Sunday, March 19, 2017

Notable Albums of the Year 2017

My Favorite Albums of 2017
(In some semblance of order)


***Author's note:  Below you will find two different rankings for this year's albums. 
  The first list is merely a list consisting of a Top Twenty with a following list of "Honorable Mentions." These 20 are my favorite albums of the year, that is, the albums to which I have formed the greatest emotional attachments. The Reviews that follow are ordered according to my more 'objective' yet personal judgment as to their quality, that is, the "best" albums of the year. Here I have tried to order the albums reviewed according to my personal and metric determination as to what are the "best" albums of the year from a more critical, qualitative, and quantitative viewpoint, that is, without as much emotional attachment as "My Favorite" albums. 
According to my calculations, 2017 presents Prog World with 2 "masterpieces" and  "near masterpieces"!  


The Rankings
 (My "Favorites")



LOST WORLD BAND Of Things and Beings

A band that has always had a gift for melody and beauty has now vaulted into the upper echelons of prog world with this release of complex, well-recorded and produced, symphonic prog. Whereas their sound was always a little unpolished and their songs a little too syrupy sweet, this one shows a significant leap in both sophistication and maturity. The new sound is like Mike Oldfield only better; Lost World has gone where we all wished (and thought) Mike would go (but didn't).

Line-up / Musicians:
- Andy Didorenko / all guitars, violins, keyboards and vocal
- Vassili Soloviev / flute
- Konstantin Shtirlitz / drums
- Alexander Akimov / percussion

1. "Shapes and Objects" (a symphonic creation with full orchestral support)
     I. "Random Objects in the Sun" (3:20) impressive dynamics. I find myself reminded of Mike Oldfield's Incantations only on a much more sophisticated level. The song just keeps getting better as it goes! Amazing instrumental appearances. (9.5/10)
     II. "Moving Dots" (3:15) the andante of this symphony--with vocals, flutes, acoustic guitars and orchestral contributions all helping with the syncopated weave. Then, half way through, it shifts into a smooth, upbeat orchestral piece. Awesome! (9.5/10)
     III. "Water Circles" (4:31) a kind of rondo with guitars, violins, and flutes trading the melody with orchestral percussion and drums helping out along the way. Incredible song. We are not worthy! Would that Mike Oldfield ever climbed to such heights! (10/10)
     IV. "Time Squares" (3:10) the dénouement and climax. Perfect! (9.5/10)

2. "When the Time is Still" (4:18) Gorgeous arrangement. (9.5/10)

3. "Death of Mr. Winter" (1:05) quirky and angular--a perfect foil for the previous songs. A lot like a JACK O' THE CLOCK song. (9/10)

4. "Intertwined" (3:30) an awesome multiple acoustic guitar étude--not unlike a WILLIAM ACKERMAN song, only on high doses of cafeine. Andy Didorenko on full display. (9/10)

5. "Of Things and Beings" (0:51) another quirky odd JACK O' THE CLOCK-like song with a heavily treated multiple tracked vocal. (9/10)

6. "Watchbird" (6:08) a full out, Chris Squire chunky bass prog en force. Not my favorite song or style of Andy's but it does display his ability to write and perform at a very high YES-like level of rock dynamism. The violin adds a true EDDIE JOBSON/UK-ness to the song. (Great drumming, Mr. Shtirlitz!) (9/10)

7. "Simple as"
     I. "One" (2:13) pastoral, hand percussion with flute and acoustic guitars. Amazing flute(s) and guitar(s) weave. Gorgeous! (10/10)
     II. "Two" (1:41) The feast continues! A little more up tempo this time. Like a Michel Legrand/Jean-Pierre Rampal/Alexandre LaGoya composition. Amazing! (10/10)
     III. "Three" (1:46) the third of the trilogy steps into a more metronomic (though off tempo) medieval troubadour feel and sound. Again, the jazzy sound of Legrand/Rampal/LaGoya is strongly brought to mind. (9/10)

8. "The Structure of Madness" (4:05) a return to heavier, electrified rock--this time of a style more akin to bands like MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, ELP, BRUFORD, URIAH HEEP, even RUSH. Wonderful performances by all instruments--especially drums, electric guitars, and bass. A definite masterpiece of progressive rock by a certifiable master of musical composition and performance.(10/10)

