Saturday, November 19, 2016

2016, Part 4: Other albums worth checking out for yourselves

Below you will find albums from the hundreds of 2016 releases that I happened to hear that impressed me enough to collect them for possible future review but which, ultimately, failed to hold enough interest for me to want to invest the extra time and effort necessary to write a proper review. Meritorious music should be shared--even if it is not to my own personal stylistic liking. I understand that everyone else has unique and differing likes and preferences to those of mine, thus I "unleash" these albums to the general public with the recommendation that you check them out for yourselves. Good luck! and Happy listening! I hope you find some gems here for your own music listening pleasure!

RANTAMA TRIO Catching The Mystery Train

Nice bluesy guitar-led jazz fusion from this trio from Finland. Not far from some of AL DI MEOLA's early stuff. Good guitar, great fretless bass, and solid drums. Pretty cool sound used for that lead guitar.

KAIPA DA KAPO D˚arskapens Monotoni

If you like the modern symphonic music of The Flower Kings, you will probably like this.

Ingemar Bergman (Kaipa): Drums & percussion
Tomas Eriksson (Kaipa): Bass
Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Kaipa, Agents of Mercy): Guitars, Vocal, LapSteel, Ukulele, Portougise Guitar, Grand Piano
Michael Stolt: Lead Vocal, Guitars, Moog
Max Lorentz: Hammond B 3 organ,Yamaha Grand Piano, Vocal, Minimoog, Mellotron, Rhodes piano, Pipe Organl, Flute, Tuba, Sitar, Percussion

1. Dårskapens Monotoni(10:30)
2. När Jag Var En Pojk (10:40)
3. Vi Lever Här (6:20)
4. Det Tysta Guldet (10:20)
5. Spår Av Vår Tid (5:40)
6. Tonerna (17:20)
7. Monoliten (5:45)

Total Time 66:35


NeoProg on the order of BIG BIG TRAIN, NINE STONES CLOSE, and MYSTERY though not quite reaching the heights of these aforementioned bands.

Line-up / Musicians:
Gary Sheridan - vocals, guitar, keyboards
Dave Sutheran - drums, vocals
Gavin Saunders - guitars
John Pierpoint - bass, mandolin
Alex Theay - keyboards, guitar, vocals

1. New World Order (16:26)
2. The Eagle (4:13)
3. The Last Train (4:03)
4. World Of Change (2:45)
5. Broken Stones (6:19)
6. Everything We Have Lost (6:12)
7. The Hand That Feeds (4:24)

Total time 44:22

CD 2
1. Log 1: The Mourning (8:06)
2. Log 2, Day 1: The Tides, Pt. 1 (3:54)
3. Log 3, Day 4: Fighting For Life (On Film) (4:16)
4. The Tides, Pt. 2 (3:40)
5. Log 4, Day 6: Give Me The Heart (8:45)

Total time 28:41

THE ROME PRO(G)JECT II Of Fate and Glory

Vincent RICCIO puts together some highly polished, bombastic instrumental prog while enlisting the help of prog virtuosi Steve HACKETT, Billy SHERWOOD, David JACKSON on a few tracks.

KNIFEWORLD Bottled Out of Eden

Kavus Torabi has learned a lot through his work with SPIDER STACEY (The POGUES), Tim SMITH (The CARDIACS) and DAEVID ALLEN (GONG) as well as British Zeuhl band, GUAPO, but the effect of these widely diverse musical styles may have caused a kind of mistaken or lost identity--a kind of chamelonic "Zelig" effect (to steal Woody Allen's idea). In each of the songs and even the layers of sounds and stylings used in the songs on Bottled Out of Eden seems so disparate and splintered as to cause an internal tension to me, the listener--it's as if I'm being torn apart by the different directions in which the drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, horns, folk instruments, multiple vocals, and tempos are each trying to take me.

Five star songs: the XTC-like 3. "I Am Lost" (7:14) (9/10) and the slower, piano-based micro-drama, 9. "A Dream About a Dream" (5:43) (9/10).

