Note Hungary & Romania have their own page. Titles are arranged alphabetically with recent additions highlighted in yellow.
We’ll be the first to admit that our Belarus section is a bit thin, but as a start, here is Belarus band 7 Ocean, a trio of experienced musicians. The band was originally called Seventh Ocean, founded in 1989, before starting fresh as 7 Ocean. The music on the 7 Ocean debut The Mysterious Race of Strange Entities (2008) is 1970s-style keyboard-centric symphonic prog with some influence of ELP, The Nice, Rick Wakeman, Greenslade; really an amalgam of all the keyboard prog from that era, with an Eastern European flavor. The vocals are in what could be Belarusian. (All those languages with Cyrillic characters sound the same if you can’t speak any of them.) The music is relatively vocal-heavy, but as the tracks are long -- 10 tracks totaling 80-minutes -- there is ample room for instrumental and vocal passages to share the stage. Read the Progressor review.
7 Ocean followed with two albums released only as digital downloads, so Diapause (2014, 67-minutes) is their fourth album but second CD. The music is in a similar vein but with more instrumental content, and benefitting from greater experience.
After Collage and Quidam, Abraxas was the best Polish neo-progressive band of the 1990s, influenced primarily by Marillion and Genesis. This is the remastered edition of their (sort-of) self-titled 1996 debut, with two bonus tracks and a poster. It’s 71-minutes long, comes in jewel box + slipcase, and is their best album.
Centurie (1998) is their second, while 99, logically from 1999, is their third. These are the 2011 reissues, packaged in super jewel boxes. Read the DPRP reviews of Cykl obraca się, Centurie, and 99.
Live: In Memoriam (2000) was their final release, a massive 78-minute live album in a digipack with a 24-page booklet. Check for the CDs by the related bands Xenn and Svann below.
This is the 2010 digipack debut for Acute Mind, a six-piece Polish prog band that first gained notoriety opening for Quidam. They toe the modern Polish prog line, meaning they don’t stray far from the Riverside and Satellite camps, their music both melancholy and symphonic. Read the DPRP reviews. Here is the video for the song Misery; other Acute Mind songs can be found nearby on YouTube.
After are an excellent Polish progressive rock sextet singing in English. It was the case that most of the Polish prog bands that appeared during the 1990s were influenced by Collage, and during the early 21st century, most of the new Polish prog bands bear some resemblance to Riverside. After’s 2005 debut Endless Lunatic features guest appearances by Colin Bass (Camel), Josef Skrzek (SBB), and Jacek Zasada (Quidam). Here After kind of split the difference between Riverside and Satellite. There is a strong Pink Floyd influence, with the expected dark, melancholy moods and lush spacey textures, but updated to the modern moody aesthetic one can hear in Riverside, Porcupine Tree, and Sylvan, to name just a few. After have some heavy guitar, but they also have strong melodies and some of the symphonic qualities of Satellite. Their second CD Hideout (2008) shifts a bit toward Riverside but is essentially similar, and of very high quality.
Live at Home (2011, 79-minutes, digipack) is a live CD containing performances of the best tracks from the first two studio albums. 32-page booklet.
No Attachments (2011, digipack) is After’s third studio album, which features some cooperation with British band The Pineapple Thief. After’s guitarist Czarek Bregier explains how that came about: “While working on the new album, we wanted to change something, give it a new and different sound. We wanted someone to look at our material from a different perspective. We decided to have the album mixed and mastered at a different studio, though we had no idea where that should be. We very much liked the production of the last The Pineapple Thief album, so we decided to contact the Audiomaster studio where it had been recorded. It turned out that The Pineapple Thief’s keyboard player Steve Kitch actually worked there, and so our cooperation started in a very natural way. The band’s singer and guitarist Bruce Soord also started to work with us on those recordings, which certainly made the album’s sound richer. Mastering was handled by Steve Kitch and Mark Bowyer.”
AKKO stands for Antony Kalugin’s Kinematics Orchestra, so the more clever among you will have figured out that this is another project for the man already running Karfagen, Sunchild, and Hoggwash. AKKO 1 (2013, 71-minutes, digipack) features Kalugin on keys, programming, voice; Max Velichko on guitars; Misha Sidorenko on alto sax; and Jacky Cat on violin and voice. AKKO is Kalugin’s vehicle for a more relaxing style of instrumental music than his other projects. If everything that uses a lot of electronic keyboards and samples, leisurely tempos, and not a lot of rock drums is new age, then this is new age-y. But it does feature quite a bit of electric guitar, and it does have low-key drums/percussion. The problem with the new age genre is that musicianship has often been lacking, and many of the artists lacked a rock background or experience in a band that might have given their music more depth. That’s not the case with Kalugin, so AKKO is more relaxed than his other work but never insipid, perfect for when the mood calls for something mellow that can still be listened to with full concentration.
Ako Doma must be the best band of their era in Slovakia. The self-titled CD is their 1999 debut, an excellent mix of instrumental prog rock and fusion. They’re a seven-piece band on this one, with sax and cello in the lineup.
After an intervening CD that included vocals, Ako Doma returned to being an instrumental band on Aliens Are Good for Sale (2003), stripped down to three members: guitar/guitar synth, bass, and drums, but at the same time they add more synths and a guest pianist on one track. It’s again a sophisticated progressive rock album. Ako Doma sound like the heirs to Fermata.
Polish band Albion began as a neo-prog five-piece with a female vocalist who sounds like Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq), playing music full of Marillion-isms and somewhat similar to Collage and early Quidam. Remake is a double-CD that combines 2006 remastered versions of Albion’s first two albums Survival Games (1994) and Albion (1995) with five previously-unreleased bonus tracks from 1995-97. These two albums are sung almost entirely in English. The bonus tracks are sung in Polish and are as good as the albums proper.
Albion re-emerged in 2005 with a new female vocalist and the CD Wabiąc cienie, which is sung in Polish. The music here is more compelling than the earlier albums, very close to Collage and, by extension, early Marillion, but with a more feminine, delicate character. With the beautiful female vocals, this also helps fill the void left when Quidam lost their female singer. Albion favor somber-but-beautiful, deliberately-paced tracks. There is a good balance of vocal and instrumental passages, and the vocals are lovely, so anglophone prog fans who still shy away from non-English vocals should give this one a chance. Why miss all these lyrical guitar leads over something as silly as a language barrier?
Albion continued with almost the same lineup on Broken Hopes (2007), but this one is sung in English. If Wabiąc cienie displayed Albion’s feminine side, Broken Hopes shows their masculine side. Not that there aren’t any delicate passages, but this album is noticeably more dynamic, with a greater variety of moods, tempos, and energy levels. It continues in the Collage/Satellite and early Marillion veins while adding a little Pink Floyd. This is Albion’s best album to date and almost a sure thing for neo-prog fans.
The Indefinite State of Matter (2012) continues with English vocals and neo-prog equally influenced by Marillion and Pink Floyd. The music is very atmospheric, the songs often starting mellow and gradually building in intensity. Ryszard Kramarski of Millenium engineered and produced, and what are Millenium’s two biggest influences? Marillion and Pink Floyd. So Kramarski may well have had some effect on Albion’s sound, and fans of Millenium should be equally smitten by this album.
In case your progressive rock collection is a little thin in the Central Asia section, here is a prog band from Uzbekistan that later developed into From.uz. Sodom And Gomorra XXI - Progressive Symphonic Poem (2002) is an impressive instrumental rock symphony composed by Al-Bird, aka the keyboardist and guitarist Albert Khalmurzayev. He also plays in X-Religion, a trio with bassist Vitaly Menshikov (Progressor webmaster) and drummer Val Vorobiov, who are also present here. The CD contains a single 50-minute track with four movements and numerous sub-sections, none of which are indexed, so don’t stop your CD player or you may never get back to where you left off. There are myriad references and inspirations evident in the music, which varies from serious-sounding to playful to rocking hard. The listener may be reminded of Pink Floyd, ELP, Greenslade, some of the Canterbury bands, or Russian classical music, but the whole is fairly original. Read the DPRP review.
This is the 2014 debut CD (first released in 2012 or 2013 as a digital download) by a Russian prog quartet on the MALS label. “I think the description these guys provide on their PR release is very accurate: ‘The band is from the ancient Russian town of Vladimir, and we play music which is neo-progressive rock with elements of heavy prog and Russian traditional music.’ The neo-prog influence is clearly evident in all the compositions, each in the 5-6 minute range. I can hear strands of IQ, Twelfth Night, and Pendragon, coupled with a higher level of guitar virtuosity leaning toward a more prog-metal style of music. Every now and again a more clearly traditional prog element emerges, for example, the bass playing on The Chimney House is clearly based on Chris Squire and Yes, and the drumming on Secrets of the Sky contains the highly technical accuracy of a Neil Peart. If I have any concern, and it’s minor, it is that the songs tend to be of a similar style; they are similar in construction and engineering, and I feel a bit more varied approach would suit the band better. I also note that I cannot understand the lyrics, as they are in Russian, but this adds a bit of an exotic element to the songs.” [Sea of Tranquility]
MILD is an acronym for Mnemonic Induction of Lucid Dreams and is the 2007 debut CD for Polish band Alters. On this CD, Alters is a quartet playing outstanding progressive jazz-rock with some modern King Crimson flavoring and probably some debt to SBB. There are low-key Floydian vocals in English, but the music is heavily instrumental and strikes a good balance between challenging/angular and structured/melodic/symphonic. Note Alters added a trumpet player to the lineup after this album was recorded.
No relation to the Spanish band of the same name, this is a superb Polish progressive artist. Amarok is essentially Michal Wojtas and a shifting lineup of other musicians he has recruited to realize his vision. The self-titled album is Amarok’s 2001 debut CD. There is one (female) vocal number that sounds similar to early Quidam or Karnataka, but the album is predominantly instrumental, with influences of Pink Floyd and especially Mike Oldfield, as well as several other progressive styles. We recommend this one without hesitation. 64-minutes.
Neo Way (2002) is the second Amarok CD. The first half of this CD runs through a number of light progressive and progressive pop styles, including Oldfield, Gordon Giltrap, Dire Straights, U2, and a very skillful solo piano piece. Three of these tracks have vocals courtesy of Colin Bass, the Camel singer/bassist, while the remaining tracks are instrumental. The second half of the CD is taken up by Neo Way I - VII, which is very much in the Mike Oldfield vein.
Metanoia (2004) is again quite different from the previous albums. This one is the most contemporary, using all the trappings of modern music production (loops, samples, effects). The Oldfield influence can be heard in the guitar parts but otherwise this has moved into original territory. There are warm male vocals in English that are a bit reminiscent of Steve Hogarth. The CD contains a multimedia track with a video. Amarok continues to impress -- there is a real talent at work here. The official Amarok website has additional audio samples -- to find the audio, click ALBUMS along the bottom, select an album, then click DOWNLOAD.
This is the 2009 debut CD (61-minutes, digipack) by a Polish prog band with a female lead vocalist and a full-time lute player! Amaryllis play gothic progressive rock with beautiful female vocals and exquisite overdubbed vocal harmonies. The lyrics are mostly in Latin, giving the music a religious or sacred feel. There is some metal guitar, so the music overlaps to a degree with all those female-fronted gothic metal bands, but Amaryllis are much more progressive and creative. Yes, it’s yet another young band who apparently don’t realize how much more refined, intelligent, and sophisticated their music would sound without the abrasive metal guitar (playing riffs interchangeable with those on any other modern metal record) and how completely out-of-place it is. But fortunately the majority of the guitar is sustained prog-style leads and fine acoustic work, and the amazing blend of musical elements more than makes up for the brief lapses into metal. The production is crystal-clear. This is highly original music and quite astounding for a debut. “The results are melodically magical, and the quieter moments quite exquisite. If you like melodic prog rock, then you will find yourself as astonished and as pleasantly surprised as me, a complete and utter joy and delight to listen to.” [Ravenheart Music] Read the Progressive Land review and a few more reviews here.
Ananke is the new incarnation of Abraxas, as Ananke includes three former members of Abraxas. Malachity (2010) and Shangri-La (2012, digipack) contain dark, atmospheric modern prog with some Pink Floyd influence. This is the music of Abraxas extrapolated to the present, a darker version of the band that during the 1990s was one of the top neo-prog bands in Poland, taking a back seat only to Collage and Quidam. Vocals in Polish. Listen to the songs Obietnice and Sara from Shangri-La on Soundcloud.
This is the 69-minute 2007 debut by a Polish quartet (keys, guitar, bass, drums) playing instrumental progressive rock similar to Liquid Tension Experiment and Planet X: often fast, furious and heavy, with keyboards and guitar getting equal billing. Here are mp3 excerpts from the tracks 911, The Four Symptoms, Animations, and Sonic Maze (full track).
Ankh (1994), Ziemia i Slonce (1995), and Bedzie Tajemnica (1998) are the 2004 re-editions of the first three Ankh CDs, each of which now has two bonus tracks. Ankh are a Polish band featuring violin, guitar, bass and drums, plus male and (on Bedzie Tajemnica) female vocals in Polish. These first three albums should be of great interest to King Crimson and Anekdoten fans and to fans of rock violin. Their sound is often dark, with the much more active violin a more than adequate replacement for Anekdoten’s Mellotron. It’s the contrast between the heavy rock of the guitar, bass & drums and the sweetness of the violin that gives them their appeal and their uniqueness. Classical and folk elements are introduced by way of the violin. Bedzie Tajemnica includes a cover of 21st Century Schizoid Man (with rather hilarious accented English vocals).
Expect Unexpected (2003) is their latest studio CD. The violin that defined their sound on their previous albums is present here on only one track, but now there are synths, loops, and samples filling the vacancy. The electronica gives Ankh a much more contemporary sound, though there are still nods to King Crimson and a general psychedelic feel.
Not released until 2006, Cachaça is a live recording of Ankh in Brazil at the 1999 Rio ArtRock festival. The band was virtually unknown outside Poland at that time, yet this live album represents Ankh at their peak.
Annalist are a Polish neo-prog quartet formed in 1992 in Warsaw who were active through the rest of that decade. Probably most influenced by Collage, Annalist are darker, with some King Crimson influence. The later albums introduce more pop elements, with suggestions of Simple Minds, U2, and Peter Gabriel. Two Annalist members, Robert Srzednicki and Artur Szolc, are responsible for the Delate, Music Inspired by Zodiac, and Music Inspired by Tarot CDs. This 6CD boxset contains remastered versions of all the Annalist albums: Memories (1993), Artemis (1995), Eon (1997), and Trial (2000). The band reconvened in 2012 to record six new tracks, resulting in the 27-minute mini-album Syrinx, also included. And that sure beats a disc full of demos and outtakes that you’d expect in such a collection. These sets are all numbered copies of a run of only 300. Nominally a 5CD set, supposedly only the first 100 copies include a 6th CD titled Singles. (It looks to us as though the material on this 6th disc also appears on the other discs.) All our copies have a number under 100, so without checking each one (not that we have very many), we’re going to venture they all include the 6th disc. On their 20th anniversary, Annalist want to remind us that they played a role in the development of the current Polish prog scene, and the styles heard here will be familiar to fans of the newer Polish prog bands. Counts as 2 CDs for shipping.
Apostolis Anthimos is best known as the guitarist for SBB. Miniatures (2008) is Anthimos’ third solo album, on which he plays not only guitar but drums and keyboards, assisted by a bassist. Anthimos is a surprisingly capable drummer. The music is instrumental guitar-dominated fusion in the classic style, a mix of composed and improvised parts.
Anyway were a Polish symphonic neo-prog quintet singing in English, featuring musicians who would later appear in Abraxas. The music was recorded in 1993-1994, though the CD was not released until 1998. This is the 2011 reissue, packaged in a super jewel box. Read the DPRP review.
