Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Top Albums from the Year 2022: The Near-Masterpieces

Somewhere beneath the level of timeless masterpiece status lies a group of albums whose quality and merit deserve categorization of something like "near-masterpiece." These are albums that have either achieved a Fishermetric score of between 90.0 and 87.0 or whose high points or quality level make it remarkable enough to remain affixed in my memory.

From the Year 2022, you will find below 32 albums releases deserving, in my opinion, of the "near-masterpiece" designation.  

 The Near-Masterpieces:

(Ratings of 90.0 to 87.50)


Veteran Swiss musician Roland Bühlmann is flying high with a little support--and in his own made-up language! Another example of how much a solo artist can accomplish with a guitar and a computer with Logic software!

Line-up / Musicians:
- Roland Bühlmann / electric guitar, bass, Aeon Sustainer, synthesizers, voice, branches, cooking pots, oil tank, udu
- Terl Bryant / drums
- Luca Calabrese / trumpet
- David Cross / violin
- Ondřej Glogar / carnyx
- Angelo Lebrato / acoustic guitar

1. "Umiion" (7:36) a little more aggressive of a start than I was expecting but then after the little space synth break 1:30 to 1:50, it all becomes a bit more smooth and streamlined (despite it's pulsing 4/4 rhythm pacing). Guitar play and sound foundation keep morphing and trading the spotlight. (It's actually a bit confusing: I'm not quite sure what song I'm in or if I've been switched to a different song track.) Spacey, rockin', jazzy, metallic, the song is so chameleonic! (And, honestly, I'm not sure it works.) Plus, the drumming, as nice as it is, is recorded with a very strange bias toward the middle ranges (I would guess that this is compression.) Despite the nice instrumental performances (especially bass) and nice space scapes, this song is just a bit too disjointed to make me a fan. (13/15)

2. "Assailen" (9:22) a little bass-led space funk. I hear not only Robert Fripp in the guitar leads but John McLaughlin. Nice multiple guitar interplay in the third minute. (18/20)

3. "Sevamção" (5:58) Melodic South American chord play over Latin rhythms beneath Roland's melodic leads and, later, Luca Calabrese's trumpet. Gentle on the ears. Nice! (8.75/10)

4. "Rithnál" (10:45) a grittier guitar sound to start, which then backs off for some nice gentle chord play with synth and bass doing some independent stuff. In the second minute Roland launches a sneak attack of Fripp-like sustained noteplay before it gets heavy again and Roland starts screaming like he was channelling Allan Holdsworth. At times the rhythm track feels as if its channelling Henri Mancini's "Peter Gunn" (not the drums, however). The sudden drop off at the nine-minute mark is surprising but allows a kind of reset for Roland's Fripp and Angelo Lebrato's acoustic guitar to trade solos. Some great surprises in dynamic and stylistic shifts coupled with some blazing soloing does note, however, make a masterpiece. It's almost too weirdly constructed to make sense. Still, impressive "impersonations." (17.5/20)

5. "Yndrun" (9:50) tension-filled atmospheric soundtrack-like music that definitely presents a MARK ISHAM vibe. Even the bass-solo second section conveys that ISHAM feel and sound. The really "good stuff" doesn't really begin until the five minute mark when the DAVID SYLVIAN-sounding section begins (with its imitative ROBERT FRIPP solo work included). It sure feels nice to be revisiting this Gone to Earth sound. Gamelan tuned percussives, equally Minimalist rhythm guitar, jungle noises, and synths create a perfect scene for Luca Calabrese's ISHAM-like trumpet play. Nice tribute! (17.75/20)

6. "Letarladoth" (7:15) early JANE SIBERRY meditative minimalistic soundscape created by interweaving arpeggiated chords from keys and guitars are soon joined by raunchy bass chords and (more) lap steel guitar (up front) in another cinematic musicscape--one that could come from Mark Isham's never Cry Wolf soundtrack. Love the microtonal guitar flourishes in the sixth minute but not the stylistic shift that occurs at the six-minute mark--here seeking some kind of island vibe. (13.25/15)

7. "Berithlan" (7:29) multiple industrial sounds programmed in repetition in order to provide a baseline rhythm track are soon joined by some floating guitar strums and center bass before lead FRIPP guitar enters to take the lead. The industrial foundation continues through shifts in the spotlight to acoustic guitars (both Roland and Angelo Lebrato, I assume). At the end of the fourth minute, nearly everybody clears out to make way for some more of Roland's Frippery. Interesting soundscape here (though the lead guitar work is not nearly as impressive--not nearly on the Jeff Beck chart of masterful touch talent). At the end of the sixth minute a couple repetitions of a bass riff takes us back to the acoustic guitar-laden industrial scape we heard before--where Angelo gets some solo time--before Roland's Frippertronics soars and takes us to the end. (13.25/15)

8. "Emnalóc (12:22) a gentle weave of multiple instruments all arpeggiating within a somewhat narrow octaval range is expanded dramatically with some full low end bass play at 0:50 (as well as some "distant" keyboard arpeggios at the high end). It's pretty and rife for some jazz solo artist to fulfill the promise herein--which is soon fulfilled by Luca Calabrese's sensuous trumpet. Wonderful stuff! At the three-minute mark there is a stutter step to kind of reset into more bass-centric version of the same smooth support--followed by some soloing by two different electric guitars: one more Marc Knopfler and the other more Paul Speer-like. Then Luca returns. He is the man! Wow! Are these some smooth, seductive blows! Freddy Hubbard would be proud! (and Kenny Wheeler) During Luca's soloing in the seventh minute the levels of all of the background "world noise" slowly increase. A very cool, almost Blade Runner effect.  Enter some soulful Robert Fripp riffs, then another stutter-stop reset to let us catch our breath before the walls of "external noise" begin to collapse in on us again: it's like trying to create music inside a thirds tory apartment in some large Middle Eastern city. The Paul Speer/Robert Fripp guitar rejoins and then there is one final full-stop break at 11:20 after which everybody re-engages in a weave of polyrhythmic display to the song's finish. Impressive. Definitely my favorite song on the album. (23.5/25)

Total Time 70:37

So much wonderful music here--a lot of which conjures up many favorite songs and sounds of the 1980s. More than a talented guitarist, Roland is a very talented song-creator. His realizations of computer-generated textures and soundscapes are stunning. While his style of "paying tribute" to past heroes and/or textures is admirable, I really was hoping to hear more originality. At the same time, Roland's finished songs and solo work definitely provide a wonderful journey through some odd and unexpected soundscapes. Bravo!

90.0 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of J-R Fusion-tinged progressive rock music and a wonderful addition to any prog lover's music collection. 


The Australian psychedelic jam band whose mission, as they seem to have taken upon themselves, is to spread joy and cheer across the globe has graced us with five studio albums in 2022. Thank the Universe for King Giz! Long live the King!

Line-up / Musicians:
- Stu Mackenzie / vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, synthesizer (1), bass (2), flute (2)
- Ambrose Kenny-Smith / keyboards, percussion, vocals, harmonica (1)
- Michael Cavanagh / drums & percussion
- Cook Craig / guitar, bass (1)
- Joey Walker / guitar, bass, synthesizer
- Lucas Harwood / keyboards (1)

1. "The Land Before Timeland" (15:00) a jam that sounds like Daevid Allen & Company playing over the CAN rhythm section contains a bit too simplified, drawn out themes and riffs for my enjoyment. In fact, I find the presence of the harmonica and high-pitched rhythm guitar chords actually annoy me. It's not until the final synth-drenched two minutes of RADIOHEAD-like sound that I find myself interested and engaged. (25/30)

2. "Hypertension" (15:00) from the beginning this one is very different from the album's opener: with a very Afro-pop rhythmic base (deep bass, syncopated drumming, rhythm and lead guitars going idiosyncratically at the same time), in short, there's just a lot wider range of information coming into the listener throughout every bar of this song than the previous nearly-one-dimensional song. The lead guitar solo in the fourth minute threatens to drive the song into monotony but then he spreads his wings and the rest of the band is then able to return to their funkier explorations within the wide parameters allowed by the original groove. We return to the choral-vocal at the 5-minute mark while the band temporarily pulls back, leaving a more spacious soundscape over which the singers can have our fullest attention, but, by the end of the sixth minute, we're back to the multiple tracks of individuality noodling their way around in their happy-go-lucky way while creating a fairly perfect weave. In the eighth minute everybody finds themselves synching up in a fairly "stuck" pattern for a bit--which gives perspective to the individuals' relative freedom the rest of the song. Though the drums have become fairly metronomic by the end of the eighth minute, the basses continue to fly around their fretboards with relative ease and freedom, which is nice, while everybody else seems to have fun picking up any and every sound and instrument they whimsically desire to try. The eleventh minute feels similar to some recent MOTORPSYCHO guitar-centric jams while the joyfulness of the second half of the twelfth reminds me of something PARLIAMENT or CAMEO might have done and the thirteenth has some Edge-y U2-ishness, while the fourteenth seems to go the way of XTC and SEVEN IMPALE before coming back to the flute and choral vocals for the end. So much fun and exuberance! A early flawless epic jam. (29.5/30)

Total Time 30:00

90.83 on the Fishscales = A-/4.5 stars; two excellent prog jams that, together, don't quite account for a full album of music; rated down for brevity.


Keyboard texturist and compositional genius Alessendro Di Benedetti--of MAD CRAYON and SAMURAI OF PROG fame--is back with yet another collection of solo songs--this time of songs that have not been offered to/coopted by other bands. Alé's intentions are to just let all of his creative juices flow and be witnessed, sans prog definition or wildly complex constructs or time signatures.   

Line-up / Musicians:
- Alessandro Di Benedetti / all instruments
- Rafael Pacha / guitars (6)

1. "En Trance" (3:20) part BILL EVANS part JONN SERRIE, then turning more sinister before finishing with a 21st Century Ryuichi SAKAMOTO/FENNESZ touch. Beautiful soundtrack music. (9.25/10)

2. "The Machinery" (10:44) VANGELIS Fender Rhodes but then female fretless bass, vocalise, and odd percussive noises join in before everything turns modern downtempo/trip hop in the fifth minute. Like the Blade Runner soundtrack, there is quite a beautiful though unsettling mood being set here. The bass play gets quite exciting in the final third. Nice journey. Thanks, Alessandro. (18.25/20)

3. "Brain Sausage" (4:16) eerie "radio" noises open this one before a smooth jazz keyboard foundation is laid out with bass, rim shots & hi-hat, bass, and keys matching pace and melody in a jazzy weave. Then, at the end of the second minute there is a "reset" pause before all instruments settle into a more cohesive background landscape to support the airy female vocalise and quiet electric piano tinkling. Nice. (9/10)

4. "Gymnoectomie" (6:29) For the first minute, this sounds like a Satie piece turned sideways and inside out. Then, at 1:15, there is a barrage of industrial sounds woven together, preceding a racing track. Not what one would expect (but perhaps exactly what Eric Satie would have done with 21st Cent. technology). The cello and Irene Pappas-like alto female vocalise are wonderful. (9/10)

5. "Le Docteur" (4:13) opening with some Robin Guthrie-like guitar-based textures, a rhythm section and Vangelis-like Fender Rhodes play join in and establish a slowed down French film soundtrack. The interlude in the middle sounds like something from a creepy Danny Elfman soundtrack. The fullness of the final 45 seconds sounds a bit like some slowed down Tangerine Dream. (8.75/10)

6. "Cavie" (6:22) more odd combinations of sounds open this one before steady drums, spacious piano chords and muted rhythm guitar strumming support a nice fretless bass display. Drums and guitar shift into stronger dynamics before an empty Fender Rhodes solo in the third minute spaces everything out. When everybody rejoins its now an electric guitar who commands the lead, not the fretless bass. Fullness is achieved around 3:45, but it's not quite as satisfying as the stuff that came before. (I prefer Alessandro's fretless bass to guest Rafael Pacha's guitar.) The final 1:15 moves back into eery and spacious motifs. I really liked the drum work on this one! (8.5/10)

7. "Special Waste" (10:03) very nuanced, often exciting, multi-dimensional soundtrack music. Sometimes its relaxing, pleasing, soothing, sometimes its smooth STEELY DAN-like and other times it slides into the tension of the suspense/horror genre. (17.75/20)

8. "L'Assistant" (2:52) weird noises open this one before Son of Vangelis, master of l'orchestre faux, takes over. (5/5)

9. "The Plague" (3:57) perhaps Alessandro's music has a little influence coming from the Ghost in the Machine-era Police as that's what the drums, subtle keyboard and guitar textures of this song feel like to me. Then there feels like a little nod to either Peter Gabriel, Dead Can Dance, or Enigma. (8.5/10)

10. "Ex It" (2:43) slightly out of tune and treated piano solo played in a kind of LYLE MAYS/PAT METHENY way. (Think "In Her Family".) Gorgeous. (5/5)

Total Time 54:59

This all would make outstanding (and memorable) soundtrack music--especially for more cerebral or mysterious/eerie content. Alessandro definitely makes music that his more enjoyable/pleasurable to listen to than 98% of the other artists I hear out there.

90.0 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a minor masterpiece of proggy instrumental soundtrack music.

BEN CRAVEN Monsters from the Id

A one man band made this?!! Wish he had trusted someone from the outside to give him some constructive criticism with regards to sound engineering and final mix.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Ben Craven / performer

- Side 1:
1. "Die Before You Wake" (19:32) solid construct (in 7/8--all 20 minutes!) with rich sound and great melodies and singing. The sound production, however, suffers from muddiness and a few uneven levels--and maybe some clarity and use of some odd effects. Very nice performances on all instruments and tracks (though nothing extraordinary much less jaw dropping). As catchy as that main melody and construct is, it really shouldn't go on for nearly 20 minutes. Sounds like something that Tony Patterson & Brendan Eyre might have done (Nine Stones Close). Also, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra comparisons are not unwarranted--more for sound palette than pace and tech-metal twists and turns. (36.5/40):
- a. Sleeping Spectre (2:19)
- b. Ancient Majesty (1:31)
- c. Die Before You Wake Part 1 (3:03)
- d. Warming Glow (3:55)
- e. Wicked Delights (2:40)
- f. Die Before You Wake Part 2 (2:01)
- g. Endless Night (4:03)

- Side 2:
2. "Amnis Flows Aeternum" (19:11) Unfortunately, much of this song sounds the same as the previous one; in my mind I literally cannot distinguish between the two: the music, melody, and singing from the previous one--as if it's a continuation or repeat. (There may be too many similarities to Hans Zimmer's Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks for me, mate!) Still a fine song, with lots of engaging elements, melodies, and sonic candy. (35/40):
- a. Amnis Flows Aeternum Part 1 (1:11)
- b. Guiding Voice Part 1 (2:39)
- c. Sound and Light (1:20)
- d. Guiding Voice Part 2 (1:06)
- e. Royal Rewards Part 1 (1:09)
- f. Blessed Stream Part 1 (0:58)
- g. Amnis Flows Aeternum Part 2 (2:26)
- h. Earthly Dues (2:47)
- i. Amnis Flows Aeternum Part 3 (3:04)
- j. Blessed Stream Part 2 (0:51)
- k. Royal Rewards Part 2 (1:02)
- l. Guiding Voice Part 3 (0:38)

Total Time 38:43 

It's a fine effort of solid, sophisticated, and melodic progressive rock, albeit NeoProg. Lush Yes-like soundscapes and instrumental choices with solid bass and quite good vocals, the sound engineering/mixing could have used some objective input. Nowhere near as sophisticated, virtuosic, or polished as the "classic era" masterpieces. If the sounds and styles weren't so dependent on (even directly copying) previous masers, I might be more generous with my final rating of this one--it is great music with serious compositional intention (I've watched all of his videos on YouTube regarding the making of this album, so I appreciate the effort and reasons for his constructs). Then there are my dissatisfaction with the sound engineering. As I said  above, I wish Ben had had a few more critiques/inputs to help him create the best product for the public.

