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NEW AND FEATURED:
►► New to our Bargain CDs page are Andy Summers - Synaesthesia (remastered Esoteric edition) and Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman - Ravens and Lullabies.
Lee Abraham was the bass player of Galahad for a time and has a couple CDs previous to these under his belt, one under his name, one as half of the duo Idle Noise. Black & White (2009) is a British neo-prog all-star project that includes John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena,...), Simon Godfrey (Tinyfish), Jem Godfrey (Frost), Gary Chandler (Jadis), Steve Thorne, Sean Filkins (ex-Big Big Train), and Dean Baker (Galahad). That cast leads to certain expectations, and this CD delivers on them. The music is melodic, mainstream, third-generation (unless weíre up to fourth generation now) British prog. Read the DPRP review.
Leeís follow-up Distant Days (2014, 60-minutes) was recorded with the same core band that did the handful of gigs after the release of Black & White. Guests on Distant Days include Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Mandalaband, Nine Stones Close), Dec Burke (Frost, Darwinís Radio), John Young (Lifesigns), Steve Thorne, Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf), and Karl Groom (Threshold). Jon Barry and Simon Nixon helped out on guitar. Pink Floyd is the dominant influence, though thatís true of most of the current generation of mainstream prog bands. The highlight is the 15-minute final track Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday, which sounds like it will be the concert finale. Watch the album overview video. Read the DPRP review.
Lee Abrahamís fifth album The Seasons Turn (2016) sees Lee reunited with his core band of Christopher Harrison, Alistair Begg, Rob Arnold, and Gerald Mulligan. Dec Burke, Marc Atkinson, and Robin Armstrong also return. Abraham says: ďMark Colton of Credo sings lead vocals on a track very far removed from his usual style. Simon Godfrey provides heartfelt vocals to the albumís other epic track. And in a rare return to prog, Martin Orford has recorded some haunting flute.Ē The album explores the passage of time across its five tracks. Watch the album overview video and listen to Harbour Lights.
The double-CD Holophinium (2016, digipack) is the latest album for German melodic neo-prog band Karibow, who won the 2014 German Rock & Pop Award in the category Best Progressive Band. Karibow have a discography stretching back to 1997 or 1998 that few outside Germany know about, and bandleader Oliver RŁsing had previously been a member of Last Turion. Guests include Michael Sadler (Saga), Sean Timms (Unitopia, Southern Empire), Colin Tench (Corvus Stone), and Karsten Stiers (Errorhead) among others. Karibow have toured with Saga, and with the presence of Michael Sadler, Saga is a good reference point for this very impressive album that seems like it came out of nowhere. But now prog fans everywhere will know the name Karibow. Watch the album trailer.
Traces (2010, digipack) is the second CD by British/Dutch band Nine Stones Close but their first as a full working band. (Their 2008 CD St Lo was really a solo album by bandleader Adrian Jones.) Jones apparently lives in Leiden in The Netherlands but is probably an expat given his name and the fact the other musicians on this album are British. This is very melancholy, brooding, remorseful music, with the obvious reference points being Pink Floyd, Brave-era Marillion, Porcupine Tree, The Pineapple Thief, Gazpacho, and American band Product. Read the Prognaut and Prog Archives reviews.
Falling to Pieces (2011) is a 35-minute, seven track CD consisting of reinventions and reworkings of tracks from the Traces album. ďAs part of the initial release of Traces, there was a limited edition version available with a bonus CD called ReTraced. There has been renewed interest in those tracks on the bonus disc by new fans who are only just discovering Nine Stones Close. In order to fill the gap between Traces and the new album, we decided to release some of those versions of the tracks from Traces alongside two newly recorded reworkings of Falling to Pieces and two remixes of Threads created by a talented friend of the band.Ē It comes in a printed cardboard sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping. ďNot just a lazy remix of Traces, so different it sounds like a completely different album. Some truly astounding reworkings here, each one a very distinct yet worthy departure from the original.Ē [Prog Archives] Also read the Progmeister review.
One Eye on the Sunrise (2012, 61-minutes) features both Dutch and British musicians alongside Jones: Peter Vink (Q65/Ayreon/Star One) on bass, Pieter van Hoorn (Knight Area) on drums, Marc Atkinson on vocals, and Brendan Eyre (Riversea) on keys. Read the Progmeister and Prog Archives reviews. Watch the album teaser video and videos for the tracks A Secret and ... and Dream of Sleep.
Following a gestation period during which Jones released the Jet Black Sea album, Leaves (2016, digipack) sees Nine Stones Close with a new label (Bad Elephant) and a revamped lineup, now mostly Dutch musicians including Christiaan Bruin (The Black Codex) on keyboards. Marc Atkinson and Brendan Eyre are gone. Pieter van Hoorn remains, the new bass/Stick player is Peter Groen, while the new singer is Adrian OíShaughnessy. Three Dutch guest musicians add violin, cello, and rhythm guitar. The previous albums were already dark, and this one is darker still.
The Room is the progeny of Grey Lady Down, a well-liked neo-prog band of the 1990s. The Room was formed by GLD singer Martin Wilson and GLD guitarist Steve Anderson, adding three new members on keyboards, bass, and drums. With Wilsonís distinctive voice in the mix, it would be impossible for GLD fans not to think of the parent band when listening to The Room. Beyond the Gates of Bedlam (2015, digipack) is their second and more fully-realized album. The bands Jump and Multi-Story are also good reference points. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Progradar reviews.
At last, Twice Bitten on CD! During the British progressive revival of the 1980s, quite a few bands released their music only on cassette, at least initially. Those outside the UK had to have really been tuned in to know about some of these bands. (A young Steven Wilson was in one of them, the band Karma.) Twice Bitten was the duo of Rog Patterson and Greg Smith, who met at Nottingham University in 1982. A shared love of the work of Anthony Phillips and 12-string guitars led to them writing (in their words) Ďquasi-prog compositionsí and inventing the genre Ďheavy woodí -- melodic music relying on electric and acoustic stringed instruments with no keyboards or drums. Twice Bitten released two cassette albums back then, and Rog Patterson at least a couple solo cassettes. Late Cut CD (2015, digipack) is the CD reissue of Twice Bittenís 1985 cassette album No Third Man with the audio cleaned up and remastered, plus two tracks recorded in 2015. One of these is the 12-minute, five-movement Crocus Point, a track Twice Bitten used to perform live but which had previously only been recorded in greatly abridged form. Fans of Anthony Phillips and early Genesis, this album will restore you spiritually. Watch the video for Crocus Point.
Daymoon is a Portuguese symphonic prog band that on All Tomorrows (2011, 65-minutes) includes multinational guests Andy Tillison (The Tangent), Mats Johansson and Thomas Olsson (Isildurs Bane), Hugo Flores (Sonic Pulsar, Project Creation, Factory of Dreams), and many others from Portugal, the USA, Sweden, and Italy. Tillison produced and mixed the album. Daymoon have an early-1970s progressive sound, and while you can say that about numerous current bands, Daymoonís retro sound is relatively rare. Much of it has the softer, more mysterious and slightly psychedelic sound that is part Trespass-era Genesis, part Moody Blues, part early Van der Graaf Generator, part Giles Giles & Fripp, and part early Pink Floyd. Along the way there are suggestions of Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson. Daymoon use flute extensively to get that particular period sound. A surprising release then, and one with great appeal to those fond of that early sound and style.
Fabric of Space Divine (2013, digipack) had been a work in progress since before All Tomorrows. It recounts the history of the universe in a little over an hour, with each track flowing seamlessly into the next. Flores is again among the guests. This is an impressive symphonic rock album that canít be easily compared to one or two prog bands, but the names we tossed out there for the debut are still applicable, along with Mike Oldfield and Floresí own bands (Sonic Pulsar, Project Creation) minus the metal. Daymoon weave in subtle ethnic touches on some tracks, adding to the richness of the music. The variation in style is one of the albumís strong points, as weíve all heard bands with a homogeneous sound repeat it for 70 minutes and then wonder why listeners pine for the days of 35-minute albums. Elaborate, rich, and more consistent than its predecessor, Fabric of Space Divine is a significant step forward for this unique band. See Prog Archives for reviews of both CDs.
Cruz Quebrada (2016, digipack) is still sung in English. As the album trailer explains, Cruz Quebrada is the name of a Lisbon suburb that translates to ďbroken crossĒ. Also watch the official video for Thyme (though it contains only an excerpt from the very long track). Even if between them the two videos donít portray the full range of the music here, we urge you to watch them as there is a heartbreaking story behind this album. The album moves from a dark and melancholy first half to a more optimistic second half, using a great variety of instrumentation including violin, trumpet, clarinet, recorder, and more. Read the streetclip.tv review.
Itís probably better to refer to British band Haken as a prog-metal-and-rock band rather than simply a prog-metal band, because they do set themselves apart from typical prog-metal, especially on their third CD The Mountain (2013), which even has some Gentle Giant-isms. Read reviews at Prog Sphere, Sputnik Music, and Prog Archives. Watch the official videos for Atlas Stone and Pareidolia.
We can state with confidence that Hakenís fourth album Affinity (2016, digipack) is their finest, because the sticker on the front of the CD says so. Why would the sticker lie? This 2CD digipack edition contains the instrumental version of the album on the second disc (for karaoke presumably). Read the Progressive Music Planet review. Watch the official videos for Initiate and The Endless Knot.
The News (2016, digipack) is the second full-length album for N.y.X, a wild and crazy Italian prog band assisted on this album by Adrian Belew and Trey Gunn, among others. Read the Progressive Music Planet and Progradar reviews.
Pandora (2015, digipack) is the debut by a wonderful prog band from Manchester, England. ďThe best praise I can give We Are Kin is to say that, for the sixty-four minutes I listen to Pandora, my life is irrevocably a much better place to be.Ē Read the full Lady Obscure review. ďPandora is awash with melodic and varied compositions that are multi-layered and complex, plus there is an underlying narrative describing a potential future. You can get lost in it all... This is not music that has been written using a formulaic and predictable Ďprogí blueprint. For me that will always keep me listening over the rehashing of well-known classic prog tracks.Ē Read the full The Progressive Aspect review. Listen to Tides of Midnight and Home Sweet Home on YouTube.
Trojan Horse are one of the new breed of British prog bands that the Bad Elephant label is especially good at signing, bands that are fresh and exciting and donít retread familiar prog paths. As such they arenít easy to describe in a few words. Trojan Horse somehow connect the dots between early Soft Machine and Cardiacs, taking a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the way. It all goes into a blender and comes out with a lot of energy. World Turned Upside Down (2014, digipack) is their second. ďEver since Trojan Horseís brilliant self-titled debut, this magazine has championed them, and here is the grand payoff. The Duke brothers and drummer Guy Crawford have made a spectacular follow-up worthy of their Salfordian musical heritage as well as their 70s prog forebears... Trojan Horse have again brought together everything thatís great about both classic and modern prog.Ē [Prog magazine] Watch the album promo video and the video for Paper Bells.
Paul Bremner is IZZís guitarist. His first solo CD Wombsong (2004) was a mellow affair, but his second The Witness (2016, digipack) is much more energetic. IZZís Tom Galgano, who sings lead vocals on several tracks and who engineered and co-produced the album with Bremner notes, ďEvery song on this album is different and yet they are all connected by Paulís unique guitar sound and songwriting. Itís been an absolute pleasure working on this album Ė in fact in many ways itís been like working on an Ďalternateí IZZ record.Ē Yes, an alternate-universe IZZ is a fair description, as Bremner has written or co-written a number of IZZ songs. IZZís female vocalists Anmarie Byrnes and Laura Meade each get a song to sing lead on, while IZZ drummers Brian Coralian and Greg DiMiceli play on several tracks. The final track Last Exit Before Toll exceeds 20 minutes and features all of Bremnerís IZZ bandmates, taking the listener on a journey while encompassing the full range of Bremnerís style. Watch the promo video and listen to excerpts from Are You Ooh Yah? and Pilot Fish. See our U.S. page for the IZZ CDs.
Beyond (2013) is the debut album for Alms, the project of Spanish composer and multi-instrumentalist Aitor Lucena. Lucena is one of those rare talents who seemingly can play any instrument handed to him. He names his musical heroes as Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Genesis, ELP, Gentle Giant, and Le Orme. Listen to Hypnos on YouTube. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The second Alms CD An Irosmic Tragedy (2016) is ďan epic rock symphony about life divided in three long suites, corresponding to each one of its phases: childhood, adulthood, and elderhoodĒ. Itís a significant improvement over Beyond, partly due to the participation of four other musicians on drums, keyboards, cello/viola, and voice. Watch the album promo video and listen to this excerpt. Spanish speakers can read the La Caja de Pandora review. ďA solid work with a beautiful vintage sound that will delight classic prog fans.Ē [Prog Archives]
Despite Guardian Angels (2014, 73-minutes, digipack) is the debut by Montreal prog band Huis, composed of veterans of the Montreal music scene. Though not a founding member, Mystery bandleader/guitarist Michel St-PŤre joined Huis more recently, and Mystery is not a bad reference point. ďDespite Guardian Angels incorporates all of the staples of a great prog rock album, including lush instrumentation, odd time signatures, sharp tempo changes, well balanced, omnipresent keyboards with Hammond, Moog and Mellotron tones, mesmerizing compositions impeccably interpreted, highly cohesive, never going overboard on the symphonic side, and with Michel St-PŤreís elegant and tasteful guitar work throughout. The album as a whole flows incredibly well between the vocal and instrumental components.Ē [ProgMontrťal] Read the Lady Obscure and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Neither in Heaven (2016, 68-minutes, digipack) is the follow-up. Gerben Klazinga (Knight Area) guests on keyboards, while other musicians guest on keyboards and flute. Arena might be the best comparison now. Watch the album teaser video.
Geometric Dutch neo-prog band Triangle began under the name Square the Circle in Rotterdam in 1993. This places them right in the heyday of Dutch neo-prog, a generation of bands beginning with Edgon Heath who took their cues from the British neo-prog bands that arose during the 1980s (Marillion, IQ, etc.). Square the Circle became the name of Triangleís 2000 debut CD, which was followed by Retreat in 2004. After a hiatus, Triangle returned in 2016 with Alert & Alive, the title probably a reference to their comeback, the music still in the neo-prog mainstream.
Itís not like you can throw a rock today without hitting a band influenced by Pink Floyd (or by extension, Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson), but the young Berlin-based band Osta Love are a rather good one, based on their second album Good Morning Dystopia (2013, digipack). Read the Background Magazine and Power of Metal.dk reviews.
Osta Love added new members on keys/vocals and bass, and The Isle of Dogs (2015, digipack) goes in a different direction, brighter and more upbeat than the melancholy Good Morning Dystopia, with vocal harmonies made possible by the addition of another singer. While Osta Love and RPWL have distinct styles, the RPWL audience is the natural one for Osta Love now. ďThe addition of two more minds here has had quite an effect on the music. The band has veered away from the cold insecurity of their debut and sprinted toward a lovelier, brighter, and more whimsical sound. The Isle of Dogs is in every way better than its predecessor. It is an album of serene journeys, featuring earthy and intuitive passages that make you feel connected and at peace... The Isle of Dogs feels exactly like a collision of Pink Floyd with The Moody Blues... It truly is an album that allows you to take flight and view the vistas in your mind. Ultimately, it feels like home.Ē Read the full The Prog Mind review.
These are the 2016 4-disc editions of Anthony Phillipsí 1978 second album Wise After the Event and 1979 third album Sides, which come in a clamshell box. The main attraction here is the fourth disc of each set, a DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region) containing the album in surround as well as hi-res stereo! The surround options are MLP 5.1 (lossless), DTS 5.1, and Dolby Digital 5.1 (as youíd expect on any DVD-A). There is also MLP stereo and LPCM stereo. The first CD of each set contains a new stereo mix of the album. The second CD contains demos, outtakes, and extras. In the case of Wise After the Event, the bonus disc is not identical to the 2008 Voiceprint edition, as they went to the trouble of remixing some songs from the multi-tracks. The third CD contains a newly-remastered version of the original stereo mix. See the detailed track list for Wise After the Event and Sides. Simon Heyworth was responsible for the surround and new stereo mixes and the remastering. The box also includes a poster and an extensive booklet with a new essay, two more first class jobs by Esoteric. Each counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. See our British page for Esotericís definitive edition of The Geese and the Ghost and more Anthony Phillips CDs along with descriptions of these albums.
This is the 2009 edition on Esoteric of Concerto for Electric Violin, remastered from the original master tapes. The label says: ďConcerto for Electric Violin was recorded by Curved Air and Wolf violinist Darryl Way for Island Records and was the subject of much critical acclaim and a feature on ITVís South Bank Show upon its release in 1978. A unique fusion of rock and classical music, the album made full use of synthesizer technology to produce a truly unique work of classical progressive rock. For the recording sessions, Way was joined by former Curved Air colleague Francis Monkman and drummer Ian Mosley (formerly with Wolf, later to join Marillion).Ē ďIt is exactly what it says on the package, a full-fledged concerto that bucks every prevalent musical fashion (1978 was the age of punk, after all) by proving that prog wasnít only alive and well, it was also still capable of startling the unwary listener... Certainly Wayís Concerto withstands comparison with any other rockerís attempt to blend the classics with more modern disciplines.Ē Read the full AllMusic review.
Ultra Violins (2013) is the first solo album in over 20 years for violinist Darryl Way, known for his work in Curved Air and Darryl Wayís Wolf. Ultra Violins features Wayís interpretations of a number of a well-known classical pieces as well as a new version of the Curved Air show-stopper Vivaldi, all multi-tracked with some use of other instruments for a full sound. On Vivaldi at least, Way plays electric violin. Way says: ďThe motivating force behind creating Ultra Violins was to introduce some new material for solo violin that came from the vocal repertoire and the world of orchestral music, rather than music specifically for solo violin.Ē The CD includes a multimedia section with a music video and a video interview of Way. This album is a real pleasure, and youíll get smarter just by listening to it.