Rzeka Dam (2011, digipack) is the debut by a Polish prog band who demonstrate the maturity of the Polish prog scene in that their music is neither neo-prog nor prog-metal. Whereas most of the Polish prog bands fall somewhere along a short axis connecting Riverside and Satellite, Apple Bells are off-axis, with King Crimson their major influence. While you can’t call this album retro, it has a 1970s aesthetic: there is enough space for the music to breathe, and the production is not loudness-maximized and fatiguing. Sung in Polish, there is a connection here to the first-generation Polish and Czech prog bands that is refreshing to hear.
Progressive rock from Armenia, of all places. This is a world-class band incorporating influences mostly from Europe (Jethro Tull, Camel, Solaris, Focus) without abandoning their strong local identity. The band members are exceptional musicians, teachers at the Erevan University. As you might guess from the list of reference bands, Artsruni often use flute as the lead instrument. The instrumental tracks outnumber the vocal tracks. You would think The Live Cuts 2000-2001 is self-explanatory, but the first seven tracks sound like studio recordings -- they are studio quality and there is no crowd noise. The shift in sound when track 8 starts is obvious, and suddenly there’s an audience! Some tracks feature a chamber ensemble and others a symphony orchestra, but they are all uniformly excellent. Their first real studio album, Cruzaid (2002) is mostly instrumental, dominated by flute, telling the story of the Crusades from the Armenian perspective.
Aviva, an alias for Dmitry Lukianenko, is a Russian virtuoso pianist and multi-instrumentalist, assisted on Rokus Tonalis (2007) by a guitarist and a number of guest voices. This is a 70-minute instrumental concept album inspired by the Apocalypse of St. John. At the same time, the composer has incorporated Paul Hindemith’s polyphonic piano cycle Ludus Tonalis into this electric rock format. This is sophisticated instrumental progressive rock that comes closest to ELP, with a more modernist flavor and some more reflective moments. Emerson of course was influenced by Mussorgsky and Stravinsky, and most of the Russian keyboard-dominated progressive works show this same strong Russian classical influence. Aviva is clearly conservatory trained. Rokus Tonalis is quite an original work that extends beyond the Keith Emerson universe, symphonic rock masterfully composed and executed; rich in contrasts, majestic melodies, and luxuriant arrangements; joyfully blending vintage and modern sounds.
Aviva then decided to form a band, hence the name change to Aviva Omnibus on the 2008 CD Nutcracker in Fury. In addition to Aviva, the band includes musicians on guitar, bass, drums, and a second keyboard player who doubles on violin. Nutcracker in Fury creates a musical fantasy by rearranging, twisting, and paying tribute to Tschaikovsky’s Nutcracker. What was said about Rokus Tonalis applies here. There is the classic ELP progressive style at the core, not to mention Tschaikovsky, but it is a more contemporary work and a highly-creative one at that, with samples deftly interwoven and a little heavy guitar, almost a new paradigm for classical-rock.
Aviva tackles Grieg’s work on Peer Gynt in Favour (2010), which is more electronic sounding than the previous Aviva albums. As with Nutcracker, this isn’t an electronic or rock version of the original but rather a radical interpretation of it. Read the DPRP review.
Azazello are a prog band (guitars, keys, bass, drums) from the far east of Russia, five days from Moscow by train, maybe the only Siberian prog band. They play mostly prog-metal but also some progressive rock that has nothing to do with metal. The lyrics are in Russian. Upstairs (2001) is their second CD, blending hard rock and some East European folk music into symphonic prog. The arrangements are quite complex and the level of musicianship is high.
Wings, their third, was recorded in 2002. While the album proper is quite interesting and not quite like any other prog-metal you’ve heard, the two bonus tracks are even more interesting. They were recorded with a folk choir called Divo, and the singing style of multiple female voices is not too different from the singing you can hear in Finnish and Swedish folk outfits.
The dominant style on this 2004 album is a unique progressive world rock featuring traditional Uzbekistan sounds and high-energy drum/percussion tracks of great complexity, all blended into a modern style. There are also some jazz-rock tracks with guitar in the lead, with a nod toward Allan Holdsworth. Badirov, who was born and raised in Uzbekistan, is a drummer with considerable live and studio experience and is also a founding member of Fromuz. He blends his drums with percussion loops and samples to achieve the complex rhythms on this disc. A large number of other musicians play on the album, contributing traditional Uzbekistan instruments plus electric guitar and bass, while Badirov adds electronic textures.
Solar Wind - The Inner Circle (2012, 80-minutes, digipack) is the debut full-length album by Moscow-based Batisfera (‘Bathysphere’ is our guess). Batisfera play complex symphonic prog in the classic style featuring keyboards, flute, and electric & 12-string guitars. The music is an amalgam of Yes (especially Topographic Oceans), Genesis, Camel, Grobschnitt, and a dozen other prog bands. It is sophisticated, constantly changing and evolving. Occasionally it’s heavier than the bands mentioned but remains in a 1970s style. It’s fortunate the album is as instrumental as it is, as the vocals (which are in English) have yet to catch up to the skill level of the instrumentalists. Still, the album is so full of symphonic goodies, it’ll keep your brain releasing endorphins for a good while. The album is a conceptual work, supported by a beautiful 28-page booklet in English. Read the Progplanet review.
Believe is the current band of Mirek Gil, guitarist and founding member of Collage. Two other ex-Collage and/or Satellite members are or were in the band: Przemek Zawadzki (bass) and Tomek Rózycki (English-language vocals, guitars). An important member of the band is female Japanese violinist Satomi. Their debut CD Hope to See Another Day (2006) blends the Collage style with that of Riverside, meaning Believe sound more contemporary than Collage, the guitar is sometimes heavier and the music more melancholy. The violin is a welcome addition as it almost always is. This is the 2013 remastered digipack edition on Metal Mind, which adds two live bonus tracks.
On their 2008 second CD Yesterday Is a Friend, Believe further develop the style of their first album, marrying elements of Satellite and Riverside, with the violin adding another dimension. The music is sensuous, atmospheric, and finely detailed, easily placing Believe in the same class as Satellite or Riverside. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the digipack edition of Believe’s 2009 third studio CD This Bread Is Mine (64-minutes), which includes one bonus track. This album introduces new vocalist Karol Wróblewski, who also adds flute, while a cellist guests. Believe took a step backwards here. It’s by no means a bad album, but there are virtually no keyboards, so the violin saves the day. Because without the violin, it would be mostly guitar/bass/drums, and a lot of that guitar is alt-rock style. The music is gloomy and melancholy, almost without respite, and little remains of the Collage/Satellite style. But violin improves just about everything, so This Bread Is Mine is still a worthwhile album.
On their 2010 fourth studio CD World Is Round, Believe brought in a new keyboard player, filling the vacancy that existed on their previous CD and righting just about everything that was wrong with that album. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? While still melancholy, World Is Round is not nearly as gloomy, as there are many uplifting melodies. We thought we’d lost a good prog band for a while there, but Believe are back.
The Warmest Sun in Winter (2013, digipack) is Believe’s fifth studio CD, again with the sextet lineup that includes both keyboards and violin. Watch the official video for the song Unborn / Turn Around.
Live at the 1st Oskar Art Rock Festival 2006 (79-minutes, digipack) should be fairly self-explanatory. Here Believe play their entire debut CD Hope to See Another Day plus a track from the first Mr Gil CD.
The double-CD simply packages two jewel box Believe CDs together in a slipcase at an attractive price. (Counts as 2 CDs for shipping.) Check our DVDs page for Believe’s DVDs. Check below for Mr Gil’s CDs.
There’s probably no way to convey how cool this band is, other than to say they may be our favorite band to come out of Poland. It’s safe to say there isn’t another band quite like them. Cash-Romantic Music Machine (2006, 52-minutes) is their debut. As the band says: “You can call it what you like. Call it folk or call it prog, porn-groove or lala-rock. Call it pop, we will not mind. You can even call it jazz, if you don’t know any better.” The band is built around Tylda Ciolkosz, who plays violin and sings. She is incredibly versatile as a vocalist. At times she sounds like Kate Bush at her most adventurous (The Dreaming), but that only begins to describe her vocal talents. She’s also a great violinist, as the violin is central to Cashmere’s sound. Even without the vocals, this is first-rate violin-led progressive rock that defies expectations. Some other violin-led bands, the original Ankh for one, are one-dimensional compared to Cashmere. Sometimes there is a European folk influence; there is a song or two that a progressive-minded Steeleye Span fan could get into. Sometimes the music is jazz-tinged, but most prog fans who’ve gotten beyond the basics will identify all of it as progressive rock. Czech band Stromboli were only beginning to approach this when they shutdown (insider pun there). Squonk Opera are in the ballpark. The vocals are in English save one song in Polish and one in German. For some of the songs, it doesn’t really matter what language it is. Listening to some music clips is essential here -- the first mp3 icon is to Cashmere’s site; click on DISCOGRAPHY for the mp3’s.
These are the 2003 remastered editions on Metal Mind of the Collage CDs, all with bonus audio and/or video tracks. They are packaged two together in a slipcase at an attractive price. (Each counts as 2 CDs for shipping.) Collage were the top Polish neo-prog band; their members went on to form the bands Satellite and Believe. At their best (Basnie and Moonshine), they were nearly the equal of IQ and Marillion. Basnie (1990) is sung in Polish and is somewhat darker than Moonshine (1994), which was their first album with English lyrics and has improved production.
Changes is a compilation of re-recorded songs written by Collage between 1985-1992 and is generally comparable to Basnie. Safe (1996) was their final album, and while it is their best-produced and best-sounding album, it lacks the spark of the earlier albums, though it’s still a decent neo-prog album. Check our DVDs page for Collage’s Living in the Moonlight DVD.
Cytrus was one of the most popular progressive rock bands in Poland in the 1980s. Their music was often compared to Jethro Tull or East of Eden. They had a couple radio hits and performed at most of the important Polish festivals, yet they never released an album. Kurza Twarz is their first ever release, featuring their best-known recordings for Polish radio. There are 15 tracks professionally recorded between 1980-1985, 65-minutes total. Styles behind the Iron Curtain tended to lag the west by several years, so the music here varies from early to late 1970s styles. The main aspect of Cytrus’s sound is the use of flute and violin in addition to electric guitar, bass and drums, while keyboards appear only sporadically. The tracks are arranged chronologically. The first 11 are instrumental, while the final four have vocals in Polish. The vocal tracks are the most recent and start to shift toward new wave, though still with strong progressive aspects.
Delate is Artur Szolc, Robert Srzednicki, and Łukasz Naumowicz. Szolc and Srzednicki were responsible for the excellent Music Inspired by Zodiac and Music Inspired by Tarot CDs. Delate’s 2006 debut CD is powerful progressive rock with vocals in Polish, more rock-oriented than the Zodiac or Tarot CDs but having much in common. There are rock guitar and symphonic keyboards up front, dark atmospheres and creative use of electronics as well as percussion. Between the Polish vocals and the uncommon melodies, this progressive rock has a Slavic character to it, a refreshing change from all the international-standard Anglo-prog. While Delate are by no means a retro band, the music does harken back to the 1970s in the sense that bands then were more likely to sing in their native language and the music more likely to have national or regional characteristics.
Music Inspired by Zodiac is a 2002 CD by a Polish duo, two members of the band Annalist, an impressive CD of instrumental progressive music with world music elements, ethnic percussion, and touches of electronics. Much of this is rock but it goes beyond that in an epic soundtrack sort of way.
Nadhir is apparently a pseudonym for Robert Srzednicki. Music Inspired by Tarot (1998) is vibrant instrumental progressive music combining Nadhir’s electric & acoustic guitars, flute, and keyboards with Szolc’s complex percussion and drums, featuring a vast array of ethnic percussion.
A Russian quintet of two guitars, sax/synths, bass, and drums, Diversion Voice play instrumental fusion with significant prog and psych influences, especially 21st Century Schizoid Man King Crimson. There are some Frippian guitar leads, while sax has the lead much of the time. Underwater (2011) comes in a mini-LP sleeve. The CD sleeve and booklet are 3D inside and out, and anaglyph (red-green) 3D glasses are included. You need the glasses to view the CD cover graphic here in 3D. Read the ProgNaut and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Russian guitarist Sergey Dudin has several albums to his credit; these are probably his two best. Eternal Call dates from 1999; this is the 2006 MALS label reissue with a bonus video track. This is for all intents and purposes the Russian Pink Floyd (circa Dark Side of the Moon / Wishing You Were Here), with lyrics in Russian. Assisted by a drummer and several other musicians, Dudin does his best David Gilmour impersonation, and all of the essential Pink Floyd elements are there. 62-minutes of guaranteed bliss for the Floyd fan.
Mirage (63-minutes) dates from 1995; this is the 2007 re-edition. A bassist and drummer are listed, but at least some of the bass and drums are programmed. Whether or not the title is an intentional reference to Camel, there is some Camel influence, but the music is much closer to the progressive rock albums of Jeremy (American Jeremy Morris, who released two albums on the Kinesis label, a few on MALS, and a slew of them on his own label). Dudin and Jeremy have similar lead electric guitar tones and styles -- Dudin is a bit more demonstrative, but just as lyrical -- and they both usually play over a bed of symphonic keyboards and straight-forward rhythms. The album is instrumental except for the majestic last track, which features a guest vocalist (English lyrics). Maybe not the last word in melodic guitar-centric prog instrumentals, but definitely one that hits the spot.
This Moscow-based band is not your typical progressive rock band in that the nucleus of the band is two sisters: keyboardist/singer Elena Kanevskaya and guitarist Tatyana Kanevskaya. The vocals are in English. While their official start date as a band is 1997, it was only in 2006 that they added a bassist and drummer and became a rock band. Forget all your preconceptions of what a band led by two women should sound like. This is symphonic prog by musicians who clearly love the genre, but with their influences absorbed well enough that Eternal Wanderers have a unique identity.
Their first full-length album The Door to a Parallel World (2008) has already been deleted. While The Door to a Parallel World was good, So Far and So Near (2011, 64-minutes, digipack) is really good. One thing you can expect from today’s Russian bands is a connection to classical music on a par with the first-generation progressive rock bands, a much more direct connection than is common among today’s bands. Sometimes that connection is to Stravinsky and other early 20th century classical; this is where Eternal Wanderers occasionally sound like ELP. More often it’s the earlier, romantic classical style, where Renaissance and Genesis are better reference points. Eternal Wanderers added a flute player on this CD, and they sometimes play a medieval-flavored style closer to Jethro Tull. The final track And I Will Follow is very Renaissance-like and features Eternal Wanderers’ most beautiful vocal performance to date. Perhaps the most attractive thing about Eternal Wanderers and the Russian bands in general is that they are just far enough out of the western music mainstream to have a unique style, thankfully ignoring trends toward metal, pop, and conformity elsewhere in prog. Not entirely out though, as this CD was mastered by Masterdisk in New York. For those who like complex, classically-influenced prog that still has accessible melodies, this CD is manna. Read the DPRP review.
Along with SBB, Exodus was the best first-generation Polish progressive rock band, a quintet sometimes referred to as the Polish Yes. One should also mention Eloy, as there is a spacey element to their music. Exodus is more of a symphonic band than SBB. Their first album The Most Beautiful Day (1980) is their best, featuring the 20-minute title suite. This remastered digipack edition on Metal Mind adds four bonus tracks recorded for Polish radio in 1980.
Supernova (1982) doesn’t have an epic track like their first album, but is still quite beautiful and lyrical. This remastered digipack edition on Metal Mind adds five bonus tracks recorded for Polish radio in 1981-82.
The Singles Collection album collects all of Exodus’ singles, all of which are non-LP. This remastered digipack edition on Metal Mind adds four bonus 1982 live tracks, taking the total playing time up over 79-minutes.
