Friday, April 18, 2014

My All-Time Favorite Albums



Here is my List of All-Time Favorites. I've been working on this for several years now, going over and over it almost every week, so the list is by now fairly accurate up to date. Enjoy! 

1. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway—Genesis
2. Mëkanïk Dëstruktïw Kömmandöh—Magma
3. Limiti all'egualianza della parte con il tutto––Homunculus Res
4. Dots and Loops—Stereolab
5. Shiny Eyed Babies––Bent Knee
6. Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter—Joni Mitchell
7. Pieces of a Man - Gil Scott-Heron
8. Jan Akkerman—Jan Akkerman
9. Salinity Now! - Unaka Prong
10. Tiny Dynamine/Echoes on A Shallow Bay—Cocteau Twins
11. Gentle Stream—The Amazing
12. Adventures in Utopia—Todd Rundgren’s Utopia
13. Novella—Renaissance
14. Chakradancer—Brainscapes (Alain Eskinasi)
15. Brilliant Trees—David Sylvian
16. Disintegration—The Cure
17. The Look of Love—Diana Krall
18. Love Deluxe––Sade
19. Treasure—Cocteau Twins
20. Pirates - Rikkie Lee Jones
21. Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror—Harold Budd & Brian Eno
22. Boy—U2
23. The Dream Academy—The Dream Academy
24. Lost Souls––doves
25. Strange Kind of Love––Love and Money
26. Pelican West—Haircut One Hundred
27. Not This City––Five-Storey Ensemble
28. Walking Wounded—Everything But The Girl
29. Nina Hagen Band—Nina Hagen Band
30. Eli—Jan Akkerman & Kaz Lux
31. Rikkie Lee Jones--Rikkie Lee Jones
32. The Geese and The Ghost—Anthony Phillips
33. Gone to Earth—David Sylvian
34. A Charlie Brown Christmas—Vince Guaraldi Trio
35. It's Better to Travel––Swing Out Sister
36. America—America
37. Rapture--Anita Baker
38. Puccini: Great Arias—London Records
39. Hergest Ridge—Mike Oldfield
40. What’s Goin’ On—Marvin Gaye
41. Gregorian Chant—Choralschola der Wiener Hofburgkapelle
42. Idlewild––Everything But The Girl
43. Indian Summer––Landberk
44. Aja—Steely Dan
45. Nektyr -- Demen
46. Todd—Todd Rundgren
47. Natural Elements—Shakti
48. Animals—Pink Floyd
49. Shadows of The Sun—Ulver
50. Something/Anything—Todd Rundgren

51. The Hurting—Tears for Fears
52. Open Sky––Iona
53. The Difference Machine—Big Big Train
54. Odyssey: The Greatest Tale––Colossus Magazine/Musea Records
55. UK—UK
56. A Trick of The Tail—Genesis
57. Mozart's 23 Piano Concertos––Alfred Brendel, Neville Marriner and The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields; Phillips, 1991.
58. The Danish Girl Original Motion Picture Soundtrack––Alexandre Desplat 
59. Everything But The Girl (debut album, U.S. release)—Everything But The Girl
60. The Mad Hatter––Chick Corea
61. Janet.––Janet Jackson
62. Selling England by The Pound—Genesis
63. Crime of The Century—Supertramp
64. Bar-do Travel––Proghma-C
65. The Last Samurai Soundtrack—Hans Zimmer
66. The Final Breath Before November––Edison's Children
67. Vaughn Williams––Iona Brown, violin, Neville Marriner and The Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields; Argos, 1972.
68. Mind Fruit—Opus III
69. Pastorales de Noël—Michel LeGrande, Jean-Pierre Rampal, LeGoya
70. The Stranger—Billy Joel
71. The Last Broadcast—doves
72. Secret Story—Pat Metheny 
73. Porcelain––Julia Fordham
74. Renaissance of The Celtic Harp—Alan Stivell
75. Relayer—Yes
76. The Love Connection—Freddie Hubbard
77. Si on avait besoin d’une cinqième saison—Harmonium
78. Reach The Beach—The Fixx
79. Light Shining Through the Sea––Cicada
80. Holographic Codex--Alio Die & Lorenzo Montanà
81. Eden––Faun
82. Hope for the Mourning--Mice on Stilts
83. Harvest Moon––Votum
84. Remain in Light—Talking Heads
85. 
Vixit - Battlestations
86. Cosmic Messenger—Jean-Luc Ponty
87. The Great Bright Horses - Ghosts of Jupiter
88. Space Shanty—Khan
89. LightDark—NoSound
90. Caravanserai—Santana
91. Henryk Górecki's Symphony No. 3, Op. 36––Joanna  Koslowska, soprano, Karimierz Kord and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra; Decca, 1992.
92. The Dreaming—Kate Bush
93. Eve—Karda Estra
94. Fragile—Yes
95. Hamburger Concerto—Focus
96. New Gold Dream—Simple Minds
97. Part The Second—maudlin of The Well
98. Mirabilis—Mediæval Bæbes
99. Codename: Dustsucker—Bark Psychosis
100. Timeloss—Päatos

101. Ram—Paul & Linda McCartney
102. Scheherazade and Other Stories—Renaissance
103. Picchio dal Pozzo––Picchio dal Pozzo
Songs of Robert Burns—Andy Stewart
104. Swept—Julia Fordham
105. Evaporate - Midas Fall
106. Discipline—King Crimson
107.
108. If_then_else—The Gathering
109. Everyone into Position—Oceansize
110. Vespertine—Björk
111. 1984—Anthony Phillips
112. 170. The Polite Force––Egg
113. Unsound—Funin
114. Playing The Piano––Ryuichi Sakamoto
115. The Following Morning—Eberhard Weber
116. Long Distance—Ivy
117. As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls—Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays
118. Jam on Revenge—Newcleus
119. Blade Runner soundtrack—The New American Orchestra (compositions by Vangelis)
120. Dark Side of The Moon—Pink Floyd
121. The Court of The Crimson King—King Crimson
122. Close to The Edge—Yes
123. Double Negative - Low
124. ~ – iamthemorning
125. The Dark Third—Pure Reason Revolution
126. Demons and Wizards—Uriah Heep
127. Romantic Warrior—Return to Forever
128. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid soundtrack––Burt Bacharach
129. A Gift of Love—Deepak Chopra & Friends
130. Waltz for Koop - Koop
131. Déjà Vu—Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
132. Venusian Summer––Lenny White
133. Metamorphosis––Axon-Neuron
134. Off The Wall—Michael Jackson
135. Innervisions—Stevie Wonder
136. December—George Winston
137. New Wave––Soul Family Sensation
138. Vimana—Nova
139. Interstellar Original Soundtrack––Hans Zimmer
140. Equations of Meaning - Tony Patterson
141. The Pavillion of Dreams - Harold Budd
142. Nil novo sub sole––Nil
143. Extra Virgin—Olive
144. October—U2
145. At The Village Vanguard—Bill Evans Trio
146. Falling Deeper––Anathema
147. Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia—Ryuichi Sakamoto
148. High Land, Hard Rain—Aztec Camera
149. Ga'an––Ga'an
150. Second Life Syndrome - Riverside

151. Trance Tara––Jonathan Goldman
152. A Rare Moment of Insight—Brother Ape
153. Constellations—Karda Estra
154. Postaeolian Train Robbery––Cos
155. Interior City––The Gabriel Construct
156. Mais on ne peut pas rêver tout le temps––Laurent Thibault
157. Ghost in the Machine—The Police
158. Moving Waves—Focus
159. Foxtrot—Genesis
160. Even in The Quietest Moments—Supertramp
161. Pig Views--Regal Worm
162. Café Bleu––The Style Council
163. Omphalos—Kotebel
164. A Tab in The Ocean—Nektar
165. Music for 18 Musicians—Steve Reich
166. Winter Dreams––R. Carlos Nakai & William Eaton
167. Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90—Johannes Brahms
168. Initiation—Todd Rundgren
169. Steve McQueen—Prefab Sprout
170. I Robot—Alan Parsons Project
171. Peaceful Evening––Steve & David Gordon
172. Discontinuance--Ghost Medicine
173. Preda—Mad Crayon
174. Night and Day—Joe Jackson
175. Ghosts Don't Dance with Shoes––Tree Tops
176. Luna - Faun
177. Time Control—Hiromi’s Sonicbloom
178. Per un amico—PFM
179. The extent of damage--Battlestations
180. Renaissance--Faun
181. West Indian Girl—West Indian Girl
182. The Moon and The Melodies—Cocteau Twins and Harold Budd
183. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots—The Flaming Lips
184. Baduizm - Erykah Badu
185. Overgrown - James Blake
186. Nursery Cryme—Genesis
187. 
Particelle—Lagartija

188. In The Wee Small Hours—Frank Sinatra
189. Bonfires on The Heath - The Clientele
190. Princesses Nubiennes - Les Nubians
191. Strange Valleys--Starving Daughters
192. Le quattro stagioni—Vivaldi
193. Talsette di Marsantino––L'Estate di San Martino
194. Houses of The Holy—Led Zeppelin
195. Change We Must—Jon Anderson
196. One Man Tells Another––Landberk
197. Spirited Away OST - Joe Hisaishi
198. Blue Cello—David Darling
199. Peter Gabriel (1)—Peter Gabriel
200. Mother Focus––Focus

