sábado, 30 de novembro de 2013

*. Soul Cages .*

Album: Moments (1996)
Genre: Prog Metal (Melodic Metal/Neo Prog)  /  Germany

Sophomore release from this unique German progressive metal band; "Moments" is considered as their best album by the few that have delved into their discography. In short, "Moments" picks up where the self-tilted debut concluded. For those unfamiliar with Soul Cages' sound, expect a kind of an art rock / progressive metal blend with strong German-accented vocals (one of the potential low points in their music if you are that picky). The progressive metal they play I consider as innovative, influenced by late 80's Fates Warning and Sieges Even, but what defines their sound is the simultaneous use of distorted and clean guitars that creates a series of textures and distinguishes them from the masses. The female vocals are once again used with caution, injecting the magic when not expected, ultimately contributing massively to SC's very melodic character. The first half of the album is more or less a continuation of "Soul Cages" with three long, mid-tempo and beautifully laid out compositions; this type of songwriting I see as equal to the first epics of Shadow Gallery that set the scene of the progressive metal to come in the 90's and beyond. There is limited use of keyboards; on the contrary what creates the atmospheres is the combination of clean/distorted guitars. The first half - and most interesting part of this album - concludes with an "arpeggio" that lasts about a minute, while the three tracks that open the album are among the best in SC's career, with 'Moments' summing up the qualities of the band. Side two begins and ends with tracks on a more dynamic power/progressive metal pattern; while still at mid-tempo, the focus here is on the delivery of riffs and pounding drums, with the occasional melodic intervals. 'In our Hands' is potentially the weakest track of the album, but even there, the grandiose ending with the use of early Fates Warning/Iron Maiden riffology leaves a positive mark. 'My Spiritual Home' is another example of German power/prog metal in the vein of Sanvoisen and Vanden Plas, with the latter getting all the glory that the other two never enjoyed. 'Elegy' is the high point in side two, where SC find the balance between melody and virtuosity, similar to side one. 'Impressions' is the purely acoustic track of the album, a repeat of the pattern in 'Mindtrip' from their debut album, that works just as fine: simple, deep melodies with male and female vocals interchanging. "Moments" has been the last of the three albums in SC's discography that I discovered and does not disappoint. Although I would still consider their debut as their best effort, there are Moments of true brilliance here that reminds us how sometimes excellent music does not get the recognition that it deserves. 
Review by "aapatsos" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7.75 / 10

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*. Ligro .*

Album: Dictionary 2 (2012)
Genre: Prog Rock (Jazz Rock Fusion)  /  Indonesia

Moonjune Records has performed a service for progressive-rock and jazz-fusion aficionados by propagating an influx of stellar albums by Indonesian artists and bands that morph Western traditionalism into a distinct sound spectrum. One such ensemble is the power trio Ligro that, in Indonesian lingo, translates to "crazy people." Formed in 2004, its second release, Dictionary 2 is a propulsive exposition, sparked by unanticipated shifts in direction, demanding time signatures, metallic grooves and more. Guitarist and band founder Agam Hamzah's stinging guitar solos and brazen chord voicings complement a democratic group mindset, and the musicians' regimented manifesto cannot be undermined. In essence, they steer a proverbial roller coaster ride. Adi Darmawan opens "Stravinsky (with Bach Intro) with a classical motif, surging the band forward with badass lines, into a hardcore prog rock jaunt where the trio dishes out torridly maniacal riffs via bloodcurdling velocity. At times, the musicians gel to a dizzying pace as if they were living on the edge, but their diversity is expressively highlighted during various segments, evidenced by the Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsys- like "Don Juan." Here, the band morphs the psych-rock component into a fast-break schematic, tinted with nanosecond-style speed. The trio oscillates the momentum with spacey interludes and intricate dialogues amid stirring ebbs and flows. Ligro operates on 12 cylinders, but shrewdly tempers the dynamic in such a way that parallels plot development. A stunning program that borrows from the godfathers of jazz-rock and prog rock, while also enlightening the present with an artistic flair, often exercised with high-decibel output. Review by "GLENN ASTARITA" (www.allaboutjazz.com).

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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sexta-feira, 29 de novembro de 2013

*. Camel .* (Re-Recording 2013)

Album: The Snow Goose (Re-Recording) (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Symphonic Prog)  /  UK

To celebrate the return to health of guitarist & founder Andrew Latimer, 10 years after their "Farewell Tour", Camel have re-recorded their timeless classic album "The Snow Goose", with new arrangements of the original compostions. The band comprises the same line up as the Rajaz album and tour, namely Andrew Latimer, Colin Bass, Guy LeBlanc & Denis Clement. The package is topped off by new artwork, which while more subdued than the 1975 album, pays homage to the original with a stylised Snow Goose label. The album is dedicated to the late, much missed keyboard player Peter Bardens, and remembers the contributions of Bassist Doug Ferguson & Drummer Andy Ward, original members of Camel, and there at the creation of the original classic album.

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. The Great Marsh
02. Rhayader
03. Rhayader Goes To Town
04. Sanctuary (Revised Edition)
05. Fritha
06. The Snow Goose
07. Friendship
08. Migration (Revised Edition)
09. Rhayader Alone (Revised Edition)
10. Flight Of The Snow Goose
11. Preparation
12. Dunkirk
13. Epitaph (Revised Edition)
14. Fritha Alone
15. Princesse Perdue
16. The Great Marsh

Line-up / Musicians
Andrew Latimer / guitars, keyboards, flute
Guy LeBlanc / piano, organ, moog, keyboards, voice
Colin Bass / bass guitar
Denis Clement / drums, percussion, keyboards, cannon

RATING:  9 / 10


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quinta-feira, 28 de novembro de 2013

*. Discipline .*

Album: Chaos Out of Order - 25th Anniversary Reissue 1988 - 2013 (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Symphonic Prog)  /  USA

Here are a few things that have to be mentioned right at the beginning of this review, and the first is that at the time of recording Matthew was underage and Jon and Woody were just 17. Yep, what we have here is the original 'Chaos Out of Order' which was released in 1988 as a cassette, plus an additional song from 1987, enhanced as opposed to remixed as the original tapes weren't up to the task so there has been some very minor tweaks here and there. Personally, I have been after this for years but have never been able to find a copy, which probably has a lot to do with Matthew never being happy with it and after the initial production of cassettes ran out it was not re-released. It took another five years before they produced 'Push & Profit', and another four after that for 'Unfolded Like Staircase', after which there was no more. Now, I firmly believe that Discipline are one of the finest progressive bands to come out of the States in the Nineties, and I have searched out live albums and compilations, and when the band reformed for the amazing 'To Shatter All Accord' in 2011 I was overjoyed. But, there was still that niggle, just what did 'Chaos Out of Order' sound like? Many years ago I can remember chatting with Martin Orford, asking if IQ would ever reissue 'Seven Stories Into Eight', and at that time there was absolutely no plans to do so, but it was an album that many fans wanted to hear, no matter what it was like. Of course they later did make it available, along with a complete re-recording, and it was warmly received. But what about this one? Matthew has provided plenty of sleeve notes, along with the lyrics etc, but it is obvious that he has some reservations about making this available again after all these years, and in some ways I can understand why. If this album was viewed on it's own without knowing anything about its' history or the age of those involved then it is quite possible then it wouldn't get the most favourable review in the world and a listener may believe that all of Discipline's album are similar. But, if you already know their music then this is a delight in so many ways. Even at such a young age the guys are demonstrating their music dexterity and handlings of complex layers and stylings. But, there is also a naivety in what they are performing, demonstrating promise while also showing the simplicity of youth. I was surprised at just how much I kept being reminded of Todd Rundgren when I played this, as it isn't an artist that I normally associate with these guys, which shows just how far they had to go to reach their true identity. 
Review by "kev rowland" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  ??????????????