The Most Beautiful Dream is a beautiful 5CD box set with a 24-page bilingual booklet and printed sleeves for each individual CD. It includes all their studio recordings, much of which is released here for the first time, plus previously-unreleased live recordings. Disc 2 is the remastered version of The Most Beautiful Day with four bonus tracks recorded for Polish radio in 1980. Disc 3 is the remastered version of Supernova with the bonus tracks as above. Disc 1 is entitled Nadzieje, Niepokoje. With a live version of one track as a bonus, it is 76-minutes long. It contains the previously-unreleased first studio recording session of Exodus from 1977. There is some early Genesis influence here, though the predominant style is the 1970s East European progressive style one can hear in bands such as Stern Meissen. It is quite amazing that an album this good has remained unheard until 2006. There may be other 1970s progressive recordings as yet unearthed, but it’s unlikely there is one as good as this still out there. Disc 4 is Hazard, the third Exodus album. Recorded in 1983, it is released here for the first time, with six bonus radio recordings from 1983-1984. Disc 5 is the remastered version of Singles Collection with the bonus tracks as above.
Najpiekniejszy Dzien appears to be a 74-minute compilation that was 24-bit remastered in 2000. Of the 13 tracks, five are from The Most Beautiful Day, four are from Singles Collection, one from Hazard, two are the radio recordings, and one we can’t figure out. None are from Supernova. Check our DVDs page for Exodus - A Ray of Sunshine DVD.
The music scene is heating up in Uzbekistan. Flight 09 have existed since 1983 and are considered the dean of Uzbekistan rock bands. Signs of the Water (2014) is their fourth album. They had two releases on a U.S. label before moving to the Moscow-based MALS label for 2005’s Human Nature. That album was more or less hard rock dressed up with symphonic keyboards. Signs of the Water is definitely proggier, also more metal than hard rock per se, and more diverse. The vocals are in English.
From.uz are a world-class, mostly-instrumental progressive rock and fusion band from Uzbekistan, very high-energy and fairly heavy. Using the ISO code for their country (UZ), their name literally means “From Uzbekistan”. Audio Diplomacy (2007) features a DVD (NTSC, all-region) of a 2005 live performance, a multi-camera professional production. There is an accompanying 75-minute audio CD containing the same songs on the DVD, the two discs housed together in a jewel box. There is so little crowd noise, and the recording quality is so high, this could pass for a studio CD. Maybe it is and we’re just confused. The DVD includes two bonus tracks. Read the Sea of Tranquility reviews.
On Seventh Story (2010), From.uz continue the shift towards symphonic prog begun on Overlook (2008, out-of-print), leaving all but a little fusion behind. This may have something to do with lineup changes. While the compositional core of the band remains, drummer Badirov and the bassist have been replaced and a second keyboardist added, with grand piano being used for the first time. The music is now more rock-oriented, more symphonic and classical, and even features some vocals. There are references to King Crimson, a little Camel, proggy jams, the music jumping around between different progressive rock styles so that the album is always interesting. This is the From.uz CD with the broadest appeal so far. Be sure to read the Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Inside Seventh Story (2010) is a concert DVD (PAL, all-region) that captures the band performing an expanded version of Seventh Story before an appreciative hometown crowd at the Youth Theater of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, recorded with multiple cameras over two nights. The DVD also includes footage of the band rehearsing and preparing for their stage performance, as well as an interview with the band and their producer. The DVD is in a space-saving digipack format with artwork by renowned illustrator Ken Westphal, very attractive packaging, and yet 10t Records are being really kind with the pricing. You can purchase this DVD for less than the cost of the Seventh Story CD, and the songs here are expanded versions of the studio versions. Watch video clips (in reduced quality) from this DVD.
We really wish the band would decide whether or not there’s a period in their name, as they’ve gone from Fromuz to From.uz and back again, though the names seem to correspond to two different lineups. The lineup on Sodom and Gomorrah (2013) has reverted to the original one, with the addition of a second keyboardist. No two Fromuz CDs have been the same, and Sodom and Gomorrah again shifts style. Mostly instrumental, Sodom and Gomorrah was originally composed by multi-instrumentalist Albert Khalmurzaev for a theatrical musical production of the same name. Fromuz originally performed this material live over a span of three years beginning in 2004. They recorded the material during this timeframe, but it wasn’t until 2012 that the decision was made to edit, mix, and master the tracks for an official release. “Majestic. Powerful. Grandiose. Melodic. Epic. These are just some of the words that describe what you are in store for when you first pop in the latest CD from Uzbekistan prog rock/fusion act Fromuz... more often than not, the band opt for soaring, melodic flights that bridge the gap between prog, jazz-fusion, and a world/classical mix that really is a joy to listen to.” Read the full Sea of Tranquility review. Listen to Black Feast I on YouTube.
Fusion Point are a Russian (St. Petersburg) trio of piano/bass/drums whose style you may be able to guess. Morning Rain is their 2012 debut.
Lukasz Gall is the singer for Millenium and Moonrise. His first solo CD Anonym (2010) is an all-star project of the current Polish prog scene, featuring musicians from Millenium, Moonrise, Albion, Loonypark, and Nemezis. Read the Background Magazine review. You can find the song In the Mirror of Dreams on YouTube.
This is the 2003 debut by a Polish quartet playing complex and original progressive rock, roughly a combination of RIO, modern King Crimson, and Area. It is mostly instrumental, while the Polish-language vocals are half-sung and half-chanted, only adding to the music’s quirkiness. Here are mp3’s of the tracks Obiłaś mi się (Diabolus in Musica) and Slowolnosc.
I Want You to Get Back Home (2012, digipack) is the fourth studio CD for the band led by Mirek Gil, guitarist for Believe and formerly Collage. Vocalist Karol Wroblewski sings in English here. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Listen to the song Come Home on Soundcloud and Our Shoes on YouTube.
Light and Sound (2010, digipack) presents a contrasting side of Mirek Gil, light and airy, with acoustic textures dominant. Here Gil is accompanied by a cellist and a pianist both playing important roles, as well as Karol Wróblewski on vocals, here singing mostly in English. Watch the video of King of Gold.
On Skellig (2010), Gil was perhaps challenging himself to make a progressive rock album using only guitars, no keyboards or other melody instruments. Believe’s singer and bassist and Satellite’s drummer complete the band. The key is to get sufficient variety and density of tone colors from guitars while keeping everything tasteful. Gil does an admirable job by overdubbing different guitar tracks and using the vocals as yet another tone color. Vocalist Karol Wroblewski sings in Polish here and sounds more comfortable than he does singing in English on Believe’s This Bread Is Mine. “Think of early Collage with much better production and without the keyboards. Instead Gil makes a complete CD using only guitars as solo and harmonic instruments (usually the acoustic guitar as the basic guide and the electric guitar for soloing and harmonies)... You may feel that some keyboard lines could add a little color here and there. But really, this a guitar genius solo album and he proves his point very well here... Forget all the grunge/alternative/pop experiments Mirek Gil was doing on his various solo projects before. This is the truly prog guitar album we all waited to hear for so long.” Read the full review at Prog Archives.
Alone (1998) is the first solo album from Mirek Gil. It’s in a similar style to the final Collage album Safe and also features Collage’s keyboardist and bass player. This is the 2005 re-edition on Metal Mind that adds four bonus video tracks.
This quartet (vocals, keyboards, guitars, drums) with the catchy name is a Russian symphonic prog band singing in English. 2nd Hands (2007, 71-minutes) is one fantastic progressive rock album. The CD begins and ends as a roller coaster ride, with The Gourishankar cramming in as many ideas as possible, the music seemingly changing style every eight bars, going from Genesis-style sympho-prog to prog-metal to classical-rock to electronic-prog to fusion-prog within the space of two minutes, then repeating. Just as you begin to wonder whether this band is capable of a cohesive composition, they settle down and do exactly that. A guest on violin and viola takes a track or two into symphonic Kansas territory; another musician guests on sax and flute. One thing The Gourishankar do really well is integrate electronics into their prog rock. OK, the vocals are often relatively low in the mix, conceding the upper hand to the instrumental content. Despite the occasional metal touches, this is predominantly classic-style symphonic prog, but not at all retro. It is played with great skill by very creative musicians who know what classical music is, know what real progressive rock is, and the 71-minutes flies by without the excitement ever waning. Needless to say, highly recommended.
After 2nd Hands became a best seller for them, the Unicorn label decided to re-release The Gourishankar’s 2003 first CD Close Grip. This edition adds one bonus track, a rousing cover of Gentle Giant’s For Nobody. The music is slightly more conventional than on 2nd Hands, actually sounding kind of American. The vocals are too low in the mix on this one too, so it must be a conscious decision (but then why sing at all?). It’s a very good symphonic prog album with some prog-metal, but start with 2nd Hands.
Hopefully you won’t be too surprised to learn that Polish band Grendel are heavily Marillion-influenced. But then so are a lot of the contemporary Polish prog bands, and The Helpless (2008) fits solidly in the Polish neo-prog mainstream defined by Satellite and Riverside. Grendel’s music has only a little metal, but the typical Polish melancholy is omnipresent. They have an excellent singer (English lyrics) and lots of lyrical Steve Rothery style guitar. This CD is full of beautiful melodies and lush, bittersweet atmospheres. Even if it doesn’t stray far from the other Polish neo-prog bands, it still is one of the best, a debut CD by a band that emerges fully mature. Initially released in a digipack, that edition has been replaced by this jewel box version that adds one bonus track.
Dreams of Sea (2010, 59-minutes) is the debut for Group 309, a Russian symphonic prog quartet (keys/vocals, guitar, bass, drums) in the style of Autograph, that is, a mainstream symphonic prog style, song-oriented with vocals usually present. The composer is the keyboardist, which as usual results in more structured, classically-influenced compositions that those of the prevailing guitar-dominated modern bands, and the keyboards do more of the interesting stuff. We’re not talking neo-prog in the sense of Marillion but rather the streamlined version of classic progressive rock that began to appear in the late 1970s. If Autograph isn’t a helpful reference, then another unhelpful reference is Synkopy. Excellent production, lyrics in Russian.
For The Keeper of an Hourglass (2014, 60-minutes), Group 309 have chosen to shift emphatically toward their prog side and away from their pop side without radically overhauling their sound, which still suggests Autograph, with mainly late-1970s British and American prog influences and a touch of Saga. The result is a powerful prog album, fully-professional and a big step up from their debut. Hopefully the band Little Tragedies has exposed more of the international audience to Russian-language vocals; Group 309’s male singer is somewhat similar to Little Tragedies’ singer. Group 309 also feature well-known female singer Irina Surina on two tracks. The vocals are high quality and the music is too good to miss simply because one’s provincialism precludes listening to music with lyrics in any of the thousands of other Earth languages. English translations of the lyrics appear in the booklet.
This is a Russian quartet (singing in Russian) that the label describes as “melodic gothic-rock with influences of Blackmore’s Night and The Gathering”. Well, maybe. They do have a female singer with a beautiful voice, but there is no renaissance music influence as in Blackmore’s Night. Group 33 is much more electronic, symphonic, and modern, and though they use a lot of acoustic guitar, it’s a different style than Ritchie Blackmore plays. As far as The Gathering goes, metal only rears its head in a couple songs, and Group 33 isn’t really all that gothic. Overall, Group 33 is more of a progressive rock band than either, and they have great songs and excellent production. Stream of Passion is probably the best reference point. Beautiful 8-panel digipack.
Sky Is the Limit (2006) is the debut studio CD by this Polish modern prog sextet plus guests. The band says that this CD is conceptually divided into sides 1 and 2 like a vinyl LP, with side 1 containing gentler songs with child-like female vocals and side 2 containing music with more power and a rock beat, with some male vocals. The music is heavy at times, spacey and Floydian at others. They frequently blend in creative electronic textures and samples, showing some Tangerine Dream influence as well as modern electronica. The vocals are in English except for one section of one song where one of the guys sings in Polish. It’s an excellent CD, imaginative and unpredictable.
Still Ummadelling (2007, 74-minutes, digipack) features one new studio track plus a 10 track live set recorded in 2006 that includes the tracks from Sky Is the Limit plus a few previously unreleased tracks. About a half hour of this CD then is new material. Included is Hipgnosis’ rendition of Pink Floyd’s Careful With That Axe, Eugene. Mellotron strings are used on the studio CD but are much more prominent on some of the live tracks.
Relusion (72-minutes, digipack) is the 2011 Hipgnosis studio CD. It’s so refreshing to hear a Polish band not jumping on the Riverside bandwagon and making predictable, me-too music. Hipgnosis are much more inventive and difficult to categorize. It’s all female vocals on this one, and the vocals may be in English, or it may be a made-up language loosely based on English. Marcin Kruczek (Nemezis) makes important contributions on guitar. The music blends symphonic prog, electronica, and space rock, but that only begins to describe it. It is both trance-like and high-energy, more complex than the mainstream of Polish prog. Some of the instrumental sections are close to Ozric Tentacles, but then those female vocals enter and it’s something else. There are strong Pink Floyd elements, touches of ELP and jazz too. The 22-minute instrumental Large Hadron Collider begins as cosmic electronics and builds into epic space rock. This is the most mature Hipgnosis album and may be the Polish prog album of the year, but it will probably be ignored in favor of something that sounds just like Riverside. Gorgeous artwork and packaging.
Hoggwash is another band of Antony Kalugin (Karfagen, Sunchild, AKKO), lord of progressive rock in Ukraine. Hoggwash though is a collaboration with Welsh musician Will Mackie. On their debut The Last Horizon (2007), Mackie and Kalugin have co-writing credits on all tracks, but the music was recorded in Ukraine by Kalugin with Karfagen members/collaborators and other Ukrainian musicians. And while Karfagen has mostly been an instrumental band, Hoggwash has excellent vocals by Kalugin. The result is a beautiful melodic symphonic rock CD in the Genesis and Camel veins. Despite all the input from Ukraine, The Last Horizon sounds so British that it serves to remind us what it is that distinguishes classic British prog from most everything else. This is the second edition, which adds two bonus tracks to take the total playing time up to 75-minutes.
It took a while for the follow-up Spellbound (2013, digipack), but then there have been at least nine albums from Kalugin’s other projects in the interim. Kalugin again sings and plays keys, Mackie plays keys, and seven other Ukrainian musicians take care of electric & acoustic guitar, bass, drums, percussion, alto sax, and more vocals. Hoggwash is distinct from Kalugin’s other bands -- Hoggwash is the more familiar form of sympho-prog, the most song-oriented and British-sounding and therefore having the widest appeal.
Beneath the Skin (2002, 59-minutes) is the third album from Latvian progressive rock band Holy Lamb, the five members joined by a number of singers and a flute player. This music is so full of ideas, with constant twists and turns, that several listens are required to absorb it all, yet it isn’t difficult to listen to, just highly inventive. This is a concept album, a “transgressive rock tale”, and the various singers take on different voices for the numerous characters in the story. (All vocals in English.) We like it a lot. Salt of the Earth (1999, 63-minutes) is their second album and is somewhat more of a neo-prog record than Beneath the Skin, sitting between classic and neo-prog, but you can hear the potential.
This is the CD reissue of the solo album by the leader of the Yugoslavian band Tako, originally released in 1983, now with four bonus tracks added. The title translates to Eavesdropping Forbidden. Dorde (George) Ilijin plays various kinds of flute and keyboards. The music is in the same vein as Tako, marrying the delicate with the energetic, with a unique melodic beauty and rich arrangements. What vocals there are are buried in the mix, so this is primarily an instrumental album. One of Ilijin’s flutes, called a “blok flauta”, appears to be a recorder, adding an early music flavor to some tracks, while the standard flute gives a Jethro Tull flavor to others. While most of the music is early 1970s style progressive, with elements of Pink Floyd particularly noticeable, the bonus tracks must be of more recent vintage, though no date is given. Either that or they are well ahead of their time – the last track incorporates Gregorian chant, something which became widespread only after high quality sample libraries appeared.
Warsaw-based prog band Iluzjon began as a trio on City Zen (2005), an excellent album of ambient progressive rock with occasional similarities to Peter Gabriel, overall more subdued and mesmerizing than what would follow.