201. Le Horla—The Box
202. Sound-Dust—Stereolab
203. Kaleidoscope World––Swing Out Sister
204. Halflights - Starsabout
205. Art Official Age - Prince
206. Get in Touch with Yourself - Swing Out Sister
207. The Greatest Show on Earth - Airbag
208. Aerial––Kate Bush
209. No Borders Here—Jane Siberry
210. Seven—Magenta
211. Ur—Steve Tibbetts
212. Leaving Your Bodymap—maudlin of The Well
213. Chicago Transit Authority—Chicago
214. Tirill--Said the Sun to the Moon
215. Over the Sea/Under The Water—Cicada
216. Kind of Blue—Miles Davis
217. Magical Mystery Tour—The Beatles
218. Infernal Machina—Jannick Top
219. Mozart's Clarinet & Bassoon Concertos––Jack Brymer/Gwydion Brooke, Thomas Beecham and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; EMI.
220. City of the Sun––Seven Impale
221. The Sensual World—Kate Bush
222. Shake It Up––Boney James & Rick Braun
223. Blue Bell Knoll––Cocteau Twins
224. Guérison––Setna
225. Jurassic Shift—Ozric Tentacles
226. Prelude—Deodato
227. Tingri—Jonn Serrie
228. Dead Magic - Anna Von Hausswolff
229. Pamiec - SBB
230. Formica Blues - Mono
231. Ikaro--Aalto
232. Stealing Fire—Bruce Cockburn
234. 4—Dungen
235. In The Land of Grey and Pink—Caravan
236. Waking The Dead, Live in Japan 2005 - Anekdoten
237. Posthumous Silence - Sylvan
238. Moth Vellum—Moth Vellum
239. Free Hand—Gentle Giant
240. No Frontiers--Mary Black
241. Moonshine—Collage
242. Songs for The Inner Child—Shaina Noll
243. Antimemory -Vaneta
244. Mourning Sun––Fields of the Nephilim
245. Sound Mirrors––Syd Arthur
246. Days of Future Passed––Moody Blues
247. The Rite of Strings—Jean-Luc Ponty, Al DiMeola, Stanley Clarke
248. Spectral Mornings—Steve Hackett
249. Trespass—Genesis
250. Songs in The Key of Life—Stevie Wonder

251. Wind and Wuthering—Genesis
252. ( ) -- Sigur Rós
253. Empty Days - Empty Days
254. Gifts from Enola- Gifts from Enola
255. Frozen There - Alto Palo
256. BJ4—Bob James
257. Seal II - Seal
258. Temperamental—Everything But The Girl
259. III—Focus
260. Skylarking—XTC
261. Mummer––XTC
262. Keep on Doing—The Roches
263. Llyr - Ataraxia
264. Solar Music (Live) - Grobschnitt
265. Original Soundtrack—Godspell
266. Songs from The Big Chair—Tears for Fears
267. Winds of Devotion - R. Carlos Nakai, Nawang Khechog & Peter Kater
268. Avalon—Roxy Music
269. Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches - Happy Mondays
270. Permutations - The Mercury Tree
271. Hex––Bark Psychosis
272. Waters of Tomorrow—Vespero
273. Identity—Airbag
274. Margot - Unaka Prong
275. My Favorite Things - John Coltrane
276. Rites at Dawn - Wobbler
277. Behind the Sun - Motorpsycho
278. In Sudden Walks—Aisles
279. Babylon—Babylon
280. Antiphon––Midlake
281. Big Circumstance--Bruce Cockburn
282. Tales of Mystery & Imagination—Alan Parsons Project
283. Talking Book—Stevie Wonder
284…and so we destroyed everything—sleepmakeswaves
285. Welcome to The Pleasure Dome - Frankie Goes to Hollywood
286. Purple Rain—Prince
287. Loloismo--ZA!
288. Hugsjá - Ivar Bjørnson & Einar Selvik
289. Fear of A Blank Planet—Porcupine Tree
290. Boston—Boston
291. Ghosts—Frequency Drift
292. Secret Treaties—Blue Öyster Cult
293. A Distant Shore––Tracy Thorn
294. Lighttown Closure—Fourteen Twenty-six
295. A Secret Wish--Propaganda
296. Ágætis Byrjun—Sigur Rós ^^
297. Quadrophenia—The Who
298. Pretzel Logic--Steely Dan
299. Viva Boma—Cos
300. Power of Love—Luther Vandross

301. Fish Out of Water--Chris Squire ^^
302. Shukuru—Pharoah Sanders
303. Moonmadness—Camel
304. Remember The Future—Nektar
305. The Hounds of Love—Kate Bush
306. Kontinuum—Klaus Schulze
307. Suspension - Brian Ellis
308. Parachutes—Coldplay
309. Recycled—Nektar
310. L’isola di niente—Premiata Forneria Marconi
311. Reverie—Daturah
312. Ragnarök--Ragnarök
313. Hats--Blue Nile
314. Suiciety--Methexis
315. Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble—Kotebel
316. This Clear Divide--Stare At The Clouds
317. Choirs of The Eye—Kayo Dot
318. Journey to The Centre of The Eye—Nektar
319. Tango Hour—Astor Piazzolo
320. Megalálzottak és Megszomorítottak--After Crying
321. The Dream of The Magic Jongleur—The Psychedelic Ensemble
322. Celebrate Me Home--Kenny Loggins
323. Fourth World Possible Musics, Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaya—Jon Hassell & Brian Eno
324. Close to You--The Carpenters
325. The Trouble with Normal—Bruce Cockburn
326. 3 + 3--The Isley Brothers
327. H to He, Who Am The Only One--Van Der Graaf Generator
328. No tengas miedo--Kant Freud Kafka
329. Putting Off Death--Cheer-Accident
330. Häxan -- Dungen
331. Bath—maudlin of The Well
332. The Age of Plastic--The Buggles
333. Incantations––Mike Oldfield
334. One World––John Martyn
335. Espectro––Violeta de Outono
336. Lighthouse––iamthemorning
337. Rodrigo's Concerto de Aranjuez--Julian Bream, John Eliot Gardiner and The Monteverdi Orchestra; RCA Gold Seal, 1986.
338. Tapestry—Carole King
339. Thriller—Michael Jackson
340. Carpenters--The Carpenters
341. Live Rust—Neil Young
342. Four-Calendar Café––Cocteau Twins
343. Raytracing - Monobody
344. Songs from The Breastbone Drum--Domina Catrina Lee
345. Begin Again Original Soundtrack--Gregg Alexander et al.
346. II -- Mother Turtle
347. I Cry, I Smile--Narada Michael Walden
348. You Can't Tune a Fish, But You Can Tune a Piano--REO Speedwagon
349. Sagarmatha—The Appleseed Cast
350. In A Cold Embrace--Battlestations

351. One of These Nights—The Eagles
352.  La notte anche di giorno--La Coscienza di Zeno
353. Ad Perpetuum--Antoine Fafard
354. Lightbulb Sun—Porcupine Tree
355. Felicité Thosz--Magma
356. Turn of the Cards—Renaissance
357. Gaucho--Steely Dan
358. The Stones of Naples--Corde Oblique
359. Powerful People - Gino Vanelli
360. Allas Sak--Dungen
361. Skellig--Mr. Gil
362. Octopus—Gentle Giant
363. Voyage of the Acolyte—Steve Hackett
364. Until the Ghosts Are All Gone--Anekdoten
365. I Wash My Soul in The Stream of Infinity—My Brother The Wind
366. I A Moon—North Sea Radio Orchestra 
367. The True Colors of Mars Pt. 2--The Jensen Code
368. Starfire--Jaga Jazzist
369. Whisper Me--Wim Mertens
370. The Magus—Universal Totem Orchestra
371. Awaiting The Sun--Fauns
372. English Electric, Part 1--Big Big Train
373. Innerspeaker--Tame Impala
374. Margerine Eclipse - Stereolab
375. Terminal Twilight—White Willow
376. The Illusion's Reckoning--Mantra Vega
377. The Lone Rhino—Adrian Belew
378. All Is Violent, All Is Bright–God Is An Astronaut
379. Zenyattà Mondatta--The Police
380. Overlook—From.UZ
381. Iridule--Yugen
382. Don’t Get Weird on Me, Babe—Lloyd Cole
383. Huascaran--Fermáta
384. The Underfall Yard—Big Big Train
385. The Seer--Swans
386. Il chiarore sorge due volte—Dunwich
387. Faith - George Michael
388. New Moon Daughter--Cassandra Wilson
389. Morning Sun - Gadi Caplan
390. Technicians of the Sacred--Ozric Tentacles
391. Going for The One—Yes
392. Forest Stairways -Yves Potin
393. Seven Secrets—Fruupp
394. K.A.—Magma
395. Blemmebeya—AKT
396. Belo Horizonte - John McLaughlin
397. Fiori, frutti, farfalle––Humana Prog
398. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme—Simon & Garfunkle
399. Emerson Lake & Palmer—Emerson Lake & Palmer
400. Fictions - The Nerve Institute