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*. RanestRane .*

Album: A Space Odyssey - Part I Monolith (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Symphonic/RPI/Rock Opera)  /  Italy

Special guests on this album are the singer Steve Hogarth and guitarist Steven Rothery, members of the English band Marillion, who embellished the album with lyrics and songwriting of high artistic value. The disc ranges from pinkfloydian atmospheres to most symphonic progs traits with great escapes of keyboards and guitar solos, where the sweetness and melody are the masters. It surely reaches the pinnacle of the current career of the Roman group. In addition, the collaboration between one of the most important bands of international Prog, Marillion, and the Italian band RanestRane (a unique event in Italian prog) definitely brings the band to a different level than it has ever happened in recent years to current and contemporary artists. (www.justforkicks.de)

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Semi
02. Fluttuero
03. Stazione Orbitante Uno
04. Materna Luna
05. Clavius
06. Il Monouto Di Tycho

Line-up / Musicians
Maurizio Meo / bass, double bass
Daniele Pomo / vocals, drums, percussions, flute
Massimo Pomo / guitars
Riccardo Romano / keyboards, harp, programming
With:
Steven Rothery (Marillion) / guitars
Steve Hogarth (Marillion) / vocals

RATING:  ??????????????

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*. Annwn .*

Album: Orbis Alia (2007)
Genre: Soft Prog Folk (Acoustic/Celtic Folk/Medieval)  /  Germany

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Madre Deus
02. Douce Dame Jolie
03. Herr Mannelig
04. La Rosa Enflorece
05. Faili Faili Oro
06. Ay Linda Amiga
07. El Rey De Francia
08. Bwthyn Fy Nain
09. Cuncti Simus
10. Palästinalied
11. Quen A Omagen
12. Fairy Spell (Acoustic Version)

Line-up / Musicians
Sabine Hornung / harpe, vocal, accordion
Tobias von Schmude / 6-string, 12-string, bouzouki, lute, theorbo, programming
Barbara Zimmermann / keßler / cello
Eva Terbuyken / violin, viola
Christine Krull Kapi / woodwinds
Thomas Wallert / percussion
Dirk Freyer / Recordings, Programming

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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quarta-feira, 27 de novembro de 2013

*. Anjo Gabriel .*

Album: Lucifer Rising (2013)
Genre: Psychedelic Rock (Stoner/Exp./Jam Band/Krautrock)  /  Brazil

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Lucifer Rising Part I (18:33)
I - Volcanos & Lizards (Drone)
II - Nayasteps
III - Förvandlas Till Ar ( Se Transformar em Ar)
IV - Ascenção dos Drúidas
02. Lucifer Rising Part II (12:16)
V - Tigre
VI - Melting Transition
VII - The High Priestess's Slide
VIII - Pass
IX - UFO's Wizard Flashback

Line-up / Musicians
Cristiano Ras / guitars, vocals
André Sette / synthesizer, theremin, harmonium, vocals
Marco Da Lata / bass, vocals
CH Malves / drums

RATING:  ??????????????

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*. Wigwam .* (Remaster 2013 + Bonus)

Album: Tombstone Valentine (1970)(Remaster 2013 + 2 Bonus)
Genre: Prog Rock (Psych/Jazz/Blues/Art Rock)  /  Finland

Released in 1970, WIGWAM's second album "Tombstone Valentine" uniquely stands on its own as not only a precursor to what was still to come but also a wonderful album bubbling over with soul searching folk/psych/prog leanings. The first few WIGWAM albums are truly wonderful and generally cover a wide range of musical ground. This album is a collection is 11 tracks with a heavy focus on folk-blues-rock songs giving at times allusion to the symphonic prog the later albums would explore. Hard to exactly peg down this album but definitely hear some PROCOL HARUM and a piece of maybe folk-era HOELDERLIN. "Tombstone Valentine" introduced us to new WIGWAM members Jukka Tolonen (guitarist) and bassist/composer Pekka Pohjola. WIGWAM were lead by both Jukka Gustavson (organ, piano) and vocalist England's Jim Pembroke'. Overall this is an excellent album that showed WIGWAM in early form performing unconventional and original selection of folk/prog and clearly shows a young band searching for a chemistry that began to gel on this album. Review by "loserboy" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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*. Walrus .*

Album: Walrus (2013)(Ep)
Genre: Psychedelic Rock (Electronic/Exp./Krautrock)  /  Sweden

With a name like Walrus, you've got to be good. This instrumental band is indeed talented. However, I'm not sure about the inventive or originality parts. They play their instruments with ease and precision, but I've heard this all before somehow. This music is labelled as psychedelic/space rock, but there is more heavy prog here, methinks. They almost get a djenty sound at times, and there is a ton of bass. Yet, they lack personality. If a band decides to be instrumental only, I feel they need to be able to express themselves eccentrically. There are such bands, such as Joseph Magazine or Hostsonaten, that can do this with ease. Walrus, on the other hand, sounds very cold and disconnected. So, this is a good album, but I feel they need to work on their collective personality in music. Sometimes, a little charm, such as in Colin Masson's instrumental work, can go a long way. 
Review by "Second Life Syndrome" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  ??????????????

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terça-feira, 26 de novembro de 2013

*. Maneige .*

Album: Images (1983)
Genre: Prog Rock (Jazz/Rock/Pop)  /  Canada

Some three years after Montreal 6AM, out of the blue came out the last Maneige studio, so unexpected that it went out of view quickly and I never became aware of this album until the end of the 90's. What to say of this record? That the arty/trendy artwork is awful, that it came out on the same local Trans-Canada label and that the line-up is quite different? All true! This is not that much a Maneige album since that even with the return of Schetagne on drums, only remain Leonard on Bass and Bergeron on winds and keys. Don't get me wrong, the album is still good (especially considering the date of release), and if they try to maintain a high quality of musicianship and good composing, Maneige tried to update themselves and, in the process, lost part of their soul. Nothing really scandalous, I assure you, but the fan can only be deceived. With no tracks above the 3:45 mark, the "songs" are rather concise and up to the point. Actually, the JR/F elements are still quite present but the general feel is moiré in the rock/pop direction than ever before. Ballade En Hiver is probably the highlight of a track selection that fails to surprise, but has no weak tracks either. The two newcomers (the guitarist and main keyman) do a credible job, but fail to dazzle. This album might get someday a Cd re-issue, but the vinyl should not be hard to find at reasonable price! Given the Canadian post tariffs, avoid ordering from Canada unless you plan to bring it home in your luggage. In itself, this epilogue is not a bad album per se, but in the light of the previous discography, it was high time that Maneige stopped here. Quite a classy "Album De Trop", though! I would say for fans only. Review by "Sean Trane" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7 / 10