Four star songs: the simple and pretty, 5. "Foul Temple" (2:38) (8.5/10); 1. "High-Aflame" (6:29 (8.5/10); the simple and straightforward, 10. "Secret Words" (3:12) (8/10); the most integrated multi-layered song on the album (which ends up, ultimately, disappointing), 11. "Feel the Sorcery" (3:50) (8/10); 2. "The Germ Inside" (4:48) (7.5/10), and; the jazzy King Crimson-like and mostly instrumental, 7. "I Must Set Fire to Your Portrait" (5:37) (7/10).

Three star songs: the boring, drab, 4. "The Deathless" (5:26) (6.5/10) and the torturous, atonal hodgepodge that is 8. "Lowered into Necromancy" (4:04) (6/10).

If everything Kavus writes sounds like him, then this is one dude that I would not be able to hang around with very very long--his multi-directional freneticism is beyond my capacity or interest to tolerate.

82.0 on the Fishscales = four stars; B-; an album worth checking out for your self.

FAR FROM THE SUN In the Beginning . . . Was the Emotion

Heavy prog in the style of the most ominous, deeply bass-dominated music of RIVERSIDE and with the melodic and vocal sensibilities of NICE BEAVER. One of the album's few flaws is that it's first three songs blend together too well--start to sound like the same music only differing in their lyrics. The opener, it's title song, sets an awesome tone, but then nothing changes for the next 26 minutes. The fourth song presents a nice IAN ANDERSON change of pace and style. The other flaw is that each song proceeds in one gear, one speed only, with little or now change in mood or feel from start to finish. Over the course of the album this works out okay, but over the course of six, seven, nine and 12-minute songs, it can get a little stale.

Favorite songs: 7. "On the path (of the hanged men)" (9:17) (9/10) and 4. "Life" (7:37) (9/10).


TOBY DRIVER-influenced one man experimental/post metal progressive rock a notch or two down in terms of sophistication from Toby's work. At times I find myself thinking BAUHAUS, DIF JUZ, TALKING HEADS, Shoegaze, Kosmische Musik and Electronica like Tangerine Dream, but far more often, Toby Driver. Still, interesting and listenable.


Out of Cambridge, Mass, comes this heavy metal group. They sound to me like an odd combination of RUSH and BLACK SABBATH. Available on Bandcamp.

Line-up / Musicians: 
Chris Bouchard - Drums
Justin Demko - Guitar
Dan Goodhue - Guitar
Chris Harvey - Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Percussion
Kyle Paradis - Bass Guitar, Piano, Percussion, additional Guitar
Sean Cahalin - Additional Percussion

1. Facade (1:39)
2. Erasing (5:12)
3. Confidant (4:08)
4. The Messenger (3:39)
5. The Frightened One (5:19)
6. Killers, Thieves, Deceivers (5:51)
7. As Within... (3:02)
8. The End (4:55)
9. Gravity (4:12)
10. Without (3:18)
11. Seek To Hide (8:06)

Total Time 49:21

MONDO DRAG The Occultation of Light

Straightforward if mature and polished psychedelic rock from Oakland, California. Sounds a lot like a clean version of the self-titled debut album from DIAGONAL or HYPNOS 69's Legacy--music in the vein of SPIRIT, BLACK SABBATH, and early KING CRIMSON (sans Mellotron). 2016 is looking like the year of rise of the organ Phoenix!

1. "Initiation -
2. "Out Of Sight - sounds very like KING CRIMSON's "21st Century Schizoid Man"
3. "Rising Omen - instrumental
4. "Incendiary oProcession
5. "The Eye
6. "In Your Head
7. "Dying Light
8. "Ride The Sky

OVER THE EARTH The Sun Is Much too Bright

Well produced prog lite from France. Nice use of effects and subtleties but nothing terribly new or exciting here.

Line-up / Musicians: 
Rémi Generoso : Bass, Vocals
Pierre-Michel Planchon : Guitar
Nicolas Macassian : Guitar
Guillaume Salsedo : Drums
Jocelyn Larue : Keyboards

1. The Sun Is Much Too Bright (7:04)
2. Weeping Willow (6:51)
3. Irony Inside (5:18)
4. The Rope (6:17)
5. Disconnection (6:46)
6. She Dances Around the Clock (6:06)

Total Time: 38:22

ANGEL GRAVE The Archivists' Tragedy

True rockin' psychedelia sound just as raw and distorted as the hard blues-rock coming out of the late 1960s.