On No Phantoms In (2007), Iluzjon are a quartet and seem to be centered on singer/composer/lyricist Michal Dziadosz in the same way that Porcupine Tree is centered on Steven Wilson. The vocal passages (sung in English) are full of atmosphere and ambience, while the instrumental passages are sometimes heavy and sometimes symphonic. Iluzjon are far from being Porcupine Tree copyists as their sound is distinct, but they do belong in the modern progressive camp that Porcupine Tree helped define.
Silent Andromeda (2009) is their third, and now it’s clear this band is not going to make the same album twice. There is some carryover of the style found on No Phantoms In, but here the rest of the band steps forward. There is some modern King Crimson influence now, while electronics are used to create great atmospheres. One reason for the change is new guitarist Matthew Wojcik, who is able to play in a wider range of styles. Sometimes the music has the aggressive modern sound, while at other times it’s dreamier. It’s certainly easier to describe the Polish bands who stick to the mainstream neo-prog and prog-metal styles, but while Iluzjon make reviewers’ jobs more difficult, it’s a small price to pay for a more original progressive style. This is their most mature work.
Inescapable (2011) is the second full-length CD for this Moscow-based instrumental prog band who sound like a heavier Djam Karet. The core quartet consists of two guitarists, bassist and drummer. The bassist adds piano on several tracks, and there is a guest cellist. Infront play angular guitar-dominated instrumentals probably with a degree of improvisation, slightly psychedelic and slightly fusion-y rather than symphonic, with metal guitar intruding in spots. Read reviews at ProgNaut and ProGGnosis. More info on Infront’s website.
The concept album Faith is the 2009 debut CD by the second-greatest prog band in all of Belarus. (Check above for the band 7 Ocean, also from Belarus.) On their website, they brand themselves as ‘art rock / prog metal’, and that’s accurate as they switch between progressive rock and melodic prog metal such that you can’t simply say they are one or the other. The common attribute is that In Search For are bombastic in that Ayreon way whether playing prog or metal. The vocals are (mostly) in English, mostly male with some female vocals in support, and the band sound like they could be from just about any country. Most of it is very symphonic, with loads of keyboards and a little violin, viola, and flute. There’s a recurring bit where the protagonist in the story carries on a conversation with Mickey Mouse, though we think it’s supposed to be the voice of a computer. It sounds like Arthur Dent’s conversations with the white mice in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series, only it’s supposed to be serious. Mini-LP style sleeve, 73-minutes. Apparently In Search For have a 2010 EP titled Soul Inside that you may run into on their MySpace page, but it sounds like it’s not as proggy as Faith.
This is the answer to the question that had been on everyone’s minds: What happened to the violinist from Ankh? Michal Jelonek was the violinist in the Polish band Ankh on their first three studio CDs, all released during the 1990s. Ankh was all about the contrast between Jelonek’s violin and the heavy rock of the guitar, bass and drums. Ankh released one more album without Jelonek, but it wasn’t the same, as the violin was the whole attraction. This 2007 CD (digipack) is entirely instrumental and features Jelonek’s new band. Actually, Jelonek kept busy appearing in or with numerous other bands, but this CD represents the continuation of the original Ankh style with bigger and better production. Overall the sound is also heavier, prog-metal at times, but it’s really all about Jelonek’s skillful, classically-influenced violin with the rock band as the supporting cast. If like us you just love violin in a rock context, here you go.
Ukrainian band Karfagen is the first and more instrumental band of Antony Kalugin, the rather busy man also in charge of day-to-day operations at Sunchild, Hoggwash, and AKKO. The 2009 double-CD The Key to Perception is billed as the definitive history to date of Karfagen: 39 tracks and a booklet providing comments on each track. This 2CD contains the entire first two Karfagen albums: Continium (2006) and The Space Between Us (2007), plus 12 tracks (~55 minutes worth) of new material and alternate versions.
Continium is an elegant and classy album of instrumental symphonic prog. Camel and Genesis sound like the strongest influences, and the standard instrumentation is augmented by flute and at times bayan (accordion), duduk (an ancient wind instrument), and wheel lira (another ancient instrument). (What do we look like, ethnomusicologists?) The bonus track is a tender song with male and female vocals in English. Keyboards have the primary role, and the emphasis throughout is on beautiful melodies and music that flows gracefully. The Space Between Us (2007, 65-minutes) is again instrumental, though there are some wordless vocals. It continues in the same general style, but even more original. Camel is a reference point only to the extent that the music is usually flowing and melodic. There is a strong classical influence, and the bayan and flute are again welcome touches. Both albums are highly recommended to sympho lovers of the 1970s persuasion. Read reviews.
Solitary Sandpiper Journey (2010, 75-minutes) has Antony Kalugin joined by a large percentage of the musicians in Ukraine, the instrumentation including cello, flute, oboe, bassoon, viola, violin, sax, and bayan in addition to keys, acoustic & electric guitars, bass and drums. As before, the music lies roughly in Camel (The Snow Goose) and Genesis territory, but is more eclectic than that. The music is still predominantly instrumental, with Kalugin singing on one track, while female vocalist Marina Zacharova adds a Renaissance feel to a couple others. The lyrics are in English. This is a finely-crafted progressive rock album, the best Karfagen album to date; those who’ve heard the Sunchild and Hoggwash albums would expect no less. The 22-minute track Mystery that concludes this long album is a real tour-de-force. Read reviews.
Lost Symphony (2011, 63-minutes, digipack) is, in Kalugin’s words, for “all who endorse and savor instrumental art-rock from the 1970s, something like Camel, Focus, Happy the Man, and Pat Metheny”. Those references are accurate enough, though the classical instrumentation and especially the bayan (accordion) make Lost Symphony unique. This is a remarkable work, really one of the great rock symphonies, full of warmth and humanity. Here is a 35-minute making-of video.
Aleatorica (2013, 62-minutes, digipack) again has a large number of musicians on a wide range of instruments. Two of the 14 tracks have lyrics; the bulk of the album is instrumental. This is another astounding work, and another for which the term ‘rock symphony’ fits. Kalugin is not standing still, as the style here has evolved a great deal from the early Karfagen albums. Aleatorica has more acoustic textures and ethnic/folk melodies, as the accordion, flute, and other acoustic instruments are used heavily, and there is often a decidedly playful feel. The end result sounds a bit like a Ukrainian Jethro Tull, a bit like an electric Flairck, a bit like Gryphon meet Pekka Pohjola on a pirate ship sailing off the edge of the world, and other references that make even less sense. Mostly it sounds like an original style. We’re always going to heap praise on bands that sound like they’re from somewhere rather than aping a generic Anglo-American sound, bands who understand that progressive rock is not Rush and Dream Theater, bands who have absorbed what has gone before but produce something new. This album is a perfect example, we just hope listeners with more mainstream tastes can keep up with where Kalugin is going.
The unrest in Ukraine hasn’t slowed Kalugin, as the 2014 Karfagen CD Magician’s Theater (58-minutes, digipack) is another instrumental opus of modern symphonic prog. Kalugin handles mainly keyboards while two guitarists with contrasting styles are employed. In addition to a powerful rhythm section, other musicians contribute Stick, flute, alto sax, bassoon, and accordion. This album is generally heavier than the previous Karfagen albums and a bit more of a conventional sympho-prog album than Aleatorica, still with those touches that set Kalugin’s work apart. It’s probably the best place for the uninitiated to start. Watch the videos for The Juggler’s Boast and The Birth of Mankind.
Check our DVDs page for the AKP (Antony Kalugin Projects) Live Official Bootleg DVD.
This is the CD reissue of the 1981 EP plus the 1983 LP by Estonian band Kaseke, their only output. Read the band bio. “Kaseke is considered Estonia’s finest progressive-fusion band... Their style of fusion is clean and influenced mostly by the late-seventies American fusion scene. In fact, many tracks here have a radio-friendly sound. Yet the music has a subtle complexity to it that will appeal to prog fans more than the casual jazz listener. The thing that struck me while listening to Kaseke was that the band sounded incredibly modern. I would have never guessed that most of the music came out in 1983. Even the keyboards sound like they came out of the factory around 1998. And the keyboardists (there are several that play on the album) remind me a bit of Jordan Rudess’ work on the Liquid Tension Experiment albums. The keyboard playing is not as complex of course, but the choice of notes is similar to Jordan’s. The listener will also notice the nice dual-guitar work by Ain Varts and Riho Sibul, who are known in Europe for their skills. Overall, this CD will please most progressive-fusion/jazz fans.” [Zoltan’s Progressive Rock Webpage] Also read the ProgressiveWorld.net review.
Kayanis is the name of a Polish musician/composer, but this 2008 CD is not exactly a solo work. It is a large-scale project combining orchestra, choir, soprano singer and rock band (synths, guitar, bass, drums) for a 75-minute, mostly-instrumental rock symphony, with the emphasis on symphony. What vocals there are are in English. This is a sophisticated romantic work, and one that demonstrates there is life in the current Polish prog scene beyond the Satellite/Riverside adherents.
Little Victories (2013, digipack) is the debut CD for this instrumental quartet from Kiev, Ukraine. (There was a 2008 Krobak CD, but that was really a solo project of band leader Igor Sidorenko.) The lineup here is violin, guitar, bass, and drums. For the most part, Krobak play post-rock influenced primarily by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the violin providing the extra dimension that guitar-only bands can’t reach. Krobak’s sound is in transition though, shifting towards King Crimson of the 1973-74 era and expected to go further in that direction in the future. So as post-rock goes, this is about as good as it gets. Think of Krobak as a post-rock version of Polish band Ankh. Watch the video for the song Broken and listen to And There by the River I Lost My Glasses on YouTube. There’s even a band documentary there with English subtitles (which you may need to turn on first), and loads of live videos.
Kwadrat was one of the top Polish rock bands at the beginning of the 1980s, and in all, over 20 musicians passed through their ranks. The Metal Mind label has rescued Kwadrat from obscurity with this 18 track, 79-minute compilation. All the tracks were recorded at Polish Radio between 1979-1982. The CD is divided into three distinct styles. The first third of the CD is instrumental, keyboard-driven, 1970s-style progressive jazz-rock, on a par with any of the European jazz-rock bands of that era. The second third of the CD is semi-progressive rock with Polish vocals. The final third of the CD is instrumental symphonic progressive mixed with a little jazz-rock, again in a 70s style. The vocal material is OK, but the instrumental material makes this a superb find for fans of 1970s progressive and jazz-rock.
Outside of Nowhere (2011) is the debut for Polish band Landscape. This is typical modern prog influenced by Porcupine Tree, Riverside, and Sylvan, guitar-dominated with keyboards primarily playing filter-swept pads for texture and spaciness, vocals filtered to sound distant, as if they’re being heard over a telephone line. Landscape are more hard rock than metal, employing hard rock guitar sounds/styles that alternate with ethereal passages: dark, moody, and emotionally somewhat cold.
Ensign of Fairies, Book 1 (2013), which you may also see referred to as The Banner Fey, Book 1, is a very British-sounding, early-1970s style progressive rock album from Russian band Lantinor. The origins of the band go back to 1992, and they have albums dating back to 1996. There is an Anglo-Celtic folk element to their music that makes it special, along the lines of Horslips, Jethro Tull, or Gryphon. Early Yes and Gentle Giant are likely influences too. Four of the five tracks are sung in Russian, one in English. Given how many people are still incapable of listening to music with non-English lyrics (apparently the music becomes inaudible as soon as someone starts singing in another language) and how serviceable Lantinor’s English vocals are, it would be great if the band made their next album for the international market and sang mostly in English. Listen to the audio samples -- we like this album a lot!
It’s always helpful when the key to a new band’s style is contained in the album title, for “cinematic” is a perfect description of the brand of progressive rock played by Poland’s Lebowski on their 2010 debut. Cinematic (digipack, 67-minutes) is instrumental with bits of spoken word (dialog from classic Polish and international movies), and in one song, soaring female vocals. There is a moody, seductive, surreal, film noir ambience throughout this richly-textured music. Accordion, violin, French horn, hammered dulcimer, and duduk all make appearances, while some tracks feature enough heavy guitar to briefly bring Riverside to mind. No new music style comes out of nowhere these days, yet “cinematic prog” is an emerging style, and the one band we can think to compare Lebowski to is the German band Frequency Drift, especially in the way that piano is essential to the mood. Cinematic is, in a word, intoxicating. The booklet is bilingual Polish/English. Watch Lebowski’s YouTube videos. Read reviews at Sea of Tranquility and The Power of Metal.
This 2008 release on the Lynx label was actually recorded between 2001-2003. Liquid Shadow were a Polish band with female vocals, playing a lot of standard Dream Theater prog-metal but also some neo-prog, including ballads with more acoustic textures that come close to the refined style of Varius Manx. There are two guitarists listed; one replaced the other, which could account for the split personality of the band. The lyrics are in both Polish and English, with two instrumentals plus a video. Liquid Shadow disbanded in 2004, but could be revived. Some members went on to play or sing on Millenium albums and/or to the bands Loonypark and Nemezis. 67-minutes of audio.
If the title sounds slightly awkward, it should have been translated to At Night, so deal with the extra letter. This is Little Tragedies’ 2014 studio album, running 61-minutes. This is the real symphonic prog, featuring Little Tragedies’ trademark mix of powerful instrumental fireworks and vocal passages with poetic Russian lyrics. (As if we know what they’re singing about.) As always, there is a lot of ELP influence, but also plenty of electric guitar. At a time when the distinction between what is called prog and the more prosaic forms of rock is often blurred, it’s reassuring to hear a band led by a keyboardist with classical training and chops. Listen to the tracks Walking Stick and Dawn.
Little Tragedies is a Russian band led by composer/keyboardist/singer Gennady Ilyin. Once upon a time, progressive rock bands had first-hand knowledge of classical music, and while this has not often been the case with later generations of prog bands, it isn’t difficult to find prog bands in Eastern Europe with conservatory-trained musicians, which is the case with Ilyin.
Return (78-minutes) dates from 2003. This is an excellent album, mixing 1970s style symphonic progressive rock with some jazz-rock and contemporary classical music. The vocals are in Russian, lending the work a Slavic personality. The instrumentals especially are influenced by ELP and UK, though they are even closer to the style of Japanese bands such as Deja Vu or Social Tension, virtuosic and just slightly over-the-top.
New Faust (2006) is one of Little Tragedies’ best, a double-CD and a brilliant work that makes them the best current Russian symphonic prog band, as professional as the best bands in the world. The Russian classical influence is very strong, and the dominant influence is again ELP and their brethren, though Little Tragedies do have a guitarist. The music is keyboard-dominated and heavily instrumental, again with Russian lyrics, and varies from frenetic, bombastic and virtuosic to sensitive and peaceful. In addition to the classical and ELP influence, there are elements of Genesis and Yes, but overall the music has a distinct personality.
Little Tragedies quickly followed New Faust with The Sixth Sense in 2006 (now out-of-print), which has less emphasis on the flashier style and includes more tracks of a more sedate and lyrical nature, emphasizing the poetic Russian lyrics.
Chinese Songs Part One and Part Two, both released in 2007, are so called not because they contain any Asian music but because the lyrics are by 8th-13th century Chinese poets, sung in Russian translations but printed in English translations in the booklets. Continuing with the trend established on The Sixth Sense, more of the music on these CDs is of the serene and lyrical side of Little Tragedies, though when they do unleash their full power, it’s about as good as it gets.
Cross (62-minutes) is a studio CD released in 2008. On The Sixth Sense and the two Chinese Songs CDs, the balance had shifted to the vocal and reflective side, but with Cross, Little Tragedies put things right. Instrumental passages dominate, and the CD is full of the rip-roaring classically-influenced sympho-prog we all crave. This is a return to the style of New Faust, and Cross ranks with that album as Little Tragedies’ best. Heavyweight gatefold mini-LP sleeve with booklet containing English translations of the lyrics.