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*. Ancient Sky .*

Album: All Get Out (2013)
Genre: Psychedelic Rock (Drone/Folk Rock)  /  USA

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Wishing Well
02. Master Cleanse
03. The Trace
04. Invisible Hand
05. Mystery School
06. Trick It
07. Station
08. Hazy Mazy

Line-up / Musicians
Brian Markham / vocals, guitar
Dima Drjuchin / guitar
Pat Broderick / drums
Mike Kutchman / bass
With:
Brandon Evans / synth on 2,6
Danny Fischer-Lochhead / saxophone on 1,8

RATING:  7 / 10

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segunda-feira, 25 de novembro de 2013

*. Sophya Baccini's Aradia .*

Album: Big Red Dragon (The William Blake's Vision) (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Symphonic/RPI/Rock Opera)  /  Italy

Since the first time I heard Sophya's astonishing voice (at the Pro(g)Liguria fundraising concert) I was captured by her powerful vocal range and her technical performance. At that time I wasn't aware she is also a good piano player and a proficient composer! With her new band, mainly composed by female artists, you don't have to think that Sophya takes distance from her first work "Aradia" (from which the name of the band is taken), because the atmosphere is equally epic and the music is largely inspired by classic, symphonic and choral compositions. But in "Big Red Dragon" is added a more intense rock background which gives to the music a different taste. Forget about odd tempos, difficult breaks and other conventional prog motifs! This kind of music is enriched with surreal atmosphere which immediately surrounds you and gradually captures your attention, as you would be bewitched and enchanted! When you listen to the album for the first time, you feel as gradually driven in the epic, classical mood through the "camel-ish" guitar solos, the great symphonic music background and the choral singing with the leading voice reaching tunes to the sky! With a little difference to the first album Sophya's singing, even technically perfect, is more inspired and oriented to interpretation. It's difficult to find the best track, because the powerful musical impact surprises and captures the listener all the time, but I have found more ecstatic references in "Love of Hecate" (where the great keyboard player Elisa Montaldo from IL TEMPIO DELLE CLESSIDRE gives her contribution), "Just", where Sophya's singing reaches perfection and music intensity is almost touchable, "Cerberus", which gives us an astonishing and surprising intro and the title track "Big Red Dragon", with its powerful rock mood. Last but not least, the incredible version of "Jerusalem", which became a prog standard thanks to the ELP version, and with which the version of ths album fights to be the best one! Review by "progpromoter" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  ??????????????

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*. Maddy Prior .*

Album: Ravenchild (1999)
Genre: Prog Folk (Contemporary/British Folk)  /  UK

Maddy marks the final severance of the Steeleye Span umbilical cord with an epic, part-thematic solo work. Well, I'll be jiggered. Freed of all that rollicking folkery La Prior has dug deep into traditional mystique to emerge with an album of real depth and gravity. Inspired by, of all things, a wildlife TV series, a large chunk is devoted to a sequence of her own songs exploring myths surrounding ravens and wielding a grandeur that almost merits assesment as modern ballad opera. She's no stranger to dramatic themes, of course, but the war drums driving along Twankydillo and Nick Holland's enlightened piano accompaniment to Bold Poachers give notice of a fresher, more organic approach, end even invest more emotional strength to her singing. The raven section could have been embarrassing, but while it is outshone by the impressic set of neo-Napoleonic songs preceding it, inspired arrangements, graceful production (by Troy Donockley and Nick Holland) and Prior's own innate sense of mystique make it work remarkably well. Her best album in a long while. Review by "Colin Irwin" (http://mainlynorfolk.info).

RATING:  8.75 / 10   **FANTASTIC**

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*. Ultime Atome .* (Re-Post)

Album: Dark Visions (2003)
Genre: Prog Rock (Crossover/Dark/Neo Prog)  /  France

Ultime Atome is a progressive rock band from France formed around early'90's but manage to come with a single album so far named Dark visions from 2003 issued at Musea records. The music this band offers has a touch of neo prog combined with dark, intense mid tempo arrangements, and they are a little heavier then Mariilion, but the vocalist Jean Marc Tesorio is almost one on one with Fish - Fugazi era. Here are only 4 tracks, one of them clocking around 22 min, the rest are also long, with plenty of great instrumental passages who are very intricate, have an epic feel, mid tempo with lots of guitars and heavier keyboards.Also the album has a gothic feel, very dark and unique in same time, but the complexity of the pieces make them for sure a progressive rock band. So , a very pleasent album to me, very emotional, deep and with super moments make me put 4 stars to Dark visions. A solid release that needs a wider recognition for sure. All 4 pieces are great, specially the moments when the voice is active, very good vocalist and very theatrical in places like Fish was in his glory days. Recommended album and band for those who like the type of neo prog with a dark intense moments. Review by "b_olariu" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  8.75 / 10   **MARVELLOUS**

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*. Etánisis .*

Album: El Corazón de la Tierra (2013)
Genre: Progressive Metal  /  Mexico

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Preludio
02. Buscando la Verdad
03. Sangre de mi Sangre
04. Expedición
05. El Corazón de la Tierra
06. Beso de la Muerte
07. Psicosis
08. Sólo un Sueño
09. El Hallazgo
10. Blood of my Blood
11. Preludio (Versión Orquestal)

Line-up / Musicians
Alejandro Durán / Vocals
León Villalobos / Guitars
Armando Villalobos / Keyboards
Gerardo Sánchez / Bass
Luis Aguilar / Drums

RATING:  ??????????????


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domingo, 24 de novembro de 2013

*. Shamall .*

Album: Turn Off (2013)(2Cd's)
Genre: Prog Rock (Crossover/Electronic/Psych./Exp.)  /  Germany

Four years after the release of the successful double album "Is this human behavior" Shamall is back now with nearly 160 minutes of great songs full of emotions and finest impressive retro prog. Even after almost 28 years, the 16th Shamall-release "Turn Off" shows no signs of fatigue at all. While Norbert Krueler basically stayed true to his line, the new album has been enriched with the female voice of vocal artist Anke Ullrich. Whether solo or second voice or choir: These female vocals know how to please. Generally the authentic vocals ensure that the music never turned out too sterile. Once again, "Turn Off " attend to global environmental problems, along the lines, that music is the best medium to provoke thoughts concerning political or ecological issues. The recent opus "Turn Off" is another proof of Shamall's reputation as "German Pink Floyd with own influences" because of his energetic, dynamic synthesizers and keyboards. This style of playing convinces with great power and clarity and shouldn't be listened to in the background. However the whole album does not turn into another Pink Floyd Clone because of the interplay of keyboards with the guitar of Matthias Mehrtens, who has grown up in the era of Steve Vai, but mutated into an independent musical development with many variants and impressive compositions. Despite more recent musical influences, the spirit of the 70s and 80s is omnipresent. Sometimes dreamy lifted, sometimes playful and funky, guitars and synthesizers provide always an exciting battle. Like its predecessors, "Turn Off " is composed of two musical main themes, where vocal passages either finalize or dissolve the arc of suspense. Atmospheric soundscapes, passionately played, arouse curiosity of what comes next. This album is dramatic and melancholic. Goosebumps guaranteed. (www.shamall.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing - CD1
01. Shine a Light
02. It's Been a Long Time (Pt.1)
03. Shout it Out
04. The Devil Never Sleeps
05. Never Before the Demand Was Shout Out that Loud
06. Playing for the Ashes
07. Voices (Pt.1)
08. Voices (Pt.2)
09. Too Many People (Pt.1)
10. Too Many People (Pt.2)
11. So Much is on the Line

Songs / Tracks Listing - CD2
01. Diversion
02. The Creeping Dead
03. Reflective
04. Clouds Obscure the Sun
05. Horrible Nightmare
06. At the End of Time
07. The Hidden Enemy
08. Companion of Fortune
09. Wounded World
10. Turn Off (Pt.1)
11. Turn Off (Pt.2)
12. In these Days

RATING:  ??????????????


