
    12. Weightlessness Is Utopian (5:20)

    13. "From Sand To Neon Waves" (9:19) opens with softly strummed electric guitar chords before synth, bass, and cymbals join in. Activity and density begin to increase at 1:20 as the French horn, sax and droning Persian-like kazoo sound join in and the drumming becomes fuller. At 3:55 things shift, no longer soft and explorational, heavily fuzzed-distorted guitar chords and bass accompany odd time signature drums provide a King Crimson-like foundation for the horns to do their cacophonous call-and-response. Very chaotic though there is a pattern of organization. At 7:30 that pattern becomes quite a bit more regular and controlled--like a Red Nightmare with horns over the top. Weird and abrasive, though interesting (8.5/10)

    Total Time 54:17




    TRAVIS ORBIN Silly String II

    Virtuoso drummer of CARTOON THEORY, THE DARKEST HOUR, and THE GABRIEL PROJECT fame Travis Orbin releases a full-length album of his own compositions performed and recorded with his own musicians.

    1. Hand Of The Giant (6:05)
    2. Snarl (3:41)
    3. Coffee Terrorist (2:24)
    4. Overreacting Bad-Karma Boy (2:48)
    5. Inextricable (4:35)
    6. What Happened To The Pause Button? (2:41)
    7. Chucklehead (5:25)
    8. He Slept Like A Maniac (3:18)
    9. Random Hajile (0:52)
    10. Obstreperous Restriction (4:39)
    11. The Adventures Of Nerd Wolf (3:41)
    12. Fleshier Glitch (3:18)
    13. Napent (4:56)
    14. A Slightly Unfinished Sound (3:07)
    15. The End Of An Error (4:45)

    Total Time 56:15

    Line-up
    Travis Orbin (Periphery, Sky Eats Airplane, Darkest Hour) - Drum set, Percussion on all but 9
       With
    Adam Edgemont - Guitar (1-4, 6-8, 11-13, 15), Acoustic Guitar (1)
    Cameron McLellan (Protest the Hero) - Bass on all but 9, 14
    Matthew Riggen - Trumpet (1, 7, 10, 14), Trombone (7)
    Jeff Siegfried - Saxophone (3, 10)
    John Sims - Upright Bass (14)
    Ben Rachbach - Piano (14)
    Felonious Hunk - Theremin (13)
    Sophia Uddin - Violin (5)
    Owen McKinley - Congas, Bongos (7)
    Ben Eller - Guitar solo (12)
    Elliot Coleman, Jason Campbell - Voices in phone call (15)
    Mason and Ian Campbell - Children (10)






    HUMAN FACTOR Let Nature Take Its Course

    Wonderfully complex instrumental heavy prog/math rock from Russia.

    Line-up
    Pavel Vorobyov – guitars and keyboards
    Sergey Volkov – keyboards
    Alexander Meshcheryakov – bass
    Konstantin Shtirlitz – drums
       With
    David Paulley – voice (8)


    1. Longyear
    2. "A.L.F." (6:47) (9.5/10)
    3. 1816
    4. Lake of Solitude
    5. Touch of Chixculub

    6. "Alarm #1202" (5:50) (9/10)
    7. Red Shift
    8. Nubo Vetera Promesas Pluvon






    SINDICATO DE ASESINOS SERIALES Las sombras que evadimos

    Nice, creative prog--the third release in as many years--from this trio of Argentinian veterans. Really nice vocals with lots of emotion and great melodies throughout.

    1. Alma Embalsamada (4:27)
    2. Barco De Inmigrante (4:57)
    3. En El Desierto (6:40)
    4. Hombre Arcilla Parlante (5:43)
    5. La Sangre En La Bañera (4:22)
    6. Pasajero Oscuro (3:44)
    7. Chank (4:43)
    8. Smalltown Boy (4:40)
    9. Las Sombras Que Evadimos (1:00)

    Total Time 40:16

    Line-up:
    Marcelo Larramendi - Vocals, Bass
    Mauricio Larramendi - Guitars, Keyboards
    Leonardo Garcia - Drums






    OLD MAN WIZARD Blame It All On Sorcery

    Solid, well-polished, and simple guitar-based rock from this trio from San Diego.