401. Marsbéli Krónikák - Solaris
402. Bound by the Beauty - Jane Siberry
403. Can't Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan
404. Private Parts & Pieces III: Antiques - Anthony Phillips
405. Flame - Ronnie Laws
406. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles
407. Waiting for Dawn - Robin Guthrie
408. The Way Up - Pat Metheny
409. Silk Degrees - Boz Scaggs
410. Blow by Blow - Jeff Beck
411. IV--Led Zeppelin
412. Human's Lib - Howard Jones
413. Simple Things - Zero 7
414. Hoelderlin's Traum - Hoelderlin
415. Crisis? What Crisis? - Supertramp
416. Careless--Stephen Bishop
417. Spectrum of the Green Morning--Retrospective
418. Sunrise—My Education
419. Rabbit -The Tea Club
420. Under a New Sign—Knight Area
421. Disconcerto Grosso—Khatsaturjan
422. LegEnd - Henry Cow
423. In No Sense? Nonsense! - Art of Noise
424. Before and After Science - Brian Eno
425. Margerine Eclipse - Stereolab
426. Sign o' the Times - Prince
427. Memento z banalnym triptykiem--SBB
428. Stronger than Pride--Sade
429. Eye on The Sunset--Nine Stones Close
430. The Sirens Sound—Collapse Under The Empire
431. Meet Danny Wilson - Meet Danny Wilson
432. 305. Falling Forward—Julia Fordham
433. "Orange"—Jeff Beck Group
434. The Year of The Cat—Al Stewart
435. Strinkadenn Ys--Seven Reizh
436. Kid A--Radiohead
437. De Profundis--After Crying
438. Peter Gabriel (3)—Peter Gabriel
439. The Third Frontier--Utopianisti
440. Um Himinjǫður--Tirill
441. Lost and Found--KBB
442. Oscillons from the Anti-Sun - Stereolab
443. Ego, Georgius--Jerzy Antczak
444. Della stessa sostanza dei sogni--Homunculus Res
445. Inmazes--Vola
446. Life to Come--Redshift
447. Deconsecrated and Pure--Alio Die
448. Heads--Bob James
449. Disclosure--The Gathering
450. Les Porches--Maneige

451. Haul Ar Yr Eira--Pererin
452. The Black Tomato--Øresund Space Collective
453. The Sun and The Moon Getting It On--Perplexa
454. The Red Violin soundtrack--Joshua Bell & The Philharmonia Orchestra (John Corigliano, composer)
455. The Seeds of Love--Tears for Fears
456. The Finest of Miracles--Ciccada
457. Hysteria--Def Leppard
458. Beyond Expression--Finch
459. Transmission from Sogmore's Garden--Magic Bus
460. Ancestor's Tale--Ut Gret
461. Amplified Heart—Everything But The Girl
462. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic - The Sundays
463. Funeral - Arcade Fire
464. In Rainbows - Radiohead
465. Journey in Satchidananda - Alice Coltrane
466. Untamed--Ill Wicker
467. Rotvälta--The Spacious Mind
468. The Fall of Bliss--Methexis
469. Clivages--Univers Zero
470. The World Is A Game--Mystery
471. Purple Rain - Prince
472. Blue Dogs--Manna/Mirage
473. ATGCLVLSSCAP--Ulver
474. Wish You Were Here--Pink Floyd
475. Yoshi--Kawa Nanuk
476. Tubular Bells--Mike Oldfield
477. AKT: II (Binario) - AKT
478. Encore (Live 1977)—Tangerine Dream
479. Elegant Gypsy—Al DiMeola
480. Of Things and Beings--Lost World Band
481. RoqueForte--Aranis
482. Cherry Five--Cherry Five
483. Not A Good Sign--Not A Good Sign
484. Loveless - My Bloody Valentine
485. Diagonal—Diagonal
486. II--Lunatic Soul
487. The Fountain Soundtrack--Clint Mansell
488. Quickly, Quickly, Quickly--The Tea Club
489. Filaments--Robert Rich
500. Blue Dream--Sequentia Legenda

501. Republikflucht!...Facing East--Proteo
502. Licht--Faun
503. Chasing After Shadows... Living with The Ghosts--Hammock
504. Quidam—Quidam
505. Never Forever--Kate Bush
506. Home--Sylvan


Albums waiting for placement:

299. Allow Yourself - NoSound
310. Overground Music––After Crying 
345. Moonflower—Santana
436. Heavy Weather—Weather Report
440. Ahora Mazda--Ahora Mazda
449. Il Giardino delle consuetudini--FEM
454. The Winstons--The Winstons
496. Les mortes vont vites--Shub-Niggurath
 Aviary - Julie Holter
Topos - Methexis
HOMUNCULUS RES Della stessa sostanza dei sogni
SEQUENTIA LEGENDA Renaissance
HYPNO5E A Backward Glance on a Travel Road: Alba - Les Ombres Errantes
LA DOTTRINA DEGLI OPPOSTI Arrivaderci sogni
SEVEN REIZH L'albatros
RICHARD WILEMAN Veil
MIDLIFE Phase
JOSÉ MARIA BLANC La herencia de Pablo
DEAD CAN DANCE Dionysus

ALL TRAPS ON EARTH A Drop of Light
ATMOSPHERES Reach
Adult Contemporary - Unaka Prong
Baby, Let the Stars Shine - EBTG
Love (Not Money) - EBTG
1000 autunni—SKE
Comma--Monobody

And there are so many more but I'm going to stop at 550. 

P.S. I guess I lean toward the Crossover, Symphonic, Jazz/Fusion and Ambient sides of “progressive music.” 

P.P.S. I love music.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Top Albums of the Year 2012, Part 2: Highly Recommended


Other Albums from 2012 Worth Listening To

Below you will find a somewhat-ordered catalogue of the album releases from 2012. These are albums that I have determined to be good or interesting enough to recommend to you, the reader, for your own exposure, awareness, and/or exploration; these are albums that were not, in my opinion, good enough to belong on my "Masterpieces" page, but which, I thought, deserved some credit and attention. 
     You will find that some of the albums below are reviewed or commented upon, while many have nothing but cover, artist and title, lineup of musicians and songs list. This variance is usually due to a lack of time and a lack of willingness or desire to give each and every album the time and energy necessary to write a review. This is done without any intent of disrespect; the albums have been included because I think them worthy enough to have others try them out and form their own opinions.




DAAL Dodecahedron

"Diverse" and "cinematic" are a couple of the words from other reviewers that I will definitely use in my own review of Dodecahedron. Also, "eclectic" in the truest sense of the word. The variety and diversity of sounds, styles, and instruments chosen to create this album are simply astounding. Here are my impressions of the album's song's similarities and familiarities.

I (7:46)--ANEKDOTEN imbued with a little PRESENT and even RUSH. (9/10)

II (5:10)--KING CRIMSON's In the Court of the Crimson King blended with PURE REASON REVOLUTION's The Dark Third. (9/10)

III (6:57)--"21st Century Schizoid Man" blended with Beethoven's 9th and THE BEATLES' "She's so Heavy" and then MIKE OLDFIELD's Hergest Ridge/Tubular Bells for the final minute and a half. (8/10)

IV (5:50)--feels like a more chamber rock continuation of the previous song--as if PRESENT or ARANIS had taken on the themes and melodies of the previous song. A bit too repetitive and drawn out, IMO, though the use of all acoustic instrumentation is quite fascinating. (8/10)

V (4:37)--is like a song that fell to the cutting room floor during the making of JAN GARBAREK, ZAKIR HUSSEIN, and JOHN McLAUGHLIN's 1986 "Making Music." (6/10)

VI (8:13)--starts out feeling as if it comes from PETER GABRIEL"s Last Temptation of Christ soundtrack but then evolves into something more akin to early AMON DÜÜL or ASH RA TEMPEL. The final three minutes move more into the territory of Force Majeure-era TANGERINE DREAM (with GEORGE HARRISON playing lead guitar). (8/10)

VII (3:02)--opens with a BUDDHA LOUNGE-like sound and feel. The airy flutes and zitherish instrument are soothing and mesmerizing--like a song by GOBI. A pretty song with a rather obscure/unsettling ending. (8/10)

VIII (4:32)--starts out like a piece from TANGERINE DREAM's 1977 live album "Encore." AT 2:40 there is a radical instrumentation shift, especially in the funk-stylings of the bass play, that take it out of the TD 70s music genre--or rather, combine it with some other group like THE DREAM ACADEMY. (8/10)

IX (5:51)--incorporates some incredibly familiar instrument and sound combinations--straight out of RUSH's classic work. At the one minute mark it softens into more of an ANEKDOTEN moment before rushing back into the "Limelight/Moving Pictures" riffs and sounds. I like the addition of the violin for the solo in the fifth minute. The synth strings' chord progression with whispering voices in the background gives it an eerie ending. (9/10)

X (5:11)--sounds of birds and waves are joined by treated piano, fretless bass, brushed drums and sax on this beauty. Sax plays the seductive melody over the piano's haunting liltings in the background. If this isn't a cinematic classic, then I don't know one. Much better, IMHO, than those delivered by LEBOWSKI on 2010's Cinematic. Perhaps a bit simple at first listen, but hearing it over and over there is so much depth, so much to listen to on this song that brings forth layers of emotion and unresolved tension. Masterful simplicity. (10/10)

XI (5:14)--begins with a DEAD CAN DANCE feel to it:  oddly treated percussives playing some kind of syncopated folk rhythms over which a bowed double bass keens its haunting melody. Random synth 'noises' are also interjected here and there to add to the deep-seated tension of this one. In the fourth minute everybody comes together into a cohesive structure--strings, synths and batterie. Ends with yet another odd, quiet ending. (10/10)

XII (8:15)--piano picks up a melody from the previous two songs and is joined by strings and zither. ARP synth solo takes over the melody from the two minute mark. All other instruments pulse together beneath. Brilliant! A few quiet instruments are allowed to "run free" between the synth and the staccato rhythm being played beneath. Reprise of the RUSH sounds/riffs. FRIPP guitar soloing. This song seems to be trying to gather all of the themes and sounds into one Overture. Very nice. (9/10)

I love the eclectic gathering of familiar and loved sounds that DAAL have used here to put together a collection of 12 mini-'soundtracks' to some Gothic stories. Great ideas, great execution, great sound, an album that I will go back to over and over. Definitely an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection, perhaps even a masterpiece. I shall offer an update as I get to know this album further.