Children of the Cosmos (2014) is Darryl Wayís first prog album in approximately forever. In addition to electric violin, Way plays keyboards and sings, with his daughter Rosie singing on one track. Both Darryl and Rosie are more than capable singers. Read the All About Jazz, Prog Rock Music Talk, and Examiner.com reviews.
Myths, Legends and Tales (2016) continues the second coming of Darryl Way, making progressive rock again with renewed creativity. As Way says: ďAs a rock violinist, I have always been searching for that elusive sound, turn of phrase and means of expression that would give the electric violin a legitimate voice in the idiom of rock music. With this album, I feel that I have come closer than ever before to achieving this goal. Myths, Legends and Tales is another attempt by me to fly the flag for prog rock. Iíve raised the flag up the mast as far as I am able and can only now hope that it will be seen and appreciated by the devoted fans of this neglected genre.Ē
This is the 2016 Esoteric edition, the first ever official UK CD release for this 1974 classic, remastered from the original Deram master tapes. It includes three non-LP bonus tracks. Originally formed in 1968 at Exeter University, the band was first known as Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, a hippy music/theatre collective. After recording two albums for Dandelion and touring for two years, the original group disbanded. In 1972, original members Root Cartwright (guitars, mandolin), Belinda Bourquin (violin, keyboards, recorder), and David Jones (percussion) formed a new band under the moniker of Principal Edwards, with Nick Pallett (lead vocals), Richard Jones (bass, vocals), and Geoff Nicholls (drums). Moving in a more rock-oriented direction and signing to Miles Copelandís management company, they secured a contract with Deram and recorded Round One in 1973, with Pink Floydís Nick Mason as producer. While the proggiest tracks are Triplets and the 13-minute The Rise of the Glass - White Gangster, the whole of the album is very good, a prog/art/psych/pop/folk amalgam that sounds more like 1971 than 1974.
The Machine Stops (2016, digipack) is the new studio album from the most famous space-rock band. Itís a concept album based on E. M. Forsterís 1909 sci-fi short story, his dystopian vision of the future brought to life in characteristic Hawkwind style. Watch the video for A Solitary Man. See our British page for more Hawkwind CDs.
A star is born... Maglev is a Dutch sympho-prog band coincidentally centered on talented singer and multi-instrumentalist Joost Maglev (which sounds like a made-up surname, but who knows), with Robby Valentine on piano, Sebas Honing on guitar, a violinist, and two backing singers. Joost has played in many bands and has released music under his own name in a progressive pop vein. He is amazing at Queen-style harmony vocals. (Listen to his earlier song Nymph.) Overwrite the Sin (2016, digisleeve) is Maglev gone full-on prog, featuring five tracks, the shortest 8:15. Each track emphasizes a different prog sub-style, with allusions to Yes, Queen, Kayak, A.C.T, City Boy, and maybe Cardiacs (the latter named by Joost as a musical hero). So there is exuberant pomp-prog, Yes grandeur, A Night at the Opera eccentricity, and modern heaviness, always melodic and grand scale. Overwrite the Sin is obviously the product of someone who learned how to write songs first before expanding the arrangements as required by prog. We were going to work magnetic and levitation into this blurb but didnít want to force it. Watch the album trailer on YouTube. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review. Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Konchordat is another name to add to the British neo-prog pantheon. They debuted in 2009 with English Ghosts (out-of-print), which was mostly in the classic 1980s neo-prog style (e.g., Marillion, Pendragon), though since singer Lee Harding has a somewhat Gabriel-like voice, Citizen Cain or the more Genesis-like Ad Infinitum tracks also come to mind. The New Crusade (2011) is their second. ďThe New Crusade marks a significant surge in confidence and artistry for Konchordat. Still entrenched in lavish symphonic prog, albeit tempered by brief excursions into neo-prog pastures, founder member Steve Cork and now permanent singer and guitarist Stuart Martin have begun to forge a distinct identity of their own. The opening title trackís shimmering keyboards and potent six-string sustain certainly betrays a penchant for Fish-era Marillion, and maybe even a dash of Pallas, but that is the last time on The New Crusade that this band sound wholly indebted to anyone else... This is a purposeful and precise reinvention of a thoroughly British strain of prog, replete with spine-tingling guitar solos, some elegantly poetic lyrics, and enough pathos to force tears from the eyes of a stone statue of Stalin.Ē [Prog magazine] Read the Background Magazine review. Note the band sold us their last copies of The New Crusade, so donít wait until this one is also gone.
Rise to the Order (2016, digipack) is markedly heavier than the first two Konchordat albums. Think of Arena and Pallas at their heaviest.
Itís come to our attention that some people donít know what a Rube Goldberg machine is, so for those people, weíll tell you that thereís no one in this band named Rube Goldberg. The Rube Goldberg Machine is a London-based trio, and Fragile Times (2016, digipack) is their debut on the Bad Elephant label, who are quickly becoming one of the most important prog labels. We liked this CD the first time we heard it, and have liked it even more with each subsequent listen. The music seems familiar, related to a lot of British music stretching as far back as The Beatles, yet weíre at a loss to compare it to anyone in particular. If it helps, it would sound at home on the Kscope label. It is diverse, inventive progressive rock with an unforced, natural sound (no stinkiní metal). The songwriting is very strong, the vocals and lyrics are important, while the instrumental content is suitably intricate. The instrumental lineup is two guitars, bass, and a session drummer, those being each musicianís primary instrument, but each musician in the trio doubles on keyboards. As expected, the keyboard parts tend to be Mellotron-like pads as opposed to anything pianistic, resulting in lush textures and accents that work perfectly in these compositions. In some tracks, the two guitarists play intricate interlocking lines. At times there is a slight space/psych feel, at other times a slight psych-folk aspect. The vocals are recorded relatively dry, which gives them intimacy. The Rube Goldberg Machine describe themselves as a forward-thinking prog rock band, and weíre just going to go with that.
Unsongs (2016, digipack) is the debut CD for Mancunians Mothertongue, the most Cardiacs-like band to come out of England since the beloved Cardiacs. (Not that any other country could have produced Cardiacs.) ďďLetís hope they donít notice how little sense it makes before they release it,Ē said Mothertongue drummer John Simm of their debut LP on signing to Bad Elephant. It was a fair point. Much of Unsongs makes no sense at all. Single songs span several different subgenres, and stated influences include imaginary numbers, science fiction, and dinosaurs. All of which is unsurprising, perhaps, for a Ďrandom collection of musiciansí with a collective propensity for hopping from gypsy cabaret to ska to indie prog to Sensational Alex Harvey Band-esque madness. A lot is crammed in, weaved into tight proggy timings that slickly change by the minute... For ears that relish glorious chaos, look no further than Unsongs.Ē [Prog magazine] Also read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review.
Bring Me to the Water (2016) is a seven-track CD with a playing time of 34:34, the first CD by a Dutch prog band with powerful female vocals somewhat similar to Magentaís Christina Booth. While five of the tracks are listed as bonus tracks, they are actually remastered versions of the bandís earlier material. Nothing is repeated; they are different songs. The album was produced and mixed by Christiaan Bruin (Chris, The Black Codex). Read the Muzikman review. The CD comes in a simple printed sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Inner Odyssey are a young band from Quebec whose 2011 debut CD Have a Seat was in the prog-metal vein. (Donít stop reading now because the story gets much better). It displayed influences of Riverside, Porcupine Tree, and (what a surprise) Dream Theater. Inner Odyssey made a tremendous leap with their second CD Ascension (2015, digipack). The metal aspects of the first album are greatly downplayed, as this is modern symphonic prog with occasional aggressive guitar, full of intricacy and subtlety. They also have a new singer. ďAscension is as good an album of refreshingly contemporary progressive rock as you will hear Ė it never sits still, never flags, never disappoints, and despite its occasional forays into the dark recesses of the mind is positively life-affirming.Ē Read the full Get Ready to ROCK! review and the Jerry Lucky review. Listen to Losing Your Mind, Retrospection, and A World of My Own on YouTube.
Emotional Creatures Part One (2005) and Part Two (2007) are two finely-crafted neo-prog albums from English singer/songwriter Steve Thorne. Both were released on IQís GEP label and include many well-known prog musicians. Part One includes, among others, Tony Levin, Nick DíVirgilio, Geoff Downes (Asia), Martin Orford (IQ), Gary Chandler (Jadis), Steve Christey (Jadis, John Wetton), John Jowitt (IQ, many more), and Paul Cook (ex-IQ). Part Two includes DíVirgilio, Levin, Chandler, Downes, Orford, Pete Trewavas (Marillion), John Mitchell (Arena, Kino, etc.), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), and several more. Both are excellent albums featuring Thorneís songs, vocals, and multi-instrumental skills in expansive symphonic arrangements that integrate progressive rock with folk and pop leanings. The styles touch upon Hogarth-era Marillion, IQ, Jadis, Kevin Gilbert, Peter Gabriel, Manning, Pineapple Thief, and more. In classic British progressive fashion, Thorne starts with a song; itís the arrangement that makes it progressive rock. Read the DPRP reviews of Part One and Part Two.
Thorne moved to the Festival Music label for his 2009 third CD Into the Ether. Thorne again assembled a stellar cast of musicians to realize his songs, including Trewavas, DíVirgilio, Harrison, Levin, Mitchell, Chandler, John Giblin (Brand X, many others), and John Beck (It Bites, Kino). Thorne has taken the production and songwriting on Into The Ether to the next level. With thought-provoking lyrics, very strong melodies and lush arrangements, if Ďsinger-songwriter neo-progí is a genre, then Steve Thorne is the benchmark. Warning to those who embrace the modern zeitgeist: these songs contain joy and exuberance and may cause you to feel good. The CD comes in a slipcase with 28-page booklet. Read the DPRP review.
Thorne is back on GEP for Crimes & Reasons (2012, 54-minutes, digipack). This album features Tony Levin on bass, Nick DíVirgilio and Bob White on drums, Gary Chandler on guitar, and (coaxed briefly out of retirement) Martin Orford on flute, with Thorne handling more instruments himself. Itís another collection of songs as good as any coming out of the UK now in any genre, full of heart energy, set in prog rock arrangements with a suitably powerful and expansive sound (thanks to Rob Aubrey and his studio), and not a single weak track. Read the DPRP review.
Island of the Imbeciles (2016, digipack) is Steve Thorneís fifth and possibly last album. Steve intends to take a break from his solo career for a while, although he says he has enough material for another four or five albums, but that he wants to concentrate on writing for other artists. Tony Levin, Nick DíVirgilio, and Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf) all contribute to Island of the Imbeciles. Watch the promo video. (Yes, we wish it was longer than 42 seconds too, but you have to admit, itís a great 42 seconds.)
British prog band Red Bazar formed in 2007 and have a couple earlier instrumental albums plus an EP under their belt. But they began a collaboration with vocalist/lyricist Peter Jones, the man behind Tiger Moth Tales and one of the fastest rising stars on the UK prog scene. Tales from the Bookcase (2016, digipack) is the result, a collection of musical stories, many of which are based on Peteís favorite books. The Red Bazar Facebook page has an album sampler video plus a series of videos with Pete explaining each track with excerpts of the music. Tales from the Bookcase is a shining example of current British progressive rock, one that at times rocks harder than the Tiger Moth Tales albums but can still be filed next to them. Weíve taken the liberty of doing just that.
Tiger Moth Tales is the brainchild of Englishman Peter Jones, who has a background writing and performing adult contemporary music but went full-on prog with Cocoon (2014, 69-minutes), released on Rob Reedís White Knight label. Well, most of our customers are adults and many of them are contemporary, so maybe this still is adult contemporary music. Jones cites his influences as (from the classic side) Genesis, Steve Hackett, and Queen, and (from the modern side) Frost, Big Big Train, and Haken, also Roine Stolt (who Jones may not have heard until recently, but as Stolt was a founding member of Kaipa, he can straddle both camps). The artist name is itself an allusion to Steve Hackett. If you have the love we do for Genesis and English whimsy, this album will make you drop what youíre doing and just listen and smile. This is the best release to date on White Knight. Read the Progarchy review.
What could be better than the best recent new prog artist turning out a fantastic second CD in a short time? Story Tellers Part One (2015, digisleeve) is just that. That Pete Jones wrote and recorded this new album in 28 days (because there wasnít much else to do during February) indicates a singular talent at work. Pete lost his sight as an infant to Retinoblastoma, making his story quite amazing and inspiring. ďPeter Jones has delivered what is, to my ears, an album that is even better than the delights of Cocoon. My inner child is brought to the fore by the magic, charm, and allure of Story Tellers Part One. It takes me away to an inner nirvana where nothing can touch me or spoil my mood. Peter is one of the pre-eminent songwriters out there today and has given us a little piece of wonder to enjoy.Ē Read the full Progradar review. Watch the videos for Beauty Falls and The Quest for Beauty.
Different Light is a neo-prog band that began life in Malta, releasing the CD All About Yourself in 1996 and the EP A Kind of Consolation in 1999. The first incarnation of the band ended then, but Different Light was reconstituted in Prague in 2008 by singer/keyboardist Trevor Tabone, where they released the album Icons that Weep in 2009. Il Suono della Luce (The Sound of Light) is subtitled ďA Collection 1996-2009Ē; it includes 12 tracks representing the best material from those first three albums plus one unreleased track. The Burden of Paradise (2016) is Different Lightís latest studio CD. It may send fans of Fish-era Marillion into a euphoric state at times. (About 30 seconds into the CD, there is a piano figure that has to be a deliberate Lavender reference.) The album covers more ground than just Marillion but remains in a melodic neo-prog or more keyboard-centric 1980s Rush style. Tabone says he had quite a few older ideas that theyíd never recorded, and that these were combined with newer compositions, especially in the multi-part suites. Read the Progarchy and Rocking Charts reviews.
iamthemorning are a Russian duo of (female) singer Marjana Semkina, who sings in English, and keyboardist Gleb Kolyadin, who is primarily a classically-trained pianist, with guests on guitar, bass, drums, violin, viola, and cello. Live, the band performs with as many as eight musicians on stage. Perhaps you came across iamthemorningís 2012 independently-released debut album, titled simply ď~Ē. It bowled a lot of people over, sounding somewhat like a neo-classical version of Renaissance, with more ďindie-soundingĒ female vocals (a more dispassionate Kate Bush comes to mind). The Renaissance comparison is due primarily to the piano work being similar to that of John Tout, but Toutís style is largely Russian classical anyway.
We thought a label would pick up iamthemorning, and somewhat surprisingly, it is Kscope that released Belighted (2014, gatefold mini-LP sleeve). Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson) performed and recorded the drums parts. Belighted is slightly darker and slightly more conventional souding than ď~Ē, which makes sense for a Kscope release, but this is still a rare, novel form of rock-classical fusion. Rare because of the relative dearth of current generation prog musicians who have significant classical training. Weíre almost forced to turn to Russia now to find conservatory-trained musicians in rock, Little Tragedies being another example though their style is very different from iamthemorningís. This is beguiling music with few parallels, but weíre going to take a shot and call it a blend of Kate Bush (circa The Dreaming but also her 21st century work), Karda Estra, Renaissance, post-prog and modern indie. Itís a start anyway. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the album preview video, or just while away an hour watching iamthemorning on YouTube.
Lighthouse (2016, digipack) features Gavin Harrison on drums, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on bass, guest Mariusz Duda (Riverside, Lunatic Soul) on vocals, and other musicians on guitar, bodhran and percussion, harp, flute, trumpet, clarinet, bombard, violins, violas, cellos, and double bass. Oh, and a choir. ďLighthouse is an album that ebbs and flows like the rich, green sea through my heart and mind. I was expecting another great step forward, but this is an album that has left a deep impression on my mind. Itís like a watercolor painting put to music, hitting all the right notes. It combines the best of their original sound with the ambition and instrumental chops of their last album, crafting something very special and very near and dear to any progressive fanís heart. Lavish, abundantly inspired, and desperately good in every respect, Lighthouse is made for those who crave expression, beauty, and emotional power.Ē Read the full The Prog Mind review.
Fractal Mirror is a distant collaboration between two Dutchmen and one American. The origins of Fractal Mirror are in mid-1980s Amsterdam. The band says they were initially influenced by bands on the 4AD label and David Sylvian, and this influence can still be heard. But at that same time, the second generation progressive rock bands were in full force, and Fractal Mirror mention IQ, Pendragon, Twelfth Night, Marillion, and Pallas. But they especially credit Canadian band Terraced Garden, which is amazing because, have you ever heard anyone cite Terraced Garden? (You probably donít even know Terraced Garden.) Terraced Gardenís LPs have (to our knowledge) never been reissued on CD, which is a good way to become unknown. Anyway, the two Dutchmen rebooted in 2012 and found their American drummer and lyricist via Facebook.
Their first CD was Strange Attractors (2013). Garden of Ghosts (2014, digipack) is a big leap forward. It was co-produced and mixed by Echolynís Brett Kull who plays guitar and/or adds backing vocals on every song, while Larry Fast (Synergy) contributes keyboards, Don Fast sitar and guitar, and Amsterdamís Stephanus Choir do what choirs do. Echolynís Ray Weston, Paul Ramsey, and Tom Hyatt get some vocals in, just to stay sharp. Larry Fast also mastered the album and in fact signed the band to his label. Brett became enamored of the band too, saying źďFractal Mirrorís music is a strange combination of different cultures creating a unique and yet familiar sound. I love the occasional odd chord change or Leoís brilliant note choice in his melodies. There is an Ďeaseí in these songs Ė nothing pointy or pointless. Even heavier tunes like Phoenix have a certain amount of grace in them. There is real experience in the words and the way they are sung by Leo that transcends rigid style borders.Ē Watch the album preview video.