89.375 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music. I'll have to sit with it a bit longer before I decide whether or not it has the staying power to be elevated to "minor masterpiece" status. 

12/6/22 amendment: The first epic is better, more memorable than the weaker second. Adjustments have been made.


An artist and band from Sweden that I'd not heard of before this album, I am very happy to have been given this opportunity. Quite the collection of diverse and polished songs.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Jonas Lindberg / bass, guitars, keyboards, lead & backing vocals
- Jonas Sundqvist / lead vocals
- Jenny Storm / lead & backing vocals
- Calle Stålenbring / guitars
- Nicklas Thelin / guitars
- Jonathan Lundberg / drums
- Maria Olsson / percussion
- Simon Wilhelmsson / drums (2,4)
- Joel Lindberg / lead guitar (6)
- Roine Stolt / lead guitar (7 part v.)

1. "Secret Motive Man" (7:26) simple, straightforward prog rock with STYX-like vocal harmonies and occasional switch between classic rock 70s melody lines and those of Celtic traditions. The lead vocalist is laid back and confident, delivering a smooth if slightly lackluster PETER CETERA-like performance. Nice rock guitar solo in the final minute but, otherwise, no real surprises or deviations from the drive to the horizon--despite the admirably tight, polished performances. Sounds just a bit too "classic rock" for my interests. (13/15)

2. "Little Man" (5:49) acoustic guitars and 1970s sound with different vocalist giving this a bit of a STEPHEN STILLS/Southern Rock (early EAGLES or early DOOBIE BROTHERS) feel. Very catchy melodic earworms and soothing background vocals in the chorus. The hard-rockin' electric guitar solo feels a little out of place or excessive, otherwise, this is a nice, laid back, and utterly beautiful song. I especially love the prominence of the mandolin. A top three song for me. (9.25/10)

3. "Summer Queen" (15:52) a long (2:15), spacey electronic intro precedes a folky start to the main body with female vocalist in the lead (Jenny Storm). Rhythm tracks give this again a more country acoustic rock feel over which Ms. Storm's excellent voice flits and flies with avian ease. In the sixth minutes guitar power chords and more concise riffs announce a harder, proggier passage--which is soon confirmed with the arrival of more aggressive male vocalist. Ms. Storm rejoins for the choruses of this section--as does searing guitar solo in the eighth minute. Something quite 1980s about this section (Wall-era Pink Floyd). The ninth minute sees a TFK-like power coda bring this section to a close, to be replaced by tuned percussion arpeggi, fretless bass, and soloing acoustic guitar for a bit before all congeals to return us to the third section of driving country-rock over which multiple guitars take turns soloing with great flair and efficiency. At 11:35 we find ourselves back in the second section with the crystalline voice of Ms. Storm again regaling our ears. At the thirteen-minute mark we transition back into the more-TFK-like prog palette in which an awesome synth-and-guitar duet pair up to deliver the final melody line in a slowed down passage ending with some solo piano arpeggio play. Awesome finish to a great song. A top three song. (28/30)

4. "Oceans of Time" (11:37) opens with a solo keyboard phrasing the foundational folk melody over which the rest of the band takes its turns announcing their presence and styles. When things settle down into a sparsely decorated standard swing beat a male singer with an AMBROSIA/PETER CETERA-like voice joins in to get things moving. Pleasant 1970s-sounding classic rock follows with the folk-lines reappearing every once in a while just to remind us of the underlying ocean theme. In the fifth minute, everybody steps back, clears the floor, settling into support roles so that various instruments can show off. Hammond organ, synth, pitch-bending lead guitar, it's so TFK/YES like! So well executed! Female vocalist takes us out of the section despite the continued bombast of the guitars' power chords, she singing with a force, and then the band surprises with a transition into a BANCO-like theme over which multiple auto-tuned male vocals alternate with Ms. Storm in developing this more-folk oriented section. Sounds a lot like GLASS HAMMER. Very well-developed composition with some great melodic and instrumental hooks. (18/20)

5. "Astral Journey" (5:50) acoustic guitars picking and strumming for the first 45 seconds while other instruments introduce their sound and stylistic choices. Again, there is a very pleasant pastoral folk feel to much of this--though with a Scandinavian bent (percussion). At the end of the second minute the full rock palette is presented followed by a twangy lead guitar taking the fore, driving the melody along in kind of ATLANTA RHYTHM SECTION way. Nice instrumental. (8.75/10)

6. "Why I'm Here" (4:26) even more Southern Rock oriented than any of the previous themes! With definite pop sensibilities in the vocal delivery (reminding me of both FREDDEGREDDE, OWLS, and AMBROSIA). Pleasant, memorable, but perhaps a little more simplistic and poppy than I was expecting. Very cool percussive passage in the middle of the third and fourth minutes (especially the organ) as vocal samples are played within the weave. (8.5/10)

7. "Miles from Nowhere" (25:33) (44/50):
- i. Overture (6:54) - theatric opening allowing for slow, isolated presentation of several themes--from organ, synth, and twinned guitars. Develops as if taking us on a road trip through the country. Very symphonic and proggy throughout though, surprisingly, all instrumental. Very complete and sophisticated. (13/15)
- ii. Don't Walk Away (4:17) - fully vocal-centric, built over strumming acoustic guitars and standard piano-rock structure. Pleasant but nothing exceptional; melodies and instrumental performances are all pretty standard 1970s rock. (8.25/10)
- iii. I Don't Know Where You Are (4:39) - jumping off from the previous section into a full-speed Southern Rock jam before Oceans of Time male vocal surprises us. Nice full chorus of vocalists in support role for the chorus. Dynamic synth and guitar soli in the third minute. Definitely engaging and impressive. Nice drumming. (8.75/10)
- iv. Memories (3:00) - acoustic guitar  supporting the poppier OWLS-like male voice with appearances of synth-flutes for embellishment. Nice vocal ramp up for the chorus at 1:30--where the fretless bass and delicate b vox of Jenny Storm are most noticeable/effective. (4.5/5)
- v. Miles from Nowhere (6:42) - a masterful conclusion/wrap up of a symphonic piece of music, incorporating and augmenting all of the many main themes with powerful chord progressions and the strongest male vocal performance of the album. Quite JOURNEY-like in its power and directness. My final top three "song." (9.5/10)

Total Time 76:33

I have to admit to my surprise at two particular elements of this band's music: 1) the compositional maturity herein, and 2) the frequent underlying predominance of what we in America call a country or Southern Rock sound. Also, the competency of not one, not two, but three lead vocalists is quite impressive. Jonas has certainly mastered the ROINE STOLT/The Flower Kings School of Symphonic Prog Rock.

89.31 on the Fishscales = A-/4.5 stars; rated up for sonic clarity, compositional mastery, and consistently high performance standards.


Excellent instrumental Post Rock from this New Jersey-based band.

Line-up / Musicians:
Matt Stober - electric guitar, vibraphone, glockenspiel, acoustic guitar, piano
Ben Coniguliaro - drums, percussion
Quinn Coniguliaro - bass, fretless bass
Alex Verbickas - electric guitar
Peter Kim - cello

1. "Spires" (4:41) because of the prominence of the tuned percussion, I find this quite reminiscent of the Post Rock done by Chicago-based band ALGERNON. The song has quite a lively, upbeat mood to it, which is quite nice for the Post Rock sub-genre. (8.875/10)

2. "Tower" (4:03) more reminiscent of another Chicago-based Post Rock band, MONOBODY, but then shifts into ANATHEMA territory with its guitar melody in the transitional bridge to the more CASPIAN-like body of the song. I like this more upbeat, optimistic strain in Post Rock. Then it just kind of stops, ends without any resolution, warning, or fanfare. Odd. (8.75/10)

3. "Belfry" (5:28) a more math-rock "Discipline"-like weave to open things up into a more Texas-twang sounding Post Rock. (8.667/10)

4. "Pinnacles" (4:53) a refreshingly unusual palette of instrumental sounds leads into another more Math Rock weave but that's just the first first 90 seconds of the song. Things start to morph and shift after that to make things very interesting. The drums, in particular are quite animated and remarkable, as are the bass and vibraphone contributions, but it's those guitars that really get me. Great tune! (9/10)

5. "Steeple" (6:42) gorgeous music from an odd effected chamber/orchestra ensemble … until 2:29, that is. Then the music becomes more Post Rock-sounding--though retaining its pretty semi-jazzy chord progressions. The work of the vibraphone and guitars are especially striking--really sucking me into their work. Great quirky bridge repetitions in the end of the sixth minute lead into the spacey reverse tape ending. Excellent song! (9.33/10)

6. "Obelisk" (8:34) opens with a spacey Nature soundscape with glockenspiel and synths over which guitar, vibraphone, bass, and deep synth-bass-cussion plays. Very TORTOISE-like. Bass, drums, and guitars (two) really shine in the mid-section. (18.25/20)

7. "Finial" (11:01) pretty standard, un-developing Post Rock with lots of subtleties but very few dramatic shifts or changes--one in the sixth minute and one around 8:30 (the song's best section). (Weird searing electric guitar solo at the very end, just as the song is starting to fade out.) (17.50/20)

It's been a minute since I've heard anything new in the Post Rock world that interested me and invited me to stay. Matt, Ben, Quinn, Alex, and Peter: Congratulations! You've really brought something new to the sub-genre--a phenomenon that seems to be growing increasingly less likely. 

89.31 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of jazzy Post Rock music--an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. 

OHMA Between All Things

Beautiful experimental ambient psychedelic jazz as composed and performed by Hailey Niswanger and Mia Garcia.

Line-up / Musicians:
Hailey Niswanger,
Mia Garcia,
 and Pete Min
Benny Bock on Oberheim - “In Essence”
Abe Rounds on drums - “Between All Things” and “A Portal To All That Is”

1. "Seeing Beyond What Is Here" (3:20) heavily-effected plucked and muted bass guitar arpeggia are joined by wafting female voice swoons, intermittent percussives, flutes and synths to form an odd kind of "muted jazz" ambient music. (8.875/10)

2. "Worlds Within Worlds" (3:27) is actually quite reminiscent of the music Jan Akkerman and Hubert Laws were doing around 1977-78. (8.75/10)

3. "Between All Things" (5:18) the opening of this reminds me of Richard Barbieri's collaborations with Steve Hogarth in 2012 (with a little bit of KOOP mixed in and pop jazz ensemble SPIRO GYRA)--but then it develops into something quite lovely with the addition of angelic female voices singing wordlessly in the background; it's more like the music that Richard Wileman was achieving in the 2010s as KARDA ESTRA was evolving into Burt Bacharach-like territories. (9.25/10)

4. "We Are" (3:28) with the sliding deep bass notes, spacious Fender Rhodes reverberating chord play and female choir banked vocalise, this one comes across as a --that is until the electric jazz guitar takes over at 1:08. Return the Rhodes, a few bursts of gentle saxophone energy and the guitar and flutes have a very nice 1970s jazz soundscape over which to solo. Quite reminiscent of KOOL & THE GANG's amazing genre-changing instrumental from their 1974 album release, Light of Worlds, "Summer Madness." Cool song. (9/10)

5. "In Essence" (4:46) more of an experimental acid jazz piece with Gamelan components; the rhythm track is so cool with the muted and treated drums, steel drums, and open bass sounds, all the while a cornucopia of ethereal vocalise and jazz winds flit and fly around the top of the atmosphere. Love the ANTONIO CARLOS JOABIM elements deep in the music. Sublime! (9/10)

6. "Organically Unfolding" (4:05) mostly a jazzy piano improvisation. Airy flutes and saxes join in later. Like a mix of SUZANNE CIANI and JONI MITCHELL. (8.5/10) 

7. "Everything & Nothing" (4:06) more loose and improvisational, the first half of this one reminds me of some of the experimental free jazz that was being created in the 1970s by the likes of EUMIR DEODATO and HUBERT LAWS. But then breathy vocalise enters with guitar and things transition into a nice little JIMMY WEBB-sounding chord progression. The second half is my favorite motif/music on the album. (9.25/10)

8. "A Portal to All That Is" (2:50) horn-banked chord progression with muted jungle rhythms over which effected steel drums, flutes, and delicate solo electric guitar are contributed. Great feel and progression. (4.75/5)

9. "A Primordial Dance" (2:26) the opening of this feels like a modern variation on John COLTRANE's "Love Supreme" intro. Heck! Even the second part of the song has the same feel as 'trane's song. Very cool! (4.5/5)

10. "And So It Is" (2:03) heavily-treated Harold BUDD-like piano chord progression over which keyboard synth sounds (and more piano) tinkle and sparkle away. (4.5/5)

11. "Upon Arrival" (4:02) more heavily-treated piano present yet another Harold Budd/Brian ENO-like soundscape. The faster chord progressions at the beginning of the second minute denote a shift--bridge to a guitar, bass, A bit of a disappointing end to a wonderful listening experience. (8.33/10)

89.16 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive ambient Jazz-Rock Fusion and an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

GRICE Polarchoral

Mysterious British multi-instrumentalist enlists the help of some mighty friends to produce this, his fifth studio album release since 2011. An eclectic if MARK HOLLIS/PORCUPINE TREE/NO-MAN-like collection of songs. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Grice / guitars, synths, keyboards, bass, vocals
- Robert Brian / drums
- Al Swainger / bass, double bass, French horn
- Luca Calabrese / trumpet, flugelhorn
- Alan Burton / uilleann pipes
- Suzanne Barbieri / vocals
- BJ Cole / pedal steel guitar
- Jack Lawrence / autoharp
- Eliza Carew / cello
- Steve Bingham / violin
- Richard Barbieri / synths & sonic pulse (6)
- Hossam Ramzy / tabla, doholla, mazha, triangle
- Steve Jansen / ghost pads, bells, Lazurite sonics (10)
- Duncan Chave / programming

1. "Involution" (7:35) No-Man/Tim Bowness with some great atmospheric sound similar to the great David Sylvian/Steve Jansen soundscapes. Great atmosphere, great drumming, great Steven Wilson-like vocal flourishes. A top three song. (14/15)

2. "Damage Done" (5:08) the heavier side of Grice--which makes this song a particular standout on this very Mark Hollis-like album. Another top three songs. (9/10)

3. "Winter" (7:16) a David Sylvian Secrets of the Beehive-era / Jessie Colin Young song w/CSN vocal harmonies. (13.5/15)

4. "Without Her" (4:54) sounds like a Paul McCartney vocal and song. Even the quirky, insipid and nonsensical lyrics and nearly upbeat melody lines are quite McCartney-like. (8.25/10)

5. "Saviour" (5:52) a fairly straightforward pop song in the style of some of Britain's 1980s masters. I just wish I heard lyrics, otherwise, this is nothing very special. (8.5/10)

6. "Alarm Bells" (10:26) feels quite a bit like a Mark Hollis song--early Post Rock Talk Talk as well as final solo career. The drumming, spacious soundscape, and Mark Isham/Kenny Wheeler-like trumpet play are the highlights for me despite the nice vocal performance. I'm rather doubtful of the necessity for this song to go on for ten minutes, though. (18/20)

7. "Band of Brothers" (5:09) despite Grice's Mark Hollis performance here this is the song that really reveals his mastery at borrowing riffs, sounds, chord progressions, etc. from a broad spectrum of artists and hit records from the distant past. So many stolen artifices! (8.5/10)

8. "Legend" (5:32) a very nice song that is again highlighted by the wonderful trumpet play, synth washes, and vocal performance (of some more sadly insipid lyrics). (8.75/10)

9. "Polarchoral" (14:05) one of the proggiest songs on the album despite its rather constant pace, chord progression, and jam style; the performances by all of the thickly populated weave's contributors is wonderful, start to finish, though I will single out the drummer, Robert Brian, Indian percussionist, Hossam Ramzy,  bass player (Al Swainger), drone Hammond (Grice), and guitarists (pedal steel), and vocalists (Suzanne Barbieri on background vocals). It's just a great weave--very simple and cohesive for the first five minutes--until the vocalists sing their initial dreamy lyrics. After that each and every instrumentalist gets some solo time as the weave becomes more animated and undulating. My favorite song on the album and final top three. (28/30)

10. "Lapis Lazuli" (4:09) another atmospheric David Sylvian/Tim Bowness-like near-ambient song. (8.5/10)

11. "Saviour (single)" (4:18) didn't really think much of this one in its "uncut" album version; this is no better. (8.5/10)

Total Time 74:24

89.0 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of atmospheric progressive rock music.