85.0 on the Fish scales = 4.5 stars.



NEEDLEPOINT Outside the Screen

The sophomore album from Norwegian psychedelic jazz-pop band Needlepoint. Very bluesy music, a lot of which sounds and feels like a sleepy, lazy afternoon drug trip--some of which sounds like it is inspired by fellow Scandanavian bands DUNGEN, THE AMAZING, and ELEPHANT9. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Bjørn Klakegg / guitars, banjo, voices
- David Wallumrød / keyboards, clavinet, autoharp
- Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen / bass, synthesizer, vibraphone, voices
- Thomas Strønen / drums

1. "Outside the Screen" (4:22) very keyboard (organs) heavy instrumental over steady drums and thick, rolling bass line. Psych-effected jazz guitar soloing in the second half. (8/10)

2. "Johnny the Player" (4:25) Fast-moving blues-rock with very 60s-sounding guitar choices with an almost bluegrass styling. Clavinet gives it a bit of a funk. in the third minute. The ghost-like vocal is similar to 60s singer, . Interesting but a bit too much of the kitchen sink thrown in for my tastes. (8/10)  

3. "Tree on a Hill" (5:17) sick effected guitar teamed with jazz guitar played solo (each) over soft jazz rhythm track. Jazz guitar soloing in the second minute sounds quite 1970s--like or early Pat Metheny. Breathy reverb vocal enters at 2:15. Pleasant, poetic lyric. Very dreamy, lazy mood. Reminds me a bit of Boston band, GHOSTS OF JUPITER or Swedish band, DUNGEN. (8.25/10) 

4. "If I Turned Left" (5:35) slowly rolling bass and tom-toms paired up to create lazy, rolling seascape over which heavily echoed & reverbed electric guitar slowly tells its bluesy story. Acoustic guitar, percussives, and organ beneath sparsely fill in the spacious sleepscape. Dreamy narrative vocal enters at 2:12. Definitely a bluesy drug trip. (8.5/10)

5. "Magpie" (4:58) bass, drums, and autoharp provide the rolling landscape over which Bjørn sings his psych-folk dirge. Flashy drums contrast the simple, steady bass and autoharp while layered vocals present a kind of eerie dreamy as heavily-lathered psychedelic guitar croons, writhes, and squeals. Interesting. (8.5/10)

6. "Ten Seconds" (7:22) another hypnotically rolling baseline groove with heavily brushed drums and minimalist/Math Rock bass and guitar lines while synths and autoharp play the roles of lead sound-shaper. I like the more AMAZING-like folk-"acoustic" guitar play that starts in the third minute. When the "ten seconds" vocal enters it is almost a shock--a distraction from hypnotic effect of the song's excellent groove. Definitely my favorite song on the album.  (13.75/15)

7. "Snoring Husband" (5:33) raw and abrasive, this instrumental is definitely entering into the territory of Band of Gypsies/Cream-inspired DUNGEN, MOTORPSYCHO, and ELEPHANT9--though the guitar soloing in the third and fourth minutes feel more akin to that of ADRIAN BELEW or STEVE HILLAGE. Surprise: Vocals enter at 4:18! Kudos to tight interplay between drums and bass. (8.5/10)

8. "Sikup Sinaani" (4:39) two guitar tracks open this song playing as if sitting in a flatboat in the swamps of the Louisiana bayou. Third acoustic guitar enters and takes over the lead using a more Windham Hill Will Ackerman sound and style. Echoed snare drum hits don't enter until the end of the third minute. Guitar harmonics in the final minute are cool. (8.75/10)

Total Time 42:11

Far more bluesy and simplistic than I like, this interesting collection of songs establishes Needlepoint as a band to watch: I am very much interested in seeing which direction(s) they choose over the course of their career.

85.0 on the Fishscales = B-/3.5 stars; a nice addition of bluesy psych prog. 




JENSEN CODE The True Colors of Mars 2

Andrew Grumbridge and his contributors have created some very catchy, very creative music--each song setting itself apart from the rest, raising its own identity. Though, to my understanding, Andrew's music is (at this time) only available on Soundcloud, it is IMHO, well worth pursuing.
Vocalist "Logan" is chameleonic and brilliant. "Travel at The Speed of Light" (7:48) (10/10) is one of my five favorite songs of the year and "Silver Lionized Locomotive" (7:22) (9/10), "Flight to London" (6:00) (9/10) and "Under White Satellites" (4:02) (9/10) are pretty awesome, too.

Four star album--rated down for computer-sounding production.




EKOS Luz eterna

The debut from Mexico's EKOS, this is an album full of exciting and emotional prog deriving a lot of inspiration and imitation from 1970s PINK FLOYD.
  
1. "Obscuridad" (8:24) (/10)

2. "Luz eterna" (7:57) (/10)

3. "Mutacion" (7:11) (/10)

4. "Rostro Oculto" (8:48) (/10)

5. "La Huida del Infierno" (6:28) (/10)

6. "Apocalipsis" (21:15) (9/10)

The simplicity of the sound and dynamics of the rhythm electric guitar can get a little stale, even annoying, but, overall, this is an album that shows a band that is quite serious about creating top notch compositions. Definitely a band to watch. If they can 'up their game' in the departments of sound effect choice and engineering, we'll probably experience some true masterpieces from this band.




ROZ VITALIS Patience of Hope

An collection of odd songs that have trouble fitting into any genre as the music varies--within each song--from Baroque and classical to vaudevillian and King Crimsonian jazz.

Five star songs: 
11. "The Unfading Sun (The Loving Version)" (3:56) the chamber/classical, acoustic/folk version of this song. (10/10) 
3. "To Stir Up Your Pure Minds" (3:10) opens with cello, then clarinet before dulcimer lays down a foundational chord progression for the two to rejoin a pretty weave. (10/10)
2. "The Unfading Sun (The Loved Version)" (2:50) is the electrified piano version of this pretty melody. (9/10)
5. "The Forgiven Monday" (3:36) is a spacey electronic piece (9/10)
9. "Dove il Sole E Meraviglia" (1:57) opens with plucked dulcimer playing solo before being joined by clarinet in a slow pretty song. At the end of the first minute the song picks up speed and adds a cello to weave a classical arrangement together. (9/10)

Four star songs:
10. "Touching Upon the Mystery" (8:55) opens with solo harpsichord before band kicks into a kind of quirky electro-polka. By the fourth minute it has reverted to classical music but then almost as quickly switches back into circus jazz polka and then into a kind of Latin cinematic. Odd song but I like it. (8/10)
7. "Mother of All Rain" (4:28) begins as a simple almost New Age piano étude, before electric guitar and rock combo join in and eventually take over in what ends up being a bit of a heavier number. (8/10)
1. "Patience of Hope" (6:43) is an Arp synth-drenched pensive electric guitar solo (8/10)
6. "Gorgeous Cliff" (1:35) (8/10)

Three star songs: 
4. "Seeds Fell Among Thorns" (6:17) opens with a bit of minimalist feel to it before devolving into an odd Balinese-sounding weirdness. (7/10)
8. "Confidence" (5:53) opens as a classical piano solo piece--another "étude"--before turning vaudeville-jazzier in the second minute. At 1:53 drums, bass and saxophone take over the main melody in a fully jazz effort--though admittedly this takes on a King Crimsonian approach to jazz. Such a simple and unimpressive song. (7/10)  

The King Crimson Lark's Tongue influences are quite recognizable in instrument choices but even more in the sound recording choices: there is a very hollow "old" sound to this album throughout.

84.54 on the Fish scales = solid four star album; an excellent addition to any prog music collection.




DEAN WATSON Imposing Elements

Wonderful music, full of beautiful melodies and catchy hooks, twists and turns, from this talented multi-instrumentalist. I think what brings me in the most about this album is the way that it deftly crosses and fuses the prog/jazz line. What turns me slightly off is the not quite top-notch engineering, mixing, and production. There is a kind of lack of bleed and background with regards to shifts and changes within songs that, to me, denotes multi-track single artist. There are several artists out there right now doing self-produced self-performed multi-instrumental music (Trurl, David Minasian, The Psychedelic Ensemble, Domina Catrina Lee, Stephen Desbiens, and Pat Metheny and Steven Wilson, [kind of], come to mind immediately). 
     Dean is good but not yet great on the production side of things. A really excellent listen, start to finish, so long as you don't put the headphones on and give it your 100%.