1. Cosmos Weaver (7:04)
2. Archivists Of The Universe (9:56) (16.25/20)
3. Shattered Continuum (6:52)
4. Isle Of Awakening Slumber (11:02) ((15.75/20)
5. Fall Of The Artificers (6:31)
6. The Calculatory Waning (7:49)
7. Serpentine Maelstrom (12:27) (21/25)
8. The Transformative Lens (2:20)
9. Sea God's Plight (9:19) (16.6667/20)
10. Geocentrism (15:20) (24/30)

Unusual Post Rock-ish psychedelic rock--like a heavier version of Arthur Brown's from the 60s. Interesting and unusual but gets old fast.

Despite good intentions and some noticeable variety, this is nothing more than a three star album, no more.   


Lively, diverse if a little simplistic jazz fusion from sLOVEnia. The artist has much room for growth but puts out a great first effort--which is more appreciated for its great drumming and diverse delivery mechanisms for lead melody maker (mostly keys and woodwinds).


Interesting and unusual orchestra-based progressive rock from Denmark. This is Afenginn's sixth studio album but the first that I have ever heard. The music here reminds me of vastly slowed down Eastern European folk music as if the typical songs of ARANIS, RATIONAL DIET or FARMER'S MARKET were slowed down by half speed. Nothing extraordinary or Earth-shattering here but very nice.


Line-up / Musicians:
Alex - Drums and Percussion
Dr Space - Analog Synthesizers
Hasse - Bass
Jonas - Hammond, Synthesizer, Electric Piano
Jonathan - Guitar
Mattias - Guitar, Pedal Steel
Mats - Guitar

1. Visions of ... (42:11)
2. Above the Corner (16:17)
3. Piece of Seven (8:35)
4. Around the Corner (11:02)

Total Time 78:05


Instrumental stoner rock album with two long jams.


Nice, smooth, sometimes atmospheric jazz fusion from Poland. Sometimes a bit simplistic, but melodic and listenable.

HUIS Neither in Heaven

Heavy Neo Prog from Canada. Great sound engineering of wonderful Neo Prog soundscapes. A lot of ballad-like formats but, otherwise, nothing new here.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Sylvain Descôteaux / vocals, keyboards, piano, vocal arrangements 
- Michel St-Père / guitar, keyboards, mixing
- Michel Joncas / bass, bass pedals, keyboards, backing vocals
- William Régnier / drums, percussion, keyboards & acoustic guitar (10)
- Nathan Vanheuverzwijn / piano (1,10)
- Johnny Maz / synth solo (2)
- Gerben Klazinga / synth solo (3)
- Benoit Dupuis / keyboards (4)
- Johanne Laplante / flute (5)

1. Neither In Heaven (2:40)
2. "Synesthesia" (13:09) nice climax/final two minutes. (21/25) 
3. "Insane" (5:47) a hard-rocking instrumental that shows off a lot of the individual band members' skills but offers nothing really new or exciting. (7.25/10)
4. "Even Angels Sometimes Fall" (5:28) pretty with an AMBROSIA ballad feel to it. (8.75/10)
5. "Entering The Gallery" (3:41) bombastic opening before things calm down for Sylvain's vocal. Supported by piano and a very bluesy-slide guitar. (7.75/10) Bleeds directly into: 
6. "The Man On The Hill" (7:44) heavy, angular melodic and chord progressions set up a quiet section in which Sylvain Dexcôteaux sings in a power metal voice like he's in a 1980s metal band. Even the ensuing instrumental support is so 1980s metal (reminding me most of Hagar-era VAN HALEN)! (12/15)
7. "The Red Gypsy" (6:25) intro of Spanish guitar supported by synth washes is joined by piano and vocal before the end of the first minute. Full band joins in around 1:20, giving it a kind of mysterious pop feel (think The Eagles). Then synth and guitars lead in a gear shift into more classic 1980s hairband rock territory (Van Halen et al.). (7.75/10)
8. "Memories" (8:43) very touching first 2:20. Once fullness of music is engaged the band successfully maintains the feeling and emotional spectrum of the opening. Absolutely perfect use of Mellotron in the choruses. Masterful electric guitar soloing in the seventh minute (should we expect less?) (18/20)
9. I Held (3:35) 
10. Nor On Earth (11:41) sounds like a good STEVEN WILSON/PORCUPINE TREE song ("Dark Matter"). Really! Very nice composition with perfect sound engineering. A little too derivative, though. And then there is the weird ending and spacious gap before two minute piano outro. (18/20) 

Total time 68:53

83.75 on the Fishscales = B-/low four stars; an album worth checking out for yourselves.