Slow Burn 1 (2016, digipack) again features assistance from Brett Kull (on every track), Larry and Don Fast, plus several other musicians. The vibe is generally laidback, and other than singer Leo Koperdraat sounding like the singer from The Psychedelic Furs, the music is progressive-sounding, thanks in large part to the Mellotron sounds (strings, choir, flute, more) that are everywhere. Read reviews of and watch videos from all the Fractal Mirror CDs.
Disguise Serenades (2014, digipack) is the debut for Ukrainian prog band Arlekin. If you see a jester on the cover of a CD and assume the music sounds like early Marillion, you will never be wrong. Read the Prognaut review.
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 todayís 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 todayís bands. For Eternal Wanderers, sometimes that connection is to Stravinsky and other early 20th century classical; this is where Eternal Wanderers occasionally sound like ELP. More often itís the earlier, romantic classical style, where Renaissance and Genesis are better reference points. Eternal Wanderers added a flute player on this album, 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 Wanderersí 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.
Eternal Wanderersí third album is the double-CD The Mystery of the Cosmic Sorrow (2016, digipack), the result of five years of work. It is a monumental work of symphonic space-prog, spacier than their previous output while building upon it. But then ďcosmicĒ is in the title.
Classically trained at the University of Bologna in composition and piano, composer/arranger Alex Carpani continues the great Italian keyboard-centric prog rock tradition. On Waterline (2007, printed sleeve), his fluid and inventive keyboards are accompanied by an American rhythm section. Waterline is mostly instrumental but does feature Aldo Tagliapietra (Le Orme) on vocals and is between the Italian and British 1970s progressive rock styles. Dan Shapiro (Clearlight) and Ken Jaquess (K2, Atlantis) play bass, while Neil Bettencourt (Clearlight) plays drums. A number of guitarists contribute, among them Tony Spada (Holding Pattern). Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
On The Sanctuary (2010, digipack), Carpani is assisted by two members of his live band: Ettore Salati on guitars and Fabiano Spiga on bass, while drums are handled by Gigi Cavalli-Cocchi (Mangala Vallis, Moongarden). Watch the album preview video. The cover art for the first two CDs is by Paul Whitehead.
Alex Carpaniís live band is now his studio band too, and on 4 Destinies (2014, digipack) has one important additional member: David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator) on saxes & flutes. The rest of the band is Alex on vocals & keyboards, Ettore Salati on guitars, Joe Sal additional vocals, GB Giorgi on bass, and Alessandro Di Caprio on drums. Cristiano Roversi produced and co-arranged. 4 Destinies has just four tracks averaging close to 14-minutes each. Watch the album trailer. Read lots of reviews.
Itís over to the Italian Ma.Ra.Cash label for Carpaniís fourth album So Close, So Far (2016, digipack), which features his current five-man band. With English-language vocals throughout, this one is much closer to an English neo-prog style than to classic Italian prog, with a lush, expansive sound and heroic melodies. Watch your speed if listening while driving. Watch the album teaser video.
Over Reality (2016, digipack) is the debut by an Italian synth-centric prog band singing in English, with a tremendous singer who sounds like Bono of U2. They could easily pass for a British band, and their music and videos are highly professional. Interestingly, the album was mastered in the U.S. In an era of sameness and mediocre singers (in prog anyway), Metadrive donít sound like every other band, rather their music sounds like a symphonic space-rock take on 1980s British/Irish pop. Watch the short album teaser and the official video for Mankind Theme. You can hear much of the album during this radio interview.
Kaipa were the top first-generation Swedish prog band, featuring guitarist Roine Stolt, who would later form The Flower Kings, and keyboardist Hans Lundin, who would reboot Kaipa in 2002. Kaipa sing in Swedish on these albums, while both The Flower Kings and the second incarnation of Kaipa switched to English-language vocals. Relative to The Flower Kings, Kaipaís music is more purely Swedish, their symphonic rock colored by the centuries-old Swedish choral and folk music traditions. The self-titled first album (1975), Inget Nytt Under Solen (1976), and Solo (1978) are for us the best albums to have come out of Sweden (along with Atlas - BlŚ Vardag). By now a lot of prog fans will have discovered the later bands first and need to work their way backwards to these albums. Prog fans old enough to have listened in chronological order or who simply have a 1970s orientation (and have not limited themselves to albums sung in English) are likely to consider the 1970s Kaipa albums superior.
This is the first time on CD for Hšnder (1980) and Nattdjurstid (1982). Roine Stolt was no longer in the band, the 1980s were underway and, well, you know how that decade went for the first-generation prog bands. Hšnder could be considered a transitional album like Genesisí Duke. (Hšnder was recorded in the same studio just after Genesis cleaned out their gear.) Nattdjurstid went farther off course into synth-pop.
These are all the 2015-2016 editions on the Tempus Fugit label. The audio was remastered in 2015. The first album has two bonus tracks, Inget Nytt Under Solen has four, and Nattdjurstid has three. Interestingly, three of the four original members (all except Hans Lundin) toured in 2014-2015 as Kaipa Da Capo, playing the original Kaipa music, augmented by Roineís brother Michael Stolt on lead vocals, and keyboardist Max Lorentz. See our Scandinavian page for the later Kaipa CDs.
This late 2015 CD is the second in a trilogy of albums inspired by Kubrickís 2001: A Space Odyssey for Italian prog band RanestRane, in case that wasnít obvious from the title. Marillion fans may know RanestRane for their collaborations with Steve Rothery, and Rothery plays on two tracks on this album. ď[RanestRane] made a true masterpiece with this release. Everything just falls into place on this CD. As a lover of Rock Progressivo Italiano and progressive rock in general, I couldnít ask for more. Therefore the highest score of five stars is in place for one of the musical highlights of 2015. All I can say is bravissimo and bring on the final part of A Space Odyssey trilogy!Ē Read the full Background Magazine review. Watch the album trailer.
Matthew Parmenter is known for his narrative songwriting and costumed performances as leader and front-man of Discipline, rightly hailed as the American Van der Graaf Generator, earning Matthew the title of the American Peter Hammill. The first album under his own name, Astray (2004, 68-minutes) is decidedly psychedelic in atmosphere and striking in its early 1970s British vibe. Parmenterís voice is smoother than Hammillís, and Astray is much more of a progressive rock album than nearly any Hammill solo album. Parmenter was the main creative force in Discipline and came to dominate the band more and more, so in all important respects, this is the third Discipline studio album. Parmenter shows he is quite capable of handling the guitar and drums in addition to all the instruments he covered in Discipline. Discipline bassist Mathew Kennedy appears throughout the CD, the sole guest musician. Parmenter is modestly credited with ďvocals, et ceteraĒ, which includes piano, guitar, drums, saxophone, violin, organ, synthesizers, marimba, Theremin, and Mellotron. While Van der Graaf is the dominant influence, especially on the magnificent 21-minute finale Modern Times, there is also a substantial Pink Floyd influence as well as King Crimson circa 1973.
Parmenter handles everything on Horror Express (2008, 63-minutes): keyboards, violin, cello, guitar, bass, drums, saxophone, and of course vocals. The result is again very much like a full band and more suggestive of Peter Hammill than ever before. But while voice and piano are often at the core of the songs -- Parmenter plays an 1880 Steinway piano throughout -- this is like a Peter Hammill solo album with all Van der Graaf Generator musicians playing on it. As with Astray, Horror Express is much more of a progressive rock album, much more orchestrated than most Hammill albums, a world-class work. Read the DPRP review.
As the press release suggests, Parmenterís third solo album All Our Yesterdays (2016, digipack, not named after a Star Trek episode) is best experienced as a single, all-encompassing musical odyssey. Each track can be taken on its own merit, but the full, immersive effect is most evident when theyíre all heard in succession. The listener is transported on an allegorical journey and emerges transformed at the close of the album. Paul Dzendzel of Discipline guests on drums, while Parmenter sings and plays all other instruments. Like Parmenterís previous albums, this has the feel of a full band, and the title ĎThe American Peter Hammillí has never been more deserved. All Our Yesterdays was mixed by Terry Brown (Rush, Fates Warning) and mastered by Grammy winning engineer Peter Moore. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review.
See our U.S. page for Disciplineís CDs.
Eureka is the project of German multi-instrumentalist Frank Bossert, probably best known for his fourth album Shackletonís Voyage, which was released by InsideOut. Great Escapes (2015) is what Bossert had been working on since 2010, and it is a different beast than the previous Eureka CDs, the first full-blown rock album for Eureka and the first on which Bossert is the only lead singer. Yogi Lang of RPWL makes his presence felt by mixing and mastering as well as adding some keyboards, while a drummer, guitarist, and four backing singers guest. The album is Rush-influenced and song-oriented, as the album trailer and the video for Animated World will make apparent. Read the Ytsejam.com review. See our German page for the earlier Eureka CDs.
Last (2016, digipack) is the sixth album for Bavarian prog band Frequency Drift, who have found a stable home on RPWLís Gentle Art of Music label. To allay fears, the title doesnít seem intended to signal the end of the band. There have been more lineup changes, and they have a new female singer in Melanie Mau, who contributed to Seven Steps to the Green Doorís Fetish, while Martin Schnella (Flaming Row, Seven Steps to the Green Door) is now a full-time member. The electric harp plays an important role, and there is Mellotron and Theremin, while the strings and unusual instruments found on 2014ís Over are gone (the Mellotron covering for some of them). There is a narrative to the songs, and Last is another impressive album of melodic and epic progressive rock. ďThey have created what may be their best album to date, full of innovation, abstraction, emotion, and projection. Last is cinematic and masterful, yet also gritty, dark, and very personal. It honestly doesnít get much better than this for me.Ē Read the full The Prog Mind review. Watch album teaser 1, album teaser 2, and the video for Merry. See our German page for the rest of the Frequency Drift CDs and much more info.
Yes, RPWLís main influence is Pink Floyd, but they clearly incorporated that influence into their own unique style. There would have been no point to another bunch of covers of the most obvious Pink Floyd tracks from DSotM on, but thatís not what RPWL do here. Instead they delve into the early, deep Pink Floyd catalog, playing in the spirit of Pink Floyd but in the style of RPWL. The tracks: Arnold Layne, The Embryo, Green Is the Colour, Atom Heart Mother, Fat Old Sun, The Narrow Way Part 3, Let There Be More Light. These were recorded live between 2010-2015 all over Europe, some songs greatly extended over the studio versions. This 70+ minute CD is a limited edition and comes in a digisleeve. (Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.) Watch the album trailer. See our German page for more RPWL titles.
Rhys Marsh is the British expat singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer who now lives in Norway and has released a number of CDs there since 2008. The Black Sun Shining (2015, digisleeve) is a 42-minute song-cycle in seven movements, which Marsh says is intended to be listened to as one piece of music. Marsh tried a different approach to writing, starting with the rhythms rather than the chords, yielding an album that goes in a somewhat different direction than his past work. Read the Progarchy review. Watch the videos for Wondering Stars and I Hear, I Know. See our Scandinavian page for the rest of the Rhys Marsh CDs and more info.
Tritonus is the German prog band that was led by keyboardist Peter Seiler, who went on to make a name for himself in synth music and soundtrack work. Tritonus was a classical-rock trio in the ELP format and style. They released two studio LPs: their self-titled debut in 1975, and Between the Universes in 1976. The three Germans played a gig at Staggeís Hotel in Osterholz-Scharmbeck in October 1977, documented on this 2015 digipack CD on the Sireena label. The CD contains seven long-to-very-long live tracks: four songs from the first album and three from the second, some greatly expanded from the studio versions.
When we first began stocking the CDs of German band Martigan, we wrote that they will be the best neo-prog band youíve never heard. They were founded in 1994 and made steady progress with each album, such that with Vision (2009, 79-minutes) they are at least on a par with Collage and Deyss at their peak, arguably ahead of any other continental band who play or played a style similar to early Marillion or IQ. Which is exactly what Martigan play, the original neo-prog style without metal, excessive melancholy, or other modern downgrades. The music is melodic, exuberant, dramatic and majestic, with soaring Rothery-style guitar leads and excellent vocals, and like the best neo-prog bands, the Ďneoí tag is not always necessary. The 23-minute track that opens Vision will hook any fan of the style immediately.
Distant Monsters (2015, 75-minutes, digipack) shows no major change in style, just a very enjoyable album in the classic neo-prog style. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Watch the album trailer.
This is the 2009 30th Anniversary Edition on Esoteric Recordings of Tony Banksí first and best solo album, 1979ís A Curious Feeling. The CD is not simply remastered, rather it contains a new stereo mix, for the same reason the most recent editions of the Genesis albums have new stereo mixes -- it is essentially a byproduct of creating a surround mix. Yes, Genesis house engineer Nick Davis did for this album what he did for the Genesis albums, returning to the multi-tracks to craft a 5.1 surround mix. To get the surround audio, you need the CD+DVD edition. This was first released in 2009 in a hardcover mediabook, but that deluxe edition went out-of-print quickly and so the surround audio remained unavailable for several years. In 2016, Esoteric reissued the CD+DVD edition in a slipcased jewel box. Between the lower list price and the much stronger dollar, the price is now considerably lower. In addition to the surround audio, the DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the new stereo mix in 96 kHz / 24-bit, plus two rare 1979 promotional videos for the songs For a While and The Waters of Lethe. The booklet in both editions contains new liner notes by Tony.
The Fugitive (1983) was Banksí second solo album. Ant Phillips and Mike Rutherford had chosen to be their own lead vocalist on their second solo albums, and Banks followed suit on his. The other musicians include Daryl Stuermer (guitars), Mo Foster (bass), and three drummers dividing duties, notably Steve Gadd. No doubt The Fugitive is a step down from A Curious Feeling, but listening to it again after all these years, itís better than we remember. Probably the disappointment back in 1983 of realizing that no Genesis member, not even Tony, was going to make a progressive rock record again made it difficult to give The Fugitive a fair shake. Read the AllMusic review. These 2016 editions on Esoteric contains a new stereo mix by Nick Davis and Tony Banks. The CD+DVD hardcover mediabook edition also contains a new surround mix by Davis and Banks. The DVD-V (NTSC, all-region) contains the 5.1 surround mix in DTS 96/24 and Dolby AC3 and the new stereo mix in 96/24 LPCM, plus the promo video for This Is Love. The two bonus tracks from the earlier CD edition (K2 and Sometime Never) are included on both the CD and the DVD. The booklet contains new notes from Tony (and smells great when you first crack it open). As was the case with A Curious Feeling, this hardcover edition is limited and probably wonít be around forever.
Sonus Umbra is a band whose incarnations have followed bandleader/composer/bassist Luis Nasser, from the bandís roots in Mexico City (the band then called Radio Silence), on to Maryland and now Chicago. Consequently the Sonus Umbra lineup on Winter Soulstice (2013, 71-minutes, digipack), the first CD for the Chicago edition, has only Nasser and drummer Andy Tillotson in common with the Maryland band, the rest of the band consisting of Rich Poston (electric guitar), Tim McCaskey (acoustic guitar), Brian Harris (keys), Steve Royce (flute/vocals), and Roey Ben-Yoseph on lead vocals. Thereís also a guest cellist. Winter Soulstice is the best Sonus Umbra CD to date. The band even call it a departure from their previous work, but the characteristic Sonus Umbra mood is present, as well as the acoustic moments that are a highlight of the early albums. This is clearly the best lineup Sonus Umbra have had. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Beyond the Panopticon (2015, digipack) is the second CD for the Chicago edition of Sonus Umbra and features an expanded lineup, with Brittany Moffitt sharing lead vocal duties, and guest spots for both cello and clarinet. Watch the album trailer and the video for Grotesquerie.
Sonus Umbraís debut CD Snapshots from Limbo was very well received, eventually getting re-released by Musea. Spiritual Vertigo (2004) is their second. Here Sonus Umbra produce a melancholy and brooding progressive rock with slight psychedelic or space-rock overtones, leaning towards dark and mysterious without sacrificing melody. Guitars have the edge over keyboards, but the liberal use of acoustic guitar keeps things sounding warm. Andres Aulletís vocals have a slightly surreal quality to them, and he is aided briefly by guest vocalist Lisa Francis of Kurganís Bane. They have their own style; at different times you hear traces of Pink Floyd, Rush, and a host of other 1970s progressives. This is the MALS label edition; the U.S. edition is out-of-print.
Digging for Zeros (2005, 61-minutes) saw changes in the vocal department, the lead vocals here shared by Lisa Francis and Jeff Laramee, both of whom were at this time also members of Baltimore band Kurganís Bane, as was Luis Nasser. Sonus Umbra continue to be at their most compelling when they add acoustic guitar to the mix, which they do frequently. On this album, there are occasions when the acoustic guitar is absent, the keys drop out and the music becomes mere hard rock (like Kurganís Bane). But in addition to the acoustic guitar, there is plenty of piano and synth to keep things progressive. The dominant tone is again somber and dark but not to the point of ugliness, and there are many lighter, uplifting moments, particularly when Francis sings. Her vocals add a welcome dimension to Sonus Umbraís music.
Sunrise Auranaut is 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. The First Cosmic (2015, digisleeve) is the third and strongest Sunrise Auranaut album to date. ďThe First Cosmic is an hour-long journey overloaded with enough endless ideas and great playing to fill numerous albums. This is proudly symphonic-styled prog in the regal manner of modern groups like Karfagen, Trion, or Willowglass, with Snow Goose-era Camel, perhaps Rick Wakemanís solo works, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and a hint of Jethro Tull thrown in for good measure, but also given a frequently spacey spin.Ē Read the full Prog Archives review. Listen to Amazing Universe on YouTube. (Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.)
Shortly after the release of The Unquiet Sky, Arena embarked on their 20th anniversary tour and played an outstanding show in Poland at Katowiceís Kinoteatr ďRialtoĒ in April 2015. The show was filmed/recorded for XX, a live DVD (NTSC, all-region) and companion double-CD (both are digipacks). Bonus video includes interviews with Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer. The DVD features Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio and runs 140 minutes. The 2CD contains the same 18 songs as the DVD.