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*. La Desooorden .*

Album: El Andarín (2012)
Genre: Prog Rock (Jazz Rock/Fusion/Crossover)  /  Chile

Chilean band La Desooorden were one of my finds of 2007 and their album Ciudad De Papel deserved its place in my top ten of that year. If anything the album has increased in stature over the intervening period and is one I reach for quite often so it was with a great deal of excitement that I heard that a new album was finally arriving in 2012. Sadly, this was tempered with disappointment as it appears that the band is now no more and El Andarín is a posthumous release. It is often difficult for a group so steeped in their native music and culture and who release albums independently to get themselves heard in the outside world but La Desooorden is certainly one that merits further investigation from those who enjoy music that is outside the box and influenced from a multitude of disparate sources. Their music is an exquisite melding of traditional indigenous sounds and instrumentation with rock rhythms and influences from all over the world. The playing from this septet and guests is top notch and the album well recorded with an atmospheric feel shot through with South American vibes. Sounds from nature are used to conjure up mental images of the vastness and diversity of the continent and the eclectic array of instruments is deployed to great effect in a concept that tells of The Walker of the album’s title and his journey across the continent on a course defined by his spirit, the landscape and the characters he encounters along the way. The scenery and his experiences are captured in the variety of textures within the music. Trumpets and saxophones feature prominently in a number of tracks and plaintive violin is well used as a guest here and there allowing the natural timbres of the album to shine through. Short, linking tracks build atmosphere while the music strays from jazz rhythms through almost metallic guitar to haunting ballads, all sung in Spanish, that give a sense of the journey as it unfolds through city and wilderness. The brass colours the sound but direct comparisons are hard to note in this heady and thought provoking brew with a particularly positive edge. The traditional rock instruments mix on an equal footing with their more traditional counterparts, each faction getting the spotlight where the music requires it, often within the same piece. Drums build steady rhythms with influences from their latin heritage but also jazz and rock and percussion is used to great effect featuring a vast array of instruments including berimbau, djembe and tabla, the mix of exotic and driving rhythms is compulsive. The vocals are strong and the melodies interesting and accessible. Sometimes the band takes on an almost metallic hue but the brass instruments and violins don’t let it become one-dimensional and this is a fantastic listen from a band that deserves a far wider following. Solo instruments from flute to saxophone, violin to electric guitar come and go in an exhilarating flow. Mouth harp and didgeridoo add their own individual voices and the result is quite breathtaking, the variety of the journey described in full by the chosen instruments. La Desooorden aren’t afraid to mix genres and go where their muse takes them and for this they are to be applauded. El Andarín is a pan-global delight that keeps the flavour of its local inspirations close. The mix of simple flutes and drums in an Amazonian rainstorm sit well with the more driving rock and jazz settings and, like groups such as Afro Celt Sound System, they enjoy dropping in instruments that may be alien as long as the sound fits such as a tabla that works a treat with spoken word Spanish voice, thrashing rock guitar and jazz rhythms. There are aggressive sections that verge on metal or freeform jazz but it is the beauty and variety that makes it all work so well. There are the carnival rhythms of Rio, indigenous sounds of Amazon and Andes, the industrialised bustle of the port city of Buenos Aires and a fast paced track that could be the theme to a ‘50s cop show set in downtown Valpariso. The CD-ROM portion of the beautifully packaged disc includes many features to help understand the journey including lyrics translated into English and a game that follows the route of El Andarin through South America. Also included are photo galleries and two videos of the band in action, one cut together in the studio, the other live in concert. This album is a compelling and satisfying listen, another candidate for a high placing in the end of year poll. La Desooorden are a particularly talented bunch and it is sad that they’ve decided to call it a day. 
Review by "Jez Rowden" (www.dprp.net).

RATING:  8.75 / 10   **GREAT**

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sábado, 23 de novembro de 2013

*. Navigator .*

Album: Ghostwood (2013)(Ep)
Genre: Prog Rock (Crossover/Alternative/Pop/Metal)  /  USA

Ghostwood is the debut EP by Greensboro, North Carolina based progressive rock band Navigator. With a sound that combines cinematic ambiance with angular riffs and hook-laden melody, the album breaks genre barriers to deliver something fresh and new. For fans of: Fair to Midland, Porcupine Tree, and TesseracT. 
(http://navigator-nc.bandcamp.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. To The Wolves
02. Three Days
03. Ghostwood
04. Footprint
05. The Thaw

Line-up / Musicians
Nick Marcone / Guitars, Vocals, Keyboards
Kurt Conway / Keyboards, Programming, Orchestration
Carter McDevitt / Bass

RATING:  ??????????????

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*. Barock Project .*

Album: Barock Project (2005)(Demo)
Genre: Prog Rock (Symphonic/Neo Prog)  /  Italy

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Eclissi (9:15)
02. Odio (4:54)
03. Volo (4:27)
04. Gentile Direttoro (3:41)
05. La danza senza fine (5:54)
06. Un altro mondo (6:48)

Line-up / Musicians
Luca Pancaldi / vocals
Luca Zabbini / keyboards, backing vocals
Vincenzo Pastano / guitars
G.B. Giorgi / bass
Giacomo Calabria / drums

RATING:  7 / 10

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*. Dan Ar Braz .*

Album: l'Heritage des Celtes - Finisterres (1997)
Genre: Prog Folk (Contemporary/Celtic Folk)  /  France

I was first introduced to this band after seeing them sing their entry "Diwanit Bugale" for France at the 1996 Eurovision song Contest, and it is the only song ever to be sung in Breton in the history of the contest.There is a good mix of Scottish, Irish, Welsh and French songs on here of a very high standard, Celtic folk at it's best!. 
Review by "N. Warner" (www.amazon.co.uk).