9. "On Thin Ice" (3:33) treads into the almost-'pop' style and sound of previous albums like 2009's Sound Source and 2013's Solar Power. By has this band/musician matured! (8.5/10)

10. "Downpour "(3:12) aggressive violin, guitars and bass open this song before the drums enter full throttle to drive this one to crescendoed highs (with notable valleys of meek dynamics). Impressive but not memorable or even very likable. (8/10)

This is by far and away the best album Lost World has released and one of the best albums I've heard from this year. (Oops! I guess it was a late 2016 release!) Excellent sound recording and production throughout (which was a weakness of past recordings). And despite Andy's virtuosity, his flute player and drummer are both on an equal level!

93.33 on the Fishscales = Five stars, A; a masterpiece of progressive rock music!





TREE TOPS Ghosts Don't Dance With Shoes

A four piece band with some great assist with sound/production/keyboards from UNAKA PRONG's Chris Pope, let the world know that there is a new force to be reckoned with in the blues rock domain and they say they're from Knoxville, Tennessee. Not since Duane and Dickie or maybe Skynyrd's Rossington and Gaines or perhaps Lizzy's Gorham and Sykes have two guitarists commanded the attention and accolades like these two:  Cory Smith and David Webb. I honestly don't know which one is which when they solo, but their racing harmonized weaves are absolutely jaw-dropping, stunning, almost unbelievable. And drummer Jon Mann is quite impressive as well.

Line-up/Musicians: 
 - Jon Mann - drums, percussion
 - Cory Smith - guitar, vocals
 - David Webb - guitar, vocals
    With
 - Chris Pope - keys
 - Jack Willard - bass

1. "Confunktivitis" (7:38) Steely Dan, Love and Money, Meet Danny Wilson, Roddy Frame, (10/10)

2. "Dancefloors" (7:22) what opens like a ZZ TOP song, morphs into something else as a Frank Marino (MAHOGANY RUSH)-like guitar sound and style. (9.5/10)

3. "Stonefacin" (5:46) sounds like a heavy JOE JACKSON. (9/10)

4. "Overcoats" (4:35) a "Hotel California"-like groove with some nice FAGEN-like vocals. (9.5/10)

5. "Fly Like Pigeons" (4:10) a brilliantly crafted and lyricized song in a kind of Rockabilly/RODDY FRAME/FRANK ZAPPA style. (9.5/10)

6. "Pigeons In Space" (12:59) One of the best songs I've heard all year--construction, performance, melody, surprise, beautiful hooks and nice singing. The  tremolo wah-guitar playing is absolutely stunning from start to finish! And in the last four minutes you get to hear some amazing drumming and Santana-like guitar. (10/10)

7. "Drugs" (9:09) I hear Buddy Guy. I hear Fripp and Belew at their craziest. And yet there is a great vocal/lyric, too! Amazing paired guitars playing at lightning speed in harmony! (9.5/10)

8. "Stonefacin (Reprise)" A reprise of the (IMO) weakest song on the album. A guitarist's wet dream.(1:57) (8/10)

9. "Towers" (6:29) is a hard rockin' song over which the boys decided to try to place words, singing, and even harmonized background vocals. Too bad. Jimi HENDRIX, however, would've loved the song. Maybe he was there. (But whose body was he channeling through: Cory or David?) (8.5/10)



Total Time 60:05



These boys have a sound that is familiar but so fresh, and completely unique. Rockers that sound like jammers they have an incredibly tightly knit performance style that reminds me more of classically orchestrated music than loose, improvised rock'n'roll. With every listen I'm trying to answer the question, "Are they prog?" As an inclusionist and in awe and respect of these virtuoso composer-performers, I say, "YES!" 

As another aside, all of my above comparisons to masters of old must be taken with a serious diminuation as there are but flashes of similiarity, almost never blatant mimicry or revisionism of the bands or styles or sounds mentioned. Tree Tops are unique and in a class by themselves. 

92.78 on the Fishscales = five stars, A; a masterpiece of progressive rock music. A band that needs to be heard as they are one of the most impressive bands of the Teens. 