    Line-up
    Francis Roberts - Guitar, Vocals
    Andre Beller - Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
    Kris Calabio - Drums, Backing Vocals


    1. Beginnings And Happenstance (0:47)
    2. Sorcerer (6:15)
    3. The Blind Prince (2:49)
    4. Never Leave (4:09)
    5. Cosmo (4:04)
    6. Somehow (2:20)
    7. Innocent Hands (4:39)
    8. Last Ride Of The Ancients (4:00)
    9. The Vision (3:15)
    10. The Long-Nosed Wiseman (10:10)

    Total Time 42:28






    SWIMMER Throw It Out

    Guitar- and piano-based rock with a Southern flair not unlike THE GRATEFUL DEAD, THE ALLMAN BROTHERS, LYNYRD SKYNYRD, or even early DOOBIE BROTHERS.

    1. Would Be (6:53)
    2. Turko (5:17)

    3. "The Impossible Engineer" (12:22) a decent rock song but nothing too new or innovative here. (8/10)

    4. Catch (6:00)

    5. J.I.G (8:02)
    6. "Hyperbole" (11:31) a far-jazzier song than previous due to the funky rhythms and Matt's sax; not too far from the kind of music TREE TOPS and UNAKA PRONG have been making. (8.5/10)

    7. Superbomb (7:16)
    8. Family Fugue (1:35)

    9. "Sea Cerebral" (9:29) a standard Dylan-esque jam song in the GRATEFUL DEAD vein. Nice keys and bass work. (7.5/10)

    Total Time 68:25

    Line-up:
    Cotter Ellis - Drums, Vocals
    Joe Agnello - Guitar, Vocals
    Matt Dolliver - Keyboards, Saxophone
    John Vignone - Bass, Vocals
    Paul Klein - Guitar





    DEE PALMER Through Darkened Glass

    Wonderfully creative, time- and genre-bending music from a member of the J TULL lineup from the 1970s. Complex, symphonic with both a church and theater familiarity.

    Line-up:
    Dee Palmer (Jethro Tull) - Piano, Keyboards, Organ, Portative Organ, Musette Accordion, Flute, Spanish Guitar (6), Vocals, Orchestral arrangements
       With
    Tim Harries - Bass Guitar, Fretless Bass Guitar, Contra Bass.
    Martin Barre (Jethro Tull) - Guest Soloist
    Scutty Lee - Drums; Guitar
    Suzie Shrubb - Oboe and Cor Anglais
    Eddie Maxwell - Trumpet; Flugel Horn
    Nick Trish - Trumpet
    Joe Giddey - Cello
    Richard Horne - Percussion
    Heather Cairncross, Nicholas Garrett, Nick Pritchard, Katie Thomas, Rachel Weston, Lawrence White - Backing Vocals

    1. Urban Apocalypse (6:47) (9/10)
    2. Black Orpheans (6:02)
    3. At The Still Point (4:10)
    4. Through A Piece Of Darkened Glass (5:11)
    5. Emmanuelle (5:02)
    6. The Man In The Street (5:06)
    7. A Night In Spain (4:49)
    8. Old Lady Grey (6:06)
    9. Things We Said Today (3:53)
    10. Forever Albion (7:03) (9/10)

    Total Time 54:09




    OTEME Il corpo dei Sogni

    Wonderfully refreshing chamber jazz pop from Italy and AltrOck's new "Ma.Ra.Cash Records" label.