A band that I discovered because of Methexis' Nikitas Kissonas' participation on their first three albums has now evolved under the maturing and intrepid stylized vision of the creative force that is founder Jargon Kosmidis. Many of you might remember Jargon's impressive and highly-acclaimed 2020 solo release, The Fading Thought. Fans of theatric prog combining the sounds and styles of QUEEN, MEAT LOAF, and PETER HAMMILL will definitely enjoy this.

Line-up / Musicians:
- John 'Jargon' Kosmidis / vocals, keyboards, piano, composer, production & mixing
- George 'K' Kyriakidis / guitars
- Nikolas Nikolopoulos / flute, saxophone, Mellotron
- George 'La Trappe' Pagidas / bass
- Stelios 'Primordial' Pavlou / drums

1. "Falling" (2:50) heavy and theatric in a bombastic PETER HAMMILL way. Very impressive. (9/10)

2. "In Pieces (4:59) opens like the opening of EMINEM's "Lose Yourself" before changing chords and turning into a BEATLE's like collaboration with Brian Wilson or the boys from the Bay City Rollers, Pilot, and early ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, finishing with a choir-led bombast that is much more like this latter reference than the former. (8.667/10)

3. "Intruders" (5:30) feels like a 21st Century realization of a Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) collaboration with MEAT LOAF's Jim Steinman (especially in the second half). The "I don't exist" part, of course, is more reminiscent of M. HAMMILL, but, it's but a brief leitmotif. Interesting. (8.667/10)

4. "The Children of Water" (5:42) a truly virtuosic vocal performance from Jargon--on the theatric and emotional level of the work of That Joe Payne. Amazing! Too bad for the rather generic chorus. (8.75/10)

5. "Conundrum" (6:32) a klezmer-styled instrumental conveying a cabaret-like music in which the instrumentalists are given full license to express themselves as fully and virtuosically as M. Jargon himself. What results is, to my ears, a kind of interesting and impressive blend of ELP, Symphony X, and Mr. Bungle. Impressive! (9/10)

6. "The Watcher" (9:03) Wow! This one sounds so much like a MATTHEW PARMENTER (Discipline) piece! Down to the keys and definitely in the vocal performance (and recording effects), the Discipline-like territory continues to express Jargon's totally au courant biting commentary/critique of the cyber age. Then, at 6:56 everything smooths out for a pretty, dreamy passage with choir- "Ooo's" and "aaah's"It's actually a very pretty song, too! I really like this song a lot--on many levels, from many aspects! (18/20)

7. "Neon Eye Cage" (9:30) opening as a very pretty stage-crafted song (as if he should be on stage in front of a live audience in a Broadway theater). After 90 seconds, the full band bursts into rock format but then a minute later they take a left turn into some kind of Meat Loaf-like territory. (17.667/20)

8. "Fall from Grace" (5:53) Brilliant, this: adjacent to the cyber age commentary song is a song that opens with nature sounds and the sound of children playing outside. This sad song about distance between two people in relationship (and seemingly inevitable breakup) seems perfectly placed to express the consequences of our screen- and self-absorbed world and the challenges it places on interpersonal communication. I'm not sure the instrumental passage in the fourth minute was really necessary--the song was so powerful just in its tragic verbal message--but it's a nice reminder that this is, in fact, a prog album. Definitely a top three song for me. (I am, once again, completely under the spell of Jargon.) (9.25/10)

Total Time 49:59

This is an album of style, theatrics, and vocal performance, not so steeped in complex "proggy" musical constructs as it is in musical creations intended to support and carry forward a vocal idea. Jargon is a very creative and expressive singer-songwriter. 

89.0 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of eclectic and theatric music--definitely an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection!

OAK The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise

Yet another band from Norway churning out quality prog--this more of the atmospheric Goth metal like FIELDS Of THE NEPHILIM, though not quite as heavy, despite the mental health topics (including suicide) permeating all songs on the album.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Simen Valldal Johannessen / vocals, keyboards
- Stephan Hvinden / guitars
- Øystein Sootholtet / bass
- Sigbjørn Reiakvam / drums

1. "Highest Tower, Deepest Well" (5:58) the ehavy Norwegian folk vibe is very present in this--not unlike the stylings of Ivar Bjørnsen and Einar Selvik though not using anachronistic folk instruments.  (8.75/10)

2. "Quiet Rebellion" (4:51) Again the folk metal strains in the foundational sounds and instruments here are too big to ignore, yet the music never ramps up into full metal expression, always remains melodic and atmospheric. A very nicely constructed and restrained song. (9/10)

3. "Dreamless Sleep" (5:37) a hypnotic vocal, rhythm track, steeped in atmospheric synth washes almost lulls one into submission before Simen's treated vocal ramps up for the chorus. A little bit of Mark Hollis in Simen's voice here. Interesting. I like presence of the uncredited saxophone just before the second chorus. (8.75/10)

4. "Sunday 8 AM" (5:55) SYLVAN Posthumous Silence-like in its palette--and power. I LOVE the brilliant use of space and pace over the course of the subtly-piano-based song. The second half conjures up a lot of KEVIN MOORE's CHROMA KEY stuff from 20 years ago. Again: Why aren't the saxophones credited? A definite top three song for me. (9.5/10)

5. "Demagogue Communion" (6:16) the harshest song on the album--but almost in a BROTHER APE or PORCUPINE TREE kind of way: very melodic chord structure and nice spacious and soft sections in which Simen's singing verses (which are very BRUCE COCKBURN like) fill. Some very compelling earworms. A great song--another top three song. (9.75/10)

6. "Paperwings" (13:52) long and rather boring music despite the compelling story/lyrics. Definitely not my favorite prog epic of the year. (24.5/30)

7. "Guest of Honour" (7:03) same drum beat/pattern as the previous song. Nice, sensitive vocal from Simen using nice chordal and melodic patterns. A song that sounds as if it comes from another album--far less proggy than balladic. My final top three song. (13.25/15)

Total Time 49:32

I am a sucker for this kind of Viking Goth music. The musical landscapes are often a bit unusual--almost seeming "poorly engineered" but I think the slightly off-kilter, unsettling effect is intentional.

88.95 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of dark atmospheric folk metal (I guess) with some absolutely killer songs--a find for any prog lover's music collection.

MARILLION An Hour Before It's Dark

A mature and emotionally powerful COVID-19-centric album from these prog masters.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Steve Hogarth / lead & backing vocals, keyboards, percussion
- Steve Rothery / lead & rhythm guitars
- Mark Kelly / keyboards
- Pete Trewavas / bass, backing vocals
- Ian Mosley / drums

1. "Be Hard on Yourself" (9:28) (18.25/20):
- i. The Tear in the Big Picture - great sound to the opening before large choir enters with a forceful declaration. Hogarth and the gang then enter with nice syncopated music behind Steve's passionate though sensitive vocal. Great weave from all players, none seeking the limelight, all contributing equally to the overall tapestry, while Hogarth delivers one of the best vocals I've ever heard from him. 
- ii. Lust for Luxury - piano arpeggi and Hogarth's "ooh's" usher in new motif--though the rhythmic foundation is not very different from the previous section. 
- iii. You Can Learn - gentler, more subdued instrumental soundscape indicates the start of the third section: resolution and lessons. Eventually, the faster paced drum and bass weave is re-established while guitars and keys thicken the walls with their layers of contributions.

2. "Reprogram the Gene" (7:02) Despite a strong vocal performance from Steve Hogarth, this is the weakest song on the album. (12/15):
- i. Invincible - a song expressing the band's anger at the government's control of the medical community. As powerful as Steve Hogarth's impassioned lyric and vocal are (the high point of the song) the rest of the song is quite dull (merely serving as a beige carpet for Steve to deliver his rant).
- ii. Trouble-Free Life - muted soundscape, softened vocal approach, soon ramps up with electric piano the strongest accompanist of Hogarth's continued vocal.  
- iii. A Cure for Us? - the Rothery moment to provide input while Hogarth continues singing. "Let's all be friends"? Can we get more trite?

3. "Only a Kiss" (0:39) I don't normally rate songs this short, but this tiny little ditty is gorgeous. (5/5)

4. "Murder Machines" (4:21) a very moving video of a very good song about the tragic vulnerability and helplessness we felt with COVID-19. (8.75/10)

5. "The Crow and the Nightingale" (6:35) A very pleasant, rich, engaging sonic landscape over which Steve delivers yet another remarkably powerful vocal performance especially the final three minutes when he is aided and enhanced by a wonderful choir background vocalists. Great arrangement!) The music behind Steve Rothery's guitar solo in the sixth minute brings me to tears--and this is followed by a great ending. A top three song for me and one of my favorite songs of 2022. (9.5/10)

6. "Sierra Leone" (10:54) Several of the lines repeated over and over within the lyrics get a bit old (and feel simple or cliché) (e.g. "I won't sell this diamond.") (18.25/20):
- i. Chance in a Million - Hogarth and piano enter using the same melody line. The band then fills in a gentle four-part Torch song background. 
- ii. The White Sand - piano chord play with meandering lead guitar and slow walk drum and bass pace. Very pretty section little section. 
- iii. The Diamond - bursts forth into classic Marillion fullness with piano arpeggi and Steve Rothery's magic on the fretboard, top to bottom. Great passion from Hogarth in the "walking free in Freetown" delivery.
- iv. The Blue Warm Air - more ethereal gentle music around Hogarth's "shimmering in around my head" and "sparkle in the blue warm air" lyric. Beautiful. Loses a little of its magic when the band bursts into dynamic fullness again. 
- v. More Than a Treasure - recapitulation of full part of "Blue Warm Air" with multi-voice singing and Rothery jumping more into the fore.

7. "Care" (15:20) (26/30):
- i. Maintenance Drugs - funky bass and driving drum pattern support Hogarth's plea for taking care of one's self. Sounds a bit too familiar. (8.25/10)
- ii. An Hour Before It's Dark - a little SYLVAN-like musically, even as Hogarth's repeated title phrase turns more relaxed and subdued. Still, very pretty section--not unlike some KATE BUSH motifs.(4.75/5)
- iii. Every Cell - a nice little set up for a searing Rothery solo. The drums could use a little more imagination (and variation). (4.5/5) 
- iv. Angels on Earth - synth bank chords usher in a section that sounds very much like an outro/finale. I like the lyric but it does go on a bit long. (8.5/10)

Total Time 54:19

One of the problems I have with this album is the relatively undistinguishable shifts between motifs in the longer, multi-part suites: the flow is too straighforward with very little shifting or deviation from the main/established themes.

88.86 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection


Out of the ashes of San Diego's ASTRA project comes a new album, reuniting Astra founders Conor Riley and Brian Ellis (yes, THE Brian Ellis--of recent psychedelia pop fame) with new rhythm section of bassist Trevor Mast and drummer Paul Marrone. The product is, in my opinion, even better than the previous band's two excellent albums, 2009's The Weirding and 2012's The Black Chord.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Conor Riley / vocals, synthesizer, electric piano, organ, acoustic guitar
- Brian Ellis / guitar, electric piano, percussion
- Trevor Mast / bass
- Paul Marrone / drums

1. "Born" (4:48) impressive start: the four band members are definitely in sync. Organ takes the first lead but Paul Marrone's drums are mighty impressive. (Great sound, too!) The weave is sophisticated and the soloing supreme with a sonic palette that is similar to me of bands like NEKTAR as well as modern bands like Brighton's own DIAGONAL--and it's a full instrumental. (9/10)

2. "Descending Us" (6:56) a bluesy 1970-sound song with some fiery lead guitar play and great lead vocals that sound like some great vocalist from the infancy of the psychedelic rock movement. (13.75/15)

3. "For Yesterday" (9:14) a slowly-developing Crimsonian song ("The Court of the Crimson King" repeatedly comes to mind) with alternating delicate passages for the psych-folk vocals and hard-rocking parts for searing instrumental expositions--including a lot of Roye Albrighton-like guitar leads. Unfortunately, the vocal passages end up being inconclusive; it's the instrumental contributions that do their best to win us over.  (17.25/20)

4. "Cosmic Tears" (7:41) this just has to be a Brian Ellis song, it sounds so much like his funked up psychedelia from the past ten years. ARGENT's "Hold Your Head Up" also comes to mind. When Brian gets cooking over the syncopated drums, pulsing bass note, and Mellotron, you think you're back listening to or Randy California, or Robert Fripp. When Paul Marrone starts to go off, you think you're listening to Ginger Baker or Keith Moon. When Trevor Mast gets moving he makes it feel as easy as Richard Sinclair or Nick Greenwood. (13.25/15)
5. "Another Time" (5:36) slowly arpeggiated electric guitar is joined by vocal and organ. This sounds like KHAN (Space Shanty) until it breaks into a Deep PURPLE/Procol HARUM/Wakeman-era YES passage. Flute-sounding electric guitar is a nice touch before Conor's GRAND FUNK RAILROAD vocal section takes over. But then there is shift into a more modern TED NUGENT/MOTORPSYCHO-like escape to the song. Brilliant! (9/10)

6. "Long Way Down" (7:17) part Red-era KING CRIMSON, part 1980s UK/ASIA, it's all John Wetton's voice (though a little bluesy at the beginning like early Robert Plant--he gets stronger as the song goes on--where he becomes JW)! Definitely a more hard-rock/early "Heavy Metal" inspired piece--though there is a floating jam-like section in the middle that sounds modern before the music descends back into the blues-rock chord progression and sound à la Diagonal's debut album all of 14 years ago.. (13.25/15)

Total Time 41:32

Born's retro sound took me back to late 1960s-early 1970s bands like Procol Harum, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Cream, Nektar, and even Pink Floyd and The Eloy. Brian Ellis' searing guitar solos are so Clapton-Albrighton-like that they're stunning. The keyboard play of Conor Riley is on a par with Jon Lord, Gary Brooker or Matthew Fisher or Taff Freeman. The rhythm section is so tuned in that they could be from Cream or first generation King Crimson, even Camel. And the vocals could be from the first two KING CRIMSON albums or else some other psychedelic treasure. 
     This album took several listens to be able to dive deeply into the depths of the music, the styles, the intricate weaves, the nuanced performances from each and every one of the players, but the sound engineering choices (and clarity) are fantastic! Great retro sound, great power in the imitation of some of psychedelic rock's progenitors, and great instrumental performances, but not enough fresh, new melodies and hooks to warrant masterpiece status. 

88.82 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you like superb retro imitation of the early masters.   