Though not released until 2009, The Paris Symphony was recorded in 1997 (with some 1996 bonus tracks), making it the earliest Little Tragedies studio work. The band at this time was a trio of keyboards, bass and drums, purely instrumental. “Sonically, this album sounds as if it belongs between New Faust and The Sixth Sense because of its heavy use of polysynths instead of Hammond organ... The heavy polysynth in The Paris Symphony keeps reminding me of Works Vol. 1-era ELP, or to a lesser extent, Eddie Jobson’s keyboard work on the first UK album or (even more) The Green Album. The compositions are excellent: rockin’, bombastic and classically-influenced at the same time, but with that Russian classical feel pervading the piece. It also reminds me quite a bit of their countrymen Aviva’s first album, though this has no prog-metal content like Aviva’s second release. The Paris Symphony is a great album... Fantastic.” [Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock]
Obsessed was recorded in 2009 but not released until 2011. After establishing their range with The Sixth Sense and Chinese Songs Part One and Two, Little Tragedies are with Cross and Obsessed back to the power symphonic/classical prog that is their forte. “Stylistically again closer to New Faust, they are once again celebrating their full-blown, wonderfully over-the-top and classically inspired prog rock including the quirky Russian vocals that makes all this just so unique. Anyone who knows Little Tragedies won’t need any further description of what this sounds like. To anyone else, I would just recommend listening to the sound samples. What I really like here is that despite all the pyrotechnical wizardry, there is also a fine display of composition/songwriting which is a craft that does not always stand at the center with many bands.” [Prog Archives] Read reviews of all CDs.
The Sun of the Spirit (1998) and Porcelain Pavilion (1999) are the first solo CDs by Little Tragedies’ leader, but they were originally released by Boheme Music under the name Little Tragedies. Ilyin wrote the music, plays the keyboards and sings, assisted by the guitarist and sound engineer of the Little Tragedies lineup of that time. As Ilyin says, there was still the feeling of a band, albeit studio-like, hence the decision in 1998 to use the band name. These are the 2009 reissues on the MALS label, each of which adds one bonus track and comes in a mini-LP sleeve. Because Little Tragedies’ lineup has since changed, it was decided to reissue them as Gennady Ilyin solo projects. As one should expect by now from Ilyin, these are very accomplished progressive works that cover a lot of ground, with complex arrangements and skillful playing. The music was inspired by the lyrics of the Russian poet Nikolay Gumilev. Ilyin sings in Russian (English lyrics in the booklet), but the music is heavily instrumental. There are some classical-rock workouts in the ELP and Little Tragedies styles, but for the most part, Ilyin uses this opportunity for less flash, more nuance and acoustic timbres. Certainly much of the material is classically-influenced, but Ilyin never settles for pure orchestral simulation. His use of expressive synth sounds is similar to Jozef Skrzek of SBB, and Skrzek’s early solo albums are a good reference point for some of this material.
W Galerii Czasu (In the Gallery of Time) is the excellent 1996 debut by this Polish prog band. This updates the tradition of some of the great East European progressive bands of the 1970s and 1980s such as Modry Efekt and Synkopy. Strong vocals in Polish. This is the remastered version with three bonus live tracks.
On Psychopuls (2004), Lizard are very influenced by King Crimson circa 1973-1974, even to the extent of including some David Cross-style violin. (So that’s where they took their name.) You’ll hear some Starless and you’ll hear some Red. The Polish language vocals on this album have a cold or distant quality to them, like those in 21st Century Schizoid Man, though without the distortion.
Tales from Artichoke Wood (2005) is, along with Master & M, our favorite of Lizard’s albums. It’s a concept work revolving around three gentlemen named Vincent, Salvador, and Pablo (three guesses as to their last names), but as the lyrics are in Polish, it will be lost on most of us. The music however will only be lost on those who inexplicably go deaf once someone starts singing in a language they don’t speak. This is real progressive rock, sometimes heavy but not metallic. There is still some King Crimson influence but it is much less obvious than on Psychopuls, resulting in a more original work, more lyrical, flowing and symphonic, with a subtle jazz-rock influence and some delicate passages worthy of Genesis. There is as much of an influence of UK (first album) here, and Lizard’s keyboardist also doubles on violin like Eddie Jobson. Since the guitarist plays some guitar synthesizer, the synths don’t have to drop out when the violin is present.
Spam (2006) is another quality album from Lizard, though not simply a continuation of Tales from Artichoke Wood. This one returns somewhat to the sound of their earlier albums, but the writing and playing have matured. Some King Crimson influence is present, but there is more UK influence, specifically the UK tracks with Jobson on violin. With violin used on every track, one is also reminded of Ankh, but Lizard are more refined and complex. The lyrics are again in Polish. As on their first album, Lizard sound like the successors to Synkopy, East, and other great first-generation East European prog bands.
Lizard had been working on Master & M (2013) since early 2008 but had to deal with some personnel changes along the way. (The violin is gone). This concept album is one of their two best, some King Crimson influence still showing but the style overall quite different from KC. It’s still easy to think of a contemporary (heavier) version of Modry Efekt or Synkopy, given the similar sound of the West Slavic languages. Most of the Polish prog bands that emerged during the 1990s (Lizard, Collage, Quidam, Abraxas, etc.) sang in Polish, but since then laws were passed mandating all vocals be in English, and so there are too many today who would rather miss out on great progressive rock with great vocals than come to terms with the existence of other languages. Those so-called prog fans won’t know Modry Efekt and Synkopy anyway and probably stopped reading this already. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Logic Mess is the band formerly known as Crystal Lake with a new singer and new drummer. Element of the Grid (2012, 72-minutes) is typical Polish prog-metal (Riverside and their ilk), a definite improvement over the Crystal Lake CD.
Loonypark are a Polish neo-prog and melodic rock band that includes the (female) singer and the keyboardist formerly with Liquid Shadow. (The keyboardist is also a member of Nemezis and at least one other band.) Egoist is Loonypark’s 2008 debut, on the Lynx label. The music here is in the Polish neo-prog mainstream, with both Steve Rothery-style and metal guitar, but more conservative and relaxed than most. Millenium circa Reincarnations is not a bad reference point. Singer Sabina Godula has a relatively deep voice that has a large impact on the feel of the music. Vocals in English.
The second Loonypark CD Straw Andy (2011) seems even more a vehicle for Sabina’s vocals. This is lush pop-prog in the style of Varius Manx and Nemezis.
Lost World was formed in 1996 by three Moscow Conservatory students. They added a singer in time for Trajectories, their first album, released in 2003 despite what it says on the traycard. It was released on the prestigious Russian Boheme label. The band have since taken matters into their own hands, and band leader Andy Didorenko at least now lives in New York City. Lost World play symphonic prog with a strong classical element, using flute and violin in addition to the standard prog rock instrumentation. The way they do classical rock is unlike anyone else, and some of it is outstanding. The closest comparison might be Hungary’s After Crying, another band of conservatory-trained musicians. But Lost World show little ELP influence, which is the dominant influence in After Crying. Both bands share some King Crimson influence, and Lost World add some pastoral Genesis. Of the 14 tracks on Trajectories, only five have vocals (in Russian). Moods range from dark and frenetic to gentle, romantic and pastoral. Because the pieces are generally of modest length, it never gets boring. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Awakening of the Elements (2006) and Sound Source (2009, 65-minutes) are all-instrumental. This is classical progressive rock of the highest order, with flute and violin featured prominently. Probably because they’re Russian, they sound unlike most of the other prog bands with heavy classical influence, so the music usually sounds quite original. Kansas, The Dixie Dregs, or Jethro Tull are fair reference points for some of the material. These guys can play and they can compose. Read the Proggnosis reviews of Awakening of the Elements and Sound Source and the Progressor reviews of Awakening of the Elements and Sound Source.
In Concert (2011) features 12 tracks recorded live in December 2009 at Moscow’s PodClub. Two tracks that appeared on the all-instrumental Awakening of the Elements are performed here with vocals.
Solar Power (2013, digipack) returns to using vocals, this time in English, though instrumental content dominates. The violin seems more prominent on this album, and this is some of the best violin-prog around. At times the music shows similarities to symphonic Kansas, King Crimson with David Cross, Atoll’s L’Araignee-Mal lineup, Mahavishnu Orchestra, and KBB. But much of the music defies easy comparisons, and as this is their fourth studio album, it’s time to acknowledge this as Lost World’s style.
Lunatic Soul is the solo project of Riverside singer Mariusz Duda, who we all know has a great voice. Helpfully, the first two CDs are labeled simply “Lunatic Soul”, the idea being that together they form a double-album. The black one is the first, from 2008, and comes in a digipack. The white one is the 2010 sequel and comes in a Super Jewel Box. Duda is assisted by several other musicians including Riverside’s keyboardist and friends from Quidam and Indukti. The music is beautifully textured, and the mood is much the same as Riverside (and Porcupine Tree, and all the other modern prog bands who’ve jumped on this particular bandwagon): dark, lush, melancholy and moving. It’s easy to draw parallels to the music Steven Wilson creates outside of Porcupine Tree, or to early Porcupine Tree (when it was really Wilson solo). With the metal element of the parent band downplayed (the first three Lunatic Soul albums contain no electric guitar at all), the music is more ambient, and the more refined and progressive elements are allowed more room to be heard. The second album is even more refined than the first. Duda says it’s a blend of everything he likes, in particular Dead Can Dance and Peter Gabriel on IV or Passion. Watch the Lunatic Soul II album teaser video.
Impressions (2011, digipack) is considered to be the final part of a trilogy of Lunatic Soul albums. As Duda says: “Impressions is a collection of instrumental compositions which act as an addition to the story told on the black and white Lunatic Soul albums. These songs without lyrics, with scarce vocal parts, are more ambient in style.” Read the Reflections of Darkness review. Watch the album teaser video.
Walking on a Flashlight Beam (2014, 64-minutes) sees electric guitar returned to the mix, and that’s not the only way in which Duda expands the Lunatic Soul sound palette, using more ethnic sounds for one. Following the instrumental Impressions, Duda is singing again here, yet the instrumental passages are not forgotten. The CD+DVD edition comes in a hardcover mediabook (counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping). The DVD content is nothing to get overly excited about: a 25-minute “making-of” documentary/interview. Read the Prog Sphere review. Watch the album teaser video.
Ego (2013) is the nth (we lost count) studio CD for Poland’s Millenium. The well-established Millenium sound is augmented by guests on sax, trumpet, and female voice. Millenium still tread a path on the Marillion side of Pink Floyd, more in terms of mood and tempo than strongly resembling either. Łukasz Gall is in the upper echelon of prog singers, and the tracks are built around his voice, here complemented nicely by the female vocals. Watch the album trailer video and official video for the track Lonely Man. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Millenium are a Polish five-piece neo-progressive band with Polish vocals on their self-titled first album (currently out-of-print) and English vocals on everything afterwards. Their earlier material is generally in the Pendragon, Pink Floyd, and early Marillion styles, while Pink Floyd becomes the dominant influence on later albums. You can hear a bit of the influence of Collage (as you can in nearly every Polish neo-prog band).
Vocanda (2000) is their second. This is the 2007 digipack edition featuring a superior cover and four bonus tracks (all radio edits of album tracks) that take the total playing time up over 70-minutes.
Reincarnations (2002) is their third, more professional than the previous two, full of accessible and melodic neo-prog. This 2CD edition combines the English and Polish language versions, so you can compare and contrast. The digipack edition contains only the English language version but adds a 15:30 bonus track that takes the playing time up to 73:37 -- not too shabby!
With their fourth album Deja Vu (2004, 48-minutes), Millenium followed the career pattern of Collage, becoming more polished and professional with each album but also more mainstream. They could pass for British on this album. This will be a bit tame for hard-core prog fans, but will appeal to fans of later Marillion or those who appreciate later Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd. This is the 2008 digipack edition with four bonus tracks.
Interdead (2005, 61-minutes) is similar to Deja Vu, a very professional neo-prog concept album that treads a fairly mainstream path, still with a latter-day Pink Floyd influence heard on several tracks. This is the 2008 digipack edition with four bonus tracks.
Numbers and The Big Dream of Mr Sunders is Millenium’s 2006 studio album, their sixth if we counted correctly. This 58-minute concept album is Millenium’s most successful blending of the later Pink Floyd and early Marillion styles to date. The Lynx label like to repackage their CDs in various configurations, so this edition is packaged with the Three Brothers’ Epilogue CD-EP.
Three Brothers’ Epilogue (2008) is a bargain-priced 28-minute CD-EP. It includes the tracks Epilogue: Three Brothers Trilogy (15:01, new 2008 track), Dream About Aliens (8:02, 2007 full version of Talk to Aliens plus Aliens and Me), and Wake Up John! (5:04, 2007 vocal version of And the Big Dream of Mr Sunders).
Exist (2008, digipack) consists of just four long tracks spanning 53 minutes. With this CD, Millenium have shifted the balance almost entirely to the Pink Floyd side, with only vestiges of Marillion influence remaining. Millenium’s career arc has them making their best neo-prog style albums at the very beginning, getting conservative in their middle period, and emerging on the other side sounding more like a classic progressive rock band than ever. Read reviews at Prog Archives and ProgWalhalla.
Millenium had been a studio project for most of its existence, but the success of Exist prompted the band to play concerts in 2009. Back After Years: Live in Krakow 2009 is Millenium’s first live album, a double-CD digipack with a generous playing time of 138-minutes, featuring new arrangements of some of the older songs.
White Crow (2011, digipack) is a collection of rarities spanning 2003-2010 plus one new song (the title track), 11 tracks total. All the tracks were recorded by the present lineup.
The double-CD Puzzles (2011, digipack) is Millenium’s attempt at an epic concept album in the vein of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Watch/listen to the album trailer and read the band’s description of the album there. Read reviews at Prog Archives and Background Magazine.
This is the 2008 debut by a Polish prog band singing in English, though heavily instrumental. Mindfields expertly blend the Marillion, Pink Floyd and later Camel styles, putting them near Millenium on some tracks, closer to Satellite or Quidam on others. Their progressive rock is atmospheric and free of metal, and is up to the high standard we’re coming to expect from Polish prog bands.
Mind Portal are a Russian instrumental quartet (guitar/keys/bass/drums) debuting in 2010 with 1/1. They play heavy, fusion-tinged prog in a style similar to Planet X and Liquid Tension Experiment, with comparable technical skills. But Mind Portal earn high marks for melody and for concise, focused compositions, avoiding most of the excesses of those other bands. They have guitar melodies similar to what Joe Satriani comes up with, but not a lot of shredding for shredding’s sake. We would have liked some small degree of Russian flavor to give the music some distinctiveness -- this sounds entirely American -- but we understand that some of today’s progressive rock fans prefer a music monoculture. Read the Sea of Tranquility and DPRP reviews.
Using a proprietary numbering scheme, 1/2: Thought and Matter (2014) is Mind Portal’s second, even better than their first. The technical level of the musicians is quickly apparent, and while that’s the end of the story for so many bands who can play but not compose, Mind Portal’s music is a real pleasure to listen to.
DownWords (2005, 60-minutes) and Integrated in the System of Guilt (2006, 60-minutes) are the 10th and 11th full-length releases respectively by Polish band Moonlight. This is modern art-rock with female vocals (in English on this version of DownWords, in Polish on Integrated...). The music is characterized by the modern penchant for coldness and melancholy, contrasting passages of stark beauty with somewhat harsh passages dominated by synths and guitar. Vocalist Maja is a great asset, able to carry off the moods required by the music. Moonlight sometimes sound like the Czech band Stromboli extrapolated forward in time. The arrangements show a good deal of sophistication, and once you adjust to the eerie, dark, angst-ridden moods, the music does have a beauty all its own. Start with Integrated... Here are mp3s from the tracks Pati and Irreversible from DownWords (the mp3s are from the Polish-language version) and Reset from Integrated...