    Line-up
    Valeria Marzocchi: flute, voice, whistling
    Lorenzo Del pecchia: bass clarinet, clarinet
    Maicol Pucci: trumpet, flugelhorn
    Marco Fagioli: bass tuba
    Stefano Giannotti: voice, electric guitar, violin, keyboards, bass guitar
    Emanuela Lari: voice, piano, keyboards
    Valentina Cinquini: harp, voice
    Riccardo Ienna: percussion
    Edgar Gomez, Gabriele Stefani: additional voices
       With
    Antonio Caggiano: vibraphone (4, 11)

    1. Rubidor #1
    2. Il corpo nel sogno (The Body in the Dream)
    3. Neglibor
    4. Blu marrone (Blue Brown)
    5. Sono invisibile (Invisible)
    6. Strippale
    7. Un paradiso con il mal di testa – (A Paradise with a Headache)
    NASCITA DEI FIORI (BIRTH OF THE FLOWERS) – Chamber poem in three movements.
    8. Il cimitero delle fate (The Fairy Cemetery)
    9. Di passaggio (Passing)
    10. Prato Fiorito (Fowery Neadow)
    11. "Orfeo e Moira" (Orpheus and Moira) (7:01) (10/10)
    12. Rubidor #2





    SCIENCENV The Quest for Prester John Vol. 1

    Creative and entertaining "soundtrack" music--with their own narration and characters casting--for made up plays.

    Line-up:
    Jim Henriques: guitar, keys, flute, vocals
    Rich Kallet: drums, percussion
    Larry Davis: guitar, bass
    David Graves: keys, vocals
       With
    Carrie Adler: oboe (2a, 2c, 2h).
    Michael Cooke: saxophone (2e, 2f)
    Phil Freihofner: oboe (2h)
    Joyce Graves: vocals as Lorena (2d), background vocals (2g)
    Roberta Lengua : vocals as The Bride of Gods (2)
    Alan Munson: vocals as Eloise's true love (2a, 2i )
    Danielle Pribyl vocals as Lucretia (2d), background vocals (2g)
    Paul Rosas: pipe organ (2f)
    Betsy Snyder: vocals as Lillith (2d), background vocals (2g)
    Rose Taylor: lead vocals (2)
    Vanessa Yearsly: vocals as Leona (2d), background vocals (2g)


    1. Fanfare (1:22)
    2. Eloise's Tale (32:35)
        a - What is a Word
        b - Overland
        c - Sojourner
        d - The Bride of Gods
        e- Across the Carpathians
        f- The Brides of God
        g - The Eunuch
        h - Half a Step
        i - Slowly

      3. An Earthly Paradise (6:11)
      4. The Gates Of Alexander (3:00)
      5. Above The Falls (5:32)
      6. Beyond The Falls (3:22)
      7. The Mongols (3:46)

      Total Time 55:48






      DOG DRIVE MANTIS How Did We Get Here?

      Choice and very tightly performed jazz-rock fusion from Canada. This reminds me of Belgium's HUMBLE GRUMBLE.

      1. Sink (1:00)
      2. Dancing On Symbols (3:14)
      3. This May Bear Some Fruit (5:14)
      4. Scrunch (5:02)
      5. Jungle Girl (6:37)
      6. We Were Watching (4:08)
      7. Chief King (3:05)
      8. Floorist (5:35)
      9. Do It Yourself (2:19)
      10. Stunya (6:01)
      11. Drop In (4:29)
      12. How Did We Get Here? (6:38)

      Total Time 53:22

      Line-up:
      Neilroy Miranda - Drums, Didgeridoo, Synths
      Carmen Haines - Bass
      Mike Papaloni - Guitars, Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano
      Derek Serbin - Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet, AKAI EWI 5000






      ME AND MY KITES Natt o Dag

      Interesting, entertaining, engrossing Folk music with a prog bent from Sweden. Side one ("Natt") is more true folk music while side two ("Dag") is more psychedelic prog folk.