WESERBERGLAND Sehr Kosmish Ganz Progisch

When guitarist-producer Jacob HOLM-LUPO (WHITE WILLOW, THE OPIUM CARTEL), flutist-keyboard player Ketil Vestrum EINARSEN (WHITE WILLOW, JAGA JAZZIST, WOBBLER, MOTORPSYCHO), guitarist Gaute STORSVE (RHYS MARSH) and drummer extraordinaire Mattias OLSSON (ÄNGLAGÅRD, PINEFOREST CRUNCH, PÄR LINDH, WHITE WILLOW, THE OPIUM CARTEL, NECROMONKEY) get together to create an album of music in tribute to the Kosmische Music (Krautrock) artists of the 1970s you can bet it's going to be a good one. And it is! Each song on the album is like listening to a drum, keyboard, and guitar clinic. It's as if JAGA JAZZIST and CAN were merged--as if Lars and Martin HORNTVETH were collaborating with Jaki LIEBEZEIT in this, the 21st Century with all of the gizmos and effects that give 21st Century musicians such versatility and variety. The bass is often keyboard or computer driven, but it works. Mattias' drumming blends computer technologies with the live kit sounds. The keyboard and guitar sounds and techniques used are all over the place. Overall, the music is derivative, yet experimental; it's rhythmic and yet avant; it's militaristic yet psychedelic. It's genius! 






KANT FREUD KAFKA Onírico

Barcelona's JAVI HERRERA has done it again. As if 2014's labour of love, No tengas miedo wasn't spectacle and production perfection enough, Javi has pulled together another masterpiece, this time based on dreams. The presence of voices--Javi's own voice and that of female vocalist, Alia Herrera (sister? wife?)--make this quite a different listening experience from No tengas miedo. The vocal performances and stylings remind me quite a bit of those from Olga Polgaskaja's FIVE-STOREY ENSEMBLE's 2013 (and, thus far, only) release, Not This City. Beautiful and almost operatic. Also, the electric guitar performances are amazing. Very dynamic and technically superlative.

Line-up / Musicians:


- Javi Herrera / drums, vocals, VST instruments
With:
- Cecilia Burguera / violin
- Mónica Cruzata / viola
- Queralt Garcia / cello
- German Fafian / electric guitars
- Daniel Fernandez Campos / bass guitar
- Alia Herrera / vocals
- Andrea Herrera / tap dancing
- Mandharu / crotals, wind chimes
- Rafael Pacha / dulcimer, acoustic guitars, mandolin, bouzouki
- Pol Sanchez / electric & Spanish guitars, mandole
- Dick Them / double bass
- Guillem Vilar / oboe, cor anglais

1. "Insomnio de una noche de verano" (9:27) an instrumental in which classical/acoustic instruments and compositions styles are trying to be blended (sometimes feeling a bit forced) with electronic, sometimes bombastic instruments and sounds. (8.5/10)


2. "Dulces sueños" (5:18) is an absolutely beautiful and completely classical arrangement and production featuring piano, cello, cor anglais and the dual voices of Alia and Javi. (9.5/10)


3. "És quan dormo que hi veig clar" (10:54) is very patchy, moving from more classically-oriented sections of gorgeous music to dynamic electronic passages often quite awkwardly, incongruously. The musicianship is of the highest caliber, the composition and arrangement is not quite, polished.(8.5/10)


4. "Vida y muerte" (8:28) (9.5/10)


5. "A Nightmare on Major St. (7:33) (9/10)
 

6. "Awakenings (9:03) (9.5/10)

Though the electronic and more rock-oriented performances are very good, it is the classical-jazz passages and sounds that attract more of my attention and listening pleasure.

90.83 on the Fishscales = five stars, A-; a masterpiece of progressive rock music.




PSYCHIC EQUALIZER The Lonely Traveller

Wow! What a debut from classically trained pianist Hugo Selles! Piano is at the base of all compositions (even when it is absent) but the accoutrements Hugo has designed to support his keyboard are amazing! Never overloaded or ostentations, never showy or cluttered, the songs are constructed rather perfectly! Such a refreshing album! Destined to be one of my favorites from 2017!