ALMS The Trial

A fascinating prog opera pitting human, Alms, against God in a trial for his abuse of the Seven Deadly Sins. Great music in a symphonic folk vein similar to that of Gabriel-era Genesis.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Aitor Lucena / everything
- Rafa Yugueros / drums
- Carla Martín / violin
- Alain Frenette / narrations
- Julia Sariego / choirs
- Maria Volkova / God's voice

1. "The Charges" (2:05) great intro/overture to start us off. I love the mediæval soundtrack music dynamics as well as the very polished theatric performances of the story's two characters, Alms and God. The symphonic music is so theatric! Like early Genesis to heavier ELP or JETHRO TULL. (5/5)

2. "Luxuria" (7:32) great music with tons of theatric twists and turns, layers, subtleties and nuances, styles and a whole band room of instrumental choices. My favorite parts are those layered with folk/antique-sounding instruments and themes. Aitor is definitely trying to create something with a feel of the old pre-Industrial world--and he's doing it extremely well! (13.75/15)

3. "Gula" (4:38) an interesting, oft-changing weave of fairly simple instrumental tracks that was not engineered and mixed very well. Exploring more of a JTULL style here, I am still impressed and engaged despite the missteps. (8.5/10)

4. "Acedia" (5:08) opens with classical grand piano play before incidentals and Alms' woeful voice enter. When God enters to confront Alms, he becomes more defensive and aggressive. But then he tries to defend himself with heavier metal music backing a train-station-like PA voice. The classical piano is still very strongly present as flutes, drums, electric guitar power chords, and other woodwinds punctuate the emotion of the passage. When Alms and God start bantering and then singing in unison at the end, it's pretty powerful. (8.75/10)

5. "Avaritia" (6:02) organ fades as finger-picked acoustic guitar and flutes and woodwinds weave to set up an European folk soundscape--over which God enters singing in a kind of café lounge style--before acceding to a sudden invasive motif of heavy symphonic rock. Spanish guitar flourishes and Hammond organ play join and accent the instrumental passage in a very ELP/JTULL kind of way (the latter especially as flute joins in). Strong church organ backs the next discussion of Alms and God--with a strong presence of operatic choir in the background making contributions like a Greek Tragedy. (9/10)

6. "Recess" (2:09) interesting for its simplicity and presence: (was it necessary), but it is quite consistent stylistically and thematically with the rest of the album so I'll let it pass. (4.25/5)

7. "Ira" (7:27) opens with an almost Gamelan foundational riff from tuned percussion while militaristic snare drums pop in and out beneath Alms' sleezy, despicable pleas. God stands off steadfastly centered in dispassionate indifference while Alms rages--pulled off brilliantly. A brief Spanish guitar solo interlude allows Alms to try to gather his wits and re-start on a more controlled presentation of his case. This lasts a few minutes until the confrontation comes to a head in the final minute. This God is a scary, cool bitch! (13/15)

8. "Invidia" (2:10) definitely an anachronistic piece with rondo-like weave of acoustic and wind instruments beneath the two agonists' performances. (4.5/5)

9. "Superbia" (4:43) opens with upper octave tuned percussives (including piano) over which God and Alms continue their exhausting conflict--until 0:50 when Keith Emerson and Martin Barre inspired keys and electric guitar play out a musical version of the conflict for a minute. Then we come back to the courtroom with another more folky capitulation by God. Then, at 2:10 we move into a kind of vamp in which electric guitar offers his word over organ and electric piano. Alms and God then join in with a fast-witted exchange. My favorite song by God. Though interesting and dynamic, with great melodies, there is something a little flat about the composition. (8.75/10)

10. "The Sentence" (0:35)

Total Time 42:29

Though Aitor's performance as Alms is often a little Jim Carrey over the top sinister (and very much like Devy Townsend's performance as Ziltoid), the performance of Maria Volkova as God is rock solid and deserving of every accolade one could throw her way.

This is a very difficult album to assign ratings to; the more accurate thing to rate would be how convincing the story has been rendered with the musical compositions and vocal performances. I have to say that despite Aitor's somewhat over-the-top performance as the human on trial (Alms), the story is conveyed as convincingly as anything attempting to replicate a medieval/chivalric time/era since perhaps Anthony Phillips' "Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times". As for the success of treating humankind's battles with the Seven Mortal Sins, I think they've done a far better job than, say, Magenta's Seven, Alice Cooper, Eden's Curse, or Marianne Faithfull's cover of Kurt Weill's opera (though Weill and Bercholt Brecht's version is pretty great). Many, many times I am reminded while listening to the Trial to the analogue musical compositions submitted by many of today's great prog bands to and/all of the Colossus Magazine/Musea Records releases based on great themes of literature or art. 

88.82 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of theatric prog rock and definitely a wonderful addition to any lover of operatic prog storytelling.

JUPU GROUP Umpeen Kasvoivat Polut

A Finnish jazz-folk-rock band that first burst upon the music scene back in the mid-1970s has re-appeared, with founder and composer Jupu Poutanen (formerly the band's violinist) re-invigorated by a group of young enthusiasts. With this album receiving some acclaim I took it upon myself to review it--and I'm very glad I did.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Jupu Poutanen / compositions, artistic production
- Meerika Ahlqvist / vocals
- Lotta Ahlbeck / electric violin, backing vocals
- Otto Porkkala / guitar
- Mikko Patama / keyboards
- Heikki Saarenkunnas / bass
- Oskari Niemi / drums, percussion

1. "Kapriisi" (3:44) an instrumental that opens with a definite jazz-rock fusion sound and construct with lots of harmonic tension and interesting Frank Zappa/Mahavishnu Orchestra/Jean-Luc Ponty-like jazz noodling woven together into a rock format. The rock orientation becomes increasingly evident with the electric guitar-solo-led rock motif played out in the second half of the second minute into the third minute and again with the wild wah-violin solo in the second half of the third minute (which is the song's highlight for me). My third top three song for the album. (8.875/10)

2. "Istut yksin" (5:16) opens with a spacious, atmospheric blues soundscape that reminds me of the British electro-pop band Mono from the 1990s (Formica Blues). Meerika Ahlquist's lilting vocal does little to dissuade me of the dramatic blues mood orientation. But then at 2:35 the band ramps up into a full-on 1960s blues rock vamp. More vocals, a little more dynamic, and some solos--first from Hammond organ, then electric guitar, It all sounds so 1969: Blind Faith, Band of Gypsys, Spirit, etc. (8.6667/10)

3. "Umpeen kasvoivat polut" (4:54) opens like a 1960s specialty blues-rock song with drums and bass establishing the solid flow as first "distant" electric guitar flies around his fretboard, then Fender Rhodes chords and multiple tracks of Meerika's voice gently sing in soft tones. Guitar, violin, and keys give the instrumental section a thick, mutually-supportive weave before backing down for individual soli: mostly pitch-wavering electric keyboard and electric violin. Then we return to the main motif within which Meerika finishes her singing. (8.875/10) 

4. "Enkeli" (3:44) a jazz-rock instrumental propelled by a driving rhythm section and both Hammond and piano and guitar moving through the opening with some fire, it is no surprise that a bridge takes us into an extended passage in which the individual instrumentalists unleash some fiery Mahavishnu-like soli. Nice performances if nothing very ground-breaking. (8.75/10) 

5. "Giba" (6:41) piano, jazz guitar, and violin open this in a semi-classical, semi-jazz style reminding me a lot of Django-Stephane Grappelli before the piano is given room to solo for a bit. Full jazz band joins in from time to time, bringing on a much more rock and then jazz-rock/prog sound and style until 2:30 when the rhythm section takes a left turn into a more Latin dance-like pattern. The bass and guitar are really moving beneath the very avant-jazz piano solo. At 3:37 the doubled-up/delay/echoed electric violin takes over the lead. Full-band jazz Mahavishnu coda in the fifth minute before descending briefly into screaming Mahavishnu burst before music drops off leaving only chunky bass and raunchy lead guitar to blues-rock it out. Rest of band joins in and eventually brings it back to the angular lines of Mahavishnu land for the finale. Interesting song of complex structure thus demanding a lot of the instrumentalists--which, I must say, they pulled off admirably. (8.75/10)  

6. "Kääntäisikö hän selkänsä" (3:18) a bit corny, a bit classical, a bit 1960s psychedelia, recorded so purely, like a Folk Rock album, with a very pleasant vocal from Meerika and a little Django Reinhardt-like guitar play from Otto Porkkala. Nice. (8.875/10)

7. "Pihapuu" (4:32) nice, gentle pastoral jazz folk with prominent walking bass and, soft drum play, and violin in the lead up front. I do like the clean, unadulterated recording of the tracks: it makes it feel so present, so in your own living room. At the two-minute mark everything stops so piano and Meerika can have nice little duet for a minute or so. Violin and electric guitar duet leads to carry the pastoral melody when the rest of the band returns (after Meerika's finished singing). Nice tune. My favorite on the album. (9.25/10) 

8. "Täyttymys" (4:56) the psychedelic sound of the opening--with electric (dobro?) guitar and Hammond--is reminiscent of Swedish atmospheric masters, LANDBERK from the 1990s--as well as Graham Sutton's first BARK PSYCHOSIS album. At the 0:59 mark the full band enters with a nice little 1960s psych-folk soundscape. As Meerika enters with her voice I am reminded of Greek band CICCADA as well as Finnish countrymates KOSMOS. The composition is fairly simple but the performances are all beautifully nuanced and pristinely clear. Interesting final 45 seconds when the music turns kind of circus-like! Another top three song for me. (9/10)

Total Time 37:05

A refreshingly clean and clear recording and presentation of some impressively intricate compositions performed dexterously and confidently by some fine musicians. I look forward to hearing more from this young band in the near future. 

88.80 on the Fishscales = A-/4.5 stars; a near masterpiece of progressive rock music informed by the traditions of Euro-jazz, Mahavishnu-style fusion, Finnish folk music, and 1960s blues rock.

Soundtrack for Places I've Never Been, Vol. 1 (2022)

One person production with but two instruments! That just doesn't happen anymore, does it?

Line-up / Musicians:
- Tom Penaguin / Moog Matriarch, drums

1. "Trampoline Overdrive" (5:03) great melodies and sounds--as if early TONY BANKS and modern day (2000s) ANDREW MARSHALL collaborated on another WILLOWGLASS piece--only with a more demonstrative (and modern) drummer. (9/10) 

2. "Antigravity Lagoon" (12:53) starts out as a Terry Riley-like multi-track conversation between several programs of Tom's Moog Matriarch. At the two-minute mark drums and "bass" and a few other sequenced lines join in giving this a more ANTHONY PHILLIPS or perhaps Mike Oldfield feel (though, to my ears, more ARNAUD BUKWALDian). Nice melodies coming out of several instruments, including the "bass" and "fairy synths," not just the lead "Stagnation" sound. It starts to drag a little as it auto-descends (and, perhaps, unravels and dampens) in the tenth minute and beyond. (22.25/25)

3. "Diving Bell" (2:27) an étude for an artist experimenting/getting to know a single instrument or sound. (4/5)

4. "Stamping Factory" (5:31) A little more funky like some late 70s or early 80s prog keyboardist's experimentation (very much like Ant Phillips' solo work in those years). Tom is really developing as a musician and composer! (8.75/10)

5. "Flight of an Amphibious Airship" (12:11) Another lovely piece of multi-layered synthesizer experimentation (some of it quite mathematical) has Tom weaving together no less than six tracks from his Moog, each with its own separate melodic journey, and yet they all work magically well together--almost in a dreamy, New Age kind of way (though for much of the song I find myself luxuriating in the beauty of the opening of GLASS HAMMER's contribution to Colossus Magazine/Musea Records' 2005 masterpiece, Odyssey: The Greatest Tale, called "At the Court of Akinoos"). A wonderful piece if obviously an étude toward greater knowledge and proficiency. Tom sure gets the full use out of his 88 keys! (22.5/25)

Total time: 38:05

Tom's drumming (and sound reproduction of such) has a little way to go to reach the impressive levels of his 2024 release, but the rest of the music is very engaging and enjoyable--in very much the same way that Ant Phillips' 1984 has been for me for the past 43 years.

88.667 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent collection of Moog experiments from an up-and-coming prog talent. An album that I think every self-professed prog lover would absolutely love--especially if you love the work of Andrew Marshall's WILLOWGLASS and ANTHONY PHILLIPS keyboard work in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

SILENT TEMPLE Faery Revolution

Brainchild of Portlandian Amos Hart, this band is new to me even though they've been around for a decade in several forms. This particular Prog Folk album explores the more Renaissance-oriented form of prog with a more troubadour/RenFaire type of feel to the music. The vocals, especially, are more seriously "professional" in their presentation. I like the recording and sound engineering as they sound as if they came from a 1969 open air concert. The rock instrumentation is also quite 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Amos Hart / electric guitar, lute, 12-string acoustic guitar, alto recorder, vocals
- Natty Isabell / vocals
- Rossi / banjo, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Owen Kelley / grand piano, keyboards
- Alex Torres / Puerto Rican cuatro (1,2,9)
- Mike Ewers / 5-string fretless bass
- Harrison Games / drums

1. "Fey Breeze" (5:04) Amos' near-operatic tenor surprises but then one gets used to it. The choice of troubadour-like instrumentation is quite wonderful and welcome. I'm in 1970 heaven with the Mike Oldfield/Anthony Phillips/Godspell feel here. (8.75/10)

2. "Hold On" (8:41) potential energy in the bass, electric guitars, piano, and multiple floating vocals open this one. The energy readying itself to burst out is so palpable. A surprisingly early instrumental section occupies most of the third and fourth minutes before Natty' Isabell's warbbly vibrato voice takes over. Then in the sixth minute Rossi's powerful bluesy voice takes the lead. Wow! Goosebumps. Is this a song about abortion? Nice electric guitar solo follows and then a slowed down psych-space finish. If only it didn't kind of drag along--never changed pace over its nearly nine minutes. (17.5/20)

3. "Raotan" (7:37) a 1960s approach to folk rock with banjo, Hammond, and group vocal with that "plein aire" sound give this one a very friendly, accessible feel. The male vocal in the final minute sounds as if KERRY MINNEAR has joined in, but then moves into Amos' more theatric tenor. This song has a bit of the old SPIROGYRA and COMUS feel and sound to it. A top three song for me. (13.5/15)

4. "Sail of the Serpent" (6:09) picked'plucked acoustic steel string instruments and recorder over which Natty Isabel sings in a strong-yet-fragile folk voice--with a vibrato not unlike that of --part of it read as if from a poetry reading. Great Anthony Phillips-like chord progressions from the guitars and lute. I love the unexpected vocalise and slow re-amp up in the final section. This is a beautiful prog folk song that could have come from Ant's The Geese and the Ghost album. Another top three song. (9/10) 

5. "Through It All" (7:22) a rather chaotic, Babel-like opening comes together at the one-minute mark with a whole-group chanted chorus. Meanwhile, drums, bass, and choppy guitar chords kind of jazz-plod ahead. The shouted vocal epithets come hurling in from multiple directions again until congealing again in the chant-chorus at the end of the third minute. For a bit here the rhythm and lead guitars almost take on metal sounds and stylings. At the end of the fifth minute things quiet down considerably while Amos takes over the solo lead vocal position (while the rest of the vocalists interject their supportive and accentuating contributions). Unfortunately, the song kind of loosens and inexplicably falls apart in the final minute. (13/15) 

6. "One Day" (6:55) strummed electric guitar with banjo accompany Amos' Southern gospel "slave" vocal. Natty joins in for the second verse before the rest of the band jumps in with a Southern revivalist feel as Natty takes over the lead vocal. Nice Dixieland piano in the mix. Then the addition of gritty Southern gospel voice of Rossi adds another deep Southern emphasis. Nice song that conjures up images and feelings of a different time and place. (13.25/15)  

7. "Far Away from Here" (6:25) nice opening of slowly strummed America "I Need You"-like 12-string chords. At the one-minute mark Amos' Andy TILLISON-like vocal style enters to deliver a beautifully light take on a fairly heavy lyric. Natty Isabell and, later, Rossi, add their vocals (Rossi's like a fiery Janis Joplin) in the choruses and as incidental accents. Pretty simple guitar solo precedes a spirited wake-me-up section starting around the 4:15 mark. Snarky electric guitar solos with quite a little emotion over the final 90 seconds. Nice. (8.75/10) 

8. "Faery Revolution" (8:52) stage-accompanist bouncy piano and frail high pitched vocalise opens this one giving it a CHRISTIAN VANDER/MAGMA like feel. Then Amos enters and recites a  in a very theatric fashion. When he finishes his recitation at the two-minute mark, bass, drums, and choral vocals join in to augment the MAGMA feel. Amos then continues his bard-like preaching as recorder threads its way into the weave. Amos even does a little bit of Vander-like scatting within his words. In the fourth minute everyone comes together to chorally express the title/theme. Then the band launches into an instrumental passage that sounds so much like a Magma jam--with male and female call-and-response vocals taking over over the fast-paced Broadway camp. While never quite reaching the heights of passion and virtuosity that the Zeuhl masters do, this one definitely digs deep and reaches for their best. Perfect Steve Howe-like electric guitar solo finish over Hammond and piano. My final top three song. (18.25/20) 

9. "Falling Leaves" (6:36) sounds very much like the final song in an off-Broadway musical--tying it all up, with each player contributing fairly equally to the summation. It takes a little while for the song to move out of this multi-voice Hair-like monologue. Since I don't hear words, I can't really get a clear picture of whether or not Amos & Co. are reviving a Hippie or religious? Nice emotion-busting screaming guitar outburst at 4:20 before the singers return with an almost euphoric gospel finish before the piano and softly-picked acoustic guitar take us into the fade out. (8.75/10)

Total Time 63:41

Though I find myself mesmerized and carried away by this music, part of the time I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be laughing at what sounds like it could be a parody of 1960s & 70s flower child/hippie culture or if I'm listening to a Christian rock opera like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor RaincoatGodspell, or Jesus Christ Superstar.