      Natt:
      01. Natt o Dag [02:26]
      02. Fingers Of Senja [04:55]
      03. What If We Were Flowers? [04:22]
      04. Another, A Lover [03:58]
      05. En Väldigt Speciell Havsfest [03:30]

      Dag:
      06. Sister's Gonna Have A Baby [02:38]
      07. Dull Sky (for Cm, on a Perfect Day) [08:11]
      08. AC/DC [02:20]
      09. All Colours, Come Back! [01:10]
      10. Man kan ta allt ur jorden och använda det, men det kommer inte tillbaka [08:02]

      Total Time 42:00

      Line-up:
      David Svedmyr: piano, bass-, electric- and 12-stringed guitars, Mellotron, electric harpsichord, cithers, vibraphone and vocals.
      Johan Svedmyr: drums and percussion.
      Simon Svedmyr: electric- and upright bass and vocals.
      Lisa Isaksson: vocals and flute.
      Mikael Lennholm: electric guitars and vocals.
      Karin Engquist: organ.
      Agnes Nykäsenoja: violin and vocals.
      Joel Öhlund: vocals, oud and acoustic guitar.
      Anna Myrsten: vocals.
      Andreas Stellan: vocals.
      Jennie Ståbis: vocals.
      Zeke Isendahl: clarinet.
      Hanna Pauser Lindgren: voice.
      Azusa: percussion.






      FINALLY GEORGE Life Is a Killer

      PF/PT/STEVEN WILSON-like prog.

      Line-up:
      Finally George - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
      Todd Sucherman (Styx) - Drums & Percussion
      Erlend Krauser - Guitar Solos on 2 & 8, Additional Guitars on 1,3,4,8
      John Engehausen - Guitar Solo on 4
      Ralf Bittermann - Guitar Solo on 6
      Fiete Felsch - Flute on 7
      Matthias Pogoda - Piano on 10
      Detlef Bösche - Hammond A-100 on 4,5,8,10


      1. Tears Of A Million Lies (5:43)
      2. Walk With Me (7:07)
      3. She (6:55)
      4. Ghost (6:09)
      5. Remember Me (7:40)
      6. I'll Be There (7:01)
      7. Time Stands Still (5:40)
      8. Way Home (4:58)
      9. Human (6:35)
      10. Life Is A Killer (6:58)

      Total Time 64:46






      ÜMIT The Testament of Ümit

      Bible-inspired heavy prog from Germany that is quite atmospheric, emotional, and powerful.

      Line-up:
      Jochen Oberlack - Guitars, Voice
      Peter Kirschbaum - Bass
      Rudolf Kronenberger - Keyboards
      Peter Schürmann - Drums


      1. "Revelation (Genesis 4:1-24)" (LP Version) (8:48)

      2. "Into The Mirror Black" (LP Version) (4:30) Tight, well-performed basic hard rock with a spoken  "We're all of one" and "Into the Mirror Black" preface and final spoken words. The song is really well recorded and engineered but there is little variation or diversity within the song to warrant much excitement. The most exciting thing is the insidiousness of the driving metal rhythm guitar--it feels as if it has the staying power to break through walls. (8/10)

      3. "Hog Dead" (5:32) organ and guitar power chords establish a five-chord patterns right from the start which turns out to be just the chorus/intro section as the vocal section that begins at 0:29 uses a simpler, more stripped down 


      4. "Cows (Simmental Breed)" (11:30) opens with high and mid-piched synth sounds while tuned percussives tinkle away before lowing cow noises begin to appear in the background. Single synth takes the fore for the end of the second minute. At 2:18 thumping bass, drums, organ, and soloing electric guitar create a blues-rock sound and structure which continues unchanged until 7:05 when the synth is given the lead reins (while the guitar altogether disappears). Still no change in pace, style, form, or rhythm. Guitar returns at 8:18, this time with a little more high-pitch playing and, eventually, a little more speed and passion (especially around 10:30). The final minute is filled with sounds of cow lowing and cowbell. Solid blues rock but nothing really new or astonishing here. (7.5/10) 


      5. "The Deer (Psalm 42)" (Revelation Reprise) (9:32) opens with a scratchy voice recording of some man speaking in German before screaming guitar, bass, drums and synth supports launch into a heavy, steady and insistent Kosmische groove. The lead guitar is doing all the soloing for the first couple of minutes before the song shifts slightly into a kind of Pink Floyd chord and sound. Then the soloing guitar sound reverses itself for a bit (this will become the pattern: one guitar sound will solo for a while, then get replaced by another, different sound coming in on a different channel from a different track. As the guitar tracks double and triple the bass remains constant while the drums get a little more involved. Nice texture over the course of the final half. And this guitarist is pretty decent!  The sonic density clears slowly as we approach the end--except for the drummer's kick drum. By the end the guitars have faded out and all sounds are replaced by some primal screaming as if by a bleating rhinoceros. (8.5/10)

      Total Time 39:52







      NOIBLA Hesitation

      Very pleasant, atmospheric prog from former members of Polish band, ALBION.