The Lights of a Distant Bay (2008) is one of the standout releases on the Polish Lynx label. On this debut, Moonrise operate in the same general Satellite/Riverside territory where most of the current Polish prog bands sit. The metal guitar is not that frequent; the Riverside comparison is more for the melancholy moods. But there is an uncommon elegance to Moonrise’s music. It’s surprising to learn that it’s the work of one multi-instrumentalist/composer, Kamil Konieczniak, plus Lukasz Gall, the singer from Millenium (lyrics in English). Konieczniak adds many creative touches on keyboards, and at the same time, his guitar work is full of lyrical, almost mournful Steve Rothery type leads. Gall is an excellent singer, but Konieczniak leaves plenty of room for instrumental passages, which also sets Moonrise apart. Highly recommended to fans of neo-prog.
Soul’s Inner Pendulum (2009, 58-minutes, digipack) is their second. There is no metal here at all; it is a pure neo-prog album with more lush, sometimes spacey keyboards than just about any other contemporary neo-prog album. Moonrise is now a band with a guitarist, drummer and sax player having joined Konieczniak, and while singer Gall is listed as a guest, he is a busy guest. The sax is a nice touch, but it is only present here and there. The Marillion influence is obvious, but given Gall’s voice, the music sounds even more like Jadis. Gall could pass for an American singer, his English is so good, and his excellent vocals have much to do with the quality of this album. Soaring guitar leads over a lush keyboard foundation is a tried-and-true formula for neo-prog, and it still sounds wonderful here. Read the Background Magazine review.
Stopover Life (2012, digipack) features new singer Marcin Jajkiewicz. We’ve had a hard time keeping this one in stock, as a lot of people have discovered Moonrise. Sometimes it just takes until the third album to achieve critical mass.
Václav Neckář is a famous Czech singer who has been making music since the 1960s. Some of his 1970s output was progressive, e.g., his 1977 2LP Planetárium. Between 1982-1983 he recorded three LPs entitled Příběhy, Písně a Balady 1, 2, and 3. This 2CD contains all three of these LPs in their entirety. Neckář is assisted by a number of other musicians, but the songs here all revolve around his vocals. It is vocal-heavy folk/pop/rock, not terribly commercial though as there are a lot of synths, lending symphonic and spacey touches throughout.
This is the 2008 debut by a Polish neo-prog band whose origins date back to the mid-1990s. Though the lineup that recorded this CD has only one original member, the songs here were written 12 years earlier. Nemezis stick close to the Marillion-by-way-of-Collage formula beloved by so many of the post-1990 Polish prog bands. They have a female singer (English lyrics), so Nemezis end up closest to the Polish band Albion. Lots of lyrical guitar leads like those Steve Rothery used to play; the guitar will be the highlight for many. (The neo-prog style is so prevalent among the later Polish prog bands, one has to wonder whether these musicians have never heard Genesis or Yes. Or closer to home, SBB, Exodus and RSC!)
Oaksenham are an Armenian progressive rock band immersed in English music, and their debut Conquest of the Pacific was one of the best CDs released by Musea in 2007. Oaksenham have the usual keys/guitars/bass/drums lineup with the addition of a violinist and a flute player, while guest musicians add harp, cello, oboe, bassoon, English horn, French horn, and clarinet. This amazing band play a lively, airy instrumental progressive rock with renaissance and baroque influences. The CD includes covers of Gentle Giant’s Talybont and On Reflection and a theme borrowed from Jethro Tull’s Velvet Green, and the rest of the CD continues with those influences, also Gryphon, Flairck, even Kansas when the electric guitar is present alongside violin and organ. Oaksenham restore the academic component missing from so many of today’s progressive bands.
Obiymy Doschu (Rain’s Embrace) is a six-person Ukrainian band plus guests, with male vocals in Ukrainian. Their 2009 album Elehia (Elegy) was re-released in 2011 in this MALS label edition. Obiymy Doschu blend the gloomy and melancholy Anathema/Katatonia/Riverside aesthetic with the lush strings sound of the Nordic and post-rock bands. The saturated strings are probably part Mellotron but also real violin and viola, lending a neo-classical feel. There is some metal guitar, a complete mismatch for the rest of the instrumentation of course. (A sympathetic, progressive-style guitarist would have fit much better, but they’re apparently hard to find now.) However, the violin plays some of the soaring melodies that the electric guitar might have covered. Piano, acoustic guitar, female backing vocals, bass and drums fill out the sound palette, which varies little from track to track, one reason the album flows uninterrupted, with a single mood. It is atmospheric and quite beautiful and elegant (apart from the metal guitar), if compositionally unvarying; this music is all about the bittersweet mood and the sad-but-majestic orchestral textures. Here are YouTube videos of The Dead Tree and the Wind, My Little Star, and Sunrise.
Polish symphonic rock band Ogród Wyobraźni made their debut at a festival in 1980. Their career was cut short by a tragic series of events, and that’s about all we know as the liner notes are in Polish. It appears these 13 tracks spanning 72-minutes were recorded at Polish Radio between 1979-1986. The music is progressive rock sung in Polish, with elements of Genesis, Camel, Pink Floyd and others, varying from early-70s to early-80s in style but remains mostly in the 70s. Overall this could be filed next to Exodus. The music is professionally recorded except for the last track, which is tacked on as a bonus. The CD is quite good and a very pleasant surprise, another valuable document of the Polish progressive scene from the Metal Mind label.
Cherdak (2008, 56-minutes) is the second album by this Latvian progressive band, stylistically similar to their 2002 debut CD Gramercy. Cherdak includes four long tracks, one of which is instrumental. The music of Olive Mess sports influences of classical, baroque, renaissance and modern academic music. Relative to Gramercy, the sound has become denser. While Gramercy featured the soprano of Ilze Paegle, Cherdak features the baritone of Maris Jekabsons, who sings in the classical (opera) style. In addition to electric & classical guitars, keys, bass and drums, Olive Mess use bagpipes, baroque guitar, and archlute. The band use historical events as the subject matter for their music and three different languages for their song texts: English, Latin, and old Provencal. If Gentle Giant worked with an opera singer, it might sound like this. On second thought, it still wouldn’t be as unusual as Olive Mess.
In the mid-1980s, there were two great Polish electronic bands: El Division and Omni. While the El Division LPs have yet to be issued on CD, the 1985 first album by Omni has. This is the Metal Mind re-edition, which adds three bonus tracks. Omni is a duo making melodic/rhythmic electronic music somewhere between the Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre styles, but very high-energy and very exuberant. Classical themes are blended with racing sequencers and electronic drums.
Nothing more was heard from Omni until Mermaids (2006). The core of their sound remains late-70s/early-80s Tangerine Dream. The first of the four tracks is electronic rock, as Omni add rock guitar, drums and wordless female vocals. The remaining three tracks stick mainly to electronic music, but each is quite distinct. One member adds cello at times, which is one element Omni use to elevate their music beyond ordinary EM. The 23-minute final track is a beautiful example of EM that builds from ambient/cosmic to a powerful sequencer-driven conclusion.
The latter-day Polish progressive rock bands have tended to cluster around a couple styles exemplified by the most successful Polish prog bands. First it was Collage (later Satellite), who were influenced by the British neo-prog bands, later Riverside, who took their cues more from Porcupine Tree. Many of the Polish prog bands don’t stray too far from these, and Openspace can be wedged into the open space between Satellite and Riverside. Most of what they do on their 2008 debut is in the Satellite style, but they add metal guitar on some tracks, bringing their music closer to Riverside. Four songs are sung in English, four in Polish, plus one instrumental. It is all very well done, and this CD is a sure bet for Satellite fans and probably Riverside fans as well.
Elementary Loss (2010) is their second, sung entirely in English.
ME 2.0 (2012, digipack) is the third album for Ordinary Brainwash, the first on the Metal Mind label after two on Lynx. Ordinary Brainwash is actually the work of young Polish musician Rafal Zak, who describes the music as “a post-prog mixture of beautiful melodies, original lyrics and startling compositions” that the label says should appeal to fans of Porcupine Tree, Chroma Key, and Gazpacho. Listen to the song Outdated on YouTube.
This is the digipack special edition of The Body Parts Party, the 2008 album by Polish prog band Osada Vida, which contains two bonus tracks. It’s a concept album that uses various body parts and organs to symbolize something or other. The pancreas gets short shrift, but on balance, this is an improvement over their previous album Three Seats Behind a Triangle. As is usually the case, when Osada Vida play progressive rock, the music is quite good, and when they shift over to metal and hard rock it’s, well, metal and hard rock. There is often a spacey Pink Floyd or Eloy element to the keyboards, while at other times the keys are jazzy and classy. The keys have to bow out sometimes to make way for over-distorted guitar and bog-standard thrashing and pummeling, but if you’re a fan of modern heavy rock, this is presumably something you look forward to. While most prog-metal bands have adopted the sonic conventions of modern metal, i.e., brutally ugly, Osada Vida lean toward a grungier sound between metal and hard rock, i.e., reasonably ugly. That grunginess is only during the non-progressive bits between the progressive bits. The CD is over 73-minutes long, so there’s a full album of progressive rock in there. Read the reviews at Sea of Tranquility and Prog Archives.
This is the digipack special edition of Osada Vida’s 2009 album Uninvited Dreams, which contains three bonus tracks: two new songs and one alternate version, 79-minutes total. This is Osada Vida’s best album to date, the one you knew they could make if they chose to. They’ve reined in the metal guitar enough to tip the balance overwhelmingly to their progressive side. They still like some grit in their prog, and that’s fine; it gives Osada Vida an identifiable sound.
Particles (2013, digipack) features new singer Marek Majewski (ex-Acute Mind). Read reviews at Prog Archives. Check our DVDs page for Osada Vida’s Where the Devils Live DVD.
Despite the title, this is a studio album, the 57-minute 2012 debut by Russian post-rock band Oshean. By ‘post-rock’, we’re referring to that Krautrock-influenced, mostly-instrumental style based on electric guitars used for textural and timbral effect rather than their traditional uses in rock, with tracks building to dense, majestic climaxes. Like post-rock icon Godspeed You! Black Emperor (or however they’re punctuating their name these days), Oshean add violin to the stew (the whole mix is heavily-reverbed), which lends a certain elegance. Oshean use some vocals, but the words are not discernable; the voice is also used for texture rather than its traditional use in rock. This is close to symphonic space-rock and as rich sonically, an excellent entry point for prog fans ready to explore post-rock.
Back in the bad old days of the Soviet Union, records were released on the state-owned Melodiya label, and fans in the west weren’t always aware of where the artists actually hailed from. It turned out that the majority of the Soviet progressive rock bands were really Estonian, and they were very good. But after Estonia gained independence in 1991, their progressive rock scene never recovered, economic realities having something to do with that, and little was heard out of Estonia. Until now.
Pantokraator are from Tartu, Estonia’s second city, and trace their roots to the early 1980s. They released their first album in 1990, broke up in 1992, reformed 14 years later, and now are really back with the 2009 CD Tormidesööjad (The Storm Eaters). The album opens with Metsavaht, a song of aggressive folk-rock, similar to heavy Scandinavian folk-rockers such as Hoven Droven. A great song, but not representative of the rest of the album, as it is symphonic prog the rest of the way, with a Yes influence that is sometimes heard clearly. Pantokraator have excellent male lead vocals with some female backing vocals. There are slight ethnic touches in spots that give the music a special character, as do the Estonian vocals. The Estonian language is close to Finnish, and the ethnic touches sound Scandinavian. If you’re one of those so-called prog fans who prefers all music sound like it comes from some generic Anglo-American place where everyone sings in English and there is nothing of a national or regional character, then you probably haven’t read this far. For those who prefer richer, more varied and less contrived music, this is an exciting, world-class prog rock album played by highly-skilled musicians. The CD comes in a tri-fold digipack with a 24-page booklet containing English translations of the Estonian lyrics. Here are YouTube videos of the songs Tule tule and Metsavaht. (Don’t confuse this band with the Swedish metal band spelled Pantokrator.)
Indrek Patte is an Estonian singer, keyboardist and guitarist, and a veteran of several bands since the 1970s. On Celebration (2011, digipack), he is aided by a large number of musicians on guitars, bass, drums, flute, cello, violin, sax, and backing vocals. This is symphonic rock showing influences of Genesis, Yes, PFM, Gentle Giant, and more. Read the Background Magazine and Prognaut reviews.
Peter Pan is a side project of current Satellite and former Collage member Wojtek Szadkowski. On Days (2007, digipack), they play excellent neo-prog similar to Collage and Satellite, more aggressive overall (but still not metallic). Singing would not be our first choice of career for Peter Pan’s vocalist, but plenty of instrumental action makes up it. Vocals in English.
This 2009 debut CD by Polish band Pinkroom is solidly in the Porcupine Tree and Riverside style of modern prog: dark moods, melancholy vocals (in English), some spaciness, some metal, an overriding sense of alienation. A guest cellist on two tracks is a nice addition. This style is becoming perhaps a bit too familiar by now, with quite a few young bands going down this path, but fans of the style will relish this CD as it is done as well as any. 57-minutes, digipack.
Point of View are an excellent Polish prog-metal quintet, and like most prog-metal bands, nothing in their sound reveals their country of origin. Disillusioned is their 2007 debut. Reviewers have mentioned Fates Warning, Queensryche, and Dream Theater. Point of View have a good keyboardist, and there are times when they sound like Satellite, and times when they sound like Satellite with metal guitar overdubbed. Read the Proggnosis review.
Quidam - Pod Niebem Czas (The Time Beneath the Sky) CD+DVD ($19.99) out-of-stock
Check our DVDs page for Quidam’s DVDs. Along with Collage/Satellite, Quidam have arguably been the top next-generation progressive band in Poland. Their style on their first two CDs mixes Marillion (as filtered through Collage) with Renaissance, while demonstrating a strong affinity for Camel. (Quidam members have played with both Camel and Colin Bass.) Emila Derkowska was one of the best female vocalists in progressive rock. The heavy use of flute further highlights their sound.
The self-titled CD is their 1996 debut album (lyrics in Polish), on which three Collage members guest. This 10th Anniversary edition has been remastered and adds a bonus CD with ten previously unreleased tracks, two live videos and two promo videos. This is the super jewel box + slipcase version.
The 77-minute Live in Mexico ’99 is from Quidam’s stunning Baja Prog 1999 performance. The concert includes a cover of Camel’s Rhayader Goes to Town and the middle section of Genesis’ Firth of Fifth. This current version comes in a super jewel box + slipcase and adds a DVD (PAL, all-region) containing video of live performances of seven tracks and a documentary of Quidam’s stay in Mexico. The booklet is in both Polish and English.
Pod Niebem Czas / The Time Beneath the Sky (2002) is their third studio album. It sees them expanding their sound and losing most of the Marillion influence, Quidam’s most mature album to that point. It is sung in Polish aside from a Led Zep cover, with English translations in the booklet. The CD+DVD edition comes in a super jewel box + slipcase and adds an official live bootleg DVD (PAL, all-region) of a very special performance, Quidam’s 2003 farewell concert with singer Emila, the end of the band’s first era. Special guest Colin Bass (Camel) appears on five of the 19 tracks, which include Camel and Colin Bass songs.
The title of Quidam’s 2005 album SurREvival (55-minutes) is a reference to their own situation. Their great female singer Emila left the band in 2003, followed by their bassist and drummer, leaving their continued existence in doubt. So the remaining three members went out and found a new rhythm section and a great male vocalist who sings in flawless English, reinventing themselves in the process. Now consisting of six men (still with a full-time flutist), SurREvival has little of the style of their first two studio albums. The band seems freer to stretch out their song forms (the tracks tend to be longer). They are now a much more contemporary progressive rock band, sounding more serious, with some elements of Spock’s Beard but much more of a mesmerizing, flowing, moodier sound closer to Porcupine Tree, Peter Gabriel, Riverside, and that whole aesthetic. The band has gone from strength to strength. This 2CD edition comes in a super jewel box + slipcase and adds the Half Plugged CD. Half Plugged (51-minutes) is a semi-acoustic album released separately in 2006 that includes rearranged songs from SurREvival and covers of The Beatles’ Blackbird, The Moody Blues’ Nights in White Satin, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, and excerpts from Deep Purple’s Hush. There are also three videos: one rehearsal and two live. Given that there is electric bass and drums, the major change here is that the guitar is acoustic. The more intimate setting and freed-up sonic space means the flute is more prominent, one can really appreciate how good a singer Bartek Kossowicz is, and the quality of the songs themselves shines through. This CD will increase your appreciation of the current Quidam lineup.