BARADJ Divlar  

Retro Psychedelic Rock from Russia. Nice.

DELIRIUM IPG (International Progressive Group) L'era della Menzogna

Italian prog masters DELIRIUM are back with another collection of solid progressive rock/RPI songs. Diversity is again the name of the game with this band as one can find female operatic voices (on "L'Angelo el Fango") along side the gravelly voice of lead singer Alessandro Corvaglia, nice keyboard work through out and the nice touch of flute throughout. This is seasoned, well-constructed, nice to listen to prog, Delirium's music is actually quite difficult to place--though it does have that theatric presence common to so much of Italian progressive rock music--but their mix of old, retro and modern keyboards with unusual recording, engineering and mixing choices is quite distinctive and . . . unique.

Favorite songs: 1. "L'inganno del potere" (6:26); the emotional Gregorian-chant presence in 8. "Basta" (5:17); 5. "La deriva" (3:54); the beautiful "L'angelo della fango" (3:45) and the Latin-tinged "La voce dell'anima" (3:31).

Not as strong as 2009's Il nome del vento, but a decent, enjoyable collection of well-constructed songs.


Bombastic Neo-Heavy Metal concept album from New Jersey.

1. "I: Paging Mr. Spader" (6:13) (6/10)
2. "II: Spader's Lullaby" (4:11) starts out beautifully, very saccharine piano solo, then bursts into well-crafted heavy metal jam with impressive lead guitar skills and engaging background choir vocalise. (8.75/10)
3. "III: Spader's Dream" (3:59) slow-play guitar pregnant with ambiguous potential. I like this! (9/10)
4. "IV: Wake Up, Mr. Spader!" (6:54) Stevie Ray Vaughan? (12/15)
5. "V: Spader?" (9:59) more prog-like before turning prog metal and and then classic blues rock. Part Nektar, part Blue Öyster Cult, part Nine Stones Close. (17.25/20)

81.54 on the Fishscales = C+/three stars but worth checking out for yourselves.


An nice musical journey that takes me back to the San Francisco Bay Area type of psychedelic rock. A little URIAH HEEP, a little JEFFERSON AIRPLANE, I love the raunchy female lead vocalist and the prominent organs.

Favorite songs: the organ-wild rocker, 8. "Indian Rope Man" (3:23); the nostalgic, "Brand New Day"-like 9. "Mesmerized Worlds" (5:40); 2. "After" (6:02), and; the DOORS-like "Free Ride" (4:19).


Melodic, bluesy, Indo-Prog-oriented jazz from talented Canadian guitarist-songwriter Marcus TAYLOR. If you think you'd like a simplified, more Westernized, Al DiMeola-styled version of John McLaughlin's SHAKTI music from the 1970s then this might be your cup of tea.


A nice effort to express some beautiful and important concepts but the album's music suffers from poor recording/engineering/mixing and, at times, underdeveloped song structures and flows. I really, really, really wanted to like/love this album. But I don't. If there's one album I've heard from this year that should/could be remade, reworked, à la Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, or all things Mike OLDFIELD (Tubular Bells), it'd be this one. SO much potential!


An interesting techno-metallic post-rock album from Hungary's Gergő Géczi and friends that would probably go under the radar were it to be released later in the year. Nice professional recording and engineering, the music is given a little different slant on the songs that have Debbie Harry/Terry Nunn-like vocalist Mária Molnár. I found myself most drawn in by the bass work (of Máté Fazekas?)

DASPUTNIK Psyjhixplosion

Nice, hard-drivin' psych rock from Finland.