Line-up
Hugo Selles - piano, keyboards, and synths
   With
Quico Duret - guitar and effects
Morten Skøtt - drums
Carlos Barragán - classical guitar and voices
Nikolai Petersen - vibraphone and percussion
Katerina Anganostidou - celesta
Jan Irlind - balalaika
India Hooi - voices and hulusi
Joaquin Páli Palomares - first violin
Khalida De Ridder - second violin
Johanna Baarlink - viola
Adriana Isaku - cello and voices


Tracklist:
1. Mezuz (6:18)
2. An Ocean Of Changes (I-IV) (6:33)
3. The Lonely Traveller (0:53)
4. Lágrimas (3:37)
5. Adrift (2:39)
6. Peña Labra (2:35)
7. Flying Over The Caucasus (3:34)
8. Lovers Meet (6:44)
9. A Collection Of Marbles (3:53)
10. An Ocean Of Changes (V-VI) (2:20)
11. A Visit To Adelaide (5:11)
12. Nørrebro (2:48)

Total Time 47:05



UTOPIANISTI Brutopianisti

A violent, Mr. Hyde-like version of Finnish genius Markus Pajakkala's UTOPIANISTI though this is mostly him playing various woodwinds and tuned percussives.

BRUTOPIANISTI IS:
Markus Pajakkala - modified drums, bass clarinet, soprano sax, xylophone, various flutes, additional vocals
with:
Marko Eskola - screams, growls & voices on #1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13
Sampo Salonen - throat singing on #1, 3, 5, 6, 13
Ismo Mäkinen - squeaking on #8
Anssi Solismaa - modular synths on #7, 12

Conceived, engineered & produced by Markus Pajakkala
Composed by Markus Pajakkala, with contributions from guest musicians, pure chance and Xochipilli the Hare
Lyrics by Markus Pajakkala & Marko Eskola 


1. "Gróyul Ghóul Ghò!" (01:37) (/10)
2. "Gcéme Zéle Dté" (01:46) (/10)
3. "Blászh" (02:57) (/10)

4. "Bhómega" (03:56) opens on a very 'world music' stage--sounding like something out of a JON HASSELL performance at one of the WOMAD festivals. But then the drums and other instruments (bass clarinet and synthesized flute or sax on the lead) enter at the 1:20 mark and things settle into a new pattern that feels all right wiht the rest of the world. (9/10)

5. "Gabósh Dí Magá" (01:41) growls and reverb effects used on this one make it so cool! The woodwinds and drums weave is perfect support for the Kong Island--fitting song. (9.5/10)

6. "Zigévomídá Zwógh" (01:13) the vocals on this song are the highlight as multiple styles are represented--sometimes even together! Drums are fairly tolerable on this one. (9/10)

7. "Hóllò" (04:04) (/10)

8. "Wóókh Ztadás" (01:14) (/10)
9. "Zwaáakh" (01:26) (/10)
10. "Zhími Bàgi Dá" (01:10) (/10)
11. "Bóm Zói" (02:42) (/10)
12. "Brümigá Hügu" (03:25) (/10)
13. "Glüf Zwagó Zigévomídá!" (03:45) (/10)

Total Time 30:56


I have to admit that the Muppets' "Animal"-like tribalistic beating of the drums along with their very plastic sounds leave me feeling a little raw and jaded, but the music is so interesting and, well, for lack of a better word, raw that I can usually get past it. I wonder if Markus ever heard the Spanish band ZA!'s 2015 album "Loloismo" before making this album. There are some similarities.




ANATHEMA The Optimist

Line-up:
Daniel Cavanagh - guitars, vocals, keyboards, bass
Vincent Cavanagh - vocals, guitars, keyboards, programming, bass
Jamie Cavanagh - bass
John Douglas - drums, keyboards, programming
Lee Douglas - vocals
Daniel Cardoso - drums


1. "32.63n 117.14w" (1:18)

2. "Leaving It Behind" (4:27) (8/10)


3. "Endless Ways" (5:49) (10/10)


4. "The Optimist" (5:37) (9.5/10)


5. "San Francisco" (4:59) (9/10)


6. "Springfield" (5:49) a true Post Rock song (8/10)


7. "Ghosts" (4:17) (9.5/10)


8. "Can't Let Go" (5:00) a true rock song (8.5/10)


9. "Close Your Eyes" (3:39) a true jazz torch song. Cool! (9/10)


10. "Wildfires" (5:40) could be an Ulver song! Awesome and powerful! (9.5/10)


11. "Back To The Start" (11:41) a great 7-minute prog song followed by four minutes of emptiness and then family shit that does not belong on the album. Too bad! 
(9/10)

90.0 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars, B+/A-; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.