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Broken Prayer
02. Holyhead
03. La Costa de Galicia
04. Mi le M' Uilinn
05. Ril an Suaimhnis (The Cooper Hills of Beara)
06. Le Pays
07. Evit AR Barz
08. La Broella
09. Kilbrandon (The Little Cascade)
10. Left in Peace
11. Finisterres
12. Se Mo Gradh Na Gamhna Geala
13. The Chestnut Tree/The Deraming Sea/Micheal O'Dwyer's Jig
14. Diwanit Bugale

RATING:  8 / 10

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*. Gambit .*

Album: Abyssal (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Crossover/Neo Prog)  /  France

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Abyssal...
02. Le Manege en Chantier
03. La Valeur des Choses
04. The Froggy Tongue
05. Le Neant 10:07
06. La Course Contre le Temps
07. ...Abyssal

Line-up / Musicians
Stephane Chefdeville / Guitars
Patrick Follaco / Vocals
Gerald Garnier / Drums
Stephane Guenoun / Keyboards
Jean-Luc Simon / Bass

RATING:  8 / 10   **GREAT**

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sexta-feira, 22 de novembro de 2013

*. Harsh Toke .*

Album: Light Up and Live (2013)
Genre: Psychedelic Rock (Acid Rock/Stoner/Jam Band)  /  USA

Like a destructive wind bursting and shredding these six strings of space release some 5,000 notes circleing and oscillating around timelessly and unremittingly in and out of the beating heart and core groove of the drums, the banging the bashing allows the bass to seem far out as a cosmic buffet of pounding and pummeling and punishing and as if underneath the ocean came an atmospheric astral plane of sounds infinite and fuzzed down to the bone do these keyboard ivories tickle as if lost in space. But out with the bull and in with the real, these 4 music lovers and jam crazed heavy seekers search to get that sound aloud and and make a ton of fucking noise... (www.facebook.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Rest in Prince (4:10)
02. Weight of the Sun (14:30)
03. Light Up and Live (9:47)
04. Plug in to The Moon (10:08)

Line-up / Musicians
Justin Figueroa / Guitars
Richie Belton / Bass
Austin Ayub / Drums
Gabe Messer / Keyboards

RATING:  ??????????????

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*. Triana .*

Album: Un Camino Por Andar (2007)
Genre: Prog Rock (Crossover/Folk/Andalusian/Pop)  /  Spain

The already mythical band Triana that it was born in 1974 taking the name of the Sevillian neighborhood and that abanderó the style called rockandaluz extracts a new disc with a few characteristics of letter, music and sound similar to the works that were more success for the band there at the end of the 70s, beginning of the 80. With the controversy that it supposes that the current formation does not present none of Triana's founding components also is true that the musicians who compose the band are those who have continued realizing concerts under Triana's name and that his vocalist, Juan Reina, was the one who replaced Jesus de la Rosa after the death of the latter in 1983. Polemics apart on the genuineness and nominal rights, "Un camino por andar" is a disc where there has looked after itself this sound 'Triana' that falls from the first song and where it is easy to identify and to relate with the style that still we were guarding in the memory. Ten are the songs that compose this disc that relies on level collaborations as Charlie Cepeda in the review of ' Sr. Troncoso ' or Manuel Molina the Flemish (Andalusian gipsy) guitar in ' La fuerza del amor '. Most of the authorship of the disc as for music and letters corresponds to Juan Reina and Andrés Herrera (' the bird ') and the love is the backbone of the subject matter of the disc. It includes in addition an instrumental honoring to Tele, who was A Triana's founding battery and to emphasize the sound of palms that are included in some songs, very guessed right. Of one or another form Triana is still present, the seed that was sowed always will be there. Review by "Jabalcuz" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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quinta-feira, 21 de novembro de 2013

*. Aktuala .* (Reissue 2013 + Bonus)

Album: Tappeto Volante (1976)(Reissue 2013 + 1 Bonus)
Genre: Prog Folk (Avant Folk/Free Improvisation/Ethnic)  /  Italy

Aktuala’s final release shows a band that seems to have run out of steam since their debut, or possibly they simply don’t have anything new to say. This is pretty much an instrumental album, although there are some barely perceptible spoken-word passages and a bit of chanting. The wide array of African and Eastern instruments present on the first album are here again, and a few new ones to boot. But they mostly appear as showcased ‘solos’, not as integrated arrangements. In some places like “Hare” and “Mediterraneo” the players just seem to be noodling. At other times the sounds are more cohesive (“Echo Raga” in particular), but nearly all the songs appear to be unfinished thoughts that were never fleshed out. And indeed except for “Ugula Baliuè African Planet” and “Waruna”, none of the thirteen tracks here even reaches four minutes. “Waruna” is quite beautiful however, and recalls the elaborated Eastern sounds of the flute as well as the African and Eastern drums of ”Sarah' Ngwega” from the band’s debut. “Ugula Baliuè African Planet” is more frenzied, almost martial at times, and the flute players actually try too hard and end up sounding rushed and almost impatient. The rest of the tracks here are pretty conservative, good but not attention-grabbing like the band’s debut was. I still think this is a good record, mostly because the wide array of instruments and broad range of sounds make for an interesting and eclectic sampler of all sorts of world music sounds. But that’s what this really is – a sampler, not a truly cohesive body of carefully arranged compositions. If you want to hear Aktuala in all their glory theit self-titled debut is the way to go. This one is decent but doesn’t reach the heights of that first record, and as such is worthy only of three stars (barely), and a mild recommendation. 
Review by "ClemofNazareth" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7 / 10

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*. Mind! .*

Album: Stunde Null (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Psych./Space Rock/Stoner/Krautrock)  /  Spain

Mind! are a new spacerock quartet from Algeciras, Spain. Riding in on a wave of rolling chords and motorik beats, Mind! epitomize the traditional spacerock sound, drawing on influences such as Hawkwind and Pink Floyd. A rush of cosmic noise ushers in the first song, Sundrun Hreyfingarlaus, an instrumental based around a simple but effective chord progression, with various effects and layers of sound building one upon the next till the lead guitar finally takes over, bringing a bit of somewhat belated melody to the sonic textures. Battery Licker is the most overtly Hawkwind styled song on the album, built again on a simple chord progression, but with some cool lead guitar interspersed between the Dave Brock like vocals. Things catch fire on Cucumbers From Mars, to me the real centerpiece of the album: a menacing baseline reminiscent of early Floyd is paired with trippy 1960′s style organ swirling through creepy passages of sound, all building, after almost 9-minutes to a deliciously chaotic conclusion. Magallanes is a dark and spooky desert piece that reminded me a bit of the kind of sound the band Earth have been exploring. It’s unfortunately brief, clocking in at just over 2-minutes. I thought it would have made a nice intro to a longer piece, but it ends all too soon with a quick fade out. The band redeem themselves, however, with the trippy Cosmic Tide, a slow and drifting wave of spacious vibes, dreamy guitar and blissed out vocals. Time to Fly is the longest track on the album at just over 10-minutes. The first half is a pulsing, march-like odyssey, that brought to mind the weird, rocky alien landscapes from the covers of those old sci-fi novels of the 60′s and 70′s. It gives way to a very Floydian turn, reminding me of something perhaps from the Wish You Were Here period, with lush strumming acoustic guitars, lysergic singing and a soaring, Gilmouresque lead guitar. The album concludes with the brief Senallagam. As its title would suggest, it’s basically Magallanes played backwards. The band has a good vibe going, but at times seems a bit derivative to me. The other thing I felt was that the songs got a bit repetitive at times. Not that the songs sound the same as each other; each one definitely has its own feel, but within the songs, riffs get repeated often, as well as vocal lines. The band write some affective melodies, but I kept waiting for it to change, for perhaps a chorus to come, but it was all verses. These are little nitpicky points, meant not to put down but to encourage. There’s certainly talent here, and I`m sure the band will find its own sound as they develop. Stunde Null is definitely worth a listen, though. Perhaps not a spacerock classic in its own right, but a definite step in the right direction with some cool sonic ideas happening. Review by "Jeff Fitzgerald" (http://aural-innovations.com).