1. Kryptozookeeper (8:30)
2. Skitsovision (7:42)
3. Moons Left Eye (6:13)
4. Dark Side Of The Barsoom (8:37)
5. Wormhat Blues (4:17)
6. Fat Moses (8:36)

7 OCEAN Son of Sun

Finally an Eastern European/Slavic prog band with the courage to sing in their native language! The recording/engineering are a little raw/amateurish/low budget, but the music is pretty and well intended--which counts for something in my books.


Interesting sound production on a collection of pop-prog songs that have a very explicitly targeted social-politically commentary. A little too rock-poppy for my tastes but I like and appreciate the lyrical intentions.

TIM BURNESS Whose Dream Are You Living?

Eminently listenable prog pop from a master of melodic hooks, Tim's music seems rooted in some of the sounds and styles of the 1980s and, unfortunately, still suffers from a lack of technological polish (poor engineering and production) and Tim's poor singing voice.


Simplisitc horn-infused folk rock in the vein of some of the mid- to late-60s folk bands that were experimenting with rock formats, this band has potential but needs more experience; they need to learn variation, complexity, dexterity, confidence and instrumental prowess.

Favorite songs: two instrumentals, the pastoral flute-centered "Duke of Shakespeare Street" (3:59) (9/10), the MANNA/MIRAGE-like horn section-centered "Bad Salad Boogie" (4:06) (8/10), and; the Robert Wyatt tribute "For R.W." (6:12) (8/10).

THE SYN Trustworks

In the "so much potential but such a letdown" category comes Steve Nardelli's The Syn project in which he enlists the creative and instrumental support of the entire band MOON SAFARI. Too bad.

Highly Rated Albums that Are Disappointing to Me:

SHAMALL History Book

Line-up / Musicians:
Norbert Krueler / Everything
Matthias Mehrtens / Lead Guitar

1. Turning Point
2. Journey To A Nightmare
3. Nothing To Say
4. Physical Visions
5. Moments Of Illusion
6. Light In the Night
7. Theme Of A Rainy Day
8. Snowfall
9. Pong Tscha
10. Caligula 2009 (edit 2016)

THE NEAL MORSE BAND The Similitude of a Dream

What we have here is solid progressive rock, as always, from Neal Morse. What's different from recent albums is the level of experience and virtuosity of Neal's band mates. Mike Portnoy is great. Guitarist Eric Gilette is amazing. Randy George is rock solid. Neal's writing is as mature and melodic (and bombastic) as ever. The vocals (shared!) are very good. The lyrics and subject matter are very, very good. The sound and production is excellent. What has yet to be proven is whether or not this is 'new' 'fresh' or innovative enough to earn it unequivocal praise and recommendation from me and the rest of Prog World.

(Two weeks later:)  I have now been listening to parts of this double album (I can't sit or drive long enough to hear the whole thing--it's nearly two hours long!) for a couple of weeks now. The DREAM THEATER comparisons are not unwarranted. The splitting of lead vocal duties among three (and terrific multi-voice harmonies) are a definite plus. The quality of the music and musicians' performances are truly top notch (which is the norm for any Neal Morse-involved project). My 'criticism' comes from the 'sameness' of the sound and music here:  I strive to hear something really new and exciting (other than new words used for the melodies) and I fail. This music, to me, sounds the same as previous albums by previous bands. Let's call it the "Haken Syndrome"--though Neal himself could just as easily and deservedly receive the award of this dubious assignation. Like the British band HAKEN, the song construction, sound production, musicianship and dynamic complexity here is of the highest caliber; also like the albums and music of the British band HAKEN, The Similitude of a Dream presents to me music that is impressive and praise-worthy and yet nothing that I feel compelled or drawn in even the slightest way to ever hear again. I am sad to say that this is one of those brilliant albums that I have absolutely no interest in ever listening to again. (And yet, I will. Just as I do with Haken and Steven Wilson albums.) So, let's be real here:  How does one rate such an album? Sheer perfection that has no attraction or endearment to a listener's heart and soul

Neal Morse: Vocals, Guitar and Keyboards
Mike Portnoy: Drums
Randy George: Bass
Eric Gillette: Guitar and Vocals
Bill Hubauer: Keyboards and Vocals