Alone Together (2007, 63-minutes) is a concept album and a shining example of a contemporary melodic prog album. It feels as though the current lineup has settled on who they are as band, as Alone Together seems to have more continuity with the earlier Quidam style than SurREvival did. The Marillion influence that was always part of Quidam’s sound comes through especially in the Rothery-like lead guitar work, and flute is still an important element. The expressive vocals of Bartek Kossowicz give Quidam some of that modern Peter Gabriel / Porcupine Tree / Riverside feel, and there is enough aggression in the music to satisfy fans of the latter two, but there is little melancholy or despair. The music here is ultimately uplifting and hopeful. And kind of addictive. The CD comes in a super jewel box + slipcase.
It was a long break between albums. The 2012 Quidam studio CD Saiko (54-minutes, digibook) is surprising not only in that it is sung almost entirely in Polish, but Quidam’s style has also shifted to sparser, more minimalist arrangements. At the time of this writing, audio previews of all the Saiko tracks can be heard on the Quidam homepage.
This is the 79-minute 2011 debut by a Russian symphonic prog band in the vein of Kansas, Yes and Genesis, more so Kansas as their sound is more American than British. The audio was mastered at Masterdisk in New York City, and the artwork is gorgeous. More info on Quorum’s website. While there, be sure to listen to the track Klubkin’s Voyage, Part Two. Read the Prognaut review. Klubkin’s Voyage was April 2011 Record of the Month at Progressive Rock BR.
This band of Muscovites play instrumental post-rock. The Last Twenty Years (2012) is their debut, released on the MALS label. Read the Mr. Atavist and Sludgelord reviews.
Stolen Thoughts (2008) is the first full-length album for the Polish band Retrospective, released on the Polish Lynx label. It is dark, despairing modern prog sung in English, like a more depressed Riverside. While there is only a little actual metal, the aesthetic seems closer to the modern metal aesthetic, though there is some Pink Floyd and a little 1970s King Crimson influence.
Four years later and Lost in Perception (2012, digipack) is released on the German Progressive Promotion label. The model for Retrospective may still be Riverside, but this is a more self-assured effort, with the band playing more to their own strengths. Now female vocals from the keyboardist complement the male lead vocals. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Visit Retrospective’s website for more info.
Out of Myself is the 2004 debut by a Polish band that have carved out a style that now seems to be a standard of sorts among the newer Polish progressive bands. Their brand of modern prog is on the dark and moody side, influenced by Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd while blending in psychedelic and metal elements a la Opeth. Riverside have an outstanding singer in Mariusz Duda; his vocals are in excellent English. Second Life Syndrome (2005, 64-minutes) is their follow-up. No sophomore slump here, as this album is even better, a bit darker perhaps, with Riverside finding their own style even though the core styles of their debut are carried over. Yes, there are more metal elements and the tempo is often quicker than on their debut, but it would be a disservice to call this a prog-metal album. Much of the guitar work actually derives from the Steve Rothery style, and there is a Collage influence present at the music’s heart. The album has been reviewed by every metal website, but it is primarily a progressive rock work that has appeal across a broad spectrum.
This is the 2006 edition of Voices In My Head on InsideOut. It contains five studio tracks that Riverside released after Out of Myself, three live versions of tracks from Out of Myself with excellent sound, a video of one of the studio songs, lyrics and photos. The studio tracks here do not appear on their other albums, and they are weighted toward the softer, more sensuous and intimate side of Riverside’s style, presenting a side of the band not always apparent on their other albums.
Riverside’s 2007 studio album Rapid Eye Movement further develops the style established on their previous albums. The metal elements are still there, but there was promise at this juncture that Riverside were outgrowing them. The overall style is again close to Porcupine Tree, with some Hogarth-era Marillion, but Riverside are easily in the same league as both.
The ‘hi-def’ in Riverside’s 2009 studio CD Anno Domini High Definition is just part of the title, as this is a standard CD. (The Special Edition with the DVD is no longer available.) On this album, Riverside lost some of the elements that gave them credibility as a progressive rock band. Here they are more metallic and aggressive, and the music is considerably less lush, with dirty Hammond the primary keyboard sound. It’s similar to the direction Porcupine Tree went in circa Fear of a Blank Planet, and the two bands still have similar appeal or lack thereof. Prog-metalheads may consider this Riverside’s best album, but there are passages here where Riverside try our patience. Read the review at Sputnik Music.
Memories in My Head (2011, 33-minutes) is a short CD to commemorate Riverside’s 10th anniversary. It’s new material consisting of three long tracks that segue into a cohesive whole. It also represents a course correction, a return to the spacier, melancholy sound of their early work. Riverside’s singer Mariusz Duda had promised this CD would be a pleasant surprise to those who felt that Riverside’s last releases lacked distinctive melodies and space. Riverside have intentionally returned to their beginning and, in a way, come full circle.
This is the limited 2CD mediabook edition of Shrine of New Generation Slaves (2013), which comes in a hardcover format with expanded, bound-in booklet. It adds a second disc containing two long instrumental tracks (22:17 total). (Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.) Watch the album trailer video. Read the Sea of Tranquility, Sputnik Music, and Stereoboard.com reviews. See above for Lunatic Soul, the solo project of Mariusz Duda. Check our DVDs page for Riverside’s Reality Dream DVD.
From Saint Petersburg, Russia, Roz Vitalis has existed since 2001 as a studio project and since 2008 as a full-fledged instrumental progressive rock band led by keyboardist/composer Ivan Rozmainsky. On Compassionizer (2007), approximately Rozmainsky’s eighth album, he is joined by a guitarist and a clarinet player. Rozmainsky is very influenced by 20th century classical music, so though the music here has passages of beauty, overall it is dark, dissonant and complex avant-prog in the vein of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. Because the drums are used to provide counterpoint and never simply to keep a beat, Rozmainsky is able to use high-quality samples and lose nothing. Read the Prog Archives and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
On Revelator (2011), Roz Vitalis is a five-piece band with electric & acoustic guitars, flutes, bass and drums in addition to Rozmainsky’s grand piano, Hammond and other keyboards. There are also guests on cello, viola, bassoon, trumpet and flugelhorn, giving this album a more acoustic and organic sound, still in an unclassifiable, offbeat area of avant-sympho-prog dominated by keyboards.
Patience of Hope (2012) is arguably Roz Vitalis’ best work, showing that the band is still growing. The music is again instrumental and at the intersection of several genres, primarily progressive rock and chamber music, also jazz and European folk. This album is less keyboard-heavy. There are more acoustic textures, as concert grand piano, flute, cello, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone, accordion, metallophone, and harpsichord augment the rock instruments. Start here. Read the Prog Archives and Progplanet reviews.
Czas Wodnika, Parakletos, and Maraton Rockowy are the 2007 limited edition remastered digipack reissues put out by Polskie Radio. RSC are a Polish symphonic prog band (singing in Polish) whose two early-1980s albums are among the best Polish progressive rock albums. The seven-piece band features violin prominently, and the music is close to early Kansas. Maraton Rockowy (1994) contains re-recorded versions of most of the tracks from RSC’s self-titled 1982 album and four from their 1983 second album Flyrock.
Czas Wodnika (1996, 71-minutes) was RSC’s first real studio album since 1983. It and Parakletos (1997, 68-minutes) are fine comeback albums, rockier than their early output but in the same general style and featuring the same violin/organ/guitar attack.
Despite having nearly the same name as their earlier album and making use of its cover art, Aka Flyrock (2008) is a new record, the third coming of RSC. This one features violin on a few tracks only. As the only legendary Polish band on the Lynx label, home of many younger Polish prog bands, it’s natural to contrast the old guys with the young guys. Aka Flyrock contains some modern elements such as loops and samples, but it is consistent with RSC’s classic prog style, with ensemble vocals in Polish that immediately distinguish it from the current generation of Polish bands. That and the symphonic keyboards that occupy their rightful place. There is also a sense of majesty here, an important component of many of the bands that defined progressive rock that is absent from most modern prog. The CD contains 64-minutes of audio plus a professional video (4:21).
Looking for Myself is the 2006 debut by Sandstone, a young Polish melodic prog-metal quintet who use a lot of keyboards and are not overly heavy or metallic. They have a powerful vocalist singing in flawless English, and a bit of Riverside in their sound. Just six tracks span 55-minutes.
Satellite is a progressive rock band formed by ex-Collage members. Collage was Poland’s top neo-prog band, operating from about 1986-1995 or later. At their best (the albums Basnie and Moonshine), they were nearly the equal of IQ and Marillion. Listening to Satellite, the Collage lineage is evident. Collage finished their career with their weakest album (Safe), but fortunately Satellite return to the more progressive aesthetic of early Collage, then bring that into the present. The vocals are in English.
A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset (2003) is their 72-minute debut and features a Mark Wilkinson cover (the guy who did the early Marillion album artwork). Their second, Evening Games (2005), is another great one that has appeal across almost the entire prog rock spectrum. The digipack edition contains two bonus tracks.
With Into the Night (2007), Satellite revealed that their three albums are meant to be a trilogy, and the final chapter does not disappoint. Into the Night features the same lush, stirring, symphonic neo-prog now with more elements of Porcupine Tree and Riverside in the mix. Read the reviews at Sea of Tranquility, Prog Archives, and DPRP.
Nostalgia (2009, 68-minutes) is Satellite’s fourth studio CD. The digipack edition has two bonus tracks. Already the de facto leaders or at least co-leaders of the current Polish progressive scene, Satellite are not resting on their laurels, as Nostalgia adds new sonic elements and expands the boundaries of their familiar neo-prog style. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The double-CDs simply package two Satellite CDs together in a slipcase at an attractive price. (Each set counts as 2 CDs for shipping.) In the case of A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset + Into the Night, they are jewel box CDs. In the case of Evening Games + Nostalgia, they are the digipack versions with the bonus tracks. Check our DVDs page for Satellite’s Evening Dreams DVD.
SBB - Wołanie o Brzęk Szkła remastered jewel box ($15.99) out-of-stock
SBB - Amiga remastered digipack ($15.99) out-of-stock
SBB - Pamięć remastered jewel box ($15.99) out-of-stock
SBB - W Filharmonii Akt 2 remastered digipack ($14.99) out-of-stock
SBB was the most important 1970s progressive rock band in Poland, probably the most important Polish rock band period. The band split up in 1980, was reactivated briefly at various points during the 1990s, and has been active again since 2000. Usually a trio of keyboards/vocals, guitar, and drums, they are well-known because they toured Western Europe before the Iron Curtain came down. Check our DVDs page for some of SBB’s DVDs.
SBB have now released so many albums that they’ve had to begin recycling album names, so their 2012 album is simply called SBB (mini-LP sleeve, 78-minutes), as was their 1974 debut. Listen to the track Ameryka on YouTube. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the digipack edition of SBB’s 2010 CD Blue Trance, with two bonus tracks, 61-minutes total. SBB continue with the same lineup and same general style as on Iron Curtain and The Rock. Five songs have Polish lyrics, two are sung in English, and six are instrumentals. There is a bit of blues-rock, which is par for the course with SBB because Jozef Skrzek likes to get out from behind his keyboards and strap on his bass guitar. But he stays put most of the time, and the music is a mature blend of Skrzek’s classical/symphonic tendencies and Apostolis Anthimos’ jazz-rock leanings, with those characteristic keyboard leads you just don’t hear much anymore. Here is a video of the song Los Człowieka.
This is the digipack edition of SBB’s 2009 CD Iron Curtain, with two bonus tracks. The style is similar to the previous CD The Rock, though more instrumental. The lyrics are in Polish. Read reviews at Sea of Tranquility and Prog Archives.
This is the digipack edition of SBB’s 2007 CD The Rock, with two bonus tracks totaling 10-minutes for a total of 71-minutes. Jazz drummer Paul Wertico is out, replaced by Hungarian drummer Gabor Nemeth (from Hungarian semi-progressive rock bands Scorpió and P. Mobil). It’s a positive development for SBB, as they leave the improvisation behind and return to their roots as a 1970s rock band. Skrzek’s omnipresent organ and synths keep everything progressive-flavored. The album is relatively melodic, vocal and song-oriented (for SBB), with some songs sung in English and others in Polish. In 71-minutes, there is room for the band to cover a lot of ground, from mellow songs to intense instrumental work featuring Skrzek’s distinctive synth leads, with most of the tracks hovering around the 7-minute mark.
For New Century (2005), Jozef Skrzek (vocals, bass guitar, Minimoog, Hammond organ, Nord Lead Electro 2, grand piano, harmonica) is joined by original guitarist Apostolis Anthimos. The drums are handled by Paul Wertico, with a couple guests supplying guitar and backing vocals. Most of these tracks were recorded in one take, giving the album a live feel. The first seven tracks are decent progressive rock before the album peters out into a long blues-rock jam, a short harmonica & drums thing and a short rocker. The progressive tracks are recognizably SBB, though one track introduces a modern, ambient feel that is new for them. It isn’t up to their best albums but it is quality stuff. The jewel box CD version is 58 minutes long. The DVD-Audio adds two bonus tracks for an additional 8 minutes. The DVD-Audio contains the first 5.1 surround mix recorded in Poland. It also includes a video of one track, a video documentary with Polish and English subtitles, and the lyrics.
All the titles labeled “remastered” are the 2005, 24-bit remastered editions on Metal Mind, each with an 8-page booklet with new liner notes in both Polish and English. These were initially released as limited edition digipacks, but some have sold out and reverted to jewel box versions. The audio content is identical. Nastroje (2002) was SBB’s first new studio album in about 20 years. It’s no Follow My Dream, but it is a respectable prog rock album, and it’s good to hear Skrzek’s synth leads once again. Vocals in Polish and English. This edition adds two bonus tracks: an alternate mix of one track and a video of the same track.
Follow My Dream (1978) and Welcome (1979) are arguably their two best and have English lyrics. Follow My Dream is the album that really showed to the West the talent level in Eastern Europe, and got SBB ranked alongside the top British progressive rock bands by fans in the know. Welcome was mixed by Conny Plank in Germany and released there before it was released in Poland. Follow My Dream has three important bonus tracks spanning half an hour, bringing the total time of the CD up to 76-minutes, while Welcome has seven bonus tracks that take the total time of the CD up over 78-minutes.
After Welcome, SBB seemed to give up on the idea of conquering the west, returning to Polish lyrics on Memento z Banalnym Tryptykiem (1980), which also returns somewhat to their pre-Follow My Dream style, with longer tracks. This album probably does that style better than any of their others. One long (10:40) bonus track has been added.
Wołanie o brzęk szkła (1977) is the one with the orange cover that was released on LP in Czechoslovakia, though it was just titled SBB then. The 1976 bonus tracks from the band’s archive double the album’s length, to 78-minutes. Jerzyk (1977) continues with SBB’s fusion-tinged prog style. It now has eight bonus tracks recorded for Polish radio, taking the playing time up to 78-minutes.
The Amiga album was originally self-titled but was released on the East German Amiga label. It was recorded in 1977 in East Berlin. The style is similar to the previous album Jerzyk, but instead of long suites, SBB have broken things into shorter pieces, and two have vocals. It is still their fusion-tinged prog, with a funky element present on this album. The bonus tracks include an outtake from the recording sessions that had previously been released on an Amiga compilation LP, plus tracks recorded for Polish radio, taking the playing time up to 79-minutes.
SBB’s fourth album Ze Slowem... (1977) is one of their best, featuring two side-long, mostly instrumental, fusion-tinged symphonic prog tracks. A 29-minute 1976 bonus track from SBB’s archive has been added. Pamięć (1975) is their third, an excellent album on which SBB first began to assert their symphonic side over the Mahavishnu Orchestra influence that dominates their previous album.