      Line-up
      Katarzyna Sobkowicz Malec (Albion) - vocals, classical guitar (2)
      Leszek Jarzębowski (Albion) – guitars
      Krzysztof Malec (Albion) – keyboards
         With
      Krzysztof Wyrwa (Millenium, Metus, Jerzy Antczak) – bass
      Bartek Staromiejski – drums, percussion
      Paweł Nyklewicz – oboe (1, 5)
      Dariusz Rybka – soprano saxophone (2, 4, 6)
      Grzegorz Klimczak – contrabass (8)

      1. Faux pas
      2. One minute more
      3. Utani
      4. Atlantis
      5. Coming home
      6. Cistercian bell
      7. Metanoia
      8. Hesitation
      9. It's all i have






      SACRED LAKE Technology in Nature

      Synth-based instrumental jazz-rock fusion with a heaviness and computerized/techno-feel to it. From Massachusetts. Nine songs of which five are of prog epic length (longer than nine minutes).

      Line-up:
      Matthew Jacobs- Electric guitar
      Scott Carlson- Bass guitar
      TJ Guzzetti - Keyboards
      Dan Connell- Drums


      1. "Technology" (6:46) opens with some nice double-down, two channel electric guitar picking. Piano, too. It's rather slow and takes 75 seconds before anything exciting happens and then, just as quickly, it devolves back to the opening pace and structure for a second verse. Synth enters after the second bridge for a B-section "chorus" with some nice screaming soloing before the song lets bass have the third chorus. Halfway through and we start over: electric guitar arpeggi and picking. Moog-like symth enters the weave before the full band rejoins. Nice bass and drums with guitar power chords before everything drops out for Section A with Wes Montgomery-like guitar play. The heavy rock rise into the final crescendo feels so incongruous with that jazz guitar. (8.5/10)

      2. "Free The City" (12:15) The computer-tampered sound of the drums really bugs me here. (Very much like the drum sounds used by THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE.) There is another odd incongruous section with piano bar piano doubled up with soloing from a fuzzy, distorted heavy metal guitar. 1970s Chick Corea-like synths enter. This is truly a song straight out of TPE sound studio! (8.5/10)  


      3. "Bad Acid" (8:55) seering electric guitar over heavily-reverbed grand piano, bass and drums open the first two minutes of this fast rocker. Synths pick up the lead, then get pushed aside by the guitar by the four minute mark. The bass is on display next before guitar and synths re-engage in their little duel. (8.5/10)


      4. "Enchanted Element" (10:05) opens with delicately picked electric guitar play. Pretty. Background chords of synth washes join in with the second verse. Then strummed guitars, bass and drums join in. Almost a Nashville jazz here--not unlike some Chet Atkins. In the third minute the sound and mood gets heavier (no more country feel; full on classic rock-jazz like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani). Nice melodies. Vintage keyboard sounds--vintage sounds all around. This could be any 1980s' axeman's solo album. (9/10)


      5. "Purple Sky" (11:44) opens with some electronica percussion before the band crashes in with a full-on heavy metal sound. Again, 1980s axeman solo album comes to mind--even a little STYX and ALLMAN BROTHERS. As a matter of fact, there seems to be many familiar guitar riffs from the 1970s and 1980s worked into this one. A tribute song? (8.5/10)


      6. "Hawaiian Tulip" (8:03) nearly MAHAVISHNU/DI MEOLA/JAN HAMMER-esque in the opening (with some Weather Report & Jaco bass stylings, too). (8/10)