Favorite songs: "Past Present" (6:47) (9/10); "Pendulum" (6:31) (9/10), and; "New Resolution" (8:38) (9/10).

82.5 on the Fish scales = solid four star album, highly recommended to any prog lover.




SANGUINE HUM Diving Bell

Oxford's ANTIQUE SEEKING NUNS decides upon a change in course musically and, therefore, a change in the band's name.




RHYS MARSH & THE AUTUMN GHOST The Blue Hour


A very interesting music of a folk-chamber orientation not unlike NORTH SEA RADIO ORCHESTRA, CARDIACS, AUTUMN CHORUS, or even YUGEN (or its later incarnation, EMPTY DAYS) and some of the more thoughtful, jazzier bands from the 70s Canterbury Scene. Beautiful vocals throughout. Recommended for late-night fireside listening.




TO-MERA Exile

As polished production as the previous album, it's amazing to consider that there is only one member remaining from 2007's brilliant Transcendental album--singer, Julie Kiss. Mega kudos, Julie, for holding clear and tight to the original vision of To-Mera! Though the presence of HAKEN keyboard wizard Henshall does seem to have smoothed out the sonic textures of To-Mera's music (except maybe in "Broken"), I'm not sure I like this change--part of what has made me come back again and again to Transcendental is that album's songs' sudden, quirky, and never predictable changes mid-song (not quite as chaotic as those of UNEXPECT, nor ever as heavy), I like this album better than the more recent releases from bands to whom To-Mera are compared--Within Temptation, Epica, Nightwish, After Forever. There are some absolutely gorgeous passages and melodies here.

Lone remainder of the founding group, Julie Kiss, continues to beguile me with her extraordinary voice, and overall I think this album the most accessible of the band’s output, but I’m not sure this is a good thing. Gone are the rough edges, the sharp and sudden turns, everything has been smoothed out. I’m not sure if it’s the keyboard work, but this album has far less of the abrasive, unpredictableness of either Transcendental or Traces. Instead, I feel as if I am listening more to NIGHTWISH or EPICA or WITHIN TEMPTATION. Sometimes the ‘new’ To-Mera is a positive (I often found some of the radical within-song shifts from previous albums disconcerting or distancing—though never so much as within, say, an UNEXPECT song), but I am also saddened at the loss of quirky surprise. Even the songs I find closest to the ‘old’ To-Mera are still surprisingly smooth, melodic, and “pretty.”

So, herein lies the difficulty of the decision to rate this album:  I miss the sudden, drastic mid-song changes in mood, tempo, and/or instrumentation, but I do find myself enjoying the more melodic, smoothness of the new music—especially as added by the keyboard player. And I do not begrudge the group it’s movement away from Heavy Metal. But I do know this:  I love the voice of Julie Kiss, I love the bass playing of Mark Harrington, I love the incorporations of Near Eastern instruments and sounds. I do not like the way the drums sound and often find myself questioning the choice of keyboard sounds (they're often quite cheezy, almost more like PAUL HARDCASTLE).


"Inviting the Storm” (3:02) (8/10)
     “The Illusionist” (7:21) (8/10)
     “The Descent” (7:54) (7/10)
4    “Deep Inside” (6:46) (8/10)
5    “Broken” (10:04) (8/10)
      “End Game” (6:13) (9/10)
       “Surrender” (11:05) (9/10)
8    “All I Am” (12:46) (9/10)

82.5 on the Fish scales = solid four star album. Nice consistency and continued high level creativity.




DISTORTED HARMONY Utopia

Listening to this album has been a mixed bag: I enjoy the symphonic and jazz elements of this tremendously but am not an avid fan of heavy prog. Still, this is, to my ears, very good progresssive rock--the vocals being the weakest element of the music, the keyboards being the strongest. While not quite up there with Tool's Lateralus, Karnivool's Sound Awake, Porcupine Tree's Fear of a Blank Planet, and Riverside's Second Life Syndrome; it is on a par with Sylvan's Posthumous Silence, Gösta Berlings Saga's Detta Har Hänt , Rishloo's Feathergun, and Von Hertzen Brothers' Love Remains the Same.

Favorite songs: "Kono Yume" (8:41) (9/10); "Obsession" (9:12) (8/10), and; "Utopia" (12:31) (8/10).



ASTRA The Black Chord

1. "Cocoon" (8:43) is an instrumental song in the space-psychedelic/Komische rock instrumental jam vein. (8/10)

2. "The Black Chord" (14:59) has a gorgeous beginning but the runs into a few rough patches. Nice Yes-like guitar and Mellotron melodies in several places. (9/10)

3. "Black Meat" (6:41) takes a step backwards in terms of sound and structural choices. In my opinion this is a much less mature and well-thought out song with subpar performances that don't gel well. (6/10)

4. "Drift" (4:39) is a soft, low key presentation of simple instrumental support for some interesting layering of vocal harmonies. Interesting but just lacking that melodic sensibility necessary to hook the listener in. (8/10)

5. "Bull Torpis" (2:56) opens with a very RUSH-like familiarity--even though it is keyboard-led and the guitars never get up to Alex LIFESON competency. I fail to see the need or purpose of this one. (6/10)

6. "Barefoot in the Head" (9:13) (9/10) has more of a PINK FLOYD/ELOY sound and feel to it.

The album has a well-produced retro sound with solid performances and meaty compositions but it is lacking the hooks and melodies that would bring me back.



CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX (Mankind) The Crafty Ape

A long though pleasant regurgitation of 1970s PINK FLOYD music.



ELEPHANT9 with Reine Fiske Atlantis

An album of interesting, sometimes engaging songs that seem more loose jams than structured prog.




UNIT WAIL -- Pangaea Proxima 

Debut release from these heavy Zeuhlish artists from France. Thought the Zeuhl categorization may be warranted, I hear a lot of KING CRIMSON sound and stylings as well as TOE-like Post Rock. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Franck William Fromy / guitar
- Philippe Haxaire / drums
- Adrian Luna / bass
- Vincent Sicot Vantalon / keyboards
- Emmanuel Pothier / synthesizers

1. "Mesozoïc Cities" (3:22) more like Red-era King Crimson! They've got that polyrhythmic thing going on (though I'm not sure it always works). (8.5/10)

2. "Ombos" (3:39) paced a little more humanely to allow for proper brain processing, this one has some melody! (8.5/10)

3. "Télété" (2:41) drum and bass on display! Interesting use of harpsichord sound and 'tron! (4.25/5)

4. "Sargasso Sea" (4:03) atmospheric effects joined by TOE-like drums, ominous electric guitar strokes and Mellotron. (8.75/10)

5. "Outerspace" (4:57) almost European techno-dance music! Very creative synths, guitars, and bass. Great drumming--except it almost doesn't fit the mood of the rest of the musicians. (8.25/10)

6. "Humanoïd Fish From Encelade" (2:23) a very bizarre spliced-feeling purveyed by unusual sounds created by bass, guitars, and keys all played over the usual frenzied drumming. (4/5)

7. "Home of Nowhere" (4:31) slow and menacing, like a damaging walk through Tokyo by Godzilla. Awful bass solo in the fourth minute! Now this one could've used the drummer's usual wild drumming! (8/10)

8. "Magnétostriction" (2:38) angular guitar soloing over relatively slow and stable music. (4/5)

9. "Holocene Extinction" (3:35) The innovative bass sound on this catchy song is almost MICK KARN-like. (8.75/10)

10. "Shambhala" (5:15) the interplay of the Outer Limits-like lead synth sound and the wild MICK KARN-like bass sound and play definitely incurs smiles (and is impressively creative!). (8.5/10)

11. "Three Eyes" (2:23) more angular guitar soloing over a rather wide range of styles and paces (including prominent piano presence) makes for quite a multiple personality disorder. (4.25/5)

12. "Subdeath" (4:43) it does sound funereal--as if one were marching alongside Charon on one's entry into Hades. Nice use of demonic male voice in narration. (8.25/10)

Total Time 44:10

Very impressive musicianship throughout--especially from the drummer and bass player though the keyboard maestroes and guitarist are very creative. The problem comes from the gradual disconnect that I hear and feel between the music being cast by everybody except the drummer (which is very creative and spacey) and the homogeneity of the drummer's very aggressive sound and style.  

85.0 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an impressive debut and highly recommended listen for any prog lover--especially if you're into 1. the Red-era King Crimson style and sound palette, 2. into frenetic drum-centric music, or 3. very creative sound-making.




THE FLOWER KINGS Banks of Eden

 This is very much a Flower Kings album: a lot of music; a lot of familiar styles; lyrically trying too hard. What is different about this album is that the band is not trying too hard musically--i.e. while all instrumentalists are flying high, displaying facility and ease, they are blending their sections better than ever and not going too over the top, not being as bombastic as they have. The music seems to flow easily, naturally. While some are raving about the epic, "Numbers," I happen to really enjoy the short songs much more. While "Pandemonium" (9/10) and "Rising the Imperial" ((9/10) are my favorites, all the others save "For Those About to Drown" (6/10) are all worthy of 7 or 8s (out of ten). "For the Love of Gold" (7:26) (8/10); "Fireghosts" (5:50) (7/10); "Going Up" (5:10) (7/10); the bluesy-PINK FLOYDIAN instrumental, "Illuminati" (5:56) (8/10), and; the CLAPTON-like "LoLines" (4:24) (7/10). Virtuosic guitar work throughout. Vocals are more diverse but still a weak point. 