The double-CDs simply package two CDs together in a slipcase at an attractive price. (Each set counts as 2 CDs for shipping.) In the case of Iron Curtain + Memento z Banalnym Tryptykiem, they are jewel box CDs. The jewel box edition of Iron Curtain doesn’t include the bonus tracks of the digipack, while the jewel box Memento (which is the remastered edition) does. In the case of Nastroje + Ze Słowem Biegnę do Ciebie, they are the digipack editions with the bonus tracks.
SBB have a ridiculous number of legitimate live albums. Budai Ifjusagi Park Live is from a 1977 concert in Hungary. It has good sound and features SBB’s usual long jams. By the time of Live in America ’94 (67-minutes), SBB had expanded to a quintet, adding a bass player and an acoustic guitarist/vocalist. This edition includes four bonus tracks recorded later during the same tour.
W Filharmonii Akt 1 (65-minutes) and Akt 2 (74-minutes) are live albums recorded in 1998. Akt 1 features three bonus tracks and Akt 2 two bonus tracks recorded in 1999. For this concert, SBB added orchestral percussion (timpani, tubular bells) and Jozef Skrzek played a lot more pipe organ. At the time of Absolutely Live ’98, SBB was focusing on some of their best known tracks from the 1970s, including Walking Around the Stormy Bay, the whole Going Away suite, and the 16+ minute Memento z Banalnym Tryptykiem. Good Bye! is a live album by the lineup with Paul Wertico on drums, recorded in 2000. The five bonus tracks are in fact the entire The Golden Harp CD-EP, a studio recording from 2001.
SBB’s main creative force is keyboardist Jozef Skrzek, who has had a long solo career and is still active. Pamietnik Karoliny (1978) is Skrzek’s first solo album, instrumental aside from some childrens’ voices. Skrzek plays all manner of analog keyboards plus some drums and guitar. The subject matter seems to have something to do with children, and some of the music has a magical, movie soundtrack feel. This is the 2005 remastered edition on the Oskar label that adds seven bonus tracks, taking the total time up to 72-minutes. And the bonus tracks are mostly very good.
Recorded in 1980, Ojciec Chrzestny Dominika (Dominic’s Godfather) may be Skrzek’s magnum opus, consisting of two 20-minute tracks and continuing the development of the SBB sound in a more symphonic and structured direction.
Jozefina (1981) is a very good album, focusing on shorter songs and vocals.
Without an understanding of Polish, it’s hard to say exactly what Skrzek’s Kantata Maryjna album is other than that it is a 2002 live performance of what sounds like an ambitious musical/theatrical work featuring a large cast of musicians and singers. The female ensemble vocals are a highlight. Skrzek plays a lot of pipe organ in addition to his synths, and some of it has a sacred feel, while a lot of it has a Slavic romanticism powered by a rock aesthetic. There are drums on some tracks, and dramatic male spoken word (poetry?) in a couple spots. It sounds like some of the things Kormoran have done in Hungary. It’s the kind of thing that sounds like the tale of some great people or historical event. Whatever it is, it’s one of the most enjoyable things Skrzek has done, and may well be his most important work. Here is an mp3 of the entire fourth track of this CD.
This is the 2006 debut CD by a Polish prog/prog-metal quintet that includes former Collage and Satellite keyboardist Krzysztof Palczewski. Some of their material is prog-metal, while some is melodic neo-prog. Vocals in English. Short CD at 37:09.
Strawberry Fields is a project of Wojtek Szadkowski, the leader of Satellite, working here with a female singer using the name Robin (really Marta Kniewska). River’s Gone Dry (2009) is their debut CD. The rest of the band is Satellite minus their singer: guitarist Sarhan Kubeisi, bassist Jarek Michalski, keyboardist Krzyś Palczewski guesting, and Szadkowski on keyboards, acoustic guitar and drums. This is Szadkowski’s chance to apply his considerable skills to a more contemporary style that incorporates all the trappings of modern music technology, and also to work with a talented female vocalist. Robin’s vocals are the focus of the music and are especially beautiful when multi-tracked. The result is a blend of the old and the new, more laid-back and atmospheric than Satellite but even more detailed, an excellent example of a prog musician making a more accessible or trendy music without compromising on quality. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Watch the promo video. Check our DVDs page for Strawberry Fields’ Live DVD.
Antony Kalugin’s musical empire continues to expand rapidly, which in addition to these Sunchild CDs include numerous CDs with his other bands and projects Karfagen, Hoggwash, and AKKO. Kalugin has half the musicians in Ukraine on the Sunchild albums, which continue to develop the style of Karfagen and Hoggwash, with vocals in English primarily by Kalugin. This is melodic symphonic prog that draws from all eras of progressive rock and establishes Kalugin as one of the top contemporary composers in the genre.
The first Sunchild CD The Gnomon (2008) is a double-CD that was originally released in a jewel box. This is the 2012 second edition which comes in a fat digipack. It omits the two videos from the first edition but adds three bonus tracks which are alternate versions of album tracks. Read reviews.
The Invisible Line (2009, 69-minutes) is the second Sunchild CD. Read reviews.
As for The Wrap (2010): “Sunchild have produced a superb piece of orchestrated symphonic progressive rock, which appeals to fans of all genres of music including Camel and Marillion for two easy comparisons. I can see a huge leap forward musically for them on this release and hopefully it will be enjoyed by even more fans than his last release under the Sunchild moniker.” [Harmonic Lizard] Read the full review and others.
As Far as the Eye Can See (2011, 63-minutes) sees vocalist Olga Chernova joining the Sunchild regulars; her voice brings Kate Bush to mind. Anima Mundi’s guitarist Roberto Diaz guests on the title track. Read the Rocktopia and Background Magazine reviews.
Isolation (2012, digipack) is highlighted by the lengthy four-part title suite. Sunchild is no longer a studio project, as the band toured Europe in support of this CD. Here are mp3s of the complete Isolation part 4 and a 13:43 medley covering the entire CD. Read the Rocktopia and Background Magazine reviews.
Childhood’s End? (2013) is the debut of Sunrise Auranaut, an instrumental sympho-prog project of Russian multi-instrumentalist Vitaly Kiselev, who cites Genesis, Yes, Camel, ELP, Uriah Heep, Eloy, Van der Graaf Generator, Hawkwind, and Blue Oyster Cult as his major influences. The music is synth-heavy but does frequently include guitar, both electric and acoustic. Listen to the track Dream on YouTube.
Way of the King (2013) is the superior second Sunrise Auranaut CD, on which Kiselev comes closer to a more natural, full-band sound. Listen to the track Castle Walls Are Carried Way Up on YouTube.
This is the 2009 debut by a prog band from St. Petersburg, Russia, though the two founding members are named Andrew Lee-Beth and Steve Kuddins, so most likely they’re expats. The music is entrancing instrumental Floydian rock, spacey and mostly easy-going, with occasional outbursts of energy and menace. As for other similar artists, one could mention Michael Rother, Bo Hansson, and Camel. Read reviews at Sea of Tranquility, Prog-Nose, Proggnosis, and DPRP. Mini-LP style sleeve.
Svann is a Polish progressive rock band formed by ex-Abraxas members, with a very good female singer named Anja who apparently also sings for a gothic rock band and owns the title “The Queen of Polish Gothic Rock”. This 2003 album, whose title translates as The Boundary of Black and White, reminds us a bit of the Czech band Stromboli, but Svann are at once more progressive, more symphonic, and more contemporary. Svann play modern progressive rock, more linear and urban (as opposed to pastoral) than classic prog, but still very romantic, ambitious, and texturally rich. Gabriel-esque atmospheres and rhythms, some creative use of percussion loops, and a few heavy passages characterize their music. 64-minutes, vocals in Polish.
This excellent 2009 debut by a Polish progressive rock band is evidence that not every Polish band plays neo-prog or prog-metal. The music of Tale of Diffusion is almost entirely instrumental, influenced to some extent by 1980s King Crimson and by Pink Floyd, but that’s only a departure point. The music is melodic, intricate, and flowing. There are touches of jazz, particularly when the guest jazz trumpeter appears. There are sophisticated electronic music touches that take the music into the realm of ambient-prog. The band had been in existence for six years prior, so the fact this debut is so accomplished is not so surprising. What is surprising is the music itself: unpredictable, creative, deftly balancing complexity and accessibility. 57-minutes, digipack.
This is the 2006 debut by a young Polish band. They mix and match many prog styles, one of which is prog-metal. When they do play metal, they achieve their apparent goal of sounding like a dime-a-dozen metal band. Fortunately the metal is only present in spots, and everything else they do is inventive and makes them quite a unique band. Some of the album is as far away from metal as possible. There are many really intricate and tasteful arrangements here and excellent musicianship. If they’d lose the metal, the album’s couple low points would be eliminated, but those are minor blemishes on a quality progressive album showing uncommon creativity. Vocals in English.
Earthshine (2011, digisleeve) is the second album from Poland’s top post-rock band. We could see Earthshine appealing to open-minded fans of electronic space music and of the more cosmic-sounding Krautrock bands. This is wonderful music to lose oneself in, drift into that alpha state of consciousness, but it builds to peaks of great intensity and so sounds just as good wide awake. It would be fantastic to hear in surround -- we hear Steven Wilson is available for hire. Read the Background Magazine, Sonic Abuse, and Muzik Dizcovery reviews. Watch the promo video.
Eternal Movement (2013, digipack) is their third and positions Tides from Nebula as one of the best post-rock bands in the world. While adhering to the (rather narrow) conventions of post-rock, one might think of this as symphonic space-rock built around the guitar sound first developed by U2. As the band describes it: “It’s energetic, full of hope and light. It has a greater depth of sound as we used several more guitars, different drum kits, and far more keyboards than previous albums.” Read the Echoes and Dust review. Watch the official video for the song Only With Presence.
Travellers is another project of Wojtek Szadkowski, known from his work in Collage, Satellite, and Strawberry Fields. Travellers features the same female singer as Strawberry Fields: Robin (aka Marta Kniewska). A Journey Into the Sun Within (2011, digipack) is their debut. Szadkowski says: “It’s a mixture of prog, ethnic music, the 80s, a large dose of magic and space, all of this crowned with Robin’s beautiful voice.” Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Lucid Moments (2011) is the debut CD for Tune, a Polish prog band who might sound like Riverside or Pain of Salvation except that they integrate accordion into their sound, making them unique. Read the progVisions review.
Turquoise are a Polish neo-prog band who were probably originally modeled on early Quidam. Their self-titled CD 2001 debut features female vocals in Polish. Po Drugiej Stronie is their 2003 second CD, a bit heavier than their debut and with more male vocals. Futura is their 2006 third CD, which returns to all female vocals, this time in English. So Futura will be more accessible to those American prog fans who are frightened by non-English lyrics. The music is still early Marillion style neo-prog with some heavier touches.
Uistiti is a Polish quartet of female vocals, guitar, bass/Warr guitar/Stick, and drums. Uistiti’s bassist is also Millenium’s bassist. This is Uistiti’s 2008 debut CD on the Lynx label, who had a busy 2008 with debut releases. The music is a sort of alt-prog, with their singer having a large impact on their sound. Her vocals suggest Bjork or Cocteau Twins, with interesting multi-tracked harmonies that suggest Balkan or Finnish folk. There is a little heavy guitar but it is mostly ringing, low-distortion tones. There is a slight similarity to Porcupine Tree’s psychedelic pop style. It’s enjoyable enough, and good to see that not all the bands on the Lynx label have identical styles. Lyrics in Polish. (For those who still have difficulty listening to non-English lyrics, this is a band where it’s easy to hear the human voice as another instrument.)
Volume 1 of the Polish Art-Rock series is a beautiful package in the digibook (hardcover) format with both Polish and English text. The CD contains tracks from Abraxas, Museion, Anamor, Millenium, Lukasz Swiech, Lizard, Albion, Revolver, Framauro, Kroner Cirkus, and Quidam. The other volumes are in jewel cases. Volume 2 includes tracks from Ankh, Golem, Zywioly, Mediana, Gargantua, H.D.R.M., Pawel Ziobrowski & Friends, Bordo, and RSC, with a 20-page booklet in both English and Polish. Volume 3 includes 14 tracks by Polish progressive artists including After, Indukti, Special Experiment, Colt, and 10 other new names, with an informative 16-page booklet in both English and Polish. The quality of music presented here is very high, all progressive but covering a respectable range of styles.
Polish Prog-Metal Vol. 1 features a bilingual English/Polish booklet and one track each from Music Atelier Project, Draft, Forgotten, Sabracadabra, Mind Gate, Indukti, Liquid Shadow, Space Avenue, New Machine, and Memories Garden. 72-minutes.
Varius Manx is a very popular band in Poland, with albums on Sony/BMG and EMI and sales of over two million in Poland alone. Today they exist on the border between neo-prog and a very intelligent, progressively-arranged pop that relies heavily on their female lead singer, but they actually began as an instrumental progressive band. These are Metal Mind’s remastered reissues of their first two albums: The Beginning and The New Shape, each with two bonus tracks added. The Beginning (1990) is instrumental with some soaring wordless female vocals. It often sounds like a more progressive Andreas Vollenweider, though there is no harp. The drums are sometimes powerful but more often use an orchestral and percussive approach as opposed to straight rock drumming. The textures are very symphonic, using synths and piano, acoustic & electric guitars, with guests on violin, cello, orchestral woodwinds, and a string quartet. Beautiful, sophisticated stuff. The two bonus tracks are of their later style with female vocals, quite good in their own right.
In 1991, Varius Manx added a new drummer as well as Robert Amirian (vocals); this lineup recorded The New Shape (1993). Amirian would go on to Collage and Satellite. Robert Jansen sings in English on this album with some female backing vocals. He’s as good a singer as many bands ever have, but history shows that switching to female lead vocalists would be the right move for Varius Manx. The style here is closer to the one they ultimately settled on: more rock, less orchestral, with sax or bass clarinet occasionally added to the standard guitar/keys/bass/drums lineup. The ballads are more pop styled, but there is still a lot of sophisticated instrumental content, and overall this is an excellent album of melodic progressive rock integrated with elements of pop and smooth jazz. Check here for Varius Manx’s Ona Ma Sile DVD.
Xanadu are a Polish band, this incarnation formed in 2008. There was a Xanadu in the 1990s with the same drummer as well as another guy, Mariusz Duda. Duda went on to form Riverside and Lunatic Soul. So not surprisingly, the label compares The Last Sunrise (2011) to the first Riverside CD: ambitious, melancholy, modern progressive rock.
Offworld is the 2003 debut from a prog rock quartet formed by ex-Abraxas members, playing an atmospheric and surreal-sounding progressive rock that is nevertheless powerful and rhythmic. This is contemporary prog with English vocals, incorporating samples and loops, world music elements, with Stick used alongside bass in several songs. It is highly creative, much more so than the Abraxas CDs (which were pretty good!), and not directly comparable to anyone.
Dances on Gobelins (2003, 58-minutes) is by a band from the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan. X Religion is a trio of the same people responsible for the 2002 Al-Bird CD (though Dances on Gobelins was recorded before Sodom & Gomorra XXI): Albert Khalmurzayev (keyboards & guitar), Valery Vorobjov (electronic drum set) and ProgressoR.net webmaster Vitaly Menshikov (bass and acoustic guitar). X Religion is an instrumental keyboard power trio, so naturally there will be some comparisons to ELP, but X Religion is more classically-influenced, heavy-handed and technical, lacking any songwriting or the emotion that Emerson routinely injects into his compositions. ELP has the more innate understanding of rock, while in X Religion you can hear stronger influences of Russian classical music. The booklet is full of beautiful, surrealist paintings by Vladimir Finkilstein, along with English-language poems whose gothic typeface and low-contrast colors will discourage most people from trying to read them.