INNER EAR BRIGADE Dromology

A little heavier and more serious this time around but the compositional skill and instrumental performances have improved a notch (amazingly!)

Line-up
Bill Wolter – Guitar
Chris Lauf – Drums
Stephen Wright – Electric Bass
Melody Ferris – Vocals
Ivor Holloway – Tenor, Alto, and Soprano Saxophone
Eli Wallace – Keyboards (1,2,4,5)
   With
Theo Padouvas – Trumpet (1,2,4,5,6)
Andrew Vernon – Keyboards (3,6,7)
David Shaff – Trumpet (3,7)
Aharon Wheels Bolsta – Tabla (5)

1. "Dark Sleep Fortress" (6:40) heavier but still avant. The band is thick and tight! (8.5/10)
2. Black And White Taste (5:56) avant in a math rock almost THINKING PLAGUE way. (8.5/10)
3. Shaman Coin Toss (6:51) 
4. Bobotut (6:12) (9/10)
5. Dromology (8:55) 
6. Targa Floria (4:22) (9/10)
7. Birdie In The Wall (6:57) (9/10)

Total Time 45:53





ULVER The Assassination of Julius Caesar

The reincarnation of Depeche Mode and New Order?





KARDA ESTRA Infernal Spheres

Richard Wileman has returned to some of the simpler soundscapes and melodic structures of his early work. Richard's wife and long-time collaborator Ileesha is present but used rather sparingly. The album seems to have songs representing all of Richard's moods and eras in his illustrious evolution.  

Lineup/musicians:
 - Richard Wileman - acoustic, classical, electric, bass & prepared guitars, keyboards, samples, percussion, rastrophone, bouzouki, Appalachian dulcimer, zither
    With:
 - Jo Court  - bass clarinet (6, 9, 10)
 - Caron De Burgh - oboe (3, 8), cor anglais (1, 8)
 - Helen Dearnley - violin (4)
 - Amy Fry - clarinet (5, 9), tenor saxophone (9)
 - Richard Overton - bass trombone (1, 3), tenor trombone (6, 9)
 - Lauraine Phelan - trumpet (6, 9)
 - Paul Sears - drums (2, 6)
 - Ileesha Wileman - vocals (7, 9, 10)


1. "Prelude To A Dark Vortex" (1:52) gorgeous opener in church-like bombastics with lots of minor chords and atmospherics. So regal! (9.5/10)

2. "The Fermi Paradox" (3:19) awesome song with Paul Sears' perfectly fitting drumming. Great chord progressions and cool off-beat bass play. My favorite song on the album. (10/10)


3. "Ceres" (1:36) minor Spanish-style guitar-based song with the gorgeous oboe play of long-time collaborator Caron De Burgh. Another gem. (9.5/10)


4. "Obelisk Of Cruithne" (6:46) is a return to darker times. Mostly a solo affair, Richard uses some very odd sounds and sound combinations to keep the listener on edge. Dissonance and melodrama with little or no melody. (8/10)

5. "Anatomy Of The Heavens" (4:48) gorgeously nostalgic. Piano and clarinet shine. Haunting melodies. Problem is that it doesn't go anywhere; it's an awfully long song for such sustained simplicity. (9/10)

6. "Solar Riviera" (6:42) nice soundtrack music. Very French. The eerie "saw" synth in the background is a cool touch. The two brief interlude/breaks are also a nice touch before the transition to different sounds and drumming. I like the 'thickening' of the musical soundscape in the fourth and fifth minutes and the horns in the final third. (9/10)