88.60 on the Fishscales = B+/four stars; an excellent display of theatric, pseudo-religious, retro Prog Folk. Definitely an artist whose back discography I now want to explore.


A Finnish band that is completely new to me (even though they've been around for almost 20 years and have produced four full-length studio albums since 2015). Their music comes off as epic Viking folk music as if made for a soundtrack of some epic Viking saga film--or were arranged for a local celebration gathering.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Pasi Anttila / didgeridoo
- Vilho Hintermeier / ocarina
- Esa Juujärvi / vocals, bass, Mellotron
- Merja Järvelin / vocals
- Samuli Lindberg / drums & percussion
- Joni Mäkelä / guitar
- Mikko Vuorela / saxophone, flute, guitar
- Jarmo Väärä / trumpet

1. "The Sleeping Lion" (5:00) steel drum opening before cymbal play joins in. "Small" men's choir joins in after half a minute. It's as if they are the narrative chorus of a Greek tragedy. Full band and female "accent choir" joins in for the third minute. A little didgeridoo helps fill a gentle reset pause before the men (and female in background support) return to tell the story. Interesting if not fully winning as an engaging musical listening experience. This would probably be awesome live--with real choirs. (8.667/10)

2. "Naked Sky" (10:26) surprisingly spacious, surprisingly Viking folk-like, surprising "big room choral vocals", surprisingly cinematic (reminding me of The Polyphonic Spree). Definitely conveys an aura of grandeur deserving of gods and legends. I love it! It's almost as if Ivar Bjørnson and Einar Selvik's little campfire songs from their 2018 masterpiece, Hugsjá have been expanded to fill a big tribal meeting house where the entire village/tribe is participating in some celebratory musical re-enactment of a local legend or religious lore. Great use of large choir with guitars, tribal drums, and wind instruments to accent the choir passages. (18/20)

3. "Abysmal Sun" (6:06) effected electric guitar strums of a couple chords precede the arrival of humming choir. Sounds almost Native American. At 1:50 the music shifts into a little spacious field of arpeggiated guitars before the full sound and choir return to continue humming their proud dirge. Flutes and other wind instruments join in adding further (to my ears) to the Indian sound. Then, at 3:35 some heavy electric guitars burst in playing some aggressive chords--causing a shift in the mood conveyed by everybody else: everyone seems to become more agitated and aggressive, from the trumpets and drums to the now-worded choir. Interesting! (8.75/10)

4. "Collapsing Star" (6:22) more steel drums to open before electric guitar arpeggio notes "interrupt" or disrupt the tuned percussion. An "old wild west" vibe is created with the next instrumental and textural choices as the smaller men (and later, women) vocal choir begin singing their story. The choir at times reminds me a lot of 1960s MOODY BLUES. The sax, steel drum, and guitar flourishes throughout the final third of the song. (8.75/10)

5. "The Ground of Being" (5:11) a heavy-handed, plodding "chapter" of the village re-enactment with the full-town-participatory choir expressing themselves with full and genuine antiphonal enthusiasm. (again, I am reminded of The Polyphonic Spree.) The trumpet adds a nice touch. (9/10)

6. "I'm Here No Matter What" (7:18) rock guitar arpeggiated chord progression is repeated a couple of times before being joined by bass and second guitar. At 0:56 drums kick everybody into synchrony for the establishment of the full complement baseline music. At 1:51 synth, sax, and ocarina introduce the main melody. Choir and soaring electric guitar back a second melodic motif before we return to the original full-band theme (which is kind of Western Rock à la "Wicked Games" Chris Isaak). Bass, drums, and soloing electric guitar occupy the end of the fifth minute and first half of the sixth until guitar slips back into heavy rock chord play for the soprano sax to jump in for a solo. The vocal performance here is much smaller scale than those previous songs--especially in the lead "I love you" department--but ocarina, synth, flutes, and background vocal "ahh's" help back the lead. Nice song (with an abrupt ending: it could have gone on longer). (13.25/15)

Total Time 40:23

88.56 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of Aboriginal Prog Folk and a wonderful addition to any prog lover's music collection.


One of the more intriguing and enjoyable new bands of the last decade, these Minnesotans are just released their third album.  

Line-up / Musicians:
- Jacob Ewert / drums, piano, percussion, vocals
- Jared Emery / guitar, saxophone, synth, vocals
- Chris Lyons / bass, trumpet, synth, vocals
- Stephen Decker / violins

1. "Things Inside" (5:32) I just love the melodic sensibilities of these songwriters/performers. The bass sound is primo/number one as are the guitarist's creative chord-play. The vocals and lyrics are a bit mundane and the music spans an odd spectrum from pop jazzy to 1980s heavy metal (when the vocalist sounds like Sammy Hagar). (8.75/10) 

2. "Parthenon" (3:26) a snappy, melodic, prog instrumental. Nice to hear such multi-layered structure with a central contribution of violin. A top three song for me. (8.75/10)

3. "Tijuana Sunset" (3:56) if Jean-Luc Ponty and Rush were to have collaborated with Herb Alpert. Hard-drivin' jazz-rock fusion. Nice axe solo in the third minute. In the end, a little too jam-formatted. Still loving this bass! (8.75/10)

4. "Smee" (2:10) nice atmospheric soundtrack music. Love the submersive bass and airy vocalise. (4.5/5)

5. "Psyclops" (5:01) a walk on the band's heavier side. Nice composition with fair vocals and lyrical message--and that gets better as the song progresses (despite sounding a bit 1980s-familiar in the instrumental fourth and fifth minutes). Impressive drumming. Violin is back with a great solo in the third minute. Heavy prog is really much better with violins. (8.75/10)

6. "Underwater Cigarettes" (0:54) familiar piano motif with multiple effects. (4.25/5)

7. "Deep Reef Dream" (5:53) opens like MAROON FIVE's "Sunday Morning" before turning trip-hop smooth jazzy. Very pretty, melodic, and chill. Nicely layered and developed instrumental. One of my top three songs. (8.75/10)

8. "Mr. Pippy" (1:54) carnival sounds turn to BLUE NILE-like late-night stargazer. Again, welcome sound contribution of the violin. (4.75/5)

9. "Big Beef" (8:32) opens like a bit of a Mexican metal band (CAST) before moving into territory that is more akin to a cross between PAIN OF SALVATION, DEF LEPPARD, and TOTO. This is where plastic-skinned drums show their weakness. In the third minute the music moves more into the atmospheric realms of Prog Metal before returning to the main motif--this time adding violin to the weave. The instrumental passage in the sixth-through-ninth minutes (the second half of the song) is very pleasing--almost hypnotic in a MOTORPSYCHO Death-Defying Unicorn-kind of way. (Love the reverbed trumpet!) What started out as a suspiciously generic metal song turned into something quite good. An excellent way to end an album! (18/20)

Total time: 37:18

I do love the sounds and stylings chosen by bass player Chris Lyons as well as the lushly melodic song structures created by the band as a whole. These boys are, in my opinion, gifted. Unfortunately, none of the music here is really ground-breaking and a lot of it feels rushed, as if the band could have developed these B-plus-grade songs into A-levels had they really put in the extra time and effort. While I thoroughly enjoy this album, it is, unfortunately, a little bit of a let down after the band's superlative 2020 release, The Pseudo-Scientific Study of Oceanic Neo-Cryptid Zoology.

88.53 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. 


The Unfolding is another expression of music that I would categorize as "possible future musics." Hannah Peel is an innovative thinker (and talented singer!) with truly visionary perspectives of the possibilities for orchestral musics. Thanks, Epileptic Gibbon for turning me onto this amazing artist and her game-changing album!

Line-up / Musicians:
Conducted by Charles Hazlewood
Vocals - Victoria Oruwari
Vocals - Hannah Peel
Alto Flute and Flute - Chloe Vincent
Recorders - James Risdon
Bb Clarinet - Guy Passey
Bass Clarinet - Lloyd Coleman
Bassoon - Linton Stephens
Percussion - Harriet Riley
Drums - Jonny Leitch
Synths & Electronics - Hannah Peel
Programming (track 2) - Kincaid
Cello 1 -Tom Wraith
Cello 2 - Hattie McCall Davies
Double bass - Patrick Phillip

1. "The Universe Before Matter" (10:58) dramatic but, in actual fact, not very exciting musically. (17/20)

2. "Wild Animal" (3:55) an instrumental whose tribal dance rhythms make me think of Norwegian culture blending artists Marit Elisabeth Svendsbøe Stedje and Gaute Stedje (FUNIN and STILLEHAVET). (8.75/10)

3. "Passage" (5:22) the impact and presence of orchestral instruments is really felt on this one. Even the structure and sound palette feel classically-derived. Victoria/Hannah's angelic wordless vocalise renders into the category of Elgar, Delius, Stanford, and Britten. Beautiful. (9.25/10)

4. "The Unfolding" (5:47) this beautiful song sounds similar to the music of Wim Mertens. After the more calming opening three minutes the vocal and strings expand as if metamorphosizing into something bigger, fuller, new. (8.875/10)

5. "If after Weeks of Early Sun" (4:16) a fast drive down the coastal roads of the British Isles. Percussion, electronic beats, and spaced out symphonic triplets drive this music to a Thelma and Louise finish. (8.667/10)

6. "Perhaps It Made Us Happy for a Minute" (4:17) deep dark soundscape coming from the big/deep registered instruments of the orchestra (cello, bassoon, bass clarinet, double bass). (8.677/10)

7. "We Are Part Mineral" (6:06) bird-chirping female human voices orchestrated in a minimalist fashion. Drums and other sublty supportive instruments are added giving this one a bit of a Talking Heads/Tom Tom Club sound and feel to it. Builds into quite a stage spectacle--not unlike something MIKE OLDFIELD would have tried (with David Bedford and Phillip Glass). (8.75/10)

8. "Part Cloud" (10:31) part Klaus Schulze, part Christian Fennesz or Alva Noto, part Phillip Glass. Feels quite a bit like an alternate version of the previous song. The full OLDFIELDian song structure reveals itself at the three-minute mark, plays to 5:00, then clears out for some ambiguously-oriented chamber music in which Hannah's operatic vocalise intermixes with chamber instruments like clarinet, bassoon, strings, and other instruments of the high and low register. Quite lovely--and moving in an emotionally-confusing way. It's like being at a funeral in which you're not sure whether you should be sad for the deceased and her/his family or celebratory. Probably both. A beautiful successor to the wonderful musical explorations of late 20th Century composers such as Phillip Glass and John Adams. (18.5/20)

9. "The Unfolding Credits" (2:19)

88.46 on the Fishscales = B/4.5 stars; an excellent addition of wonderfully experimental music to any true prog lover's music collection.

MIDLAKE For the Sake of Bethel Woods

After a nine year absence since their masterful 2013 realese, Antiphon, the boys from Denton are back with another collection of warm, fuzzies--now tinged with some TAME IMPALA-like psychedelia and a lot more real-life experience. 

Line-up / Musicians:
No information on which band members play what
- Jesse Chandler
- Joey McLellan
- Eric Nichelson
- Eric Pulido
- McKenzie Smith

1. "Commune" (0:54) raw acoustic guitar! Nice! (4.25/5)
2. "Bethel Woods" (4:23) (8.5/10)
3. "Glistening" (4:04) using a different lead singer is a bit refreshing. Unusual, interesting, and nice chorus. Great turn for a cool second half. Definitely a refreshingly interesting composition. A top three for me. (9/10)
4. "Exile" (3:33) Nice psychedelia with some great play by flutes and great effects on the lead vocal. (8.75/10)
5. "Feast of Carrion" (4:40) the jazzy, reverb, R&B and CSN&Y-side of Midlake. Nice. My other top three song. (9/10)
6. "Noble (6:25) cool soundscape and instrumental section after the second verse. (8.75/10)
7. "Gone" (5:08) a little too straightforward and repetitious from the rhythm section--this despite the interesting burst/contributions of the effected guitar(s). (8.5/10)
8. "Meanwhile..." (3:35) my second favorite song on the album, both sonically and vocally. A bit of TAME IMPALA in there. (9/10)
9. "Dawning" (4:17) (8.5/10)
10. "The End" (3:24) a sophisticated song structure like what we loved on Antiphon. Awesome guitar soloing in the second half. (9.25/10)
11. "Of Desire" (3:59) protracted synth chord opening before vocal and piano enter (at the very end of the first minute) to establish an absolutely killer melody. Great song despite feeling short and under-baked; it packs a punch. Probably my favorite. (9.25/10)

Total Time: 44:22

I have to agree with other reviewers in their assessment that the boys from Midlake seem either a little more down than usual or else just worn out and tired. Still, a very welcome return.

88.33 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you're into the more folk side of prog. 