Disc 1
1.    Long Day
2.    Overture
3.    The Dream
4.    City Of Destruction
5.    We Have Got To Go
6.    Makes No Sense
7.    Draw The Line
8.    The Slough
9.    Back To The City
10.  The Ways Of A Fool
11.   So Far Gone
12.   Breath Of Angels        

TOTAL CD 1 TIME: 51:59

Disc 2
1.   Slave To Your Mind        
2.   Shortcut To Salvation    
3.   The Man In The Iron Cage    
4.   The Road Called Home        
5.   Sloth                                      
6.   Freedom Song                      
7.   I'm Running                            
8.   The Mask                                
9.   Confrontation                          
10. The Battle                                
11. Broken Sky/Long Day Reprise

TOTAL CD 2 TIME: 54:36

A 4.5 star album that I choose to rate down for lack of enduring interest. To me it is "Good, but not essential" but it is certainly well-worthy of others giving it their own listen. I compromise.


Not unlike the sounds and quick-change tempos of AN ENDLESS SPORADIC, this is over-processed, artifice in which manual performance or virtuosity seems to be virtually eliminated by computer programming, sequencing and editing. Horrible treatment of sound, voice and music. The heavily treated, digitally truncated and manipulated sound here grates my nerves and ears like the music of KANSAS, RUSH or HAKEN. I'm tired of being duped by modern production technologies. I can't tell if these musicians are accomplished or not because their sound is so manipulated. Give me the real thing, please!

Best songs:  the diverse and interesting, 5. "Venus" (11:12) (9/10); the djenty, melodic, 8. "Starbreeze" (3:24) (9/10), and; the Jem Godfrey/FROST*-like 11. "Down Will Come Baby" (12:10) (8/10).

74.54 on the Fishscales = solid three star album; C; good but non-essential.

THE GIFT Why The Sea Is Salt

The world does not really need a rebirth of 1970s BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, but here we have it, and they're getting a lot of attention. I don't get it--this longing or need for repeat or replication of old bands. I want something new and refreshing and inventive and creative and different. 

Best songs:  the MIKE RUTHERFORD/NOEL MACALLA-sounding, "At Sea" (Reprise) (5:15) (8/10); the slower, more melody-oriented Southern Rock, 3. "Tuesday's Child" (9:44) (8/10); the bland ANT PHILLIPS-sounding, 4. "The Tallest Tree" (6:14) with its guest performances from Anthony Phillips (12-string guitar), Steve Hackett (lead guitar), and Peter Jones (Irish whistle) (8/10), and; the cheesy and second-rate instrument choices (and embarrassingly poor singing) of the album's melodramatic epic, 5. "All These Things" (22:43) (7/10).

75.0 on the Fishscales = a solid three star album; C; good, but definitely not anything special.

OPETH Sorceress

Nothing Opeth does wows me. It's all competent, straightforward, standard progressive rock that sounds very dull and ordinary to me--though their recent and gradual move away from metal and into more symphonic and folk styles keeps me coming back to at least hear the music. I just never, ever come away feeling ast if I've been changed, affected, or that I would ever want much less need to come back to this music. Not one song.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Mikael Åkerfeldt / lead & backing vocals, acoustic & electric guitars, producer
- Fredrik Åkesson / acoustic & electric guitars
- Joakim Svalberg / grand piano, Fender Rhodes 88, harpsichord, Moog, Mellotron, Hammond C3, percussion, backing vocals
- Martín Méndez / bass
- Martin Axenrot / drums, percussion
- Pascale Marie Vickery / spoken word (11)
- Will Malone / string arrangements
- Orchestra Of State Opera Plovdiv (live tracks)
- Rodna Pesen Choir (live tracks)
- George Miltiyadoff / symphony arrangements (live tracks)
- Levon Manukyan / symphony arrangements & conducting (live tracks)

1. Persephone (1:53)
2. Sorceress (5:49)
3. The Wilde Flowers (6:49)
4. Will O the Wisp (5:08)
5. Chrysalis (7:17)
6. Sorceress 2 (3:49)
7. The Seventh Sojourn (5:29)
8. Strange Brew (8:45)
9. A Fleeting Glance (5:07)
10. Era (5:42)
11. Persephone (Slight Return) (0:54)