The Unquiet Sky (2015) is the eighth studio CD for Arena, currently Clive Nolan, Mick Pointer, John Mitchell, Paul Manzi, and new bassist Kylan Amos. Read the Sea of Tranquility and DPRP reviews. Check our British page for more Arena CDs and our DVDs page for more Arena DVDs.
Beardfish leader and multi-instrumentalist Rikard SjŲblom has established his main band as one of the most important contemporary prog bands. He has also been active in other music projects, including becoming a part of English band Big Big Train. One side project is Gungfly, which began as his solo project but evolved into more of a band. Lamentations (2011, digipack) is the second Gungfly album, following the well-received Please Be Quiet. Lamentations comes with a DVD (PAL, all-region) of Gungfly in concert in 2009 (67-minutes). Gungfly is similar to the shorter, vocal-oriented Beardfish songs (but not all Gungfly songs are short). Watch the DVD concert opener on YouTube. Read the DPRP review.
SjŲblom decided to release his 2016 solo CD The Unbendable Sleep (digipack) under his own name, because while he has Gungfly and Beardfish members playing on the album, he knew he wanted to record most of the instruments himself. He recently acquired a 12-string electric guitar, a Clavinet, and an Arp Odyssey, all of which get a lot of use on this album. Rikard poured his heart and soul into this one; Beardfish fans will love it. Watch Rikard working on Love and War Part Two: Lucky Star on YouTube.
See our Scandinavian page for the Beardfish CDs. Their first album FrŚn en plats du ej kan se is now back in stock.
When Lazuli first appeared on the scene, Musea called them ďthe most promising new French band in yearsĒ, and they were right. It took a few years for prog fans over here to come up to speed. After appearing at Baja Prog 2006 as a virtual unknown, Lazuli were immediately invited back for a more prominent slot at Baja Prog 2007. They then headlined the first day of Rosfest 2009, and critical mass was achieved. Lazuli use Warr Guitar, marimba, vibraphone, percussion, guitars, vocals, and a custom-designed instrument called the Lťode. The Lťode is, among other things, an electronic device, so it is responsible for sounds that might otherwise be handled by keyboards. It produces a strange but beautiful sound for lead lines. Lazuli added a keyboardist to the lineup beginning with 4603 battements. Lazuli play an atypical progressive rock that comes close to early Halloween in the generally dark atmospheres, symphonic power, and surreal, bewitching nature, and the Lťode does to some extent play the same role as the violin in Halloween. Lazuli combine this with a Peter Gabriel style, but their melodies and textures are different enough to make them unique. They have electrifying instrumental power, more explosive than Halloween or Gabriel, matching King Crimson in that regard, while they also have a singer who is as emotionally expressive as Christian Dťcamps.
Lazuliís 2007 second CD En avant doute (currently out-of-print) was their breakthrough, a beautiful collection of sophisticated songs, succeeding in combining the suggestive power of French words and the sophistication of the instrumentation. Amnťsie (2003) is Lazuliís first CD, reissued by Musea in 2006. The style here is similar, overall closer to being a French Peter Gabriel, seemingly influenced most by atmospheric Gabriel tracks such as San Jacinto.
Rťponse incongrue ŗ líinťluctable (2009, digipack) has Jean Pascal Boffo guesting on one track. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
4603 battements (digipack) is Lazuliís 2011 studio CD. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Tant que líherbe est grasse (digipack) is Lazuliís 2014 studio CD, which features Fish singing on one song. You can listen to the first song on Lazuliís site.
Nos ‚mes saoules (2016, digipack) is Lazuliís sixth studio CD and includes a 20-page booklet. Read The Progressive Aspect review.
Check our DVDs page for Lazuliís DVDs.
Aaron Goldich, keyboardist for U.S. prog band The Source, formed a newer band called Ampledeed. A Is for Ampledeed (2013, digisleeve) retains some of the sound of The Source but goes for greater complexity while maintaining accessibility, shifting toward a Canterbury style. ďThis is indeed a very good album, a uniquely creative and energetic piece, very hard to describe but very easy to listen to even though this is not the most digestible platter I have come across. No, this is quite an exercise in complexity and I wouldnít want it any other way... While the í70s influence is strong -- I hear bands like Caravan, The Beatles, Gentle Giant, and Happy the Man -- there are also modern elements to be found. Accessibility and complexity do not often go hand in hand, but Ampledeed have found a way to make it work. I for one cannot wait to hear what they come out with next.Ē Read the full Sea of Tranquility review and the Exposť review.
BYOB (2016, digisleeve) is their outstanding follow-up, with everything sounding more polished than on their debut. Ampledeed are accessible and song-oriented one moment, then the next moment head off in unexpected directions, the music full of twists and turns. Think of a marriage of Happy the Man, Echolyn, and Thievesí Kitchen, then think some more. It would be hard for this album to be any proggier, so if Ampledeed were somewhat overlooked before, that wonít continue after BYOB. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review. (Each CD counts as only one-half CD for shipping.)
Watching the Closing Sky (37-minutes) is the 2009 debut CD for Dutch heavy neo-prog band Profuna Ocean, who won the 2013 Dutch Exposure, a battle of the bands to win a recording contract with prog label FREIA. Reviewers have likened Watching the Closing Sky to Porcupine Tree, Marillion, Rush, Pink Floyd, Riverside, Saga, and others. Read the Background Magazine and DPRP reviews. Watch the video for Lost Inside (the Landscape).
In Vacuum (2016, digisleeve) is the result of that recording contract, a new full-length album. It improves upon their first album while the music takes a step toward Anathema. Read the Progradar review. Counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Kiama is a new all-star prog band formed by Rob Reed (Magenta), Andy Edwards (Frost, IQ), Luke Machin (Maschine, The Tangent), and Dylan Thompson (The Reasoning). Kiamaís prog leans to the classic rock side. As the band says: ďWe drew musical references from the early 70s bands who were primarily thought of as rock bands, but to us were responsible for some of the greatest prog epics. Led Zeppelinís Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven, Rainbowís Stargazer, and Queenís Bohemian Rhapsody were the order of the day. It was all about the melody, groove, and the songs, not musical widdle. There was no point in doing what each of us had done previously in our respective bands; the goal was to do something different. One ingredient that you find with these classic albums of the 70s was that the bands were not afraid to mix the styles of music up from track to track. On a Zeppelin or Queen album, each track would have a different feel: rock, folk, jazz, blues. This is something we were not afraid to do. We just did what we liked, so each track ended up with a different feel. These days albums are very linear, stay in one style, and can be a little monotonous.Ē Sign of IV (2015, digisleeve) was recorded at Peter Gabrielís Real World studio, with the band playing together in the same room for that authentic feel. Listen to Tears, Slip Away, and Cold Black Heart on YouTube.
This Zara-thustra (with the hyphen) is not to be confused with any other German band named Zarathustra (there are several). This Zara-thustra is a Munich-based symphonic rock band formed in 1982 by Hermann Weindorf (keyboards, vocals), who had previously played with Doldingerís Passport, along with his brothers Berthold (vocals, saxophone, clarinet), Alfons (vocals, drums), and Clemens (vocals, horn, keyboards), plus Walter Black (vocals, drums) and Max Sprenger (vocals, keyboards). They released three LPs between 1983-1985 from which this 2015 compilation CD (digipack) draws 16 songs selected by the musicians themselves, all with German lyrics, giving the music a flavor seldom heard today. Some of the music sounds like 1980s radio fare, albeit with classical flourishes and some unlikely elements. It is very melodic, full of hooks, and much more (new) romantic than the NDW (German new wave) bands prevalent at that time.
Solarisí Martian Chronicles Live CD was recorded live at the Palace of Arts in Budapest in October 2014. Solaris played all of their classic Martian Chronicles album, a subset of the Martian Chronicles II Suite, plus a few songs from their second album 1990. Due to space limitations, the 80-minute CD omits three songs. Read the DPRP review. See our Hungarian page for more Solaris and related CDs.
Andy Jackson is probably best known for his role as Pink Floyd engineer and co-producer, but he is a musician and composer in his own right, having recorded the albums On the Surface, Obvious, and Mythical Burrowing Animals*. (Apparently selling CDs was not the goal of those albums, as Andy mostly hoarded them.) Signal to Noise (2014, digipack) is, not surprisingly, quite Floydian. This deluxe edition adds a DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region) containing a 96kHz / 24-bit quad (4.0) mix in your choice of Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, both of which are lossless, plus a hi-res LPCM stereo mix. Read the Mediaversal review. Watch the album preview video and the video for The Boy in the Forest.
73 Days at Sea (2016, digipack) sees Jackson fully assuming the mantle of Pink Floyd. David Jackson (Van Der Graaf Generator) and Anne-Marie Helder (Panic Room, Mostly Autumn, Karnataka) guest. The DVD features a 5.1 surround mix and 96 kHz / 24-bit stereo. The widescreen, cinematic music blossoms in surround. Watch the album preview video.
* Described by the one (and only) amazon reviewer as ďEasily the best record ever made. This could be the basis for a whole new religion that could one day topple Christianity.Ē
Hopefully most prog fans are now familiar with British band Sanguine Hum, one of our favorite contemporary prog bands. What We Ask Is Where We Begin (2CD, 2016) is subtitled The Songs For Days Sessions. This material actually dates to 2006 and is a lost album of sorts. For convoluted reasons, Songs For Days was released under the name Joff Winks Band, though it was the same four guys in Joff Winks Band, Antique Seeking Nuns, and Sanguine Hum. Adding to its obscurity, Songs For Days was only released as a digital download. The first disc of this double-CD contains the Songs For Days album, its first appearance on CD. The gestation period of Songs For Days covered many years of writing and recording sessions, as evidenced by the second disc, which begins with three singles remixed in 2015. These are followed by eight previously-unreleased songs (40 minutes), then five session out-takes (20 minutes). Several instrumental pieces were newly finished by the band for this release. Included is the bandís faithful cover of Steely Danís Here at the Western World. The booklet includes extended liner notes, interviews, rare photos, and memorabilia from the era. Watch the album promo video. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review. See our British page for the rest of the Sanguine Hum catalog.
This is the 2016 debut by The Mute Gods, a new band signed to InsideOut whose members are all renowned prog musicians. The band leader is bassist, Chapman Stick player, and vocalist Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson, Lifesigns, Lonely Robot,...). Beggs is helped most by long-time Steve Hackett collaborator and keyboardist Roger King. Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, UK, The Aristocrats,...) plays the drums on most of the tracks. Guests include Adam Holzman, Frank Van Bogaert (Fish on Friday), Ricky Wilde, Rob Reed, Nick DíVirgilio, and Gary OíToole. The label says the album is ďa mercurial journey that seamlessly shifts between the realms of progressive rock and adventurous pop.Ē Watch the official videos for the title track and Feed the Troll. This is the U.S. jewel case edition.
Lifesignsí self-titled debut may have been the British prog album of 2013. Lifesigns is a new band formed by John Young (composer, keyboards, lead vocals), Nick Beggs (bass, Chapman Stick, backing vocals), and Martin ĎFrostyí Beedle (drums), a project that had been in development for six years. There have been precious few modern British bands making albums on the same level as the classic symphonic bands, you know, the ones who invented progressive rock. Which makes Lifesigns nearly a national treasure. But then these are veteran musicians, and theyíre joined by three guests on electric & acoustic guitars: Steve Hackett, Jakko Jakszyk (King Crimson), and Robin Boult (Fish, John Young Band), plus Thijs van Leer (Focus) on flute. Youíll hear similarities to Peter Gabriel, Yes, Genesis, National Health, Happy the Man, Bruford, and a couple others weíre overlooking, but it doesnít sound retro or derivative. We donít often write ďmust haveĒ, but there, weíve done it.
Live in London: Under the Bridge (digipack) is a DVD (NTSC, all-region) + double-CD filmed/recorded at Londonís premier live music venue Under the Bridge in January 2015 by award winning film director Paul Shammasian. Lifesigns play their entire debut album plus five as yet unreleased tracks. The live band includes John Young and Frosty Beedle with Jon Poole (ex-Cardiacs) on bass/vocals and Niko Tsonev (ex-Steven Wilson) on guitars/vocals. At the time of this recording, theyíd played 26 shows and had honed their stagecraft. Watch the official DVD trailer. Read the Background Magazine review. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
4Ĺ (2016) is Steven Wilsonís interim release between Hand. Cannot. Erase. and the next studio album. Of the six tracks, four originated during the sessions for Hand. Cannot. Erase. and one from the The Raven That Refused to Sing sessions. The last track is a version of Donít Hate Me, a song originally recorded by Porcupine Tree in 1998, and is based on a live recording made on the recent European tour with additional recording done later in the studio. The vocals on this new version are sung as a duet between Steven and Ninet Tayeb. Also appearing on the album are current and former members of Stevenís band: Adam Holzman, Nick Beggs, Guthrie Govan, Dave Kilminster, Craig Blundell, Marco Minnemann, Chad Wackerman, and Theo Travis. The Blu-ray features DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 96/24 5.1 LPCM, and 96/24 stereo LPCM audio, plus six bonus instrumentals and alternate mixes including a 5.1 mix of the 2015 version of Lazarus. The Blu-ray includes mp3 and FLAC download codes that do not come with the CD version of this album, so you are covered. (If you have never experienced Steven Wilson in surround, our heart goes out to you.) Listen to the album trailer (all 15 seconds of it) on YouTube. See Page 2 for more Steven Wilson titles.
This is the 2015 (2016 in the U.S.) debut CD (digipack) from the main man behind The Pineapple Thief. All the tracks were written and performed by Bruce Soord with Darran Charles of Godsticks playing additional guitar. Here Soord focuses on the more introspective and dreamier side of his songwriting. As the Crash and Ride Music review implies, this album relates to The Pineapple Thief in the same way Lunatic Soul relates to Riverside. Listen to the album teaser, Willow Tree, and Familiar Patterns on YouTube. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review. See Page 2 for The Pineapple Thief CDs.
If youíre wondering about the odd title of the 2016 Ulver CD, it contains the first letter of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Itís the spaciest, most hallucinatory album to date from this Norwegian band, consisting of multitracked and studio-enhanced live recordings of a flowing progressive rock, electronic, post-rock and krautrock nature. Read the Sputnik Music and PopMatters reviews. Check our Scandinavian page for more Ulver CDs.
Thrak (double-digipack + slipcase) is the latest King Crimson album to receive a hi-res surround mix and new hi-res stereo mix, with Jakko Jakszyk and Robert Fripp taking over mixing duties from Steven Wilson (who has enough on his plate). The CD contains the 2015 stereo mix. The DVD-Audio contains MLP lossless 24/96 5.1 surround, with DTS 96/24 as the fall-back for DVD-Video-only players. The DVD-A also contains the 2015 stereo mix in 24/96 plus the original stereo mix (from the 2002 30th Anniversary remaster) in 24/48. Recorded at Peter Gabrielís RealWorld studios, Thrak was originally released in 1995. (Can it really be over 20 years old now?) It was the first full-length album with the double-trio format, with newcomers Trey Gunn (Stick and Warr guitar) and Pat Mastelotto (drums and percussion) joining Fripp, Belew, Levin, and Bruford. ďThe newly mixed stereo of Thrak was described as Ďtransformativeí by Robert Fripp. Itís also no exaggeration to state that this band canít be fully appreciated and understood until you hear the roar of Thrak emerging from six speakers.Ē See Page 2 for the rest of the King Crimson 40th Anniversary editions.
Nash the Slash was the alias of the late Canadian musician Jeff Plewman. Not only did Plewman use the pseudonym, beginning in 1979 he performed with his face covered in surgical bandages, making for one enigmatic artist. Nash the Slash may be best known to prog fans as the original electric violinist and electric mandolinist in FM. He didnít stick around long after Black Noise but did rejoin FM for the forgettable Con-test (1985) and Tonight (1987) albums. The first recorded output of his solo career was the 1978 Bedside Companion EP, followed by Dreams & Nightmares (1979) and Children of the Night (1981), continuing to release studio albums through 2008. Bedside Companion and Dreams & Nightmares are instrumental, while Children of the Night was the first to feature vocals.
This 2016 2CD reissue of Dreams & Nightmares comes in a DVD-size tall digipack with booklet (counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping). The second CD in the set is Bedside Companion, which Nash claimed was the first EP that could be played at two speeds (45 and 33-1/3). Both speeds are included on this CD. (Really it was a 45 rpm record, but a radio DJ mistakenly played the whole thing at 33-1/3 when it was first released.) Children of the Night was Nashís most popular full-length album. This 2016 reissue comes in a 6-panel digipack and adds six bonus tracks: three live, one previously unreleased, and two alternate versions. All the audio on both titles has been remastered and the artwork restored to the best possible quality. Nash combined synth music with his signature electric violin and mandolin, the results being generally eerie and dark on Dreams & Nightmares, more accessible on Children of the Night. Among his acknowledged influences are classical music, Hawkwind, and lots of Krautrock pioneers: Neu, Michael Rother, Ash Ra Temple, Amon Duul, and Kraftwerk, which should give you a good idea where his music is coming from.
This is the U.S. edition on The End Records, released 1-1-2016, which comes in a tall digisleeve. Deliverance and Damnation were originally released separately in 2002 and 2003 respectively, but the albums stem from the same writing and recording sessions and were originally intended as a double album, even if the two are dissimilar. This edition puts the two together on two CDs that contain new stereo mixes. More significant are the two DVDs (NTSC, all-region) which contain new 5.1 surround mixes (DTS 96/24 5.1 and Dolby AC3 5.1) as well as the new stereo mixes in 96/24 LPCM. Steven Wilson did the new mixes for Damnation, while Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief) did the new mixes for Deliverance. The artwork was reworked by original designer Travis Smith, while the 32-page book features liner notes by Mikael Akerfeldt and Jerry Ewing of Prog magazine. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Swedish neo-prog band Cross originally released Gaze in 1996, and it had been out-of-print for a few years. Gaze 2015 is the new reworked edition. Cross recorded overdubs between 2012-2015, then remixed the album in 2015. The band says this is a richer sounding mix with some discretely added instruments and harmony vocals. This is how the band originally envisioned Gaze to be, but the 1995-1996 recordings were limited to 16-track analog equipment. Listen to the new mix of Take Off on YouTube. See our Scandinavian page for all the Cross CDs.