RATING:  7.75 / 10

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*. Midlake .*

Album: Bamnan and Slivercork (2001)(Reissue 2004)
Genre: Prog Folk (Acoustic/Chamber Folk/Alternative)  /  USA

In retrospect, for a person who got introduced to Midlake with the pastoral, warm log cabin rock journey of The Trials of Van Occupanther, the band's debut can come off as quite baffling. Gone are the gentle strings and flutes, the warm acoustic guitars and blissful backing vocal harmonies. Instead Bamnan and Slivercork is crammed full of fuzzy analogue keyboards, lo-fi synths and at times almost mechanically played drum beats. Instead of the tales of the lives and hardships of 1800's settlers and pioneers, Tim Smith's stories offers character studies of eccentrics trapped in some fantasyland where technology works in the most quirkiest ways and the ubiquitous monocle men roam the valleys with their half-orb carts, not letting anyone off their sights. Bamnan's special quality however is that it still has the same wonderful warmth Trials had - a trait that seems to be a key signature of Midlake - but in a vastly different form. The soft, gentle textures exist but are lost in the labyrinthine factories and science labs the lyrics portray: wrapped in synthetic elements of the music. Take "Balloon Maker" for example: strip it down and you've got a song that you could have found on Trials, rich in vocal harmonies and so forth. Then layer that core with countless keyboards, synthetic-sounding horns and yet more keyboards, resulting in such a thick texture that there's no space left in the sound. The result is brilliant. And that density in sound is where Bamnan's general brilliance lies in. The layered sound, mixed with the fuzziness of the overall production, the robotic rhythm section (the drumming on the album is generally brilliant) and the quirky, oddball lyrics creates a mixture that sounds like its own. Smith's melodic and weary vocals, eternally given up and submitting to his own fate in tone, adds a human touch to the synthetic music. Bamnan works in this so well that it becomes a part of the rare breed of albums where the atmosphere is so thick it can't help but sweep the listener away in some fantasy world for the duration of the album. It's strong enough to cover some of the flaws in songwriting - while certain tracks raise to the heights of absolute and undeniable brilliance ("Balloon Maker", "Some of Them Were Superstitious", "Kingfish Pies", "Mopper's Medley" to name the greatest moments), some aren't too exciting: "I Guess I'll Take Care" only picks up during its latter half and "The Jungler" is particularly inmemorable. Neither however feel like total failures as the sound gimmick of the whole album transforms them to be an equal part of the narrative - slightly clumsier moments, but fitting nonetheless. Which, overall, turns Midlake into a remarkably curious band that has managed to make two completely different yet distinguishably similar album, and turns Bamnan & Slivercork one of the most intriguing - and generally best - debuts of the decade. Review by "FlintGF" (Rate Your Music).

RATING:  7.75 / 10

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*. Corde Oblique .*

Album: Respiri (2005)
Genre: Prog Folk (Acoustic/Neofolk)  /  Italy

On the eve of CORDE OBLIQUE's 5th release, conforming to an implicit biannual schedule, it seems fitting to tie up loose ends, the most glaring among these being an overdue look at their debut album from 2005. Other than a few interspersed spoken segments, this album does not express any traits dispensed with in subsequent releases. The classical guitar of Riccard Prencipe, the violin of Alfredo Notarloberti, and the cadre of self possessed female vocalists collaborate in a vaguely familiar yet singular Celtic inflected Mediterranean folk rock which passes for both modern and ancient. A subtle sense of foreboding is also imparted, and relatively few pop oriented inflections are extant at this time. As in most of the catalog, the listener is drawn in immediately with "Intro (Captatio Benevolentiae)", a brief spoke portion rapidly supplanted with a blistering violin solo backed by chasmic percussion. The first part of "My Promise" maintains that energy with wordless vocal chants while the second is perhaps a more typically sweet violin and guitar oriented tune. "Eventi" is the only track sung by male lead, and is one of my favourites with its multitracked half spoken vocals, which bust out later a la FRANCO BATTIATIO. "Waves" features English vocals both sung and spoken and also varies the tempos as consistent throughout the disk. "Ascesi" and "Fantasia Sui Tasti Bianchi" offer welcome variety, the former with its use of clarinet and the latter as largely a solo piano piece by Francesco Villani, and a consummate one at that. "Orme" is notable for sounding like CLANNAD and ARES, but is more effective than either because it represents a facet rather than an an immutable identity. "Dentro's" operatic vocals would be adapted on "Cuma" on the subsequent offering, but they are no less effective here. The last 3 tracks suffer somewhat from a sense of spent energy, and the 10+ minute length of the closer is misleading as it includes several moments of apparent silence followed by a reprise of "orme". Still, if "Volonta D'Arte" was a mature sophomore effort, "Respiri" demonstrates that Mr Prencipe was more than ready to go solo by 2005 and represents a deep first breath from CORDE OBLIQUE. Review by "kenethlevine" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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quarta-feira, 20 de novembro de 2013

*. EYE .*

Album: Second Sight (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Psych./Space Rock/Symphonic/Heavy)  /  USA

Couldn't wait for this to come out! These four rockers out of Columbus Ohio are the epitome of what psychedelic rock should be. Imagine if a heavier Pink floyd was playing on Saturn's outer ring...Yep. Second Sight is definitely more progressive and out there than their previous album Center of the Sun and that's fine by me. Just an amazingly great album to kick back and turn up. Favorite track: Cultrider. Review by "Wonderock" (http://eyemusic.bandcamp.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Lost are the Years (21:24)
02. Wooden Nickels (03:08)
03. Cultrider (12:03)
04. Second Sight (03:38)
05. Waiting For The Tide (04:40)

Line-up / Musicians
Matt Auxier / guitar, vocals
Matt Bailey / bass
Brandon Smith / drums, vocals
Adam Smith / organ, Mellotron, synths
With:
Amy Michele Hoffman / voices
Anthony Jacobs / percussion & voices

RATING:  8.5 / 10   **MARVELLOUS**

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*. Toxic Smile .*

Album: 7 (2013)
Genre: Prog Metal (Prog Rock)  /  Germany

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. From Inside Out
02. Barfeooted Man
03. Needless
04. Love Without Creation
05. Rayless Sun
06. King Of Nowhere
07. Afterglow

Line-up / Musicians
Larry B. / vocals
Marek Arnold / keyboards, saxophones
Uwe Reinholz / guitar, vocals
Robert Brenner / bass
Robert Eisfeldt / drums
With:
Cat Henschelmann / violins
Kiri Geile / vocal shouts

RATING:  ??????????????