Total Time 56:42


Sounds like Devy. Feels like Devy. It is Devy! 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Devin Townsend / vocals, guitar, keyboards, synths, producer
- Dave Young / guitar
- Mike St-Jean / keyboards, synths, programming
- Brian 'Beav' Waddell / bass
- Ryan Van Poederooyen / drums
- Niels Bye Nielsen / orchestration & programming
- Anneke van Giersbergen / vocals
- Ché Aimee Dorval / vocals
- Katrina Natale / vocals
- Eric Severinson / chorus vocals & Tigers In A Tank Choir conductor
- Eric Wettstein / chorus vocals
- Juhli Conlinn / chorus vocals
- Julie Nadalini / chorus vocals
- Marina Bennett / chorus vocals
- Mattias Eklund / sounds

No matter how many times I hear pleas of Devin Townsend's "variation" and "eclectic" or "chameleonic" sound experimentations I always hear . . . Devin Townsend. With each song, on each album I struggle to hear Devy's murky though often beautiful vocals (and interesting lyrics) among the ubiquitous walls of guitar sound--or else I'm faced with his screaming approach which always makes me wonder why he has to scream:  Is his screaming so necessary for the effective delivery of his subject matter?
     This album is, to my ears, no different. The songs' chord progressions are as constant and monotonous as ever. The existence of any other instrument other than guitar (and drums) is, as usual, completely drowned out (by the guitars). (And people actually like this!) I don't get it. With each song I open my ears, my mind, my heart--I find myself thinking, "This has been getting great reviews--great praise--maybe this is the album that will turn me," or "This might turn out to be great!" or "This might get better" or "He's singing about something important" or "He's so intelligent!" but each time I am only let down; each time I find that I'm just making excuses. "Other people love this so I must be missing something! What is it? What is the key to accessing the joy, love, admiration, and respect for Devin Townsend's music?" 'cuz, try as I do--over and over and over again--I'm not getting it.
     If I were writing songs to accompany these lyrical messages I would be choosing music of a very different nature. If I were singing the lyrics of these relevant and 'important' messages that I want to get out to large audiences I would not be choosing such an abrasive delivery style. But that's just me.
     People also go to great lengths to extoll the engineering and production of Devin's albums. I'm just not sure how the delivery of song after song of hazy, murky, fuzzy, affrontery constitutes great production. As I've mused before:  I wonder what happens to water molecules (Emoto), plants (Thomkins and Bird), and human brains (Tomatis, Monroe, Gass, et al.) with repeated or constant exposure to this type of music.
     Another album gets dumped into my "Devin Townsend--try again later" pile.  

1. Truth (4:47) 
2. Stormbending (5:22) 
3. Failure (6:02) 
4. Secret Sciences (7:28) 
5. Higher (9:40) 
6. Stars (4:18) 
7. Transcendence (5:55) 
8. Offer Your Light (3:58) 
9. From The Heart (8:23) 
10. Transdermal Celebration (8:26) 

VOTUM :Ktonik:

Good, solid heavy prog music but nothing moving the band into new or innovative territory.

HAKEN Affinity

The drums sound and are mixed horribly! Are they real or computerized?!?!?


Another quality offering from these symphonic prog rockers from Cuba.

LAZULI Nos âmes saoules

Sorely disappointing for its one-dimensionality.

1. Le Temps Est A La Rage (7:00)
2. Le Lierre (5:54)
3. Vita Est Circus (5:23)
4. (Fanfare Lente) (1:01)
5. Chaussures A Nos Pieds (5:55)
6. Le Mar Du Passe (4:17)
7. (Le Labour D’un Surin) (1:19)
8. Les Sutures (6:08)
9. Nos Ames Saoules (5:12)
10. (Un Oeil Jete Par La Fenetre) (2:04)

MOTORPSYCHO Here Be Monsters

The Norwegian prog chameleons are back with another contribution to the psychedelic rock form that they've been working within for the past several albums.