Amarok are a Catalan prog band whose first CD dates to 1994, but after 2007ís Sol de Medianoche, the band fell silent for eight years. The first disc in the double-CD Hayat Yolunda (2015, mini-LP sleeve) is Amarokís new studio concept album, the title translating to Path of Life or The Way of Life. On this album, Amarok decided to omit the world music elements that had been a hallmark of their sound for a long time, in order to make a pure symphonic prog album. Their style is still rich with Mediterranean folklore though, still very much their own. Hayat Yolunda is a masterpiece, full of the lyricism and sensitivity that escape many prog bands today, endowing the music with an aura of magic. The second disc in this 2CD is Archivos 2009-2015, a full-length collection of rarities and archive recordings. Watch the album overview video.
Sol de Medianoche (Midnight Sun) is Amarokís seventh album. On the one hand, Amarok are capable of playing pure Anglo-prog, and on various tracks you can hear influences of Yes, Jethro Tull, ELP, Banco, the Canterbury bands, and Genesis/Steve Hackett. But they also mix in Mediterranean, Celtic, and renaissance music influences, and they use a lot of instruments. The seven-piece band consists of female vocals (in Spanish), drums and percussion, bass, electric guitar, flutes, soprano & alto sax, and keyboards. The keyboardist also plays various ethnic instruments: saz, kanun, charango, santour, accordion, marimba, and more. The songs are sung principally in Spanish, but there are some in Catalan and in English. The variety of instruments used on this release exceeds even Amarokís previous album, but the arrangements are precise, the instruments employed in an intelligent fashion. The album concludes with a unique version of ELPís Abaddonís Bolero that fans of the original really need to hear. 65-minutes.
Retrospectiva (2007) is an 80-minute compilation CD covering only Amarokís first four albums: Els nostres petits amics (1994), Canciones de los mundos perdidos (1995), Gibraíara (1998), and Tierra de especias (2000), plus four previously-unreleased tracks. These first four Amarok CDs have seen limited distribution and (apart from the reworked second edition of Canciones...) are hard to come by now.
Gouveia 2005 (2011, 65-minutes, mini-LP sleeve) is an excellent-sounding live CD recorded at the Gouveia prog festival held in Portugal. Note itís spelled Gouevia on the CD sleeve, which appears to be a glaring error. Read reviews at Progressor and Prog Archives.
Toxic Smile is the other band of keyboardist/composer Marek Arnold of Seven Steps to the Green Door. Toxic Smile is the longer-running band, but given that the two bands have the same composer and some overlapping personnel, they sound quite similar, and all the good things weíve said about Seven Steps apply to Toxic Smile. The track list for the eighth Toxic Smile album Farewell (2015, digipack) is concise: thereís the title track (42:11), and thatís it. Like Echolynís Mei, another one song album, Farewell features a string ensemble, which provides a distinctive atmosphere for this concept album. Hopefully ďfarewellĒ is part of the concept and not Toxic Smile saying goodbye, as after almost 20 years of honing their craft, this may be the bandís strongest statement. Their trademark style is close to perfection here, a musical maelstrom of different colors and textures, shifting tempos and moods, magnificent melodies and themes reappearing in different guises. See our German page for more Toxic Smile CDs and more info.
Memorias do Tempo (2008) is the first solo CD by Gťrson Werlang, the guitarist and singer of the Brazilian progressive rock band PoÁos & Nuvens. Other PoÁos & Nuvens members guest, and this is as good as or better than the PoÁos & Nuvens CDs. The lineup varies from track to track, as Memorias do Tempo is a mix of large-lineup symphonic rock pieces with an instrumental emphasis, and smaller scale songs that are more vocal, more intimate, and more acoustic. Werlang sings in Portuguese. In addition there are beautiful female vocals, sometimes wordless, sometimes in duets with Werlang. The violinist from PoÁos & Nuvens appears on two tracks; other musicians add keyboards, bass, and drums, while Werlang plays electric and classical guitars. There are high-energy passages, but more often the atmosphere is warm, slightly spacey, and affective. The artwork in the booklet also deserves praise.
Sistema Solar (2015) is Werlangís second, again a mix of larger-scale progressive pieces and smaller scale songs. Listen to Anťis de Saturno, O ŕltimo Tango em Plut„o, and Noites de Inverno on YouTube. Check our South American page for the PoÁos & Nuvens CDs.
This is the 2015 40th Anniversary edition of Klaatuís debut album, which is fully remastered and comes in a digisleeve with a full-color booklet including lyrics, in-depth liner notes, and interview. We believe the mastering is the same as the 2011 edition released by Klaatu on their own label but not widely distributed. The 1976 LP was simply titled Klaatu in the U.S., but the Canadian LP was titled 3:47 E.S.T. after the exact time the alien Klaatu landed in the 1951 classic sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still. Most of you, or at least those in North America, should be familiar with this prog-pop album engineered and produced by Terry Brown, which is bookended by the two best songs. The 7:18 opener Calling Occupants (of Interplanetary Craft) was famously covered by The Carpenters, and much later by Unitopia on their Covered Mirror album. The 8:18 Little Neutrino that closes the album is the other highlight. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the CD reissue of an Argentine prog classic and rarity. Rodolfo Mederos is a bandoneonist (accordionist). He formed the band Generacion Cero in 1976 and created a unique instrumental fusion of progressive rock, jazz, and the music of Buenos Aires. The instrumentation also includes piano and synths, electric guitar, electric bass, and drums. Mederos dropped ďGeneracion CeroĒ from the name for his third album Todo Hoy (1978), though it is still a band album. Whether there is any real tango here is debatable, but the bandoneon evokes it, so if not taken too seriously, Ďtango-progí is a fair label. The music is complex, with real compositional and arranging skills in evidence. The word Ďuniqueí gets bandied about a lot, but suffice to say you probably donít have anything in your collection quite like this. This CD is a joint release of three prog labels in three countries and comes in a gatefold mini-LP style sleeve. It adds an 8:48 bonus track. Listen to ŕltimos dŪas de marzo on YouTube.
Ed Bernard is the guitarist of Toronto prog band Druckfarben, in which he also plays violin and mandolin and contributes backing vocals. On his first solo album Polydactyl (2015, digipack), Bernard also takes care of keyboards, bass, and vocals, while two drummers split drum duties. Polydactyl is every bit as proggy as Druckfarben and on the same high level. The album features guest vocalists Cameron Hawkins of FM and Druckfarben bandmate Phil Naro. William Hare (Druckfarben keyboardist) plays piano on one song, while two other musicians guest on piano and bass. Maybe the band weíre most frequently reminded of is Kansas, but the album also contains a lot of high-energy rock-fusion as well as influences of Genesis, Yes, and others. Like Druckfarben, this is classic progressive rock surpassed by few today. The virtuosity is obvious but never obscures the melodies and songs. And the acoustic instruments are not forgotten. Read the Progressive Music Planet review. See our Canadian page for the Druckfarben CDs and DVD.
Popular Quťbec prog band Mystery are back with a new studio album Delusion Rain (2015, digipack), the first with new singer Jean Pageau. The rest of the line-up now is Benoit Dupuis on keyboards, FranÁois Fournier on bass, Sylvain Moineau on guitar, Jean-Sťbastien Goyette on drums, and bandleader Michel St-PŤre on guitars, plus guests Antoine Michaud of Monochrome Seasons (also touring guitarist for Mystery) and Sylvain Descoteaux (Huis). Listen to teaser 1, teaser 2, and the title track on YouTube. See our Canadian page for all the Mystery CDs and more info.
Ossicles are a Norwegian prog band who initially self-released their debut Mantelpiece as a double-CD digipack at the end of 2012. We briefly sold that edition before it went out-of-print. However, Karisma Records (Airbag, Magic Pie, Nordagust,...) took notice and reissued Mantelpiece as a single CD in a jewel case in 2015, which is the edition for sale here. In reducing it to a single CD, it looks like only the final song Miracle Worker (4:34) was omitted. On the strength of this album, Ossicles were invited by Mike Portnoy to appear at the Progressive Nation at Sea Festival in 2014, though the band had to decline for financial reasons. The music on Mantelpiece is more or less in the Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree vein, though Ossiclesí own personality shines through. ďSometimes an amazing album comes your way that you wonder how the rest of the world missed it. Over a year ago, two 20 year old guys from Norway produced a breathtaking CD called Mantelpiece. Itís a rich and accomplished piece and it deserves to be noticed.Ē [Progarchy] Read the DPRP review. Watch the official video for Watersoul II.
Karisma then released the second Ossicles CD Music for Wastelands (2015, digipack). Listen to Halfway Homes and watch the official video for Family Tree. Read the Exposť and Soundscape reviews.
Galahadís Solidarity: Live in Konin (DVD+2CD, 2015, digipack) was recorded in Konin, Poland in October 2013, one of a few selected live shows promoting the Battle Scars and Beyond the Realms of Euphoria albums. This live album includes Mark Spencer in the line-up on bass guitar as well as Neil Pepperís bass and guitar parts on a couple tracks. Both the 2 CDs as well as the DVD (PAL, all-region) concert film contain the complete show. The DVD adds a band documentary/interview and photo gallery. View the track list.
Sleepers (1995) is Galahadís third studio album, which made great strides from the previous two. The Avalon Records edition is the 2005 second edition on the bandís own label, which comes in a jewel case. The remastered digipack is the 2015 20th anniversary edition on the Oskar label. It was recently remastered and generally spruced up by Karl Groom at Thin Ice Studios. This digipack edition also adds two bonus tracks: Suffering in Silence, which we believe had been a Japan-only bonus track, and a new orchestral/vocal re-recording of Pictures of Bliss. See our British page for lots more Galahad titles and more info.
Lizard are a Polish prog band featuring powerful vocals in Polish. They debuted in 1996 but their earlier CDs have gone out-of-print. At times Lizard have been very influenced by King Crimson circa 1973-1974 (so thatís where they took their name), while they also update the tradition of some of the great East European progressive bands of the 1970s and 1980s such as Modry Efekt and Synkopy.
Spam (2006) is the last Lizard album to feature violin. 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.
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. Itís 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 wonít know Modry Efekt and Synkopy anyway and probably stopped reading this already. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Live: Destruction and Little Pieces of Cheese (2015) is a recording of Lizardís concert in Łůdź, Poland in late 2014. It draws primarily from Master & M and finishes with a rendition of 21st Century Schizoid Man. Watch the official video of Lizard performing Chapter I from this album. (So is there a Blu-ray in the works?)
Reingold Records, the Swedish label run by Jonas Reingold, now has U.S. distribution, so while the following titles arenít new, they are less expensive now. Hopefully more will follow.
The Tour Kaputt DVD (PAL, all-region, digipack) and double-CD (digipack) each contain 13 tracks (143 minutes) recorded live at De Boerderij in The Netherlands in 2007, featuring the line-up of Roine Stolt, Tomas Bodin, Hasse FrŲberg, Jonas Reingold, and special guest Pat Mastelotto. Each has a 20-page booklet. See our Scandinavian page for The Flower Kingsí CDs.
Karmakanicís double-CD Live in the US (digipack) was recorded in May 2012 at RoSfest in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where Karmakanic played all their epics. Watch the album trailer. See our Scandinavian page for more Karmakanic CDs and more info.
Keyboardist Lalle Larsson has played on numerous albums, probably best known for his work in Karmakanic and Agents of Mercy. Nightscapes (2012, digipack, 69-minutes) is the final CD in Larssonís Weaveworld trilogy, three instrumental albums built around the same concept with the same band. That band includes the fretless bass wizardry of Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings, Karmakanic), the jazz/fusion guitar mastery of Richard Hallebeek (One Spirit, RHP), the heavy guitar sounds of Stefan Rosqvist (Cloudscape, Fullforce), and the high energy drumming of Mickael ďWalleĒ Wahlgren (Agents of Mercy). Read the Prog Archives and Background Magazine reviews.
Leap Day are a Dutch symphonic prog band formed by members of Flamborough Head, Trion, Nice Beaver, King Eider, and Pink Floyd Project. They debuted in 2009 with Awaking the Muse and followed in 2011 with Skylgeís Lair. The first album was full of upbeat, melodic neo-prog in the old Marillion, IQ, and Egdon Heath styles, while the second showed Leap Day leaning a bit more toward classic prog.
From the Days of Deucalion, Chapter 1 (2013, digipack) followed on the heels of new albums by Trion and Flamborough Head, a very productive period for these musicians. Watch the album trailer video and listen to Insects on YouTube. ďTaking little cues from the classic era of Genesis and the epic sound of Pink Floyd, but with a vocal personality all their own and little traces of humour, this atmospheric work is not only Leap Dayís crowning achievement to date, but one of the finest neo-prog albums in a long while... Tighter melodies, tastefully executed instrumental passages without the need for drawn-out showboating, warm production and a surreal subject matter showcase the band improving everything they already did very well, while also setting the bar very high for not only themselves, but the neo-prog sub-genre itself.Ē Read the full review and others at Prog Archives, also the Background Magazine review.
From the Days of Deucalion, Chapter 2 (2015, digipack) is the second part of the concept album series. (Who knows how many chapters this thing has?) Watch the album trailer.
Hyperlive (2015, digipack) is the first live DVD (NTSC, all-region) for popular Dutch neo-prog band Knight Area. An audio CD is included. Hyperlive was filmed in Katowice, Poland on 9 April 2015, with Knight Area performing 12 tracks including almost all of their most recent album Hyperdrive. Bonus features include interviews with Mark Smit, Gerben Klazinga, Mark Bogert, and Pieter van Hoorn, plus a photo gallery. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo audio, 100 minutes. Watch the DVD trailer. See our Dutch page for Knight Areaís CDs.
Transfiction (2015, digipack) is the second CD for Elleven, a German melodic neo-prog quintet with female vocals, along the lines of Breathing Space. The band began circa 2001 as an offshoot of Chandelier (one of the earliest German neo-prog bands), though by the time this album was recorded, the Chandelier guys had moved on. Watch the video for Try . With purchase of the CD, weíre supposed to include a download card for an instrumental mix of the album. If we forget, please bug us.
Nad Sylvan first appeared on the prog scene as singer in the Genesis-inspired Swedish duo Unifaun before joining Roine Stolt in Agents of Mercy. More recently, Nad has been Steve Hackettís singer. Nadís solo album Courting the Widow (2015, 70-minutes) features an impressive cast of guests including Steve Hackett, Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic), Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson, Lifesigns,...), Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings), Nick DíVirgilio (Big Big Train, Spockís Beard), Gary OíToole and Rob Townsend (Steve Hackett), Doane Perry (Jethro Tull), AnnbjÝrg Lien, and others. Rooted in classic prog, Nad considers Courting the Widow ďvery much a symphonic album... I feel that I have delivered an album thatís true to myself and my values in life. Itís heartfelt, passionate, emotional, and full of dramatic passages.Ē Read The Prog Mind review. Listen to the album teaser and the title track on YouTube.
Molok (2015, mediabook) is Gazpachoís ninth studio album. World-renowned Norwegian accordion player Stian Carstensen from Farmers Market guests, as well as Norwegian music archaeologist Gjermund Kolltveit who plays some stone age instruments including our favorite, moose jaws. ďMolok is, in its own right, a deeply impressive piece of work. Conceptually intriguing, instrumentally beguiling and emotionally powerful, itís beautifully composed, played and produced Ė another practically flawless entry in one of the most consistent back catalogues in modern progressive rock... History will record this band as one of the most relentlessly adventurous and eclectic progressive rock bands of recent years, but for now Gazpacho remain one of the best-kept secrets of modern progressive rock, and Molok numbers among their finest achievements.Ē Read the full Echoes and Dust review, also the Sputnik Music review. Listen to Know Your Time on YouTube.
Night of the Demon (2015, digipack) was recorded when Gazpacho embarked upon the Demon album tour in spring 2014. They brought in Dutch filmmaker Jon Vis to film their show at Boerderij in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands. Gazpacho played songs from Firebird, Night, Tick Tock, Missa Atropos, March of Ghosts, and the majority from Demon. The 80-minute audio CD features nine tracks while the DVD (NTSC, all-region) features the full 14 track performance. Watch the DVD trailer. See our Scandinavian page for more Gazpacho titles and info on the band.
Directed by Lasse Hoile, A Sort of Homecoming is the concert film of Anathemaís performance on 7 March 2015 in the spectacular setting of the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. That month, Anathema played an acoustic tour of cathedrals that culminated in this sold-out show in their hometown. While billed as acoustic, that only really affects the guitarists as there are drums and there are electronic keyboards. Having worked previously with Anathema on Universal, Lasse Hoile captured the 100-minute set against the sensational backdrop of the cathedral. Featuring 15 songs selected from the albums Distant Satellites, Weíre Here Because Weíre Here, Hindsight, and Weather Systems, the band are accompanied throughout by David Wesling on cello, while violinist Anna Phoebe guests on a haunting rendition of the song Anathema. Bruce Soord mixed the 5.1 surround audio. The Blu-ray features 24/48 stereo LPCM and DTS 5.1 Master Audio options and includes a bonus behind-the-scenes film titled A Temporary Peace. ďA once in a lifetime experience that words can barely do justice.Ē [Prog magazine] Watch the trailer. Check our British page for some Anathema CDs.
This is the 2015 Kscope edition of Stone to Flesh, originally released in 1995. This edition comes in a digipack with new artwork and a brand new studio track. With all the tracks exceeding seven minutes, Stone to Flesh contains some of the best examples of Jansen and Barbierićís trademark style of progressive rock that is both atmospheric/ambient and percussive, with nods to Japan at their most experimental. Guests include David Torn, Steven Wilson, and Colin Edwin. Watch the video for Mother London.