3.5 stars rated up for maturity, complexity, consistency and effort.




SILHOUETTE Across the Rubycon

Keyboard-rich heavy Neo Prog from The Netherlands.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Brian de Graeve / guitars, lead (1,4,6,8) & backing vocals
- Erik Laan / keyboards (piano, organ, synths), lead (2) & backing vocals, co-producer
- Gerrit-Jan Bloemink / bass guitar
- Jos Uffing / drums, lead (3,5,7) & backing vocals
With:
- Aldo Adema / guitar, percussion, orchestrations, co-producer & mixing
- Mary O / flute solo (8), backing vocals (6)
- Children's choir / chorus vocals (4)

1. "Across The Rubicon" (2:18) Neo Prog lite. I so dislike plugged in acoustic guitars. (3.5/5)

2. "Breathe" (11:31) after a heavy start things soften out to form a pretty base for keyboard player Erik Laan to take a turn at the lead vocals. He has quite a lovely voice--which fits this loverly song perfectly. Once the URIAH HEEP heavy Hammond leads us into the instrumental section in the middle it feels lost, but then the string synths and marvelous lead guitar tone and solo bring us back to the beauty. Wonderful! And then back to Erik's next verse. This works pretty well! Brian de Graeve has quite a little talent with his axe solos. The second instrumental passage is heavier but then followed by a nice quieter section which brews and builds until Erik re-enters at 9:20 to belt it out. Man! I like his voice! he has excellent tone, control, and ability to sustain long notes. The only part I disliked was the poor overbearing used of the Hammond every time it enters. My favorite song on the album. (18.5/20)

3. "Empty Places" (4:05) now it's drummer Jos Offing's turn at the lead vocals--this one over a classical piano foundation. A deeper, more theatric rock voice, it gives the song a more deeply emotional quality--kind of like the way Donnie Iris's performance affects his hit "Leah" and Benny Mardones' affects his monster song, "In the Night." Nicely done. (8.75/10)

4. "When Snow's Falling Down (7:09) Back to Brian de Graeve as lead vocalist, this one has a bit of a Celtic rock feel to it. It's pleasant. The instrumental middle section almost turns Celtic Christmas/New Age before some heavier guitar chords, drums, and nice Arp synth solo. Children's choir sings the finish. A fairly nicely constructed song. (13/15)

5. "Anybody" (11:21) sounds ancient and unfinished. Weak. Even the pickup in the eighth minute fails to save the day. (14.5/20)

6. "Grendel Memories" (5:41) URIAH HEEP-like with B.Ö.C- or SURVIVOR-like vocals. (8/10)

7. "Nothing" (4:22) opening with catchy bluesy guitar riff straight off the bat before settling down to a slow wash foundation with plaintive vocal over the top. The strummed 12-strings are nice--as are the soli later on. The Hammond, once again, is just a little too much. (8.5/10)

8. "Don't Stop This Movie" (11:55) too many dated sounds and poor recording techniques (vocals) for a song that has a lot of substance but for which I'm unsure as to why. (What is this song about?). After a nice little section of harmony vocals there is an amped up section which is an improvement but then we go back into the previous 80s hairband themes and sounds. (19/25)

Total Time 58:27

As I listen to this album (again) I'm reminded as to why I've never rated their previous albums very highly: I do not enjoy the plugged-direct-to-computer versus microphone-recorded sounds and recording techniques, the RUSH- and SURVIVOR-like rock feel, and the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT feeling of the variety of lead vocalists used. There is nothing exceptional here and a lot of music that is imitative of what I call "second-tier" or "prog-related" rockers from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The stuff is okay, it's just that there is nothing here calling me back (though I've gone back now several times over the past couple of months). Definitely not 'essential' listening.

81.52 on the Fishscales = C/3.5 stars; despite some interesting, creative moments and a couple excellent songs, there are serious deficiencies in this very inconsistent collection of songs.  




THE ADDICTION DREAM Essence

The TEA CLUB comparisons are not unfounded.



CABEZAS DE CERA Hermandad

More diverse music and instrumental offerings from these two viruoso musicians from Mexico. The founding trio has now been diminished to a duo as their winds player has left the band, but their musical offerings suffer not. Always fascinating what these guys can do with their multi-instrumental skills. I bet they'd be an amazing band to see live in concert.



GRIZZLY BEAR Shields

A refreshing folkish journey in the vein of Mew, Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, The Clientele, The Flaming Lips, and Radiohead. Though more Indie pop than Crossover Prog, this is still refreshingly creative enough both sonically and compositionally that I will include it within my prog music collection. Kind of like Stereolab, Dungen and doves, their unusual creativity deserves recognition for its 'progressiveness.'




GALAHAD Beyond the Realms of Euphoria

If this is Neo Prog then IQ is elevator music.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Stuart Nicholson / vocals
- Roy Keyworth / guitars
- Dean Baker / keyboards
- Neil Pepper / bass
- Spencer Luckman / drums

1. "Salvation I: Overture (4:12) (8/10)
2. "Salvation II: Judgement Day (6:09) (8/10)
3. "Guardian Angel" (10:33) heavy IQ; I mean almost exactly! (18/20)
4. "Secret Kingdoms..." (5:32) (7.25/10)
5. "... And Secret Worlds" (7:27) classical piano opening would work better if it were not performed on an electric/computer piano program in lieu of a real grand piano. Nice guitar and vocal in the driven heavy second half. (12/15)
6. "All in the Name of Progress" (7:15) (11/15)
7. "Guardian Angel (reprise)" (6:09) piano and computer-keyboard choir set up this very IQ-sounding song. Nice build up with addition of choir and church organ. (9/10)
8. "Richelieu's Prayer 2012" (8:41) a modernization of an old song the band first released on their debut album in 1991, Nothing Is Written. Not sure whether to count this one in the metric evaluations. (14/20)

Total Time 55:58

I'd never heard any music from Galahad until this year. Though this album mostly reminds me of IQ's 2009 Frequency, though with a lot more metal-like guitar riffing. I have to admit that the music here surprised me quite a bit: especially the presence of modern dance/house music and other 'tricks' from the world of electronica (on the opener, "Salvation 1: Overture" [4:11] [8/10], the album's IQ-like 'epic,' "Guardian Angel" [10:31] [9/10], and "All in the Name of Progress" [7:14] [7/10]); I'm often feeling that I'm listening to a heavier version of the PET SHOP BOYS or THE THE. The chameleonic voice of singer Stuart Nicholson sounds so familiar. At times I'm reminded of the lead singer from IQ's 2009 Frequency, Peter Nicholls ("Salvation II: Judgment Day" and "Guardian Angel"), at other times I hear Guy Manning ("All in the Name of Progress"), and still others I hear FISH ("Richlieu's Prayer 2012"), and others like 80s rocker DAVID COVERDALE from WHITESNAKE (on the RUSH-meets-GARY NUMAN-like "Secret Kingdoms ..." [5:31] [7/10]), and even sometimes BLUE ÖYSTER CULT's Eric Bloom. The attempts to imbue the album with some feel of classical music is to my ears quite false and misleading as the piano pieces to which others must be referring are quite simple and straightforward--almost as if accompaniments to marches and other processional pieces; the intros on the last three songs aren't quite what I had in mind when I heard other reviewers mention the "classical influences" on this album. The time signatures here for the greater part also feel quite simple and straightforward. And the use of sounds and instruments from the realm of "heavy prog" sound quite straightforward as lifts from classic rock songs and stylings from the 1980s. I am impressed with the band's ability to gather, draw and synthesize sounds and elements from many diverse origins in rock/music history. However, I think that the smoothness with which they blend these styles and sounds can be improved upon.

81.39 on the Fishscales = B-/3.5 stars; rated up for its creative surprises. Nice work that most proggers will enjoy--especially if you've a predisposition to Neo-prog.




SHADOW CIRCUS On a Dark and Stormy Night

This is a theatric album of heavier rock that synthesizes and regurgitates some pretty obvious classic and prog rock sounds, stylings, and riffs. The result of this synthesis is often odd, surprising, and awkward. Sometimes it works. There is a lot of pleasant, if familiar, music to listen to here with one particular gem worth citing: the delicate and beautiful instrumental, "Ixchel."

1. The opening instrumental, "Overture" (5:57), has quite a RUSH feel to it--especially the final five minutes. I like the spacey first two-and-a-half minutes best. (7/10)

2. "Daddy's Gone" (5:57) A voice and singing style quite similar to that of NOEL McCALLA (of Mike Rutherford Smallcreep's Day fame) As a matter of fact, other than the guitar lead and the drum work, this song has quite a Smallcreep feel to it. Like the full use of the background synths on this. (8/10)

3. "Whosit, Whatsit, & Which" (6:34) has an awesome spacious, spacey first minute before a very standard bluesy 70s-ish guitar and Rhodes piano chord and A-B construct establish themselves. The singing this time sounds more like GUY MANNING with PINK FLOYD's famed Dark Side of the Moon background singers providing the support. I actually get bored with the way the keyboard and Peter Frampton-like electric guitar (by the way: I rather like P.F.'s guitar sound and styling) constantly mirror one another throughout instrumental cadences and interludes. (7/10)

4. "Make Way for the Big Show" (8:42) is the album's longest song. It begins with quite a nice piano intro in a pseudo classical Broadway musical-like style. At 1:37 the song shifts into rock mode with electric guitars and organ becoming part of the support. The rock portions of this album are beginning to sound so familiar. Halfway between ANDREW LLOYD-WEBBER's Phantom of the Opera and some of LOVERBOY's stuff from the late 70s. Or perhaps like today's hot new prog phenom, HAKEN. The piano and organ play, in particular, are particularly theatric/operatic.