      7. The Pyramid (8:26) a slower, though still brooding and heavy, song with some nice melodies coming from the guitar in chords and subtleties from the background! Things amp up, of course, by the fourth minute, though the pace somehow stays restrained. Nice musicianship. (8.5/10) 


      8. "Afterthought" (7:18) a rather sappy melody glues this one together over the first two minutes as it struggles to get up and go. By the time the four minute mark comes the band is clicking and pushing but the song then returns to the opening melody--though coming from multiple instruments on differing scales. Too bad for the drummer. This song must truly have been an afterthought: it feels like last minute fill. (7.5/10) 


      9. "Nature" (15:08) bass gets the opening honors here establishing a chunky, effected riff. The rest of the band soon joins in with some great synth play filling in while backing the lead guitar. Again, the band seems to be holding back, plodding along for five minutes, before it shows some signs of life, of shift/change/different. But then it pretty much comes back to the original foundation and pace. And then, two-thirds of the way in, what do they do? They slow it down even more! Too bad! At the end they finally amp it back up to show off all their chops, but it's too late. (7.5/10)


      I'd be much more impressed if this band would just let go; I feel as if they need to be able to break loose and play at breakneck speeds, not restrain themselves with slow tempos in order to try to show off the soloists.

      Total Time 88:40


      83.33 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; a nice addition to the jazz-rock fusion catalogue.





      PSYCHIC LEMON Frequency Rhythm Distortion Delay

      Distortion-happy psychedelia with a little punk Post Rock feel to it.

      Line-up
      Andy Briston - Guitar, vocals, keyboard, acoustic guitar
      Andy Hibberd - Bass guitar
      Martin Law - Drums, percussion
         With
      Iain Roddick - Saxophone

      1. "Exit To The Death Lane (8:31) opens with a promising percussion track, then rolling bass note and more drums. Electric guitar enters with a couple repeated notes to add to the weave. Spacey vocals. A little RIDE/MY BLOODY VALENTINE-like sound and lead guitar work. (8.5/10)

      2. "Hey Droog! (6:57) too much distortion for these ears. Distortion for distortion's sake? (8/10)

      3. "You're No Good (6:43) So SWANS-like! Nice use of the sax in the last section. (9/10)

      4. "Interstellar Fuzz Star (9:53) styling more within the Krautrock ilk. (7.5/10)

      5. "Satori Disko (9:30) mind-numbingly monotonous pseudo-Indian rhythm track over which bubbling and beep effects are played. Too bad. The soloing guitar does get a little more interesting when it switches to wah-pedal in the fifth minute and then gets doubled-up in the eighth, but, otherwise, this does little for me. Not even the sax in the final 90 seconds can save it. (7/10)

      Total time: 41:34


      It saddens me to say it but this is a band who got me very excited with their 2016 self-titled debut album for which I'm feeling let down and disappointed with this, their sophomore effort. More vocals, less distortion; more compositional development (less monotony). Were the effect trance-inducing, I would say otherwise, but, other than the opening song, this music has trouble even engaging me much less producing a Kosmisch-like trance effect.


      80.0 on the Fishscales = B-/C+/3.5 stars; a passable album that begs personal opinion.





      SONIQ THEATER Squaring the Circle 

      Interesting instrumental techno pop from Germany performed and recorded from all dated computer/synthesizers. Pop Berlin School eclectronica, anyone?

      Line-up
      Alfred Mueller (ex-Rachel's Birthday) - everything


      1. Squaring The Circle (6:21)
      2. Circus Ponies On The Run (5:00)
      3. The Unbearable Lightness Of Being (5:50)
      4. Strange Times And Odd Days (5:42)
      5. Kissing The Sun (2:27)
      6. Pink Panda (5:46)
      7. Flying Dolphins (4:40)
      8. Spirallels (4:17)
      9. Welcome To Absurdistan (2:24)
      10. Paradox (6:00)
      11. April Snow (3:08)

      Total Time 51:35