American Jeremy Morris is best known to prog fans for his Pilgrimís Journey and Celestial City CDs released on the Kinesis label in the mid-1990s. He has released many other albums on his own label, most with vocals, his main styles other than prog being psychedelic rock, space rock, and power pop. Across its 77 minutes, Not of This World (2015) covers most of Jeremyís styles, concentrating on his progressive and late-60s psychedelic rock styles. The CD features mostly long tracks, both vocal and instrumental, concluding with the 17-minute progressive highlight The Other World. The most pop-sounding material suggests an alternate universe where The Monkees got a Mellotron and started to go prog. Read the Something Else! review. Listen to mp3s of What Planet Are We From?, The Other World, and Clouds are Lifting. See our U.S. page for more Jeremy CDs.
Moth Vellumís debut CD (2008, digipack) introduces a Los Angeles-based symphonic prog quartet heavily influenced by Yes and committed to classic 1970s progressive aesthetics, albeit with modern production. They resemble Yes both vocally and instrumentally, often using similar guitar and bass tones as Howe and Squire, and generally staying near the Wakeman keyboard style, Mellotron washes included. Thereís enough room in the Yes universe to fit several bands heavily influenced by Yes that sound little like each other, as for example no one will confuse Moth Vellum with Starcastle. Thereís also a little Genesis in Moth Vellumís style.
Moth Vellum disbanded, but bandleader Johannes Luley released his first solo CD Tales from Sheepfatherís Grove (digipack) in 2013. As you might guess from the cover art, the Yes influence is dominant. Because Luley uses a lot of acoustic instruments and a vast array of hand percussion in lieu of drum kit, Sheepfatherís is suggestive of Jon Andersonís Olias of Sunhillow, with a similar tribal/spiritual/enchanting vibe. The keyboard sounds are vintage, and the album is meant to be heard as a continuous piece of music, or at least a Side 1 and Side 2 of a continuous piece of music. But the occasional electric guitar sounds like Steve Howe, so youíll have to conflate Olias and Beginnings in your mind. Read reviews.
Perfect Beings is the new prog band assembled by Luley. Perfect Beings I is their 2014 debut, while Perfect Beings II is their 2015 second CD; both are digipacks. Yes is still the dominant influence, but it is less overt than in Moth Vellum or on Sheepfatherís, as Perfect Beings have a more original and unique style. The soothing vocals establish a serene baseline from which the music expands in symphonic splendor or bursts out in intricate instrumental passages. Read reviews.
Glasgowís Comedy of Errors had been known (if they were known at all) as the other Scottish neo-prog band, after Pallas and Abel Ganz. Though the band formed in 1984, their time had not yet come. Comedy of Errors are calling Disobey (2011, digipack) their debut, but the band released a vinyl mini-album in 1986 that compiled their demos to that point. Those tracks were later combined with 1987 demos to form the eponymous CD released in 1988 by the French UGUM/MSI label. (Good luck finding that now.) The 2011 reformed Comedy of Errors features the three core members from those days, a new drummer, and a bit of assistance from Hew Montgomery (ex-Abel Ganz). Rob Aubrey did the final mixing and mastering for all these CDs, almost a requirement for a UK neo-prog CD. If youíre a fan of UK neo-prog and didnít know of Comedy of Errors before, you are in for a treat. And if you do know Comedy of Errors, you are in for a treat. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the Disobey montage.
Comedy of Errorsí triumphant comeback continues with Fanfare & Fantasy (2013, digipack). Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the Fanfare & Fantasy montage.
Spirit (2015, digipack) is Comedy of Errorsí latest, their best sounding CD yet and one that every self-respecting fan of neo-prog needs. Listen to the Spirit sampler.
Heavy on the Beach (2015, digipack) is the debut CD from Glasgowís Grand Tour, a new band featuring some not-so-new musicians. Grand Tourís leader is keyboardist Hew Montgomery, a founding member of Abel Ganz. Grand Tour had its genesis in 2005. Hew says heíd begun to feel the need to take more direct control of his own material as Abel Ganz moved off in a slightly different musical direction from his. In fact, the current Abel Ganz has no full-time members in common with the band that recorded the first two Abel Ganz albums; it appears only current bandleader Denis Smith has any connection to Abel Ganz of the 1980s or 1990s. The second member to sign on to Grand Tour was local guitarist Andrew Young. The two were joined in 2007 by Joe Cairney, vocalist with then-dormant Comedy of Errors. The lineup was completed with the addition of drummer Bruce Levick (Comedy of Errors) in 2009. In 2010, Young was replaced by Comedy of Errors guitarist Mark Spalding, who agreed to join after a brief listen to the existing demos. So with the keyboardist/composer of the original Abel Ganz and three Comedy of Errors members, you ought to have a pretty good idea what youíre going to get. This is Glasgow-prog!
This is the U.S. digipack edition of Riversideís 2015 studio album Love, Fear and the Time Machine, which sees Riverside moving closer to the style of singer Mariusz Dudaís solo project Lunatic Soul. ďThe band once again altered their sound and have stripped the heaviness of the last album for a new refined and more organic sounding Riverside. The results are outstanding, making it one of the top albums of the year.Ē Read the full The Prog Report review, also the Sputnik Music review. Watch the videos for Found (The Unexpected Flaw of Searching) and Discard Your Fear on YouTube.
The Oblivion Particle (2015, digipack) is Spockís Beardís 12th studio album. David Ragsdale guests. This U.S. edition does include the bonus track, a cover of Black Sabbathís Iron Man. Read The Prog Report review. Listen to Tides of Time, Bennett Built a Time Machine, and Minion on YouTube. See our U.S. page for more Spockís Beard CDs.
John Hackett is of course Steveís younger brother and longtime sideman. Another Life (2015, digipack) is Johnís long-awaited new rock album, the follow-up to 2005ís Checking Out of London, with most of the same people involved. Nick Clabburn again provides lyrics, and John is again joined by brother Steve on lead guitar, while Anthony Phillips guests. The whole project was produced and mixed by Nick Magnus, who again takes care of keyboards, drums, and programming.
Itís possible the title of The Enidís 13th studio album The Bridge (2015, digipack) alludes to bridging the gap between the old The Enid and the current generation of the band. The band state that on this album, they wanted to further explore the classical elements of their music in finer detail. The orchestral arrangements and vocals are bolstered by symphonic/ambient guitar textures and huge choral arrangements. The majority of the songs are re-imagined arrangements of songs from The Enidís back catalog, with vocals added to formerly instrumental pieces. ďWhen you listen to The Bridge, the merely good is transformed into the sublime and exalted. The Enid have delivered a set of songs that enable you to take time away from your hectic life and give you a melodic treat of great magnitude, the closest thing to a legal high, an oasis of calm in a world of chaos. Yes, it will not appeal to all with its delicate sensibilities, but for me it is something that, once heard, I cannot ever do without.Ē Read the full Progradar review. There are lots more The Enid CDs on our British page along with much more info, while our DVDs page should have some The Enid DVDs.
These are the 2015 digipack editions on Sireena Records of Dry (1979) and Sky Racer (1981), both mastered from the original tapes. Streetmark was a German prog band that released four albums on Sky Records, beginning with Nordland in 1976, followed by Eileen in 1977. Keyboardist Dorothea Raukes was a founding member and one of the first female figures of the German prog scene. The band went through constant lineup changes, and by the time of their third album Dry, Raukes had taken control of the band as well as most of the lead vocals. The singer on the first Streetmark album was awful, and the singer on their second had been murdered by this time (not on account of his singing), so Streetmark are at their best in the vocals department on the two albums here. Dry is an underappreciated German prog album. With this album, the band moved toward a more melodic and rock-oriented prog style, while maintaining a good deal of spaciness. There is loads of organ and synths, with melodic guitar leads. The ďNeue Deutsche WelleĒ (NDW), the German version of new wave, ran a few years behind punk and new wave in the UK, so though Dry is from 1979, it feels more like 1976. There is disco influence in one song, but itís actually not a horrible track. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
After recording their first three albums in Conny Planckís studio, Streetmark moved to Dieter Dierksí studio for Sky Racer. Raukes was the only original member on this album, which continues along the same trajectory as Dry, the quality dropping off slightly as the level of commercialism increased a bit, unavoidable at that time. Youíd think the short song Stick to Reggae would be one to skip, but itís an instrumental done almost entirely on synths. The title track is also instrumental and a Genesis/Camel-inspired highlight, as Raukes plays fast and furious lead synth lines like you just donít hear anymore. Fortunately Streetmark didnít follow the emerging trend of the NDW, and overall Sky Racer is a decent prog album, certainly for 1981 when prog was at or near a low point. It would be their last.
Klubkinís Voyage is the 79-minute 2011 debut by a Russian symphonic prog band in the vein of Kansas, Yes, Genesis, and Camel. The lyrics are in Russian, though the music is heavily instrumental. The audio was mastered at Masterdisk in New York City, and the artwork is gorgeous. Read the Prognaut and DPRP reviews. Klubkinís Voyage was April 2011 Record of the Month at Progressive Rock BR (read review).
Another World (2015, digipack) is Quorumís second, but the compositions date to a decade earlier, before Klubkinís Voyage, during the earliest days of the band. This album consists of six songs with vocals and one instrumental. Five of these songs along with two others were recorded and released as a demo CD in 2006. The band decided to postpone the final release, having already begun work on Klubkinís Voyage. The material that appears on Another World was revised and recorded again almost from scratch. The audio was again mastered at Masterdisk in New York City. Klubkinís Voyage is very good, but taking stock now after Another World, Quorum may well be the best Russian band ever in the melodic symphonic prog mainstream of 1970s Genesis and Yes. (If weíre talking ELP, then itís Little Tragedies.) There is some fantastic Genesis-inspired material here, and the fact Quorumís music has its own character, due in part to the Russian vocals, makes it far more than derivative or copyist. It is certainly highly recommended to those who believe that first, golden era of progressive rock was cut way short by a hostile industry.
This Belgian bandís name results from a typo on their first demo and the decision that it was simpler to change the band name than to correct the demo. Quantum Fantay are a space rock band that have people as excited as when they first heard Ozric Tentacles. If the Quantum Fantay CDs donít make you jump around the room, well then youíre probably not prone to jumping around rooms. But if youíre a fan of Ozric Tentacles, then itís a good bet Quantum Fantayís CDs will excite you like no Ozrics CD has in years. Maybe ever. Give the Ozrics credit for doing it first, and they are a huge influence, but Quantum Fantay are more melodic and include elements of symphonic prog that take this style to a new level. Their sequential electronics are outstanding. They breathe new life and energy into a genre many thought had exhausted its possibilities. Believe every superlative you read about this band; they are the current progressive space rock kings.
Terragaia (2014, digipack) is a 70-minute concept album featuring guest appearances by members of Anima Mundi, Neo Prophet, and others. Despite the passage of nine years since the first Quantum Fantay CD, weíre still jumping around the room, and only slightly slower. Watch the videos for Chopsticks and Gongs and Desert Rush.
With four long tracks of almost exactly the same length, Dancing in Limbo (2015, digipack) showcases a new Quantum Fantay lineup, which only adds fresh angles to the bandís trademark style. Ed Wynne of Ozric Tentacles guests, which makes perfect sense.
Kind of surprising no one combined ďprogressiveĒ and ďfusionĒ for this band name before, even if there is little real fusion here. Profusion are an Italian heavy prog quintet (vocals in English, keys, guitars, bass, drums), who you might file alongside Subsignal. Profusionís drummer is a native of Georgia (the country, not the U.S. state), which explains the Georgian ethnic elements that appear in some songs. Phersu (2015, digipack) is Profusionís third album and features well-known guests from outside Italy, including Mamuka Ghaghanidze from Georgian ethnic fusion band The Shin, Polish virtuoso accordionist Jakub Mietła, and mezzo soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, originally from Georgia. (To see/hear Anita, watch the video for Wrinkled Maiden). A creative band like Profusion expands heavy prog beyond its usual restricted boundaries.
Flor de Loto (Lotus Flower) are at present the biggest prog band in Peru. The band began as an instrumental quartet with their first CD released in 2005. The current lineup is bigger now, with lead and backing vocals (in Spanish) and instrumentation consisting of electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards, flute, Andean woodwinds, tenor sax, bass, and drums. Initially Flor de Loto were more jam-based and psychedelic. Their music continued to evolve, becoming carefully-composed, more European and less Andean sounding and closer to the prog mainstream, with a slight metal influence eventually creeping in but also some fusion. They added vocals while the psychedelic aspect vanished. There has always been a folk element that is central to the bandís identity, calling to mind an Andean version of Tempest. The flute has always suggested Tull and Solaris, maybe early Camel when the flute playing is more pastoral. The earlier Flor de Loto CDs are more or less sold out. The Mexican Azafran label has released Flor de Lotoís sixth album Nuevo MesŪas (2014) in a factory-sealed, 8-panel foldout mini-LP style sleeve. The CD contains nine new songs, while the DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains six videos (two live), the Making of Nuevo MesŪas documentary, and a photo gallery. The videos are all songs from previous albums, so no redundancy with the CD content.
Medusa: En Vivo en Buenos Aires is Flor de Loto live in Argentina in November 2014. This two-disc set is housed in a gatefold mini-LP style sleeve. Both the CD and the DVD (NTSC, all-region) contain the 12 tracks of the concert. The DVD also includes two song videos, three live videos from other concerts, and a 2015 documentary.
Vly is a distant collaboration between British-based guitarist Karl Demata (Crippled Black Phoenix) and New York singer Keith Gladysz, Italian keyboardist Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio delle Clessidre), bassist Chris Heilmann (Crippled Black Phoenix), and Swedish drummer Mattias Olsson (ńnglagŚrd, White Willow). The musicians never met face-to-face, instead relying on the now common method of sending files over the Internet. The band says the sound of I / Time (2015, digipack) includes ďelements of progressive rock, classic rock, folk, early-Floydian psychedelia, intimate pop melodies, massive walls of epic guitar riffage, post-classical, post-rock, and electronic music.Ē The music is in the mainstream of the modern prog style that has Steven Wilson as its patron saint, with that slightly psychedelic, dreamy, indie-rock atmosphere. The retro elements include some Beatles references, the aforementioned Floyd influence, and some vintage keys, but otherwise there is little connection to classic prog or ńnglagŚrd or Il Tempio delle Clessidre. Just so thatís clear. Watch the album trailer and the video for Circles.
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 seventh Karfagen album 7 (2015, digipack) is centered around the nearly half-hour epic Seven Gates. Kalugin says: ďIíve done my best to create it with the variety of being both dynamic and also allowing the music to breath, to recreate the late 70s prog Ďtoneí that I still enjoy so much today.Ē The label says that Kalugin stays true to his love of Camel, Focus, and The Alan Parsons Project, to name just a few. Watch the album teaser video. See our East European page for the full Karfagen catalog and more info.
Antony Kalugin has half the musicians in Ukraine on the Sunchild albums, with the vocals in English. Synesthesia (2015, digipack) turns over lead vocals to John Sleeper, who we know little about other than that he is the best singer Sunchild have had. With a true lead singer on board, Synesthesia puts more emphasis on vocals, evolving in a Peter Gabriel direction, with the distinction between Karfagen (more instrumental and more challenging) and Sunchild now clearer. Sunchild have taken the next step toward international stardom (such as it exists in the prog world). See our East European page for the now extensive Sunchild catalog, as well as Kaluginís other bands.
t is the moniker used by Thomas Thielen, formerly singer/guitarist of the band Scythe. Voices (2006, 73-minutes) is the second t album, an under-recognized work of modern symphonic prog. Thielenís voice has similarities to Steve Hogarth and Peter Gabriel, and the music has similarities to Brave and other later Marillion, to Gabriel, and to bands such as No-Man and Product. The predominant mood is dark, atmospheric, surreal, dramatic, and profound. There are lots of richly-textured, detailed, dense instrumental arrangements that often include Mellotron and real strings. It is majesty without bombast. These tracks supposedly deal with the voices we hear in our head in various life situations, and Thielenís voice has a distant quality that evokes that. This is the MALS label edition, which is identical to the Galileo edition apart from label boilerplate.
Psychoanorexia (2013, digipack) is the fourth t album. Only four tracks span 66-minutes; three are multi-part suites running about 20-minutes each. While there is still that atmosphere similar to Hogarth-era Marillion, Psychoanorexia is darker, more symphonic, and more intense. This is pretty amazing stuff, not only in the way it bridges the gap between symphonic neo-prog and modern prog, but t takes the listener into an alternate musical reality, and after the album concludes, you may need to pause and take several deep breaths before returning to waking reality.
Fragmentropy (2015, digipack) continues an amazing string of albums for Thielen, with t now getting the recognition this music deserves.
Seven Steps to the Green Door consistently produce one of the most intriguing modern takes on progressive rock. In true postmodern fashion, this German band integrate many different styles into a cohesive whole, but there is little doubt that it is symphonic prog at its core. The classically-influenced piano playing of Marek Arnold is a key feature of the music, and he also adds some woodwinds. They have excellent male vocals (and some female vocals) in English. Their albums are sophisticated and very well recorded.
Step in 2 My World (2008, 66-minutes) is their second. Where the band have really taken things to the next level are the vocals. They use one female and two male singers, both in lead and harmony roles, plus a guest spot for Larry B., the singer from the current Stern Combo Meissen and Toxic Smile.