5. "Tesseract" (5:20) is a CORVUS STONE-like instrumental that begins with quite an engaging, if familiar, pulse. The initial guitar soli/playing are also engaging, if very 70s-ish (Loverboy, Led Zeppelin). Little musical development is necessary in this one as it is really a vehicle for instruments to solo and show off their tight chops. A great recapturing of that 1970s metal sound and feel. (8/10)

6. "Uriel" (5:51) begins with piano, synths and cello weaving a loose, melodic tapestry which is then joined by the guitars and rhythm section at the end of the first minute to give us another kind of Smallcreep song. Pretty, syrupy, and pretentious. The singer is not quite up to the Noel McCalla skill level. The song shift at 2:50 is refreshing . . . until the singer/lyric and synth join in. Standard chord progressions and rock hooks throughout. (7/10)

The transition into song 7. "Camozotz" (6:23) is my favorite part of the album. But then, at the one minute point, a bouncy vaudevillian piano ruins it for me. The rhythm shift at 1:40 is equally awkward and mysterious. I actually enjoy the treated vocal--but don't really appreciate or understand the use of the Clare Torey/DSotMoon female background vocals. The 3:20 shift to ROGER WATERS-style music and vocal is again, nothing short of odd and awkward. Then at 4:10 a classic RUSH-like section ensues. Wild song! Wild ride! Quite a cut-and-paste imagination! The final minute, I have to admit, really works--screaming treated vocal with screaming background lead guitar over slow, hard-driving rhythm section. A classic Pink Floyd ending! (8/10)

8. "Ixchel" (4:40) changes things up a bit with a very beautiful STEVE HACKETT-like nylon-string guitar intro. At 1:25 synths and guitar enter in a slow volume and entry- and decay-controlled fashion. At 2:40 multi-layered voices (male and female) beautifully mirror the piano's right hand melody. Then 'strings' take a turn doing the same mirroring and support job, finishing, then, with the voices and piano. A gorgeous, delicate, mature song. (10/10)

9. The album's final song, "The Battle for Charles Wallace"(7:00) is another re-visitation to the realm of classic 1970s blues-rock as so well put together by another 2012 album, CORVUS STONE's eponymously titled debut album. After a nice three-minute intro, the song shifts into an almost straightforward "it must be love" rock song. At 3:45 a 25 second burst of whole-band syncopated heavy metal power chords takes us in another direction. But then at 4:10 we are treated to a section of multi-layer rondo- and MOON SAFARI-like vocals. At 5:50 we are treated to a cool upper register electric guitar arpeggio riff to shift us into the finale mode--ascending and descending electric guitar scales over thick, heavy Phantom of the Opera organ. (I wonder: Are the theatric, Phantom-like similarities and flourishes intentional or accidental?) Weird song that kind of works. (8/10) 

Nicely crafted, well-produced recreation of 1970s heavy-yet syrupy theatric melodic rock in the STYX/LOVERBOY/HAKEN vein.

As my reviews of 2012 album acquisitions comes nearer to the end I have to say that the trend I am feeling from today's "prog rockers" is more of incorporation, assimilation, synthesis, replication, regurgitation with some re-interpretation of older prog and classic rock themes, sounds and styles. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does leave one with a bit of a let down because there is this constant feeling of "heard this before" or "this isn't anything really new." If this is what it takes for modern bands to grow and internalize the roots of progressive rock in order to, then, crysalize and morph into their own innovative, uniquely creative "progressors" of (rock) music, then so be it. I will gladly wait out this evolutionary period--I await the emergence of new, fully-formed and independent . . . butterflies.



3RDEGREE The Long Division

have to admit that I was quite suspicious of a band's rating when its new album release starts climbing the charts due to the fact that no less than 9 out of the 13 entries in the "Latest members reviews" column are PA newbies who joined only to post a review of this one album (and two of the other four have rated less than ten albums and reviewed only one:  this one and of the less than ten albums the list is suspiciously the same!) It's nice to have fans, nice to have a group helping to get your name and music out there. Whatever it takes, I guess. Time will obviously help this album settle into its true place among the releases of 2012.

Curious, I found their album on Bandcamp. And I've been listening.

1. "You're Fooling Yourselves" (6:51) sounds like a kind of DISCIPLINE-as-THE BEATLES classic rocker. There is a cute carnival-esque section beginning at the 2:56 mark followed by a SAGA-like semi-rap with vocal harmonies. Great section in the guitar solo beginning at the 4:40 mark. The vocalist does a pretty great job sounding like JOHN LENNON, revved-up PAUL McCARTNEY and early ROD STEWART. (8/10)

2. "Exit Strategy" (5:45) is a very perky, poppy STEELY DAN-meets-XTC to play THE TEA CLUB song. Truly some great multiple vocal arrangements here. Nice keyboard/mellotron and bass parts. A very catchy, cute song. (9/10)

3. "The Socio-Economic Petrie Dish" (6:52) is the weakest song on the album in its cheezy keyboards and poppy-pseudo-prog structure. Again I am reminded of STEELY DAN 1972- 75, pre-Aja. A very mediocre song'even with the melodramatic 'Occupy' crowd sample in the final minute. (5/10)

4. "Incoherent Ramblings" (7:44) begins with a vocal melody that fails to connect. Once the song establishes its support structure it doesn't get much better. It's almost like an average BEACH BOYS or a bad XTC song. (7/10)

5. "The Ones to Follow" (3:12) is a cute pop song in the vein of XTC and GEORGE HARRISON. (7/10)

6. "A Work of Art" (2:50) begins with some arpeggiated electric piano chords before weaving in some other subtle instruments, vocals, and eventually saxophone. The keyboard sound brings me back to some of RONNIE LAWS' proggier stuff in the late 70s (around the "Always There" and Flame period). (7/10)

7. "Televised" (6:52) with its old synth sounds harkens back to some late 70s classic rock songs. When the song kicks into high gear around the 1:50 mark it is definitely treading on MATTHEW PARMENTER/DISCIPLINE territory. Then a clavichord enters! Surprises abound in this one: falsetto vibratos, Motown-like female b vox. As the song progresses it morphs again into more XTC ground. An unusual but kind of intriguing mix. Perhaps the most original song on the album. (8/10)

8. "The Millions of Last Moments" (2:06) starts out very much like KANSAS' "Dust in the Wind" before a jazzy CHET ATKINS-like electric guitar joins in. A pretty instrumental guitar duet. (7/10)

9. "Memetic Pandemic" (7:29) begins with a bare piano, joined by a GEDDY LEE-like voice before morphing into a GENESIS/BIG BIG TRAIN/ECHOLYN-like song. Interesting ECHOLYN/ BEATLES-like vocal harmonies. Love the GENESIS picked electric guitar interlude at the 1:45 mark and the MIKE OLDFIELD-like fuzz guitar playing in tandem with the early-TONY BANKSian synthesizer that follows. Despite the "There Must be Some Misunderstanding" bass line and chord progression.in the next section, this song develops and catches one very much like a very good ECHOLYN song. The drumming on this one stands out for me: PHIL COLLINS-ish. The section that begins at 5:15 is great for its organ, b-vox, and GENESIS-era P GABRIEL vocal. The last minute and a half enters into more of a BEATLES feel. (9/10)

10. "A Nihilist's Love Song" (3:21) starts out with a lyric and melody that reminds me of a choral version of TODD RUNDGREN's "Just One Victory." As it goes on I am more reminded of JON BON JOVI. (8/10)

I am pleasantly surprised to find that this is, in fact, an interesting album--especially for its varied collection of sounds and influences. It is, however, a little more pop oriented than I expected. My favorite songs are definitely the perky "Exit Strategy" and the ECHOCLYN-like "Memetic Pandemic." As a matter of fact, if one were to try to extract the essence of this album, it would be the XTC, STEELY DAN, and ECHOLYN familiarities. I actually like this album better than the much-praised 2012 Echolyn release, Echolyn. (Ironic that the BRETT KULL-mixed "You're Fooling Yourself" is not even, IMO, the most ECHOLYN-sounding song on the album!)

78.0 on the Fish scales = 3.5 stars rated up for factors of intrigue and quirkiness.



Albums from 2012 that Are, IMHO, Over-rated



FREQUENCY DRIFT Laid to Rest

 I am very happy for the success of Frequency Drift as I have loved following the recent arrival and evolution of the band, from cinematic/soundtrack music to 2011's masterpiece, Ghosts.... They are an immensely talented, wonderfully creative band. But, try as hard as I have, (I've owned Laid to Rest for several months now), this 2012 release does not please me, does not draw me in or amaze me half as well as Ghosts... did/does. A lot of the dynamic shifts have been watered down, the band seems to have moved more toward a softer, more drawn out, slow development approach to composition and performance. I find myself waiting for the peaks, waiting for the dramatic shifts, even waiting for the magical weaves of multiple instruments that I so loved on Ghosts.... But they are not there. Over and over, weeks apart I've returned to this album saying to myself that I must be missing something, that I must be in the wrong mood or that I'm just not giving it my fullest attention. The posting of this review is my admission that I am finished trying. Laid to Rest is being laid to rest. I'm so sorry.