AUDIO'M Godzilla

An eclectic band from the South of France (near the Spanish border) here comes up with their sophomore release after 2016's well-acclaimed self-titled debut.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Marco Fabbri (The Watch) / drums
- Michel Cayuela / keyboards
- Mathieu Havart / keyboards
- Simon Segura / bass, guitars
- Gary Haguenauer / lead guitar
- Dominique Olmo / rhythm guitar
- Emmanuelle Olmo-Cayuela / vocals

1. "Godzilla" (43:00) opening with Mellotron-drenched heaviness like Italy's DAAL, the vocals of Emmanuelle Olmo-Cayuela are, I'm afraid, an acquired taste--something my ears and brain have failed to acquire (much less tolerate) successfully after four listens. She has such an odd range and styling for the female lead vocalist--and she seems to be constantly struggling to stay on pitch. 
Nice acoustic guitar work in the pastoral section but nothing very virtuosic, only a progression of arpeggiate chords all played with the same tinger-picked pattern and tempo, but I like the switch from major to minor keys--and Emmanuelle's choices of melody during this section. At 5:28 we are off and running in a more abrasive, DAAL-like passage with Emmanuelle stretching her voice both dynamically and in pitch (though I like the Eliana Valenzuela [of Chilean band Homínido] power she projects here). 
     A brief quiet down passage with Manu's whispers is followed by a section that contains Manu's worst vocal passages. Some cool ideas she just doesn't have the control to pull them off. 
I love the instrumental palette of the instrumental tenth minute--probably my favorite part of the suite.
The next motif is in a bit of an odd time signature and founded in a powerful church organ but then transitions into a brief guitar power chord bridge to a smoother theme. 
     By this point (approaching the one-third mark) the poor drum sound is really starting to grate on me. The move to front of the chunkier jazz-funk bass is cool, though. In the fifteenth minute two guitars solo in their own worlds over the jazz-funk theme. At 15:25 everything stops for pipe organ and Manu to transition us to a brief cinematic guitar solo over "harp", but then we return to a previous theme for a short bit before interesting cinematic "old time" organ transfers us to a more classic four chord blues rock progression over which organ and guitar solo in an URIAH HEEP/early YES kind of way. Manu's regurgitating of the previously established dominant melody takes us out of this and into an eerie doldrums waiting area. Then, at 20:13 guitar and clavichord/organ take us into a kind of IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO passage of psychological frenzy before we are suddenly dropped into a rather idyllic and quite melodic fully-formed ostinato-based motif that borrows quite openly from MIKE OLDFIELD's Incantations from the end of the 20th minute through the 24th minutes we are firmly anchored in that groove--though there is a shift at 23:03 into a bit of a different Oldfield motif--over which Manu sings (almost in an uncanny imitation of the great MADDY PRIOR from Oldfield's original recordings of the album). Even with tempo and instrumental palette changes over the successive minutes, the music still bears quite a striking resemblance to several of Mike Oldfield's 1970s works or themes--including the guitar tones selected for the lead guitar and keys in the 29th minute. Godzilla is still in the cave at the 30-minute mark, though he is here being hailed as the "Messiah." The alternating acoustic guitar pastoral passages and electric guitar-dominated themes are still well within the Oldfield catalog of referents until finally a new GENESIS-like motif is introduced a the 32-minute mark. Another slow, pastoral section in the 36th minute is extinguished in the second half of the 37th minute by a bombastic and melodic motif elevated by Emmanuelle's spirited vocalise. 
     While the music is delightfully complex in its many sudden twists and turns as well in its recapitulations of several recurrent themes, the production feels weak, the vocalist is challenged (despite her obvious confidence and bravery), the subject matter of questionable interest or accuracy, and many of the motifs "incomplete." If there is one other high point in the album's existence, it is for the feeling of a wonderfully cohesive band working together with all their hearts on this project. (75/85)

Total Time 43:00

I must admit, the origin story purported by this band/in this album is rather odd--taking over 28 minutes to hatch, grow up, and emerge from his cave home. I'm guessing that this piece of music is meant to only present us with the birth, development, and debutante of the "messiah" monster, not really getting into his mischief and mayhem. Does that mean we should be expecting further installments of the story of the King of the Monsters from this band in the future?
     Though the song's opening notes seem to indicate an adherence to the heaviness of the original film soundtrack themes, this does not remain so as the song in the second half becomes more like a celebratory homage to early Mike Oldfield and Genesis's "Supper's Ready." Also, the sound engineering (overall mix, drum sound, and compressed feeling of all the instruments' tracks) is what I'd call substandard--as if it was accomplished with less-than top-notch equipment. 

88.24 on the Fishscales = B+/four stars; an excellently rendered prog epic that, unfortunately, contains room for improvement. I hope that future projects of this band, should they choose to stay together, might include better engineering and/or mixing facilities (or personnel) while retaining their excellent spirit of adventure and confidence. 


Another impeccably-realized collection of uniquely-perspective sonic adventures from one of England's most uniquely reverential voices. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- John Holden / guitars, bass, keyboards, orchestration
- Peter Jones / vocals and saxophone (3, 6 & 8)
- Joe Payne / vocals (1 & 8)
- Sally Minnear / vocals (3, 7 & 8)
- Dave Bainbridge / keyboards and guitar (8)
- Henry Rogers / drums (1 & 4) 
- Vikram Shankar / piano, keyboards (1, 2, 4, & 5)
- Jean Pageau / vocals and flute (8)
- Frank von Essen / violin, viola, and drums (3)
- Ian Hornal / vocals (5 & 8)

1. "Achilles" (10:48) a gorgeous song in which That Joe Payne puts on exhibit the most restrained and mature vocal performance that I've heard from him to date--a performance that is so perfect for this music and subject as to be so emotionally powerful! At the end of the seventh minute, the music shifts in direction into something much heavier, much more in-your-face, for a brief minute until rejoining the atmospheric, almost New Age keyboard-based motif of the opening two sections. Incredible multi-layered and multi-faceted vocal performance by Joe Payne. (18.667/20)

2. "Ringing the Changes" (3:43) light-hearted music over which Sally Minnear sings. There is almost a Christmas carol feel to this, though the song subject seems much more quotidian--like a Victorian poem of everyday life. Captures a time and style not our own impeccably. (9/10)

3. "Kintsugi" (7:04) one forgets how similar Dave Longdon's voice was to that of Peter Jones until one hears a song like this: so similar to a Big Big Train song, a fair BBT train song at that. (12.75/15)

4. "Flying Train" (5:33) a nice instrumental that opens with a voice sample from a man speaking in German. Apparently it's a song commemorating the prediction of flying trains. (8.667/10) 

5. "Xenos (5:43) another very pretty little BBT-like song. (8.75/10)

6. "Against the Tide" (5:27) a little jazz-pop song that sounds like Al Jarreau, Ambrosia's David Pack, or Phil Collins should be singing. (8.667/10)

7. "Peggy's Cove" (4:21) after a mood-setting Celtic opening, a more African-rhythm establishes a musical feel more akin to something by Peter Gabriel, Sally Minnear's lilting little voice soon establishes the fact that we're singing about a legendary person who may (or may not) have survived a shipwreck that happened long ago in Nova Scotia. Cute and catchy little sea ditty! (8.75/10)

8. "Building Heaven" (11:34) opens with a very classical theatric orchestral feel before Sally Minnear's (purposefully?) youthful voice starts singing in a "Who Will Buy?" kind of style (and setting). Flutes and 12-string guitars help fill the gentle, pastoral feel as Sally introduces a story of war and tribulation that is intended as a tribute to illustrate the professed mission of Jesus of Nazareth. The song goes instrumental for about five minutes, from the four-minute mark and its air raid sirens and distant bomb explosions to the gentle guitar and keyboard arpeggio-supported point at which Dave Bainbridge's soaring electric guitar announces the arrival of a chorus and choral weave of Peter Jones, Joe Payne, and Sally Minnear singing praises of Christ's mission to "Build Heaven." Interesting but ultimately packing far less of a punch than I think might have been intended. Methinks this could have been built into something much more grand, more expanded and multi-faceted. (17.25/20)

Total Time 54:13

I have, from the beginning of John's presence in Prog World, often felt a very strong background in religious music to John's style of composition and sound construction--as if he is writing from a background or perspective of someone who has come from or lives in a monastic or religious life. On this, his fourth studio album, I fear John has fallen into the Big Big Train/Galahad pattern of historical worship.

88.09 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; a very nice excursion through some very pleasant songs realised with the utmost care and perfection that sometimes fall a bit short of prog expectations. Still, a very nice addition to any prog lover's music collection--one that will probably deliver little gems and subtleties for many listens.  

BIG BIG TRAIN Welcome to the Planet

Like many here, Dave Longdon's sudden and unexpected departure from his corporeal body has left me stunned. I was not expecting an album from them again--especially not so soon as this--but am quite pleased by it. There is a very different side of the Train on display here--one that I wish we might have seen/heard more of over the past 14 years and, should Greg and Nick continue, I hope to hear more of in the future. As it stands, this is a wonderful tribute to Dave Longdon's skills--showing a range that we'd not seen as much of since he joined back in 2009 for The Underfall Yard. Well worth the investment even if it's not all ground-breaking on-the leading-edge progressive rock.

Line-up / Musicians:
- David Longdon / lead vocals
- Gregory Spawton / bass
- Rikard Sjöblom / guitars, keyboards, vocals
- Nick D'Virgilio / drums, vocals
- Carly Bryant / keyboards, lead vocals (9)
- Dave Foster / guitars
- Clare Lindley / violin, vocals

- Part One:
1. "Made from Sunshine" (4:04) a totally straightforward lite-rock ballad with Dave on lead vocals and Carol Lindley. Nothing very special here (though the lyrics about a newborn child are touching.) (7.75/10)

2. "The Connection Plan" (3:55) part Jem Godfrey's FROST* part old Jeff Lynne's ELO, this music is smart, concise, and snappy, if not very original. Nice lyrics and professional construction but very poppy. (8.25/10)

3. "Lanterna" (6:29) opens with a sensitivity and style that reminds me of the great songwriting bands of the 60s like The Mamas & The Papas or The BeeGees. GREAT vocal harmonies. At the end of the second minute the song jumps into full rock/prog rock regalia with a great construct, great palette (totally BBT) with great pacing and power and some awesome "classical" piano on display. Just great music. Nice polished lead guitar solo in the solo spot which is interestingly followed by an odd space-ambient outro. Disappointing finish but still my first top three song. (9/10)

4. "Capitoline Venus" (2:27) gently picked acoustic 12-string guitar with Mellotron accompany an impassioned Dave Longdon. Whenever this guy sings about walking in nature with his one true love I just melt. As much as I appreciate all the English history lessons BBT have given us, I believe their emotionality is best channeled through love songs like this--especially with Dave in the lead. My sentimental favorite and a top three song. (5/5)

5. "A Room with No Ceiling" (4:52) An awesome and refreshing opening with some cool, almost jazzy guitar play over some pseudo jazz support from Fender Rhodes, chunky bass, and Nick D'Virgilio's virtuosic (as always) drum play. Organ and accordion dominate the militaristically paced third minute. We're on the Continent! Cool experiment by the band that really works. At 3:30 we move back into the jazzier motif of the opening with bass and Fender Rhodes playing over a quieter rhythm section. The song then fades away with solo accordion playing a plaintive (familiar French?) melody. Definitely a top three song for me--a style I wish the Train would use more. (9.25/10)

- Part Two:
6. "Proper Jack Froster" (6:38) opens with a smooth folk rock feel and sound similar to The Byrds, Fotheringay, The Strawbs, or The Woods Band. It then turns pop-rockier like a Supertramp song or even Genesis' "A Trick of the Tail" with the rhythm section's addition. Eventually enters a more stylistic area of classic folk rock songs that might have reached Top of the Pops heights--especially with the presence of Carly Bryant's sultry vocal in the background and, in the middle, the lead. Excellent pop guitar solo in the second half--equivalent, to my mind, to a Skunk Baxter "Reelin' in the Years" ear-popper. Could be a top three song, but there are others! (9/10)

7. "Bats in the Belfry" (4:54) with Greg's straightforward one-riff bass line, this one has a little cheesy "B-side" feel to it despite Nick's excellent drumming. The horns and "horns" give it a bit of a Chicago/Herb Alpert feel until those Dick Dale guitar lines and organ center. Weird. Then it tries to get soundtrack VANGELISy. Weirder! Must be a Nick composition cuz it sure does showcase him. (8.5/10)

8. "Oak and Stone" (7:12) Pure Longdon-era BBT opening with piano, solo voce Longdon, and excellent banked vocal harmonies. Brushed drum kit give it an old jazz lounge crooner's feel (which is not how I've ever thought of Dave's voice; a crooner he is not.) At 3:15 Greg's upright bass, Rikard's tinkling of the ivory, and Clare Lindley's violin take us into a new section (still jazz loungey) This one just feels like a Dave Longdon swan song just as the final song on 2021's Common Ground, "End Notes" did. Beautiful composition and production if not necessarily BBT's typical style. (13.5/15)

9. "Welcome to the Planet" (6:41) More jazzy horn arrangements open this footlights/stage-ready song--more like an Andrew Lloyd-Weber outtake with the sophisticated vocal arrangements and back-and-forth between Carly Bryant, Dave, the Greek Chorus, and the quiet, spacey and spacious instruments. Quite lovely in an ENID/ELOY/PINK FLOYD way. Carly even goes Clare Torry on us in fifth and sixth minutes--even through the spurt of celebratory New Orleans jazz funeral/wake music that precedes Clare's final lyric. (9/10)

Total Time 47:12

I don't think I've ever heard a BBT album with so much exposure of historical roots, influences, and/or homages; that is, very little here sounds "classic Big Big Train"; a lot of sounds imitative and/or honoring old 1960s/1970s musical styles and palettes. It's interesting, entertaining, and enjoyable and usually works very well--which, in my opinion, is a testimony to the maturity and skill of this wonderful collection of musicians. So, I'm on board: Welcome to the Planet! Long live Big Big Train!

88.05 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of crossover progressive rock music.


The Lorandi family is at it again churning out an album of melodic jazz-rock fusion based in sound palettes familiar to prog rock.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Sergio Lorandi / electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Marco Lorandi / electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals
- Antonio Lorandi / electric bass, acoustic bass, vocals
- Giorgio Lorandi / percussion
- Silvano Silva / drums & percussion
- Andrea Piccinelli / keyboards, acoustic piano
- Daris Trinca / glockenspiel (1)
- Annibale Molinari / horn (7)
- Lorenzo Poletti / trombone (7)
- Erika Marca / trumpet (7)
- Giovanni Lorandi / chorus
- Karin Pilipp / chorus
- Simona Cecilia Vitali / chorus
- Alessandra Lorandi / chorus

1. "Ouverture" (4:03) a pleasant upbeat instrumental to get us started--like a nice drive through the Lombard countryside. (8.75/10)

2. "Moments of Life" (10:28) a very pretty, mellow, almost STEVE HACKETT-pretty heart-jerker. At the four-minute mark an electronica sequence enters and dominates the baseline of the weave until the rock instruments kick back in with some cinematic aplomb and bombast. Nice!The break out into a swing section at the eight-minute mark is a bit hokey (and disappointing) but appropriate to the symphonic cinematic mood already promoted here. Nice emotive lead guitar work in the last 90 seconds. (17.5/20)

3. "Triptych" (6:54) sounds a bit like some of DAAL's earlier music--driven from the lower end of each musician's realms. Nice jazz-fusion instrumental work but nothing very extraordinary here except for the familiar sound palette. (13/15)

4. "Air" (6:38) sounds like sound palette behind FOCUS' "Wingless" (from the 1978 Con Proby album) with a different set of instruments exploring the lead melody transmission jobs. At 3:18 we are once more transported into the bass-heavy, 'tron-drenched "classical" music of DAAL. A top three song. (8.75/10)

5. "Psycho" (4:32) spry KEITH EMERSON-like keys sprout into the opening of this one as the rest of the band eventually fill the ELP-like musical field. The structure of this one has some really nice buildup of tension over which some nice soloing occurs. Very nice, tight construct with equally tight top-notch musicianship. Another top three song. (9/10)

6. "La Fenice alla Corte del Re" (6:34) a little foray into the territory of KING CRIMSON and NIL. Nicely done. The band can really pull it together and sound like a top notch prog band instead of a cinematic orchestra. Definitely a top three song. (9/10)

7. "Propulsione" (6:42) feels like a musical expression of some speed test. I like the play with scales and polyphony within some of the parts. Then there's the KCrimson-like vocal melody explored by the family choir. (8.75/10)

8. "Mamma RAI" (4:36) feels like a cross between a FOCUS song and the TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. (8.75/10)

9. "Threefour" (2:06) a cute little ditty that makes for a great little exit song--like going out with a waltz! (4.5/5)

Total Time 52:33

88.0 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you're into solid cinematic instrumental music.


Inspired by Hermann Hesse's fairy tale, Faldum, Liverpool-based guitarist Neil Campbell presents a gorgeous instrumental suite that he created with the collaboration of a few friends.