7. "Legacy Of Theia" (4:21) It's so nice to hear Ileesha's voice! A gorgeous acoustic guitar-based song with, again, all kinds of unusual sounds and textures combining to convey the 'story'. The tinny percussion-like keyboard sounds are my favorites--and there are a lot of them here. Interesting fade/outro. (9/10)


8. "Kklak!" (3:45) pure dissonance and questionable substance. (7/10)


9. "Free Fall On Tyche" (4:51) back to some of the Burt Bacharach-like sounds that we heard on 2013's Mondo Profondo. Ileesha's vocalizations are, of course, the highlight of the song--with the horns. So nice to hear the full horn and woodwinds interacting. The bass guitar is a little monotonous but overall, this is a nice song. (9/10)

10. "Nemesis" (5:35) bass clarinet and percussion alternating with a chorus of Ileesha and organ. Interesting and often surprising but also hypnotic. (9/10)

Total Time 43:35


88.0 on the Fishscales = 4.5 stars, B+; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music.





CAST Power and Outcome

Virtuosic instrumental symphonic prog from these Mexican masters. Makes me want to go back into their discography since my last listen to anything by them was 2008's Originallis--which was brilliant. How can such an amazingly talented band fly so far under the Prog World radar?  


Line-up / Musicians:
- Bobby Vidales / vocals
- Guadalupe Acuña / vocals
- Claudio Cordero / guitar
- Luis Alfonso Vidales / keyboards
- Roberto Izzo / violin
- Carlos Humarán / bass
- Jose Antonio Bringas / drums

1. "Rules of the Desert (Instrumental) (11:35)
2. "Power and Outcome (7:25)
3. "Details: a) Circle Spins (5:47)
4. "Details: b) Start Again (Instrumental) (8:43)
5. "Through Stained Glass (8:46)
6. "Illusions and Tribulations (9:27)
7. "The Gathering (8:16)
8. "Conquest (Instrumental) (3:30)
9. "Full Circle (1:57)
10. "Dialect for the 21st Century (5:16)

Total time 70:42






EYOT Innate

Refreshing new Post Rock from Serbia featuring piano-based instrumentals with roots in Serbian folk music.

Line-up:

Dejan Ilijic - Piano
Sladjan Milenovic - Guitar
Milos Vojvodic - Drums
Marko Stojiljkovic - Bass


1. "Veer" (6:03) 
2. "Helm" (4:46)
3. "Mountain" (5:08) (9.5/10)
4. "Perun" (5:32)
5. "Canon Of Insolation" (4:48)
6. "Ramonda Serbica" (7:07)
7. "Innate" (5:46)

Total time 39:10






JORD Jord II

Nice instrumental symphonic rock from Norway in the traditions and styles of the masters of the 1970s classics.

Line-up
Håkon Oftung - Vocals, flute, guitars & keys
Kristian Frøland - Drums, percussion
Robert William Dall Frøseth - Bass (3)

1. Over Vidda (1:48)
2. Abstraksjoner Fra Et Dunkelt Kammer (6:50)
3. Finske Skoger (2:56)
4. Jord I (6:24)
5. Jord II (8:27) (9/10)
6. La Meg Forsvinne! (6:38)
7. Postludium (4:42)

Total time 37:45





ROBERT JÜRJENDAL Simple Past/Lihtminevik

If Robert Fripp and Brian Eno were to have teamed up with Jack DeJohnnette or Pierre Moerlin:  ambient jazz.

Line-up
Robert Jürjendal — touch guitars, percussion, keyboards (1, 6, 8, 9), Neunaber effects 
Andrus Lillepea — drums (1–8) 
Lotte — „water drop” samples (6) 
Six — breathing (9) 

1. No Or Yes (3:32)
2. Brothers (3:03)
3. Kettle (1:58)
4. Melting Memories (3:57)
5. Up Up (4:14)
6. Old Stories (6:34)
7. Substance (4:30)
8. Above (4:24)
9. More (4:21)
10. Simple Past (8:58)

Total time 45:31





SEAS OF MIRTH Hark! The Headland Approacheth

The new Cardiacs, singing songs of the high seas. Vocalist sounds like Billy Idol trying to sound like Jim Morrison. Guitars sound like an Irish Dick Dale. Highly theatric, highly entertaining, highly polished top notch musicianship with a lot of the craze and boldness of Kavus Torabi, FARMERS MARKET, Humble Grumble and Frank Zappa.