01 Sleepwalking (0:57)
02 Lacuna/Sunrise (9:46) (18.25/20)
03 Running With Scissors (5:39)
04 I. M. S. (7:05)
05 Spin, Spin, Spin (4:07)
06 Sleepwalking (0:56)
07 Big Black Dog (17:42) Great song on an otherwise unimpressive (backwards moving) album. (31/35)

B/Four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you love jamming to those long, soothing psychedelic grooves.


Kosmische electronic keyboard wizard Dirk Jan Müller is back with his third solo offering, this one of his now-usual format: as a double album of four instrumental epics, this time very much of the Berlin School form.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Dirk Jan Müller / composer, performer (analogue modular synths, Elka, Solina, Arp Odyssey, Farfisa Compact, Mellotron, clavinet, Rhodes) & producer

1. "Ground Control" (16:05) (26/30)
2. "Crumbling Darkness" (16:41) (25/30)
3. "Keep Us In Space" (18:44) (34/40)
4. "Monochrome Ritual" (19:26) the best song on the album for the emotional spacescape it creates. Classic TD at its very best. (36/40) 

Total time: 70:56

If you like classic Berlin School electronic music, just as it used to sound, you'll like this.

86.43 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; a solid contribution of very pleasant Berlin School prog electronic music.


I must admit that I like the new musical direction (and sound quality) of Nine Stones Close despite my dislike of the sound and stylings of the new vocalist, Adrian 'Aio' O'Shaughnessy. I am quite attached and loyal to their previous effort, 2012's One Eye on the Sunrise, and the vocalist there, MARC ATKINSON (RIVERSEA). Guitarist-composer Adrian Jones continues to grow, to not get too stuck in any one style or sound, which serves the band well. I just miss the smooth, awesome voice of Marc Atkinson.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Adrian 'Aio' O'Shaughnessy / vocals 
- Adrian Jones / guitars, guitar synth, composer, co-producer
- Christiaan Bruin / keyboards
- Peter Groen / bass, Chapman stick 
- Pieter van Hoorn / drums, percussion
- Ruben van Kruistrum / cello
- Annelise Rijk / violin
- Bas Immerzeel / rhythm guitar (5) 

1. "Complicated" (5:00) heavy rock from the 1970s/80s. (8/10)
2. "Goldfish" (12:47) impressive sound and musicianship on an underwhelming song. (20/25) 
3. "Lie" (9:58) Ozzie Van Halen. (16/20)
4. "Spoils" (16:35) long intro and then full on Metal before trying some Led Zeppelin. (25/30)
5. "Leaves" (13:45) pretentious psychedelic blues rock that never amounts to anything. (20/30)

Total time 58:05

The band has definitely turned back to express it's 1970s and 1980s rock loyalties. I hear more Blue Öyster Cult, Ozzie Osborne, Van Halen, and Iron Maiden than anything from the Genesis or other classic prog band sounds.

75.65 on the Fishscales = D+/2.5 stars; for collectors and completionists only. 

ZANOV Open Worlds

French electronica artist Pierre Zalkazanov is staging a comeback with two albums in the last three years after an absence of 30 years. Though hailed as "the French answer to the legendary Berlin Kosmische scene" I find his slowed down scaled down soundscapes to be more akin to the spacey, melody-oriented music of 1970s-to-Blade Runner-era VANGELIS and even Oxygène-era JEAN-MICHEL JARRE. The themes, melodies and layers feel almost too simple, syrupy, and slow. It's almost New Age massage/meditation music! I feel that Zanov's music here lacks originality and freshness.

Favorite song:  2. "Next Trip" (5:30) (9/10)

Good songs: 5. "Robot Valley" (4:17) (8/10); "Remote Impact" (6:03) (8/10)

1. Electric Dust Field (4:10) (7/10)
2. Next Trip (5:30) (9/10)
3. Magical Area (5:53) (7/10)
4. Strange World (6:49) (6/10)
5. Robot Valley (4:17) (8/10)
6. Signal From Diamond Desert (4:17) (7/10)
7. Vital Obscurity (4:27) (7/10)
8. Last Secret Time (4:35) (6/10)
9. Remote Impact (6:03) (8/10)

73.33 on the Fishscales = a solid three star album; good but not exceptional.

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