Line-up / Musicians:
Neil Campbell (classical, acoustic, electric and bass guitars, keyboards and electronics)
Amy Chalmers (violins)
Nicole Collarbone (cellos)
Jon Lawton (drum programming and electronics)

1. "Overture" (10:39) opens like a MIKE OLDFIELD weave from Incantations, bass, cellos, violins, guitars, and synths all layered together in a nicely flowing weave.  As I wait expectantly for the entrance of some siren-like female voice, the music shifts at 2:48 into a more Hergest Ridge-like arpeggiated classical guitar bass over which electrified cello "sings". The subtle and nuanced keyboard touches floating and flitting around in the background have powerful presence and effect. Around 5:50 the cello disappears just before the music shifts back to the "Incantations" weave. The powerful introduction of the violin strokes starting at 6:40 are wonderful. The cello'violin melody of the B motif returns--this time within the whole tapestry of sound--but then the background staccato instruments cut out leaving only the wash-flowing notes forming the waves of chords beneath the solo cello on top. Awesome! (17.5/20) 
2. "Faldum One" (3:02) drums, bass, keys, layers of guitars, cello, and violin present this gorgeous soundscape. It sounds so much of Paul Speers' work in the 1990s--especially the 1990s computer keyboard sound of the the electrified cello. Even the electric guitar starts out sounding like Paul, but then turns a little like electric Mike Oldfield. (8.875/10)

3. "Faldum Two" (4:00) back to a little more of the acoustic/classical side of sound despite the soft drums. The lead instruments that begin to gently take over the fore are much more electronically treated. The tension here feels so much like some soundtrack theme music to a psychological drama. (8.875/10)

4. "Faldum Three" (3:57) arpeggiated acoustic guitars over which violin plays the gentle melody. Sound so much like something from the Windham Hill catalogue. (8.875/10)

5. "Faldum Four" (3:24) drums, bass, and guitars combine to set up a very nice cinematic drive through the rural British countryside. What a day! Classical guitar provides the lead in the B sections. (8.667/10)

6. "Faldum Five" (4:05) heart-wrenchingly beautiful song reminding my of Jimmy Webb's finest melodies and textures. (9.25/10)

7. "Faldum Six" (3:14) violin leads this classically-feeling étude over the gently picked guitar and bass. (8.75/10)

8. "The Mountain" (16:40) opens like something from Anthony Phillips, Alan Stivell, or Laraaji. I love the way so many instruments' simple individual contributions are layered into a still-very-spacious weave. After four minutes of this I can definitely feel the repetition of the march up the mountain. The slow rise in the background of strings is, I feel, representative of not only the effort necessary to climb but of the increasingly expansive views (both panoramically and spiritually) one might gain from such an effort and accomplishment. By the tenth minute the violins and cellos have become essential contributions to the minimalist weave. This is so Eno-esque! In the 12th minute the guitar &c. weave begins to recede while the strings and synths that came late stay strong, remain after the original textural weave disappears. Brilliant! While not the most exciting or gorgeous music, it's purpose as a contemplative psycho-spiritual metaphor is well taken, well received. Thank you, Neil! Eventually even the strings fade and disappear; the song ends in peace and solitude. (27/30)

A collection of beautiful music (bordering on New Age and Smooth Jazz) that feels like a better engineered version one of Andrew Marshall's WILLOWGLASS projects. 

88.0 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of beautifully cinematic chamber prog; an wonderful addition to any prog lover's music collection.

TIME HORIZON Power of Three

Rarely have I heard Christian Rock as clean, polished, and proggy as this. (Neal Morse is the runaway leader in this genre, in my opinion.) Despite lots of styles and themes of other artists from the 70s and 80s being emulated here, this is a surprisingly engaging and refreshing album of solid classic rock-inspired Neo Prog.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Ralph Otteson / keyboards, piano, Hammond organ, backing vocals
- Bruce Gaetke / drums, baking vocals, lead vocals (4)
- Allen White / electric & fretless basses
- Dave Miller / electric & acoustic guitars
- Michael Gregory / electric & acoustic guitars
David Bradley Mau / vocals

1. "Living for a Better Day" (7:47) 1980s glam rock with bands like SAGA and a little bit of ICEHOUSE coming to mind with this one. Nice sound with lots of melodic hooks coming from individual instruments, chords, vocals, and lyrics. Solid drumming, great keyboard support in a PETER GABRIEL way, standard 1980s electric guitar power chords, and Michael Sadler or Ira Davies-like vocals. (I later found that the lead singer performing on this track was, in fact, the one and only Michael Sadler!) This is eminently listenable--even haunting me enough to draw me back for repeated visits. (14/15)

2. "I Hear I See" (6:53) despite the more-overtly Christian lyrics, the music and presentation continue to establish this band as more proggy and more polished than 99.9% of the Christian rock I've heard. Great sound engineering. Not quite as dynamic as the opener, this is still great, engaging music, with well-balanced, professional performances from all involved--even the lyricist. David Bradley Mau is such a strong, confident singer--so like the vocal "gods" of the 1980s. A very solid, enjoyable song.  (13.5/15)

3. "Prelude" (2:31) here the electric guitarist and keyboard wizard get a chance to shine a bit while setting us up for the next (though, in fact, the two songs seem totally different and distinct from one another). (4.25/5)

4. "The Razor's Edge" (4:57) here the lead vocal duties are handed over to drummer Bruce Gaetke. He's good but when compared to it's like comparing Grand Funk Railroad's DON BREWER "We're an American Band") with Mark Farner ("Closer to Home [I'm Your Captain]"). (8.5/10)

5. "Steve's Song" (3:59) beautiful little instrumental with cool fretless bass chord play and piano. Almost a EBERHARD WEBER sound and feel here. I love to just let myself float through this one. (8.75/10)

6. "Time to Wonder Why" (5:39) this one reminds me of modern IQ--sounds, chord structure, all of it! Also, it has a very plaintive Peter Nicholls-like vocal performance--all of it spawned from Tony Banks' work on Duke. A few elements don't quite gel as well as previous songs (drums, fretless bass, and reverbed vocal "choir" feel a bit incongruous.) Plus, there's no big climax or finish or lyrical reveal. Though covered by a beautiful vocal, the song refuses to make a statement. (8.33/10)

7. "The Great Divide" (6:09) the heavier, melodic-metal side of the band coming out. This could be Grand Funk, Blue Öyster Cult, Ted Nugent/Damn Yankees, or even ZZ Top. Nice background vocalise, keyboard play, and soloing in the instrumental mid-section. I can't pinpoint it, but there is something missing from the feel of this song: as if the band had to play it too many times before it got the "best" take and were drained of their enthusiasm for it, only finishing it by rote commitment. (8.667/10)

8. "Digital Us" (6:20) cool floating soundscape that takes us back to the ICEHOUSE feel of the album's opener. Man, this vocalist is so talented! David Bradley Mau makes very note, every phrase, every slurry seem so effortless and natural. Nice guitar and keyboard performances. (8.75/10)

Total Time 44:15

While this album is a sonic gem, filled with as perfectly engineered sound and mixes as one could hope for, and blessed with an amazingly gifted lead singer in David Bradley Mau, some of the songs fail to reach the heights of surprise and excitement that one hopes for (especially in a prog album). Still, as mentioned above, this may be the most pleasing, engaging prog-0riented Christian rock album I've ever heard. Kudos to the band. Now I have to go back and listen to their previous albums!

87.94 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. 

KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, & Lava

Must be a fetid year Down Under as the King and Wizard are churning 'em out with no less than five studio albums are being released in 2022 (not to mention several live albums).

Line-up / Musicians:
- Stu Mackenzie / bass, keyboards, synthesizer, percussion, vocals, vocoder, Mellotron, ocarina
- Michael Cavanagh / drums & percussion, synthesizer
- Ambrose Kenny-Smith / synthesizer, acoustic guitar, percussion, keyboards, vocals
- Joey Walker / synthesizer, percussion
- Cook Craig / keyboards
- Lucas Harwood / keyboards, synthesizer, bass

1. "Mycelium" (7:35) horrible drumming. Not a song I like at all--feels very immature and haphazardly constructed around a simple/childish riff. (11/15)

2. "Ice V" (10:15) kind of cool song though the sound levels of the component parts of the drums bug me. The groove reminds me of West Coast Canterbury Funk à la Brian Ellis or Starving Daughters. Over its ten minute length, the infectious groove thickens and has plenty of time to get your dancin' feet charged and activated. (17.75/20)

3. "Magma" (9:06) another pleasant CAN-like jam most notable for its bass, guitar, and flute play. Vocals at 4:00 establish a new dimension before the rhythm section goes back to it's Kosmische groove. The lead guitar play in the second half is nothing new, souring the song's welcome, until, that is, the choral vocals return for the final minute or two. (17/20)

4. "Lava" (6:41) flutes play gently as the rest of the "orchestra" sound as if they're warming up. I actually like it! Sounds kind of primordial, in a civilized human kind of way--though I'm also remined of the cacophonous beginning to "A Love Supreme" before everybody comes together and gels. At the 90 second mark everybody straightens up and sits back to watch/listen as the percussion crew establishes a baseline rhythm and speed for the others to begin adding their contributions to: choral vocals and spacey guitars (that remind me of POPOL VUH) At 3:50 guitars and flutes launch into some heat-rising spiral while everybody beneath trances within their Jonathan Goldman-like breathing rhythms. This could honestly be a great song for the facilitation of psychotropic breathing. A top three song for me. (9.25/10)

5. "Hell's Itch" (13:27) There's a little MOTORPSYCHO in this band despite its groove jam tendencies. A very nice groove to sink into with some entertaining contributions going on within, over, and below. Bass and drums are rock solid and well mixed for this one. The airy choral vocals are interesting if a little more challenging to understand, but they remind me of some of the nice pop vocal harmony vocal arrangement from the 1960s (though not, of course, the lyrics)--like THE BYRDS from around 1967. Another top three song. (27/30)

6. "Iron Lung" (9:04) finally the talents of the drums are fully on display--and all of the drum sounds are balanced and mixed perfectly within the rhythm track. So many incidentals occurring within the sonic field that a few times I found myself startled and looking around Plus, the searing guitar play on this one and kinetic lead singing in this one are fully charged, really get my adrenaline pumping. The spirit of bands like Arcade Fire and The Jam/The Style Council are so alive in this music! Packed so full, such great enthusiasm gelling from every which way, this is my favorite song on the album! (19.25/20)

7. "Gliese 710" (7:48) opens with some glitch-jazzy music over which some ARCADE FIRE-like choral vocals over the bluesy jazz groove. Cool vocal and lyric over some rather dull SAMSARA BLUES EXPERIMENT-like music. (13/15)

Total Time 63:56

I have to admit that this is probably my favorite King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard album that I've ever heard. With music like this (and more great Motorpsycho music) I might still be persuaded to become a Space/Psychedelia devoté.

87.88 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection. 


So glad to see these creative musicians keeping at it after their previous ten-year break before 2020's Eupnea reunion.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Jon Courtney / vocals, guitars, keyboards
- Chloë Alper / vocals, bass, keyboards
- Greg Jong / vocals, guitars
- Geoff Dugmore / drums

1. "Our Prism" (3:34) awesome heavy prog soundscape with great, powerful singing and textures. Great opener. A top three song for me. (9/10)

2. "New Kind of Evil" (8:32) feels like something found on the cutting room floor from after the Dark Third sessions. Odd pieces spliced together with incomplete-feeling development throughout. (17/20)

3. "Phantoms" (3:51) interesting electronic opening giving this a 1980s sound but once the multiple voice tracks join in and chorus is presented it starts to click. Love drums effects and aural twists and textures in the second and third minutes. Gives me a kind of 21st Century Nirvana meets Bowie feel. Another top three song. (9/10)

4. "Cruel Deliverance" (5:56) a song that seems to start without a beginning, to appear/form as if out of nothing, and then to develop chaotically, as if without a plan or without intention. Truly an interesting feel! And yet it comes together behind the repetitive choral delivery of the title phrase. Good stuff. Interesting eerie stuff in the end recitation. (8.75/10)

5. "Scream Sideways" (10:10) great four-minute intro reminiscent of the Dark Third atmospheres-into-heavy prog soundscapes. Not quite as compelling once the first vocal section takes over, but then, at 5:50 a full-on left turn into PINK FLOYD territory takes over before the heavy guitars, raspy vocals, and rich multi-layered harmony vocals join in. To add to the oddness of this composition, the vocal chorus fades at the end of the seventh minute, replaced by a hollow drum machine, which then fades, and then bluesy-heavenly piano play with ethereal multi-voiced (gong-like) vocals over the top before a very heavy MOTORPSYCHO-like instrumental passage takes over at the 9:00 mark. I've got to admit: this is not a song structure I would have predicted from PRR or any band. Risky, brave, and odd. Does it work? I'll tell you after another five or ten listens. (17.25/20)  

6. "Dead Butterfly (7:09) for the first 1:10 we are treated to piano with gorgeous mutli-track, multi-voiced harmonized vocals. Then heavy guitar chords crash in to help usher in the drums, keys, bass, and guitars for the main body of the song (and the future choruses). The verses are then sung over electro-pop synth fabric with drums and Jon's very heavily treated lead vocal. The electronica sounds and textures used here are quite unusual: I'm not sure if they're retro or totally fresh/new. Some cool codas and diversions within. I find it hard to get past the near-Led Zeppelin/Collective Soul guitar chord phrasing is a bit hard to get past though--even though you eventually get used to it. (13.25/15)

7. "Lucid" (6:49) piano and Jon's solo voce open this one before cool power up segues into great song construct--great balance between power and delicacy, emotion and atmosphere. Plus, incredible b vox by Chloë. Definitely a top three song for me. (13.5/15)

Total Time 46:01

More than Eupnea, the band is definitely back on track--back to realizing the potential displayed by their 2003 debut, The Dark Third. I only wish we could hear more of the lovely voice of Chloë Alper in the lead, but, still, the rich harmony vocal arrangements here are way better than Eupnea and almost as good as those from the early 2000s. And the sound engineering and production here is a big step up from Eupnea. Not sure what to make of all the vocal clips at each song's ending--what is the band trying to say/convey here?

87.75 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; not enough to make this a universal recommendations for all, but it is an excellent prog record that many people will love. 

KARFAGEN Land of Green and Gold

The first time Maestro Antony Kalugin has been able to work with his Karfagan collaborators in a couple years, they team up here to produce some top-level prog, mostly instrumental, and more jazz- and blues-influenced than we've heard in a while.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Antony Kalugin / keyboards, vocals, vocoder, percussion
- Alexandr Pavlov / electric, acoustic & nylon guitars (1-7,9)
- Max Velychko / acoustic & electric guitars (8,10)
- Yan Vedaman / tenor & soprano saxophones
- Konstantin Ionenko / bass & double bass
- Ivan Goritski / drums
- Sergii Kovalov / accordion (3,4)
- Elena Kushchii / flute (8)

"Chapter 1: Land of Green"
1. "Kingfisher and Dragonflies (Part 3)" (2:11) beautiful instrumental with classical guitar and synths. Very ANTHONY PHILLIPS-like. (5/5)
2. "Land of Green (Part 1)" (11:00) feels like a modernized, watered-down take on Miles Davis' Sketches from Spain or a SYNERGY/TONY BANKS or Smooth Jazz approach to such a theme. (17/20)
3. "Land of Green (Part 2)" (3:30) instrumental jazz and blues prog. (8.75/10)
4. "Solis Festum" (1:39) Fender Rhodes play joined by others in the second half and then finishing with classical guitar and accordion-led European street feel. (4.25/5)
5. "Land of Green (Part 3)" (4:58) cheesy keys and jazz sound palate gives this one a rather dated, Adult Contemporary feel--until Alexander Pavlov's high class guitar solo in the second minute. Soprano and tenor sax solos in the third minute only add the Smooth Jazz feel. Alexander's next solo in the fifth minute brings us almost into the New Age jazz category. (8.25/10)
6. "Pastoral" (1:34) solo classical guitar. (4.25/5)

"Chapter 2: Land of Gold"
7."Garden of Hope (Part 1)" (7:49) Smooth Jazz artists like Joe Sample, Ronnie & Hubert Laws, and Najee/Kenny G come to mind as I listen to this--and then Spock's Beard as I hear the vocal section. (13/15)
8. "Land of Gold" (13:20) piano and electric guitar(s) open this one. I love the pace, the solos and sounds, the bass play, and even the vocoder. My favorite song on the album. (27/30)
9. "Garden of Hope" (Part 2) (4:31) sounds like the Devonshire Canterbury band MAGIC BUS. Like the fretless bass and peaceful, pastoral keyboard and electric guitar riffing. Nice song. (8.75/10)

Bonus tracks:
Chapter 3: Land of Jazz (bonus tracks)
10. "Land of Jazz" (6:37) another venture into the proggy-fusion world of the late 70s jazz artists as listed above for the "Garden of Hope (Part 1)" song--especially Hubert Laws--with the addition of Narada Michael Walden and even some of the later RTF/Chick Corea stuff--which I loved. (9/10)
11. Land of Jazz (outro) (0:44)

Total Time 57:53

Other reviewers have mentioned a CAMEL-like sound or influence to the music here, I'm not as sold on that angle though I do hear it--I do get it--especially some of the guitar sounds chosen. There are just too many disjointed motifs present here for me to endorse that perspective. I really like the contributions of Antony's two guitarists--both with very distinctive styles--as well as his bass player. Nice work, guys!