Line-up
Al Judders - vocals, percussion, whistle
Cannonball Paul - vocals, guitar
Zorba The Blowfish - bouzouki
Glen Fingle - mandolin
Jeremiah Planks On Fire - bass
Shitluck - cello
Piss-in-the-wind Mindy - accordion, violin, woodwind
Sally Squidbusiness - keys
Robrush - drums

1. The Curse Of The Conniving Lighthouse Sniper (5:47)
2. Hark! The Headland Approacheth (4:08) (10/10)
3. Mutiny (4:48)
4. Esmerelda (4:24)
5. Bamboozled By Booze (4:30)
6. It's Raining, Men! (5:29)
7. Salt Man (4:06)
8. Sulphur-Bottom Lament (Plankton Song) (2:07)
9. BrandyWine (5:08)
10. The Curse Of The Dreaded Devil's Triangle (3:10)
11. Apocacalypso (6:26)

Total Time 50:03





KSHETTRA Five Mothers

Russian drum 'n' bass jazz drivers incorporate a lot of guests and traditional folk instruments to support their hard-driving, hypnotic East-meets-West instrumental jazz. 

Line-up
Boris Ghas - bass, poem (5), samples (4)
Viktor Tikhonov - drums, Oxoma synth (1,5,6,7), samples (3,4,7)
  With
Ramille Mulikov - sax, trumpet, trombone
Nikolai Samarin - synth (4,5), double bass (1), mandolin (4,7), sitar (8)
Eugeniy Mikhalchenko - voice (5) 

1. Conception (2:01)
2. Garura Lila (3:55)
3. Cikada (5:43)
4. Godzindra (9:53)
5. Walk Under The Moon (13:19)
6. Umbra (6:32)
7. Mechanoya (12:00) (9/10)
8. Crossing (1:08)

Total time 54:31





THINKING PLAGUE Hoping Against Hope

New avant/RIO from the Colorado-based masters is always nice. Elaine sings and plays accordion!

Line-up
Mike Johnson: guitar, samples, midi instruments
Mark Harris: soprano and alto saxes, B-flat standard and bass clarinets, flute
Dave Willey: bass, drums (5), accordion (2, 6)
Elaine di Falco: voice, accordion, piano
Robin Chestnut: drums, percussion
Bill Pohl: guitar
     with:
Adriana Teodoro-Dier: piano (2, 5, 6) and toy piano (2)
Simon Steensland: bass (5)
Mike Boyd: drums (2)
Kathryn Cooper: oboe (4)

1. "The Echoes of Their Cries" (6:37)

2. "Thus Have We Made the World" (5:44)

3. "Commuting to Murder" (4:44)

4. "Hoping Against Hope" (10:06)

5. "The Great Leap Backwards" (4:01)

6. "A Dirge for the Unwitting" (13:45)




MIKE OLDFIELD Return to Ommadawn

Though full of new music, as opposed to some of the re-hashing send-ups Oldfield has released over the years, this one is a beautiful little reminder of just how awesome those mid-1970s albums of Mike Oldfield's were.

1. Return To Ommadawn (Pt.1) (21:10)
2. Return To Ommadawn (Pt.2) (20:57)

Total Time 42:07

Line-up:
Mike Oldfield - acoustic, classical, 12-string & electric guitars, acoustic & electric basses, mandolin, harp, bouzouki, banjo, grand piano, spinet, Farfisa organ, ARP 2600 & Solina synths, bodhran, glockenspiel, accordion (6), assorted percussions (marimba, gong, tubular bells)






PERIDONI Jade

Line-up: 

Cory Donnini
Kaleb Perrin
Ben Steinkamp
Kevin Harris
Jamebo Corsini-Lights

1. Fission (4:26)
2. Follow Thru (6:52)
3. Pendulum (9:00)
4. Jade (7:27)
5. Prisma Color (5:15)
6. Shimmer (4:35)
7. Are You There (5:09)
8. Static Array (5:44)

Total Time 48:28





UNAKA PRONG Adult Contemporary

Another fantastic smorgasborg of music from Boone, North Carolina's gift to the music world, this album has me feeling so nostalgic and yet it's all new, fresh, and completely Unaka Prong!