The? Book (2011, digipack) was first released as a hardcover digibook with 52-page booklet, but that edition is gone, replaced by this less expensive and less elaborate digipack. Larry B. again guests, as well as Flaming Row leader Martin Schnella (who would become a full band member). This concept album is the bandís most ambitious to date, more intense than the first two. ďThe conclusion this time is simple: the best (retro)-progressive album of the year. Melodic but never dull, diverse without being unstructured, both gentle and fierce, sustained by an elaborate story that focuses on what seems for a lot of people to be currently burning in their soul.Ē [Musikreviews.de, translated from German] ď...the album offers everything the proggiesí heart desires: springy melodies, complex rhythms, delicate vocal harmonies, fast-paced keyboard and guitar riffs, and a pinch of metal for seasoning here and there... Certainly one of the best German (prog) rock releases of recent years.Ē [Babyblaue Seiten, translated from German] ďSeven Steps to the Green Door have clearly reached the premier league of the German prog scene... My absolute buy recommendation!Ē [proggies.ch, translated from German]
Among the guests on Fetish (2015, digipack, 78-minutes) are Arno Menses (Subsignal), Dan Mash (United Progressive Fraternity, The Tangent), and Steve Unruh (Resistor, United Progressive Fraternity). Seven Steps are at their best on this album, which has everything a fan of contemporary prog could want. Fetish is so nimble, melodic, and playful, and yet it is inventive, always pleasantly surprising the listener, compositions full of complexity that still come across as prog ear candy because the band have a knack for making everything flow effortlessly. Watch the album preview video, the video for Porn!, and listen to Inferior on YouTube. ďSeven Steps to the Green Door has crafted a magnificent album with Fetish, itís as easy as that. The sheer diversity of this album will perhaps alienate some, but the generally easy-flowing compositions are easier on the ears than you would imagine from a band incorporating such a great diversity into their material. And a top quality mix and production also ensure that these fairly challenging compositions are easy to enjoy. An eclectic recording well worth inspecting, and on my personal shortlist as a strong contender for album of the year for 2015.Ē Read the full Prog Archives review. See our German page for the related band Toxic Smile.
Project: Patchwork is the large-scale project of German multi-instrumentalist Gerd Albers, featuring at least 27 other musicians, not counting the choir. The more recognizable names include Martin Schnella (Flaming Row, Seven Steps to the Green Door), Kalle Wallner (RPWL), Marek Arnold (Seven Steps to the Green Door, Toxic Smile), Yossi Sassi (Orphaned Land), and David M. Scholtz (Orpheo, Eisenhower). There are several female and several male vocalists, with the lyrics in English except for the beautiful song Bauí Dir ein Schloss. There is some heavier material that may suggest Ayreon and Flaming Row, but Tales from a Hidden Dream (2015) is more colorful than that, covering more stylistic ground while staying within the boundaries of progressive rock. Maybe thatís the Ďpatchworkí in the name, but the producers have blended the contributions from all these musicians into a cohesive whole, and the fact that the album is not overproduced and overblown makes it a very successful debut. Watch the album trailer and the videos for Oblivion and Land of Hope and Honour. ďAll I can say is this album is as close to perfection as any I have heard this year. It is clearly progressive in nature, but many genres are touched upon such as folk, hard rock, metal, funk, and orchestral music. One would think that the album would sound like a hodgepodge of styles but nothing could be further from the truth. The music is cohesive and brilliantly played with beautifully soaring guitar, lush keyboards, and strong lead vocals.Ē Read the full Sea of Tranquility review.
Edisonís Children is Marillionís Pete Trewavas and American musician Eric Blackwood. Their 2011 debut In The Last Waking Moments (71-minutes) includes guest appearances by Mark Kelly, Ian Mosley, Steve Rothery, Steve Hogarth, Andy Ditchfield (DeeExpus), and Robin Boult (Fish). The music is closer to Porcupine Tree than Marillion, darker and more psychedelic, with Pink Floyd the dominant influence. Vocals are somewhat low-key but are an important part of the music. This is very much music composed by guitarists, with keyboards/synths used only for texture, but what a difference those textures make. The album builds to the long penultimate track, which is majestic in that Floydian way and is probably the one that remains in memory after the disc has finished spinning; the short final track is an aftermath and wind-down. Pink Floydís melancholic and dystopian view seems more in line with the current zeitgeist than the utopian view of Yes or the more positive energy of the other classic prog bands; In The Last Waking Moments is another example of that, and an excellent album in its own right.
A Million Miles Away (2012) is a limited-edition 29-minute, 7-song CD-EP. The title track and one other are from the In The Last Waking Moments album, and there is also a single edit of the title track. The main attraction here is four new songs, all mixed and/or mastered by John Mitchell. The CD comes in a cardboard jacket and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
The Final Breath Before November (2013, digisleeve, 79-minutes) is Edisonís Childrenís very impressive second full-length album, which no one is able to describe without using the word ďhauntingĒ. Henry Rogers (Touchstone, DeeExpus, Final Conflict) is the drummer. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Edisonís Childrenís third album Somewhere Between Here and There (2015, digisleeve) features seven new tracks, then the 80-minute CD is maxed out with several alternate mixes of other songs plus a live track. The celebrity mixers include Jakko M Jakszyk, John Mitchell, and Robin Boult. Among the guests are Chris Mack (Iluvatar) on drums and the son of Neil Armstrong (yes, that Neil Armstrong) on guitar. Not a giant leap for Edisonís Children, but a sizeable step.
This is the same New Jersey-based progressive rock band whose self-titled 1997 CD was released on Mellow Records. Adventís second release Cantus Firmus (2006, 69-minutes) improves on their debut in just about every way. The band is heavily influenced by Gentle Giant, which is apparent within the first few seconds, even more so on this album than on their debut. But while Advent have some of the medieval feel and similar-sounding vocals, Gentle Giant isnít the end of the story. There is some Genesis influence present, maybe a little Yes as well, so Adventís style is often more majestic and regal than Gentle Giant. The album features wonderfully elaborate arrangements, beautiful guitar work (including a substantial amount of classical and acoustic guitar), and tight vocal interplay. The CD also includes previously unreleased 24-track recordings of two songs from the bandís debut CD as bonus tracks. As explained in the liner notes, Advent recorded 24-track versions of five songs in 1992, but due to various constraints, only one received a proper mix and appeared on their debut CD. The other four songs from those sessions ended up on the album in their original four-track cassette versions. So as you can imagine, the improvement in the 24-track versions is immense, and one of the bonus tracks also had new drumming added.
After a long silence, Advent return in 2015 with the remarkable Silent Sentinel (digipack, 78-minutes), picking up right where they left off but with larger arrangements and expanded instrumentation that includes a real choir. Certainly Gentle Giant remains the dominant influence, and maybe However should be added to the reference list, but Advent have used such influences as a springboard to a personal style, and youíll be hard pressed to find another band today that sounds like this. Just listen to Voices from California on YouTube. ďI really canít exaggerate or overstate how much Silent Sentinel grabs and intrigues me. Itís the kind of release that makes me not only proud to be a prog fan, but it actually makes me proud to be alive, to live at a time that produces such artists. This is the equal of Big Big Train and The Tangent in terms of quality, innovation, and beauty... Silent Sentinel is something truly special.Ē Read the full Progarchy review.
Even after so many albums, top Mexican prog band Cast have found a way with Vida (2015, digipack) to take their music to a new level. Roberto Izzo, violinist of GnuQuartet as well as orchestra director and violinist of New Trolls, is now a permanent collaborator both in the studio and live. The full GnuQuartet (violin, viola, cello, flute) plays on much of the album, as does woodwind player Pepe Torres, a longtime collaborator. Now with members from Mexico, Chile, and Italy, vocals in English, and cover art by Paul Whitehead, Vida introduces Cast as an international band who are supporting the album with concerts in England and Germany. Watch the album teaser on YouTube. See our Mexican page for more Cast CDs and much more info.
I Heard You Listening (2015, digipack) is the new Echolyn studio CD, their first in three years. Weíve been Echolyn fans from the early days -- seeing them in small clubs at the time of their first CD, attending the release party for Suffocating the Bloom -- so their early material is hard to displace as our favorite. Echolyn say that for I Heard You Listening, they went back to their musical roots and resurrected the original sound that made them famous, now with better production values, writing, vocal melodies, and musicianship. We couldnít be happier! Listen to Different Days and watch the interview video. See our U.S. page for the rest of the Echolyn catalog. Collect them all!
Italian Stefano Panunzi is a key figure in that ambient & jazz inflected prog subgenre that may not yet have a name but can count musicians such as Richard Barbieri, Gavin Harrison, Tim Bowness (not to mention Henry Fool and No-Man), David Sylvian, and the late Mick Karn among its other leading lights. Panunzi is leader of the band Fjieri, who debuted in 2009 with Endless. All those musicians apart from Sylvian played on that album, alongside quite a few others. Words Are All We Have (2015, digipack) is Fjieriís second, another Anglo-Italian project, the participants this time including Fjieri core member Nicola Lori, Bowness, Harrison, 05Ric, Jakko M. Jakszyk, Daniele Iacono (Ezra Winston), American expat trumpeter Mike Applebaum, and several others. Loriís twisting fretless bass is a worthy successor to Mick Karnís. Most of the songs have vocals, sung by Jakszyk except one by Bowness, and they are quality songs. Imagine the band Japan (at the end of their career) extrapolated into even more progressive realms, merging with King Crimson, No-Man, and the solo work of all these great musicians. Watch the album trailer.
The CDs Stefano Panunzi has released under his own name are quite similar to the Fjieri CDs. A Rose (2010, digipack) is his second and features Mick Karn, Tim Bowness, Giancarlo Erra (Nosound), Theo Travis, Markus Reuter, Robbie Aceto, and many more musicians. It downplays the ambient jazz of Panunziís first CD and features more songs: seven songs using seven different singers, plus three instrumentals. The production is immaculate, the music mesmerizing and seductive; this is a masterpiece of ambient progressive rock. Read the Prognaut and DPRP reviews.
The Singles Complete (2015, digisleeve) is a 2CD set containing 24 tracks and over 120 minutes of Magenta material. Included for the first time on CD are Magentaís versions of the Yes song Wonderous Stories and the ELP classic Lucky Man. This collection includes some brand new remixes, alternate arrangements, and extended versions of classic Magenta songs. This 2CD replaces and supersedes the out-of-print 2007 single CD entitled The Singles, though that first edition contains a couple tracks that donít appear on this 2CD. You may still find a copy of the original at a big discount on our British page, along with the rest of the Magenta catalog. The songs on that first edition were drawn from Magentaís four previous EP/singles, but most of them appeared in new re-recorded versions, and none had previously been available on a full-length CD. So this 2CD adds the songs from Magentaís two post-2007 EPs plus the aforementioned new mixes and such.
Rob Reed is of course Magentaís keyboardist and leader and one of those musicians who requires multiple outlets for his creativity (e.g., Kompendium). Sanctuary (2014, digisleeve) is a rather amazing work, as it is in essence an alternate-universe version of Mike Oldfieldís Tubular Bells, to right-thinking people everywhere one of the most important progressive rock albums ever made. (If the current generation of prog fans sometimes seems clueless about Mike Oldfield in general, there is this perspective: Oldfield is one of only four individual artists to whom Paul Stump devotes a section of his The Musicís All That Matters book, the others being Peter Hammill, Robert Fripp, and Anthony Phillips. The others owe much of their renown to the bands they were in.) Reed even secured the collaboration of Tubular Bells producers Tom Newman (who co-produced) and Simon Heyworth (who mastered Sanctuary) after receiving their seal of approval. If Reedís abilities on instruments other than keyboards hadnít been apparent before, they are now, as he plays everything by hand, apart from the nonsense-syllable vocals. Reed was inspired to become a musician and composer at the age of seven after discovering Tubular Bells. So inspired was he by the album that he learned to play not just one but all the instruments featured on that album. We always thought Rob Reed had his head and heart in the right place musically, and this seals it. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the album in 24/96 stereo and DTS 5.1 surround for maximum bliss, plus the promo videos. Watch the videos for Sanctuary Part 1 and Sanctuary Part 2 (excerpt), the latter a great piece of comedy with a special guest star, and you should find a few more of the promo videos nearby.
Willowís Song (2015) is an 11-track CD with a playing time of 35:29 containing material recorded for Sanctuary but omitted. The centerpieces are two vocal tracks featuring singer Angharad Brinn that were left off so as not to disrupt the feel of the all-instrumental Sanctuary. If youíve seen the movie The Wicker Man (the 1973 original), then you canít forget Willowís Song, a haunting psych-folk song (which is accompanied by Britt Ekland dancing naked.) Reed does a great rendition of this song, which you can hear in Reedís video to accompany it. The second vocal song is a brilliant version of the traditional Scarborough Fair, given the full Mike Oldfield treatment, transforming it into majestic prog. Willowís Song is repeated in an extended version, while Scarborough Fair is repeated in an instrumental version. There are two very Oldfield-esque instrumental pieces not used on Sanctuary, while the remaining songs are remixes and demo versions of parts of Sanctuary. The CD comes in a cardboard sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Hailing from the northeastern U.S., Zen Carnival debuted in 1999 with Inheritance, instantly-likeable 1970s-style prog in a Genesis/Camel direction. Zen Carnivalís second CD Bardo (67-minutes) is a much more mature and original work, and one of the best modern prog albums of 2006. While Inheritance was a more traditional progressive rock album, Bardo took a step in the direction of Porcupine Tree, and sounds quite contemporary. There is a suggestion of later Marillion, which has a lot to do with singer Ken Pfeiferís voice, but there is also that sensuousness. There is also a jazzy ambience at times, overall a greater breadth than on their debut, with fewer stylistic limits. The constants are the excellent songwriting, the rich sound palette, and the exciting instrumental excursions. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Prog Archives reviews.
Writing for Lucid Dreamer (2015, digipack) commenced shortly after Bardo was released, and recording began in 2010. So though a long time has passed, Lucid Dreamer picks up where Bardo left off, carving out territory not too far from IZZ. The fusion-y instrumental work that appears in many songs is one of Zen Carnivalís trademarks, as they deftly incorporate it into a set of art-rock songs. A proggier Sting or Steely Dan may come to mind. The great instrumental Medieval Suite could be Dixie Dregs (minus the bluegrass), while Lullaby is the song that comes closest to later Marillion, with Ken Pfeifer sounding similar to Steve Hogarth here. If there is such a thing as adult contemporary prog, Lucid Dreamer should reach the top of that chart.
With their 2009 self-titled double-CD debut, IOEarth became one of the most talked-about new British progressive rock bands. IOEarth are not just another melodic rock band in symphonic clothing. This is an astounding debut: expansive, cinematic, eclectic, and technologically current (which progressive rock originally was but today more often is not). The music is heavily instrumental while featuring two female vocalists on several tracks and Steve Balsamo (ChimpanA) singing on three.
While the IOEarth debut was the work of Dave Cureton & Adam Gough plus several guests, they needed to assemble a band for live performances. Thus Moments (2012, 62-minutes, digipack) sees three of those guests promoted to full members and another musician added such that IOEarth is a sextet here, with guests on trumpet, spoken word, and percussion. Among the promotions is singer Claire Malin, who has a larger presence here. There are somewhat more vocals on Moments, and on the vocal tracks, the album can feel closer to the current progressive rock mainstream. But with the samples, the genre-bending, the expansive arrangements and detailed atmospheres, there is no mistaking IOEarth for another band. ďIOEarth have delivered a progressive masterwork, clearly demonstrating significant artistic growth from their debut. Clearly one of the most rapidly emerging progressive bands of this decade, these musicians are sure to broaden their following with Moments. Bravo!Ē Read the full Musical Discoveries review and the Prog Archives reviews.
Live in the USA (digipack) is the recording of IOEarthís performance at RoSfest 2012. It contains 11 tracks drawn from both previous studio albums. Read reviews of all the IOEarth CDs.
IOEarth returned in 2015 with another ambitious double-CD studio album: New World (digipack). The supporting cast to Cureton & Gough has been shuffled a bit, with a new singer and drummer and the addition of violin to the arsenal. We think the first album, when IOEarth was purely a studio project, may remain their most unique. Each subsequent album pushes IOEarth closer to the prog mainstream, slightly heavier, more bombastic, and a reflection of their experience as a live act, all the while increasing their popularity. Yet their distinctiveness persists as they manage great variety and stitch it all together into music that no one else is making. ďA band which has always impressed and excelled in the live arena, but which for me hasnít quite captured that spark on record. This new double album, their third, puts all of that to right, and manages to match its ambition with delivery. There is so much variety on this disc, itís impossible to categorise, but the ethereal cinematic, new age, and mid-eastern influences give it a truly distinctive sound, as do the heavenly vocals of Linda Odinsen and the judicious use of sax, flute, and violin. New World is an album that all fans of progressive music should listen to.Ē [Something for the Weekend] Watch the official video for the title track. Note IOEarth are booked to play the 2015 Cruise to the Edge with Yes and others.
City Boy were an English progressive pop or art-rock band along the lines of 10cc, Stackridge, Be Bop Deluxe, Quantum Jump, early Queen, Supertramp, and ELO. They released seven LPs between 1975-1981. Like Supertramp, City Boy had two lead vocalists, one high-pitched and the other low-pitched. They added a third lead vocalist (also their new drummer) on their fourth album. Prior to their first LP, they had been a folk band, and this carries over slightly onto their self-titled 1975 debut, where there are some more acoustic-flavored tracks, especially the gorgeous Haymaking Time. This first album was City Boyís best: it shows the strongest identification with progressive rock, and has a couple longer tracks that are outstanding, 5000 Years / Donít Know Canít Tell for one. Dinner at the Ritz (1976) displays a bit of the English music hall influence, as Queen did early on, and also includes excellent hard rocking songs (Queen were pretty good at that too). Peter Hammill and David Jackson of Van der Graaf Generator guest on the title track!
Beginning with Young Men Gone West (1977), the albums became less arty, more a set of quirky and sophisticated rock/pop songs. Like every band operating during the late 1970s, pressure increased every year to produce hit singles and more commercial rock. In City Boyís case, they were probably also pressured to make music insipid enough to break them in the USA. Book Early (1978) yielded the bandís first hit single, and while weíre sure there are a lot of pop fans who consider this album City Boyís best, none of those people ever shop at this site. Well-known producer Robert John ďMuttĒ Lange produced the first five City Boy albums and was an adjunct member of the band.