87.71 on the Fishscales = B/solid four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.


The man cannot be stopped! Dave the Benjamin Button of progressive rock music keeps growing stronger, getting younger, collaborating with an ever-increasing number of other musicians, producing more album releases. What extra-terestrial drug- or energy-source is Mr. Newhouse tapping into?

Line-up / Musicians:
Dave Newhouse (The Muffins, Diratz, Moon Men, Manna/Mirage) - woodwinds, flute, keyboards, voice
George Newhouse - drums
Jerry King (Cloud Over Jupiter, Moon Men, Manna/Mirage) - guitars, bass, trombone, voice

1. "ZAP" (3:42) Muppets from Space intro followed by a great example of what I call "West Canterbury Coast Funk." Great tune. Could be a top three song. (8.75/10)

2. "Yggdrasil" (4:56) fans of Dan Simmons' Hyperion? Spacey blues-rock guitar wailing on two tracks over a beach-funky rhythm base. Synth and woodwinds get involved in the second half and then space-floating Steve Reichian math-rock-based finish in the final minute. Cool universe! A top three song.  (8.75/10)

3. "Interview with a Hooman" (1:09) literally.

4. "Man Of Tomorrow" (4:10) an obvious reference to Dave's 2021 release, Man Out of Time--perhaps the song or basic theme was borrowed or revamped from that album to create this song's foundation. (I'm not hearing it--unless it's a slowed-down minor key version of one the upbeat songs from that wonderful album.) Solid, engaging, scenic, and developed. (8.75/10)

5. "Invisible Man" (5:14) weirdness + catchy melodies and simple sometimes-mathematical structures = quirky fun. Full of catchy earworm melodies. (8.75/10)

6. "Pickman's Brew" (1:11) a commercial for a new galactic macro brew.

7. "La Lune Et Son Histoire" (5:19) suspenseful soundscape over which Jerry King has some room to play. (8.5/10)

8. "Trouble In Ranagar" (5:50) what if King Crimson were joined by Henry Cow or Art Zoyd? Great drumming. A top three song for me. (9/10)

9. "March Of The Moon Shadows" (7:19) catchy, melodic, engaging, and undeniably memorable. Love the trombone! My final top three song. (13.25/15)

Total Time 38:50

87.67 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

ALIANTE Destinazioni Oblique

Aa band of veteran musicians from Piacenza, Italia, release a colorful album of masterfully understated prog rock.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Davide Capitanio / electric & acoustic guitars, effects
- Michele Lenzi / keyboards, bassoon, acoustic guitar, flute
- Alfonso Capasso / bass, effects
- Jacopo Giusti / acoustic & electronic drums, didgeridoo

1."Il Mondo di Fronte" (9:24) gentle solo piano is replaced by dirty bluesy guitar riffs before full band joins in. Awesome synth-saw solo to open the festivities, then taken over by guitar. Very nice--and tasteful. At the end of the third minute we move into a beautifully melodic motif; the instruments are all woven together so nicely! Then it's back to the blues rock for the second half of the fourth minute. Great drumming.  Man! this keyboard artist excels! (Alfonso Capasso) Expansive space-synth solo in the sixth minute. Eventually Alfonso is joined by band in a slow, very spacious late night weave. Gradually the guitarist's play comes forward and becomes the focus of attention. A simple but tasteful solo over some nicely-embellished drumming. At the end of the eighth minute the guitarist's intensity--his passion--really ramps up until relaxing at 8:35 whereupon synth and rest of band jump in to even out the distribution. Nice. A top three song. (18/20)

2. "Frammenti di un Giorno" (7:03) full-band participation in this excellent melodic RPI piece. Keyboard play, guitar soli (especially the second one in the seventh minute), and drummer's embellishments are again highlights with the addition of flute in a very humble, supportive way (even during its extended solo in the fifth and sixth minutes). The flaw is in the rather simple, boring rhythm track. (13.25/15)

3. "Home Trip" (9:10) slow, soft jazz-bluesy bass-led "Papa Was a Rolling Stone"-like music within which bassoon and "distant" electric guitar gently solo. Then, at 2:46, we shift into a very moving guitar slo which elegantly combines David Gilmour's "Time" solo with Steve Hackett's famous riffs from Genesis' "Firth of Fifth." In the fifth minute we return to the "Papa/ Rolling Stone" motif for a bit before opening a door to a completely new passage--one that is initiated by prolonged solo church organ. This ends at 6:56 and is then followed by a Hammond organ into a heavier blues-rock section (with DAAL-like low end melodic base) over which synth solo until all quit for the final 30 seconds of gentle Fender Rhodes notes. Weirdly disjointed song which must be very personal to its composer. (17/20)

4. "Destinazioni Oblique" (3:17) gently played/picked acoustic guitar is soon joined by the narration of Serena Andreni--whose message is lost to me due to its delivery in Italian. As a guitar instrumental, it's okay--nicely meditative. (8.5/10)

5. "Cartimandua" (9:10) I love the more acoustic start to this but then get bored with the middle third in which a long bluesy jam band guitar solos. The third motif established for the final third allows the keyboardist some frontline time to shine but it's weak. Too mundane and straightforward. (15.5/20) 

6. "Coda Marea 04" (6:04) delivered in an odd time signature, violin has its turn as the leader until the hostile takeover of the Arp synth at the one-minute mark. At the end of the second minute we move into the heavier, more dramatic "chorus" for some wild (though notably restrained) violin screech playing. Jacopo Giusti's drum solo pretty much fills the fourth minute. (Personally, I think drum solos on studio albums are a thing of the distant past and should not exist--unless they are something extraordinarily ground-breaking or innovative--which this one is not.) After the solo, we dive back into the rock format for a semi-passionate guitar solo. (8.5/10)

7. "L'ultimo Riflesso" (7:42) opens with the first four minutes as a very pleasant, jazz-loungey exposition of pretty background music. Then the lead guitar enters in the fifth minute and slowly teases some powerfully nostalgic emotions out of us with its bluesy somewhat David Gilmour-like solo. Very pretty. Almost a top three. (13.25/15)

8. "La Salita" (7:23) what starts out as a kind of upbeat bluesy psychedelia finishes in full glory of German Kosmische Musik. Nice drumming. (13.25/15)

9. "Tra Cielo e Terra" (9:03) mood-manipulating, steady-on "lounge prog" similar to the music on MAD CRAYON's 2009 masterpiece, Preda. There is a smooth, jazzy feel to this enjoyable RIVERSIDE-paletted song, though instances of PINK FLOYD influence are present as well. I love the horn synth in seventh minute! A top three song, to be sure. (18.25/20)

10. "I Pomeriggi di Armida" (8:03) more laid back lounge-like smooth jazz with some very gentle pacing and even mostly gentle, unpretentious soloing. Very pleasant and relaxing if not so very memorable. Again, the mature confidence of the keyboard player is very impressive--a thing that becomes even more evident in the sixth and seventh minutes. He might be my new favorite--heir to the "Jørgen Grüner-Hagen Award" for consummate-yet-unobtrusive keyboard support. My final top three song. (13.5/15)

Total Time 76:19

87.65 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent addition of very pleasant and melodic progressive rock music. Nice work, Aliante!

SCHNAUSER Altra Seccatura

The pop jazz neoCanterburians from Bristol are back with another foray into--this one even more close to the modern psych-pop trends that Anglo bands like Antique Seeking Nuns, Tame Impala, Syd Arthur, and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, and, most recently, Zopp have explored (as well as Swedish band Dungen).  

Line-up / Musicians:
- Alan Strawbridge / guitar, vocals, bass
- Duncan Gammon / keyboards, vocals, synth
- Dino Christodoulou / tenor & soprano saxophones
- Jasper Williams / drums & percussion, vocals
Plus guest:
- Jon Hare / trumpets, accordion

1. "Obligations" (3:14) sounds like something that might have come from one of the Antique Seeking Nuns releases 20 years ago. Either that or 3RDegree. (8.75/10)

2. "Daddy" (5:35) Tame Impala/King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard/Syd Arthur and XTC/The Beatles. Great vocal arrangements. (8.75/10)

3. "Waltz of the Four Dark Corners" (3:50) a very interesting sound that conjures up memories of some 1960s songs while remaining totally 21st Century NeoCanterbury ((8.667/10)

4. "Positive" (3:43) pulsing accordion opens this one before strummed "gypsy" guitar and "Hurdy Gurdy"-treated voice enters. The vocal becomes more and more reminiscent of The Beatles' "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite". Still, a good song. Definitely a top three. (9/10)

5. "Do the Death" (4:34) sounds like it's going to be a song from a show like The Rocky Horror Picture Show--both in title and music. Oddly happy/upbeat song about the pandemic and human history's dance with epidemics and plagues. (8.667/10)

6. "Bistro!" (4:58) a very odd song in which the vocalist and band seem to be at complete odds throughout--the forced, straining, pitchy vocalist seems to be in a universe in which the "key" is exclusively of his own making (and rules). At the same time, there is a very Andy Partridge feel to it. (8.5/10)

7. "Forever" (3:53) nice pop music and catchy melodies. Another top three song. (8.75/10)

8. "Man Friday" (4:18) opens with organ play over walk-paced rock rhythm section. Hammond gets strong before disappearing to make way for the vocalist(s) but returns for . Cute song. (8.75/10)

9. "The Crane" (3:48) another song that opens sounding very, very much like a John Lennon/Beatles song. But, at the 0:30 mark the horns and bass instruments enter to take things into a different direction: one that could still be Beatles but has a little more klezmer feel and sound to it. (8.667/10)

10. Twisted Solar (6:05) a slowed-down, gentle melodic song to finish the album. Definitely the prettiest, most engaging music on the album as well as the most engaging vocal melody. Definitely could've been an ANTIQUE SEEKING NUNS song. My final top three song. (9/10)

Total Time 43:58

Well-composed and -performed funny, quirky/zesty music that is intended to support meaningful/message-delivering lyrics--which is a disadvantage for me since I do not hear or process words in music or poetry very well. I will say one thing about the vocals: the melodies presented by Alan & company are not ones that draw me in very well. Like the melodies of The Beatles, they just don't resonate within my being. But

87.50 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; a nice addition of upbeat, quirky pop constructs upbeat that can help to provide a nice uplift against all the negativity of these dark times.  

GOON Hour of Green Evening

Line-up / Musicians:
andy polito - drums
dillon peralta - guitar
tamara simmons - bass
alex fischel - piano, synth
emily elkin - cello
heather lockie - viola
eric clark - violin
kenny becker - guitar, vocals, synth, tape loops, piano, composer, album art

1. "Pink and Orange" (1:16) arpeggiated computer solo synth intro is joined by some percussives and more layers of synth washes and strings. (4.25/5)
2. "Angelnumber 1210" (3:32) A Top three song for me. (9/10)
3. "Another Window" (2:52) (8.75/10)
4. "Buffalo" (4:03) Another top three song. (8.875/10)
5. "Wavy Maze" (3:41) (8.25/10)
6. "Emily Says" (3:18) (8.875/10)
7. "Bend Back" (3:34) (8.667/10)
8. "Maple Dawn" (1:29) nice reflective piano solo with reverse sound tape loops in the background. (4.33/5)
9. "Ochre" (3:34) nice sound palette and melody lines. (8.75/10)
10. "Lyra" (4:10) outdoor walking sounds with acoustic guitar arpeggi before rest of band joins in to back Kenny's pleasant, MY BLOODY VALENTINE-like vocal. Beautiful chord progressions and melody lines. Another top three song for me. (8.875/10)
11. "Last Light On" (2:58) (8.75/10)

engineered by phil hartunian
mixed by brian rosemeyer
mastered by kenny becker
recorded at tropico beauty and kenny's apt

Quite a little "tired" TAME IMPALA feels to these songs. Also a lot of familiarity from the 1990s music of bands like THE CRANBERRIES, RIDE, LUSH, and other Shoegaze-DreamPop bands from the Grunge Era. Some of the songs just don't sound like a "Kenny" singing but, instead, a female.

87.50 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an excellent collection of proggy pop songs that would likely make a welcome addition to any prog lover's music collection.  

The Rankings for 2022

1. WESERBERGLAND Sacrae Symphonae nr. 1
3. TOEHIDER I Have Little to No Memories of These Memories
4. MOTORPSYCHO Ancient Astronauts
5. STRANGE POP Ten Years Gone
6. GADADU The Weatherman Is Wrong
7. iNFiNiEN Beyond the Veil
8. GREEN ASPHALT Green Asphalt
9. BLACK MIDI Hellfire
10. IKARUS Plasma

11. RETURNED TO THE EARTH Fall of the Watcher
12. RANESTRANE Apocalypse Now
14. STEVE VAI Inviolate
15. KLAUS SCHULZE Deus Arrakis
16. BREIDABLIK Alduorka
17. DREADNAUGHT The Endless
19. HAVEN OF ECHOES The Indifferent Stars

21. ARKITEKTURE Rationalis Impetus
22. DAVE BRONS Return to Arda
23. VON HERTZEN BROTHERS Red Alert in the Blue Forest
24. ELDER Innate Passage
27. INNER PROSPEKT Grey Origin
28. BEN CRAVEN Monsters from the Id
29. JONAS LINDBERG & THE OTHER SIDE Miles from Nowhere

31. OHMA Between All Things
32. GRICE Polarchoral
34. OAK The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise
35. MARILLION An Hour Before It's Dark
36. BIRTH Born
37. ALMS The Trial
38. JUPU GROUP Umpeen Kasvoivat Polut
39. SILENT TEMPLE Faery Revolution

41. THE LIGHT IN THE OCEAN Deep Reef Dream
43. MIDLAKE For the Sake of Bethel Woods
44. AUDIO'M Godzilla
45. JOHN HOLDEN Kintsugi
46. BIG BIG TRAIN Welcome to the Planet
49. TIME HORIZON Power of Three
50. KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms, & Lava

Honorable Mentions:
KARFAGEN Land of Green and Gold
ALIANTE Destinazioni Oblique
SCHNAUSER Altra Seccatura
GOON Hour of Green Evening
BUBBLEMATH Turf Ascension
GHOST TOAST Shade Without Color
GRECO BASTIEN With a Little Hell from All My Friends
GALAHAD The Last Great Adventurer
THE GUILDMASTER Liber di dictis
ED WYNNE Tumbling Through the Floativerse
ARENA The Theory of Molecular Inheritance
SIIILK Eemynor