Line-up / Musicians:


- Mike Welsh / guitar
- Daniel Stevenson / guitar, vocals
- John Hargett / drums, vocals
- Jonathon Sale / bass
- Chris Pope / keys
- Nic Pressley / trumpet

1. Gadnuk (Breaker of Worlds) (5:22)
2. Fruit Fly (6:24)
3. Alchemy (4:26)
4. Déjà Vu (0:44)
5. Run Out (5:05) (10/10)
6. Late July (5:10)
7. Lurks (6:07)
8. Heartburn (6:11)
9. Lake Jam #1 (5:41)
10. Maeng Da (Lake Jam #4) (3:25) (10/10)
11. Narcese (4:27)
12. Fairweather Friend (1:41)
13. Highway Drivin' (3:37)
14. Too Far Gone (5:23) (9/10)
15. As we Agreed (6:58)

Total Time 70:41





MAGIC BUS Phillip The Egg

England's revivalists of the Bay Area psychedelia and Canterbury Scene have returned with another collection of one that flows and develops slowly in its complexity and dexterity over the course of the album. As a matter of fact, it seems to me upon repeated listens that the opening songs are fairly simple and pleasant and innocent while the trend progresses toward more expressions of anger and discord towards the end of the longer songs and the album itself. 

I would have liked to hear more instrumental expressivity and complexity but am exceedingly happy for the input of this collection of songs that take me to a place that was much more innocent and carefree.




SHEN TEH Hide and Seek


New music as Lara Olson and company progress away from their Amanda Palmer-like cabaret style of music into more guitar-infused rock, with electronic inputs as well. Lara's lyrics and singing are world class clever and sophisticated and her support crew are right in sync with her.




WHITE WILLOW Future Hopes

It's been quite a wait since 2011's Terminal Twilight but we are quite fortunate to have professionals of the caliber of these seasoned veterans collaborating together once more. Multi-instrumentalists
Jacob Holm-Lupo, Ketil Vestrum Einarsen, Mattias Olsson, Lars Fredrik Frøislie, team up with bass guitarist Ellen Andrea Wang and new singer (familiar to OPIUM CARTEL fans), Venke Knutson, along with the boon of a Roger Dean album cover to create this wonderful collection of pure prog.

Line-up / Musicians:

- Venke Knutson / vocals
- Jacob Holm-Lupo / guitars, synthesizers
- Lars Fredrik Frøislie / keyboards
- Ketil Einarsen / flute
- Ellen Andrea Wang / bass
- Mattias Olsson / drums & percussion

With:
- Kjersti Løken / trumpet (1)
- Hedvig Mollestad / guitar (3, 5)
- Ole Øvstedal / guitar (4)
- David Krakauer / clarinet (6)

1. "Future Hopes" (4:30)
2. "Silver and Gold" (4:04)
3. "In Dim Days" (11:04)
4. "Where There Was Sea There Is Abyss" (1:59)
5. "A Scarred View" (18:16)
6. Animal Magnetism (CD/Digital bonus track) (7:15)
7. Damnation Valley (CD/Digital bonus track) (3:16)

Total Time 50:24






NEXUS En el comienzo del Topos Uranos

Lalo Huber and company are back again with another collection of top notch prog songs in the symphonic style.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Carlos Lucena / guitars, backing vocals
- Lalo Huber / keyboards, vocals
- Jorge Mariño Martinez / bass
- Luis Nakamura / drums

With:
- Roxana Truccolo / backing vocals (2)


1. "El Ultimo Dia" (6:13)
2. "La Casa Del Invierno" (5:18)
3. "Un Cristal Bajo El Agua" (7:42)
4. "En El Tercer Planeta" (4:46)
5. "Huellos" (2:49)
6. "Soplo De Vida" (9:10)
- Bonus Tracks :
7. El Color Que Cayo Del Cielo (7:02)
8. Heliotropo (5:17)
9. Los Sacerdotes Malignos (7:24)

Total time 55:41

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