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terça-feira, 19 de novembro de 2013

*. Fatal Fusion .*

Album: The Ancient Tale (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Symphonic/Crossover Prog)  /  Norway

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. City of Zerych
02. Halls of Amenti
03. The Divine Comedy
04. Tears I’ve Cried
05. The Ancient Tale

Line-up / Musicians
Knut Erik Grøntvedt / Vocals
Erlend Engebretsen / Keyboards
Stig Selnes / Guitars
Lasse Lie / Bass
Audun Engebetsen / Drums & Percussion

RATING:  8.5 / 10

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*. Aktuala .* (Reissue 2013 + Bonus)

Album: La Terra (1974)(Reissue 2013 + 1 Bonus)
Genre: Prog Folk (Avant Folk/Free Improvisation/Ethnic)  /  Italy

Aktuala's second album is a bit the logical successor of their debut, but to this writer, it holds a bit better. With a superb artwork and a much-changed line-up (including guest star- percussionist Trilok Gurtu), Maioli's group is now septet. Personally I find this album more credible and entertaining than their debut, but also more personal (and this is of course primordial for me), because Cavallanti's wind instruments are freer than previously. This is particularly true for Mud (the second and last of side A) with an interesting cello and the side B opener Sar with a harp and again the cello and superb Gurtu tabla drums. The closing and longest title track is more of the same, but does not reach the intensity of the previous tracks. Their next and last will be still extremely ethnic oriented but this time even more towards Arabian influences (it will be partly recorded in Morocco and a sitar player), and is of the same quality, but hardly more essential than their first two. Still wondering what exactly this type of album brought (except a massive dreamscape to potential living-room hippies of course), but this a much more focused album. 
Review by "Sean Trane" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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*. Last Turion .*

Album: Circle Logic (1992)
Genre: Prog Rock (Crossover/AOR/Neo Prog)  /  Germany

Last Turion originated from the mid-80's German band Outside The West, in which keyboardist Kai Löbbart, bassist Stephan Renecken and drummer Olivier Maximilian Rüsing played together.In 1989 along with singer Martin Garden, guitarist Marc Peter Imann and their sixth hidden member, sound engineer Jörg Wrede they found Last Turion and three years later their debut ''Circle Logic'' came out, both on vinyl and CD editions on Jumbo Records. This is your typical Neo Prog/AOR/Hard Rock affair along the lines of TRISTAN PARK, MARATHON or CRYSTAL MAZE with the characteristic soound of the time full of shining, edgy guitars and sharp synthesizers.A combination of short and catchy tracks and longer, more developed still pretty easy-going compositions is what ''Circle Logic'' is all about and the music is mostly good though far from authentic, ground-breaking or challenging.Nice guitar riffs, excellent breaks, plenty of flashy solos and huge synthesizer flights guarantee plenty of ''foot tapping'' and the band also featured a fantastic vocalist in Martin Garden, who had a clear, impressive, full-range voice.The long tracks alternate between softer synth/piano-based vocal deliveries and harder, more guitar-oriented passages with bombastic moments, but sound a bit incohesive in an attempt by the group to sound a liitle more proggy.However the shorter pieces are the really nice ones in here with some memorable material included but performed in a very virtuosic way. A great album for all fans of powerful Neo Prog and a decent addition for anyone looking for some energetic and accesible listening among the more adventurous ones. Review by "psarros" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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segunda-feira, 18 de novembro de 2013

*. Ortiga .*

Album: En Este Lugar (1984)
Genre: Prog Folk (Experimental/World Music)  /  Chile

Ortiga es uno de los grupos importantes de la vida cultural chilena y latinoamericana. Actualmente nos encontramos radicados en Alemania, en donde nos hemos hecho conocidos, con nuestro trabajo artístico, en teatros, universidades, festivales y programas de TV y donde hemos desarrollado nuestra expresión musical, también, a través del contacto con otras culturas y artistas. Nuestra música es una mezcla de sonidos, ritmos e instrumentos del continente americano. En nuestra labor , hemos utilizado diferentes elementos folclóricos y populares, para crear nuestra música y reflejar, en nuestras canciones, el amor, la naturaleza, las nostalgias, las dificultades y esperanzas del hombre americano. (http://es.ortiga.info)

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Andar
02. Testamento
03. Los caballos vuelan hacia el cielo
04. Engalanada
05. Albertio
06. América
07. En este lugar
08. Alondra
09. Luz Repentina
10. El Mestizo
11. Son Numero 6

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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*. Flight .* (Reissue 2013)

Album: Incredible Journey (1976)(Reissue 2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Eclectic/Jazz Fusion/Symphonic)  /  USA

Flight’s second album Incredible Journey features a Shusei Nagaoka album cover. His work was hard to miss back in the day, painting sleeves for ELO’s Out of The Blue, Earth Wind & Fire, Caldera, Jefferson Starship, Sun and Maze to name but a few of the masters amazing art works. This is Flight’s most cohesive work and again the sound is a cosmic fusion of Emerson Lake & Palmer, David Sancious and Gary Wright funkiness. The ELP influence is clear on the opening Music Is with it’s Welcome Back My Friends.. feel, but it’s group leader Pat Vidas’ brass sections that separate Flight from just a run-of-the mill symphonic band. These guys cooked with superb playing throughout the 8 tracks and ELP fans will find much to enjoy here. Recommended! Review by "Eric" (www.proggnosis.com).

RATING:  7.75 / 10

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*. Midlake .*

Album: Fortune (2010)(EP)
Genre: Prog Folk (Acoustic/Chamber Folk/Alternative)  /  USA

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Fortune (Alternate Version)
02. Acts Of Man (Live Acoustic Session)
03. Winter Dies (Live Acoustic Session)
04. Small Mountain (Live Acoustic Session)
05. Rulers, Ruling All Things (Live Acoustic Session)
06. Van Occupanther (Live Acoustic Session)

Line-up / Musicians
Eric Pulido / acoustic & electric guitar, dulcimer, percussion, backing vocals
Paul Alexander / bass, electric guitar, bassoon
McKenzie Smith / drums, percussion
Max Townsley / electric guitar
Eric Nichelson / acoustic & electric guitar, percussion
Jesse Chandler / harpsichord
Fiona Brice / violin
Tim Smith / vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, recorder, piano, keyboards
Stephanie Dosen / vocals

RATING:  8.5 / 10   **MARVELLOUS**


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domingo, 17 de novembro de 2013

*. Vangough .*

Album: Between The Madness (2013)
Genre: Prog Metal (Melodic/Prog Rock)  /  USA

I have been a fan of Clay Withrow's music since I first heard 'Manikin Parade', and I have been lucky enough to hear everything they have released since, so when I became aware that a fourth full-length album was coming out I was suitably excited. Jeren Martin was again working with Clay on bass, while they had a new drummer in Kyle Haws plus a few guests on additional guitar and strings. Clay of course provides everything else. So, when the CD arrived I put it on and played it all the way through and for some reason I felt quite disappointed, but couldn't put my finger on it. I gave it a rest for a few days and then played it again: this time feeling that I had got it wrong first time, but it still wasn't what I expected from the guys. It wasn't until the third play that I really started to enjoy it and each time since then the album has just seemed better and better. I think for me the reason I found it hard to get into the album is because I believe that the drums are too high in the mix. A mix is always personal to the listener, and one of the hardest things I have had to do is provide constructive feedback on a mix to a producer, as listening to music to review it as a whole is a quite different thing to listening to music just concentrating on production. So once I recognised that as a factor in how I was regarding the album I was able to move that to one side and just concentrate on the songs. Here is an album that has seen the band grow, both in musical style and in stature. The harmony vocals are bang on, and the restrained use of falsetto here and there provides an additional edge, much as Roger Taylor used to do with Queen. There is music that rocks and belts along, or music that is way more gentle and refined, with a control that is breathtaking. Clay provides some breathtaking solos and runs, or crunching riffs, or acoustic, whatever is right for the song itself while Jeren seems to instinctively know what is required to lift the piece itself, either providing the bedrock, or additional back up melodies, or even not playing at all and allowing the space created to be used by others. Although it will be viewed by many as progressive metal, there are passages and even complete songs that are far more crossover in aspect than one would expect from the genre, and the result is something that yet again is a wonderful piece of work. Review by "kev rowland" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  ??????????????