The City Boy fan site has a good overview of their albums, actually taken from the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock.
The single CD of Young Men Gone West is the U.S. edition on Renaissance Records. The 2-in-1 double-CDs are the 2015 UK editions, which have been remastered from the original tapes and include new booklets with new sleeve notes. As a bonus, the City Boy / Dinner at the Ritz 2CD adds a 1975 BBC In Concert recording featuring live versions of five great tracks from the first album. The bonus tracks on the Young Men Gone West / Book Early 2CD are two non-LP tracks: Medicine and Turn On to Jesus.
Please Come Home (2015) is the debut CD for Lonely Robot, the project of songwriter/guitarist/vocalist/producer John Mitchell (Kino, It Bites, Frost, Arena). Mitchell is backed by Nick Beggs (Lifesigns, Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Iona,... ) on bass and Craig Blundell (Pendragon, Frost) on drums. Steve Hogarth (Marillion) performs on two songs on piano and backing vocals. Touchstoneís Kim Seviour sings on one track. Heather Findlay (ex- Mostly Autumn) sings a duet on one track, in more of a Kate Bush style than her usual delivery, while Peter Cox (Go West, Manfred Mannís Earth Band) sings on another track. Nik Kershaw contributes a guitar solo to one track, and keyboardist Jem Godfrey (Frost) plays on two tracks. English actor Lee Ingleby (Master & Commander, Harry Potter) provides some narration to link tracks together. This comes closest to Kino and Frost and will certainly be one of the top modern prog albums of the year. Watch the album teaser and the videos for Are We Copies? and God vs. Man. This is the U.S. edition, which comes in a jewel case and includes the same three bonus tracks as the European special edition. The three bonus tracks are alternate mixes of album tracks.
No points for guessing that Belgian band Neo-Prophet are a neo-prog band, but they are an uncommonly good one. They debuted in 2009 with Monsters, and there were Marillion-isms to be sure (the words misplaced childhood even appear in the lyrics), but Neo-Prophet are not simply Marillion/Arena imitators. They add touches of hard rock, while loads of symphonic keyboards maintain the guitars/keys balance.
The major change on T.I.M.E. (2015, digipack) is that the hyphen in the band name is gone. That and the fact that only bandleader/singer/bassist Hans Six remains from the previous lineup. The new guitarist and new keyboardist are both on loan from Quantum Fantay! Otherwise not too much has changed. The music is at times heavier and more bombastic, the album alternating between heavier, slightly metallic prog and more pure melodic/symphonic prog. Which is how it is for most neo-prog circa 2015, and neo-prog fans will likely be thrilled with T.I.M.E. Frank van Bogaert (Fish on Friday) mixed and mastered. Watch the sneak preview video.
The Black Codex is the most ambitious project yet for Dutchman Christiaan Bruin, who has a number of excellent prog CDs under the Chris name (that you ought to hear) and is also a member of the bands Sky Architect, Nine Stones Close, and a couple others. The Black Codex is based on an original story of Bruinís. The series was first released as downloads by subscription, 52 ďepisodesĒ over a period of 52 weeks throughout 2014. The series is now available on four double-CDs, packaged in mini-LP style sleeves. You can hear excerpts from each episode at The Black Codex website. The music is a very cinematic, epic, orchestral progressive rock, using vocals on some episodes, not only a unique concept but rather unique musically too, and very impressive. That this music is different from Bruinís other projects (and that his other albums are all different from each other) and yet still very much progressive rock speaks to the manís creativity and range. Watch the series trailer and listen to A Dot on the Horizon and Silhouette in the Window on YouTube.
Remembrance (2015, digipack) is the third album for Maiden uniteD, an all-star project whose charter is to rearrange and perform Iron Maiden songs using mainly acoustic instrumentation. (Are they counting Hammond organ as an acoustic instrument? Because thereís a lot of Hammond.) Forget about that, this is symphonic prog. This is not some sort of unplugged, small, mellow music. There are bass and drums, and this is often big, dramatic, bombastic, and symphonic. You absolutely do not need to be an Iron Maiden fan to appreciate this. The 13 musicians include founder Joey Bruers, Damian Wilson as primary vocalist, Ruud Jolie and Mike Coolen (Within Temptation), Marcela Bovio (Stream of Passion), Paul DiíAnno and Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden), and other established musicians. Watch the album trailer and all will become clear, also listen to Still Life í15, which features violin from Marcela Bovio, and Aces High.
Obsidian Desert (2015, digipack) is the debut by Dutch prog/prog-metal quintet Armed Cloud. On the metal side, their major influences are Queensryche and Fates Warning, and as theyíre Dutch, itís hard not to think of Ayreon. The mp3 icon above leads to the bandís website and all the info. ďWith Obsidian Desert, Armed Cloud has released the perfect album that will help them climb the ladder of progressive rock music. As a statement, they show what they are capable of and are ready to participate on the highest level of the Dutch progressive rock scene.Ē Read the full Background Magazine review.
Landmarq are a British neo-prog band who came to prominence during the 1990s. Entertaining Angels (2012, digipack) is Landmarqís comeback album, with Tracy Hitchings still the singer. UK critics call this the strongest album of Landmarqís career. Cellist Hugh McDowell (ELO) guests. This is the special edition, which to the 72-minute first disc adds a second disc with over 28 additional minutes of music, allowing the band to sidestep the painful decision of which songs to cut. Some songs are new studio recordings of songs that first appeared on Landmarqís Turbulence DVD. Read the DPRP review.
The double-CD Origins is an anthology covering 1992-2014. The upper year in that range is because this set contains one new song. Since the four studio and two live Landmarq CDs on the Cyclops label have been out-of-print for years, Origins is not superfluous as most anthologies are. Disc One (73-minutes) is titled The Tracy Years, while Disc Two (74-minutes) is titled The Damian Years. Damian Wilson was Landmarqís singer on their first three studio albums (1991-1995), after which Tracy Hitchings took over. Landmarqís 1990s CDs are recommended to fans of Pendragon and Clive Nolanís various projects of that era.
Roadskill (2015) is a live CD and DVD (NTSC, all-region) recorded during Landmarqís 2013 tour at De Boerderij in the Netherlands. The DVD features two additional songs that couldnít fit on the 78-minute CD, plus interviews with the band.
Box of Shamans is a new Los Angeles prog band closely related to Heliopolis. Box of Shamans are led by multi-instrumentist Michael Matier (Heliopolis, Ten Jinn), with singer Scott Jones (Heliopolis); the two have been writing together for many years. Drummer Jerry Beller (Heliopolis, Mars Hollow) joins them for their debut Belief and Illusion (2015, digipack). As you might expect from members of Heliopolis and Mars Hollow, the music comes closest to Yes, but with a distinct style. It balances complexity and accessibility, angularity and melody. It is an extrapolation of 1970s progressive rock that does not follow the paths of neo-prog, metal-prog, or other problematic paths prog has since gone down. Or as we wrote about the Blue Shift album that preceded this by a couple months, it sure is good to hear the real thing now and again. Weíd file this alongside Perfect Beings, if only to demonstrate how Los Angeles currently leads the Yes division of progressive rock. Read the Progradar review.
The UK band Drifting Sun began in the early 1990s when bandleader Pat Sanders left his native France for England. They released an eponymous first CD in 1996, followed by On the Rebound in 1998, then nothing until 2015 and their third album Trip the Life Fantastic, featuring a new lineup. This album will get the blood of neo-prog fans pumping. It is the more bombastic modern take on early Marillion (in a broad rather than copyist sense), with of course several other prog influences, featuring excellent dramatic vocals and a good guitars/keys balance. Read reviews at Prog Archives, The Progressive Aspect, DPRP, and Get Your Rock Out. Note Trip the Life Fantastic apparently first appeared as a CD-R, but this new pressing is a CD.
OVNI is El Salvadorís top (well, only) progressive rock band. Their name is the Spanish acronym equivalent to UFO. Humans But Not Terrestrials (2004), also known as Humanos Pero No Terrestres, featured a new lineup for OVNI and was a huge step forward for the band. This 79-minute sci-fi concept album is sung mostly in English, with a few songs in Spanish. OVNI come closest to Yes on this album, though thatís only an approximation. The songs sung in Spanish tend to have a slightly different feel, sometimes suggesting Italian progressive rock, and some of it could probably be called neo-prog. One might spot ELP, Jethro Tull, or Pink Floyd here and there, but OVNI have their own melodic prog style. There are some epic statements here, the longest track a 23-minute suite. The usual keys/guitar/bass/drums instrumentation is augmented by mandolin, flute, and various South American stringed things. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The True Purposes of God / Los Verdaderos Propůsitos de Dios (2006) is a 74-minute concept album which is also sung in both English and Spanish, with the majority in English. The description of Humans But Not Terrestrials also applies here, though this album seems to emphasize the pop side of OVNIís songwriting a bit more, an aspect of the band that has been present from the beginning. OVNIís melodies tend to sound more British than those of other Latin American prog bands, from a Beatles influence on some tracks to a 1980s neo-prog influence on others. Another very good album. Watch the videos for Friendship?, Against Nada, and ElectroElle y RockyKate.
SalvadoreŮo / Alien is OVNIís ambitious 2011 studio double-CD. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the videos for the title track, The Monseigneur, Himno Nacional de El Salvador, Traffic in San Sivar, and Un NiŮo Tenaz.
Simple (2015) sees OVNI putting more emphasis on songs, which is something theyíve gotten very good at. The progressive elements, the excellent work on both guitar and keyboards, is obvious during the instrumental breaks and merely shifted out of the foreground during the verses and choruses. The songs are retro in the sense that they are upbeat, with none of the modern darkness, melancholy, and moaning about life. There is one instrumental, three songs sung in Spanish, and five in English. The Spanish-language songs bring to mind South American bands such as Os Mutantes and 14 Bis (even if those bands sing in Portuguese), or even some of the Italian pop-prog bands.
La Experiencia (2001) is a 72-minute live CD that includes concerts from 1987, 1989, and 2000. This is the first lineup of OVNI playing melodic symphonic prog with a standard guitar, keys, bass & drums lineup, plus vocals in Spanish. Itís prog all right, though thereís also a bit of an AOR feel, like a Spanish-language Asia. There are songs, the vocals are prominent, but there are also long tracks with plenty of instrumental work.
Samsara (1998, 60-minutes) is the debut for Numen, a five-piece Spanish band that present an effective amalgam of the Camel and Marillion styles, the latter felt particularly in the ringing, bell-like clean guitar tone that is one of Steve Rotheryís trademarks. Singer Cťsar Alcaraz delivers the English lyrics in a clear voice with only a slight accent. The occasional appearance of flute is most welcome. The tracks are generally long with a good balance of instrumental sections and vocals, and though this will be called neo-prog by most, it avoids those tendencies that can give neo a bad name. The only ethnic Spanish element is the use of some Spanish guitar, otherwise they sound British. Read this Prog Archives review. This is the remastered 2015 digipack edition on the MALS label.
Numenclature (2014, digipack, 62-minutes) is their second, and despite the passage of 16 years, the lineup remains the same. Watch the official video for The Camelís Back and listen to Out of the Earth on YouTube.
Toccata (2015, digipack) is a limited edition 2CD anthology covering the highlights of Skyís recording career, taken from the newly-remastered Esoteric editions below. The track selection was approved by the band and includes one single B-side previously unreleased on CD. For Sky fans who have the other CDs, the highlight of this set may be the DVD (NTSC, all-region), which contains Skyís entire 1979 performance in Bremen for the German TV show Musikladen, including five tracks omitted from the original TV broadcast and previously unreleased on DVD. The illustrated booklet contains an essay and interviews with Tristan Fry and Herbie Flowers. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Sky were an instrumental classical-rock band whose members included John Williams, often considered the best classical guitarist in the world at that time, keyboardist Francis Monkman (Curved Air), Australian guitarist Kevin Peek, bassist Herbie Flowers, and drummer/percussionist Tristan Fry. Sky 1 (1979) reached #2 in the UK charts, rather unbelievable for a classical-rock album during the punk and new wave era. But then Sky 2 (1980) trumped that and reached #1. Sky 2 was originally a double-LP and is their best, with Sky 1 second. Read reviews of Sky 1 and Sky 2 at Prog Archives, where youíll also find some mp3s.
These 2014 editions of Sky 1 and Sky 2 on Esoteric have been newly remastered, with original album artwork fully restored and a new essay. And they each add a DVD (NTSC, all-region). The Sky 1 CD includes the bonus tracks Dies Irae, the single version of March to the Scaffold (previously unreleased on CD), and a previously unreleased live version of Where Opposites Meet recorded by BBC Radio One at a charity concert at Wembley Arena in November 1979. The Sky 1 DVD features all of Skyís surviving 1979 BBC TV appearances, seven tracks from five different shows, all previously unreleased on video or DVD. The Sky 2 DVD features all of Skyís surviving 1980 BBC TV appearances, all previously unreleased on video or DVD. These include 12 tracks from Skyís concert at Hammersmith Odeon in 1980 plus Skyís performance of Toccata on Top of the Pops in April 1980. Note some earlier CD editions of Sky 2 omitted two tracks, but this Esoteric edition omits nothing.
Francis Monkman then departed, replaced by Steve Gray. Monkman was the best composer the band had though, and no subsequent album reached the quality of the first two. Still, the band had a lot of momentum, and Sky 3 (1981) reached #8 on the UK charts, while Sky 4: Forthcoming (1982) reached #7. That would be the last studio album to chart in the UK, though the double-LP Sky Five Live (1983) would reach #24. Successful tours of the UK, Europe, Australia, and Japan followed the release of Sky 3 and Sky 4.
As with Esotericís reissues of Sky 1 and Sky 2, these 2015 editions of Sky 3 and Sky 4 on Esoteric feature the original albums newly remastered on the CD, and each includes a DVD (NTSC, all-region). Sky 3ís DVD features Skyís memorable concert at Westminster Abbey in London from February 1981, which was recorded and broadcast by BBC Television and later released on VHS and Laserdisc. This is its first time on DVD. Sky 4ís DVD features Skyís live set for the BBC TV program Night Music, broadcast in July 1982. This is its first ever release in any format.
In 1982, this lineup embarked on an extensive tour of Australia. A mobile recording unit captured concerts in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, which were mixed at Abbey Road studios and released as Sky Five Live in January 1983. Unavailable for nearly twenty years, this Esoteric reissue has been newly remastered and adds the 20-minute piece The Animals, originally featured on the vinyl double-LP but omitted from the 1996 CD release. The Animals does not appear on any studio album, and there are more tracks that are exclusive to this album, so though it is recorded live, it really does qualify as the fifth Sky album. The original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay.
Skyís sixth album Cadmium was released in 1983. Unavailable on CD for over two decades, this Esoteric reissue has been newly remastered, adds three bonus tracks to the CD, and also features a DVD (NTSC, all-region) of the previously-unreleased BBC TV recording of Sky at Drury Lane in December 1983, along with a performance of the piece Troika on the Val Doonican Show that same month. The original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay. ďThe last album to feature John Williams, its pre-Christmas release was not only an attempt to capture the gift-buying market, but reflected the content of perhaps the most accomplished work the band had done since Francis Monkmanís departure. Opening with an interpretation of a Christmas classical music stalwart (including sleighbells!), with track titles like Mother Russia and A Girl in Winter, how can one not associate this with cold, wet nights (preferably snow instead of rain)? Most of Skyís classical reworkings leave me cold, but Troika is one of the exceptions. Herbie offers his almost-contractual Ďsillyí piece in the shape of Telex from Peru, and the albumís quiet piece comes courtesy of a rare Fry composition, Then and Now. Eminently listenable, full of good tunes, and more occasions than most for the individuals to display prowess with their chosen instruments, not to mention a replacement for Hotta as the encore piece when playing live, the aptly-named Son of Hotta.Ē [Richard Sliwa, creator of the unofficial Sky site]
John Williams departed Sky in December 1983 and the band continued as a quartet, with Kevin Peek assuming a greater role. In 1985 they recorded the album The Great Balloon Race at studios in Australia and London, with several guest musicians adding some instruments not previously used by Sky (flute, pan pipes, sax, spoken word). This album gets overlooked because of where it falls on the Sky timeline, and because it had been out-of-print for a long time. In 1987 Sky recorded their final album Mozart (called The Mozart Album on its U.S. release, which also had a different cover). It saw Sky arrange Mozart compositions, and it features (heavily) the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (an English chamber orchestra) conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. Both The Great Balloon Race and Mozart had been unavailable for over 20 years until these Esoteric reissues, which are newly remastered from the original master tapes, fully restore the original album artwork, and feature a new essay. (No DVD with these two, just a CD.)
This is the U.S. jewel case edition of The Tangentís eighth album A Spark in the Aether (2015), which contains the same bonus track as the European edition. This CD is subtitled The Music That Died Alone - Volume Two, a reference to The Tangentís debut album. Joining bandleader Andy Tillison this time are Theo Travis, Jonas Reingold, and Luke Machin, all of whom have played on previous The Tangent albums, plus new drummer Morgan Ňgren (Mats/Morgan band, Kaipa, Frank Zappa). Tillison says: ďThis is an album that seeks to return to the core of what The Tangent means to meÖ After our big orchestral opus that we delivered in Le Sacre du Travail, weíre to an extent reining in the instrumentation to the 5-piece electric prog rock band and focusing a little more on that all-important second word of the genre name: rock. At least (grins with less than average teeth) for the first half!Ē This time around, The Tangent incorporate American influences, ensuring A Spark in the Aether has something new to offer. ďThis will probably be my album of the year for 2015... It is not every day that you hear an album for the first time and realise you are listening to an absolute masterpiece of writing, playing, and production. In this case it happened, and on subsequent listens gets even better.Ē Read the full Background Magazine review, also the Progradar review. Watch the videos for the title track and San Francisco. See our British page for more The Tangent CDs, a DVD, and much more info.
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