3 stars.



DIAGONAL The Second Mechanism

The production is GREATLY improved, however, musically The Second Mechanism is quite disappointing since I LOVED their debut. This one is not so classic, not so raw, and it's more syrupy and slow--not bad, just never as great or fresh or driving as the first one. Also, I rather liked the "dirty" production of the first album, this one is so clean and pristine (which is nice, I must admit, for the spacious, softer [more KARDA ESTRA/CAMEL-like] parts).

Favorite songs: the ANEKDOTEN-like "These Yellow Sands" (7:59) (8/10), "Mitochondria" (9:41) (9/10), and "Hulks" (10:35) (8/10) (horns and fem b vox), and the eerily mood-capturing, CURE-ish "Capsizing" (9:10) (9/10).

An excellent prog album, just not up to the pace set forth by their first one. Still, recommended. (Just try to take it on its own terms--forget the dynamism of the first release.)



 VESPERO Subkraut: U-Boats Welcome Here

Nowhere near the quality or emotional impact of their previous studio or live albums. The music here feels more rhythm driven rather than rhythm explorative, or improvisational, as I felt on By The Waters of Tomorrow and their live albums. I do not like the direction this band has chosen to go.




MAHOGANY FROG Senna

After several dedicated listens through this album over the past few months I am finally ready to post a review of this highly acclaimed album from 2012. An instrumental album in the vein of OZRIC TENTACLES, HYPNOS69 and QUANTUM FANTAY with a little more emphasis and volume given to the drums and computer-generated sounds and keyboards and a little less emphasis on predictable melody and structure. (This is no jam band!) While I have enjoyed my listens, and have been entertained and engrossed in their sound (especially the computer keyboard work), and I do appreciate the passion coming from the drummer, it is doubtful that I will find myself returning to this album very often.

1. “Houndstooth, Part 1"–starts out sounding a bit like one of my favorite alubmartists, STEREOLAB’s Dots and Loops before the organ is joined by some psychedelic fuzz guitar, computerized drum sounds and rhythms, and builds into what is obviously an instrumental. Kind of cool. (8/10)

2. “Houndstooth, Part 2”—keeps the 60s fuzz/treated guitar and bass sounds with live acoustic drums and some KRAFTWERK/OMD-like keyboard sounds all packaged into a kind of 60s psych pop or 80s bubble gum TONY BASIL-like sound and feel. Happy and psychedelic even a little bluesy. (7/10)

3. “Expo ‘67”—sounds like a new version of EDGAR WINTER’s “Frankenstein” to me. Same instruments, same riffs, same structure. (7/10)

4. “Flossing with Buddha”—birds and church organ start out this one before it turns into a kind of Brit-pop song again straddling the late 60s and the bubble gum pop of the 80s. (Lulu, The Buckinghams, Adam Ant, Yaz, The The.) (7/10)

5. “Message from Uncle Stan Grey Shirt”—some of Mahogony Frog’s intros, like this one, remind me of fellow Canadians, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR. Lots of chaos and cacophony—like an orchestra tuning before a concert. Uncle Stan (in the Grey Shirt) must be totally wasted cuz this song is all about chaos and really having a slow and tough time (being able to) getting it together. Finally, a kind of "House of the Rising Sun" meets "Pomp and Circumstanc"e pulls itself up out of the dross and then morphs into a “This Is The Doors” cover band intro for the final two minutes. Interesting. And psychedelic. (7/10)

6. “Messsage from Uncle Stan Green House”—starts out with a rather striking JAGA JAZZIST sound to it. Indecipherable babel of voices accompanies the music for a little while until it all descends into a slowed down, heavily sound-effects-accompanied heroine trip. Ends on a structured note. (6/10)

7. “Saffron Myst”—is a melodic, almost laid-back tune with synths/organ featured. Again, I am reminded of STEREOLAB and especially Dots and Loops. (8/10)

8. “Aqua Love Ice Cream Delivery Service”—carries over the synth trails from “Saffron Myst” while turning them into virulent crazy with a Todd Rundgren-like organ wash beneath to keep them all tied together. The guitar’s entry at 2:35 is wonderful and continues to build within the tornadic frenzy of the other crazed musicians. Again, I am reminded of some of TODD’s more adventurous experimentations with sound and noises in his early 1970s solo works. I even half expected it to end with the baton taps and Todd’s voice saying, “No! No! No! A little more humanity, please!” as he does at the end of “The Spark of Life.” But, no! The song quiets down, goes cyber-space crazy before a harpsichord enters to “restore” order—and fadeout the album! (8/10)

A highly creative album laced with psychedelia reminiscent of all of the past four decades’ technological and sound advances. This is not an album I will come back to as often as the above cited space/psychedelic artists because of a certain lack of, well, melody. But I will revisit it for the smiles and curiosities it generates.

3.5 stars rated up for creativity, uniquity and courage.



ECHOLYN Echolyn

This heavily praised album is, for me, missing the grit, life, and grist of other echolyn albums. It is a collection of homogenized skim milk. It is simple, thin, watered down prog, albeit pleasant but lacking substance, lacking warmth. It's like kissing your sister, like a fourth place finish at the Olympics, like the taste of artichoke without butter. The first song takes six and a half minutes to hook you in and then just teases you until the final two minutes (which are, I must admit, sublime). My favorite two songs, "Past Gravity" (7:10) (9/10) and "Speaking in Lampblack" (10:45) (8/10) are both pleasant, rather laid back, kind of STEELY DAN/BILLY JOEL-like mainstream-friendly compositions. The album's final two minutes of barbershop fun make me wonder if the band has any more left to give--kind of a feeling I get through this entire listening experience: life is hard, maybe it's time to die. 

1. Island (16:38) (7/10)
2. Headright (3:00) (8/10)
3. Locust To Bethlehem (5:11) (8/10)
4. Some Memorial (11:54) (7/10)
5. Past Gravity (7:11) (9/10)
6. When Sunday Spills (8:48) (8/10)
7. Speaking In Lampblack (10:45) (9/10)
8. The Cardinal And I (7:20) (8/10)

3 stars. At the most.



ØRESUND SPACE COLLECTIVE West, Space and Love

A benign flow of Indian-influenced Buddha-lounge-like space music with some nice grooves. Overall this album is dismissible in terms of prog contributions go.



THRESHOLD March of Progress

Well-performed heavy rock/lite metal which cries back to the classic rockers of the 70s and 80s like JOURNEY and OZZIE OSBORNE. Again I am plagued by my questioning of the placement of this rather straightforward music within the realm of "progressive" rock. The sounds are polished, the vocals strong and Ozzie-like, but these sounds and vocals fail to match up with the structural the band seems to be trying to work with. There are many decent songs on this album, including "Liberty Complacency Dependency" (7:48) (8/10) (politics!), "Colophon" (6:00) (9/10), "That's Why We Came" (5:40) (8/10), "Don't Look Down" (8:12) (8/10) (I don't like the chorus/harmonized vocals), and my favorite, "Coda" (5:23) (9/10), but then there are several that, to my ears, never rise above sounding like the average stuff from the the 80s, and "Divinity" (6:27) (7/10) seems a direct rip off from the work of MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN (especially PUCIFER). Still, nice work for the listeners of Octane radio.

I agree with other reviewers: nice use of keyboards.

3 stars.



ENSLAVED Riitiir

Okay, here I go (again): Getting on my soapbox to incur the wrath and ire of fellow music lovers. sorry. I have honestly been listening to this music for over a month (though I must admit that I can only take a song or two at a time). Exactly how is this music good? Haven't you all read the books by Dr. Musaru Emoto and Alfred Tomatis and Joseph Campbell and Ram Dass: This kind of cacophony causes chaos and entropy, destruction and death! Even if I could find anything redeeming about this 'singing,' these 'vocals,' these lyrics, the music is so simplistic, so straightforward and so derivative of 70s rockers like BLUE OYSTER CULT and 90s innovator CYNIC that I don't get the grounds for all this praise! Even the Jem Godfrey/Frost* sounding "Storm of Memories" (8:57) (8/10) has a promising beginning with fewer doom/death growling (at least for the first three minutes). Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there. Machine gun drums and machine gun guitars. I just don't get it. Maybe as a caffeine or cocaine substitute this works for some people, but for what reason? Are we really that angst-ridden--that forlorn and lost--as a culture that this is the only outlet we can devise for our frustrations? 
     I am a believer that music is an expression of highest creativity, our highest art form with which to bridge material with spiritual. This kind of music is, to my mind, a slap in the face to all the great composers, artists and creators in human history. What a shame! What a waste of talent and potential (obviously, the players can play, their minds have creative capacity. I guess I should be looking at all this entropy and chaos as the Taoist balance to all the Light and Beauty, or as Karl Jung might: Out of shit the alchemist creates gold!) 

Sorry, boys. I'll take Brahms' 3rd, Satie's "Gymnopedie," Renaissance's Novella, LeGrand's Pastorales de Noël, Bill Evans' Village Vangaurd recordings, Cocteau Twins' Tiny Dynamine, and any Baroque music over this, any day.