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*. Aktuala .* (Reissue 2013 + Bonus)

Album: Aktuala (1973)(Reissue 2013 + 1 Bonus)
Genre: Prog Folk (Avant Folk/Free Improvisation/Ethnic)  /  Italy

Debut album from this atypical Italian quintet that that preferred a faraway folklore to its own. Indeed, this pack of musicians probably took the proverbial hippie trip to India and never really came back. Their whole quiet and reflective sound depends solely on Indian classical music and they do not try to change or modernize it as much as other "specialist" groups such as the British Quintessence or the German Embryo. Plagued with an horrible artwork, the group uses only acoustic instruments only, ranging from Western Sahara to the Far Eastern bamboo flute, but avoids the Indian sitar. The only non-conventional-sounding instrument is the saxophone, which does bring in the odd jazz phrasing to their spectrum. Clearly lead by wind instrumentalist Walter Maioli, the group's opening track (the aptly- named When the Light Began) is a good acetate of Indian music, but no more. Mammoth is a rather strange completely chaotic music, resembling a bit what the Buthan Buddhist monks can do, laced with a bit of free-jazz, but it is little more than doodlings to these ears and it sticks out like a rotten thumb from the rest of the album. Altamira is a short descriptive track that evokes the jungle nights. As the second side of the vinyl starts in the same calm manner, slowly drifting to an Arabian-sounding Sarah's Ngewha, but retaining an Indian feel caused by the Balalaïka strummings and accompanied with a jazzy sax. Maybe their better track on this album. The next track is close to Morroccan Jujube music, and IMHO only serves them to show that they've around (mentally at least), because it does sound as out of context musically as it is geographically. The closing Dejanira might just be their most personal track Cavallanti's sax providing a welcome jazzy evasion from the ethnic feel, with a surprising harmonica duet in the middle section. One can indeed ask himself the question of what exactly brought this kind of record, because outside the few personal touches of the group, there is not much to separate it from listening to Indian or Morroccan artistes, while not being sure that the natives will not cringe at their (sacred) music being handled in a non-purist manner, even if played as a homage. Nothing essential, I'd rather you either listen to pure ethnic music or that you'd listen to groups like Embryo or Quintessence, for the sake of experimentation. Review by "Sean Trane" (Prog Archives).

RATING:  7.5 / 10

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sábado, 16 de novembro de 2013

*. David Maxim Micic .*

Album: Bilo 3.0 (2013)
Genre: Prog Metal (Ambient/Exp./Fusion/Electronic/Prog Rock)  /  Serbia

David Maxim Micic is a multi-instrumentalist composer and producer from Belgrade, Serbia. When he was 3 years old his father taught him to play the drums. Piano and jazz guitar soon followed. By the time he was a teenager, he had composed and recorded hours worth of material, having some of his original work appear in commercials, movies and TV series throughout Serbia. He then began producing and writing songs for many Eastern European pop singers. He later studied composition at Berklee College of Music in Boston MA and has had the privilege to study guitar with many amazing teachers, including Danilo Karamarkovic, Petar Jelic, Bata Kostic, Nenad Gajin Coca, Joe Musella, Thaddeus Hogarth and David Fiuczynski. Micic released his first EP, “Bilo” in the Spring of 2011. It received quite a bit of attention in the online guitar world making some year-end lists. "Bilo 2.0" followed in 2012 with even bigger attention from the audience. In addition to his solo work, Micic is the main songwriter and guitarist for the pop-infused metal band, Destiny Potato. He also contributed on writing a music for movie "Assassin's Bullet" that features Christian Slater and Donald Sutherland as main casts. (www.facebook.com)

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Everything's Fine
02. Where is Now?
03. Smile
04. Nostalgia
05. Wrinkle Maze
06. Daydreamers

RATING:  ??????????????

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*. Madder Lake .*

Album: Recorded Live at Studio 620 ABC Perth (1978)(Bootleg)
Genre: Prog Rock (Blues/Hard Rock)  /  Australia

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Down The River
02. Miracle Day
03. Higher Higher Higher
04. Money Honey
05. Band Intro
06. Slack Alice
07. Booze Blues
08. Listen To The Morning Sunshine
09. Do What You Do
10. It's all In Your Head
11. Song for Little Ernest
12. 12lb Toothbrush

Line-up / Musicians
Mick Fettes / Vocals
Kerry McKenna / Bass, Vocals
Brendon Mason / Lead Guitar
Jack Kreemers / Percussion
Andy Cowan / Keyboards

RATING:  7.5 / 10   **VERY GOOD QUALITY AUDIO**


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*. The Habibiyya .* (Reissue + Bonus)

Album: If Man But Knew (1972)(Reissue 2007 + 5 Bonus)
Genre: Prog Folk (Indo Prog/Raga/Ethnic/Psych)  /  UK

Only album by the obscure UK / US group Habibiyya, formed by ex-Mighty Baby members and a musical couple from California. Deeply influenced by Eastern mysticism and especially the Sufi tradition, to which the musicians were exposed during their travels in Morocco, the music is one of the earliest examples of World Music recorded by Western musicians. Played on a wide range of acoustic instruments (both from the Middle and Far East and Western ones), the music is completely improvised and deeply spiritual / contemplative. At the time of its release this album was completely “far out” and of course had no real chance of gaining popularity, but in time it achieved a legendary status among collectors and this reissue is a most welcome step towards awarding the album the recognition and respect it deserves. Even today the album requires attentive listening in order to be enjoyed in full, but is truly worth it. Categorizing this one is really tough, so I decided to include it in the Jazz-World Fusion category, as the improvisational nature of the music has its jazzy association. For open-minded listeners! 
Review by "Jazzis" (Rate Your Music).

RATING:  7.75 / 10

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sexta-feira, 15 de novembro de 2013

*. Solstice .*

Album: Prophecy (2013)
Genre: Prog Rock (Crossover/Neo Prog)  /  UK

Esoteric Antenna are pleased to announce the release of the new studio album by 80s Progressive Rock legends Solstice. In the 1980s Solstice were one of the leading lights of the UK Progressive scene. Still fronted by guitarist Andy Glass, and also featuring Steve McDaniel (keyboards), Robin Phillips (bass), Pete Hemsley (drums), Jenny Newman (violin) and Emma Brown (vocals), the band s iconic blend of soaring violin and guitar weaving around delicately passionate female vocals, underpinned by driving rhythmic complexity remains true and is much in force on Prophecy , their latest studio offering. This excellent album also features four bonus tracks, three of which are new remixes by Solstice aficionado Steven Wilson. (www.amazon.co.uk)

Songs / Tracks Listing
01. Eyes Of Fire
02. Keepers Of The Truth
03. Warriors
04. West Wind
05. Black Water
06. Find Yourself (New Mix By Steven Wilson)
07. Return To Spring (New Mix By Steven Wilson)
08. Earthsong (New Mix By Steven Wilson)

RATING:  ??????????????

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