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NEW AND FEATURED:
Schooltree are a Boston-based prog band led by singer/keyboardist Lainey Schooltree. After debuting in 2011 with a solo album My Metal Mother (now out-of-print), the band albums Rise (2013, digipack) and Heterotopia (2CD, 2017, digipack) followed. On the most recent album, Lainey is joined by five other musicians on guitars, organ & synths, bass, and drums. Four years in the making, Heterotopia is a symphonic odyssey through a dystopian dreamworld. “Imagine if Kate Bush released, in 2017, a 100-minute double LP concept album. Imagine it was so damn good that it ranked right up there in rock history with The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Quadrophenia... Well, that is exactly the magnitude of what is going on here with this release... This album is one of the most wholly unexpected works of genius that I have ever encountered... This dazzling album is truly a towering work of art.” Read the full Progarchy review. “Heterotropia is sumptuously nuanced, primarily mid-tempo, with multilayered keys/guitars/effects and atmospheric touches evoking the story’s spiritual netherworld... We get hints of Genesis/Bowie-like melodrama and punchy bursts of rock lending impetus to the lengthy narrative’s development.” [Progression] Watch some of the world premiere live performance. More info on the Schooltree site.
Second Home is Mystery’s first live DVD (NTSC, all-region), filmed and recorded live in April 2016 headlining the ProgDreams V festival in the Netherlands. Extras include backstage video. The companion double-CD has three additional tracks recorded at the Boerderij in 2015. Watch A Song for You. See our Canadian page for the rest of the Mystery catalog.
Originally a series of webisodes released circa 2009, Gemini Rising is a Spinal Tap style mockumentary series that “recounts the trials and tribulations of a hard-working, semi-successful 1974 progressive rock band from Levittown, Pennsylvania”. There are original songs, and the actors are also musicians who have performed these songs live. This double-DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains all eight episodes with optional audio commentary, music videos, live performances, behind-the-scenes footage and more. Watch the series trailer. Read the Stuck Beween Stations and Tubefilter reviews.
World Trade is Billy Sherwood’s second band, which grew out of his first band Lodgic. World Trade released their eponymous debut in 1989 and a second CD on the Magna Carta label in 1995. This led to Sherwood’s first stint in Yes (1997-2000), and the rest is history. World Trade have returned in 2017 with their original lineup and a new album Unify, the music continuing in a 90125/Big Generator-era Yes vein. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery (2017, digipack) is The Tangent’s ninth studio album, the lineup now Andy Tillison (keyboards, vocals, drums), Luke Machin (guitar, vocals), Jonas Reingold (bass), Theo Travis (sax, flute), and new member Marie-Eve de Gaultier (keyboards, vocals). “This is the best The Tangent release since 2003’s debut The Music That Died Alone. The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery is complex, adventurous and clever, and it succeeds in blending traditional prog and jazz-fusion expectations with the best type of forward-thinking musical chicanery... It is simply masterful, as one would expect from musicians of this calibre. The Tangent are indeed back.” Read the full The Prog Report review. See our British page for more The Tangent CDs and more info.
Tim Burness (who is a completely different person than Tim Bowness) has been at this since the mid-1980s with his band Burnessence, who released two LPs and played gigs with IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Solstice, and Steven Wilson’s first band Karma! He continued to record under his own name during the 1990s. Finding New Ways to Love (2004) is a blend of his progressive-pop vocal tracks and progressive rock instrumentals. Tim is joined by several musicians on this album, notably Fudge Smith (Pendragon, Steve Hackett) on drums. The vocal tracks are inspired by Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Tears for Fears, while you can spot the influence of early Steve Hillage in the instrumentals, also a little Steve Hackett and Robert Fripp. The hammered dulcimer on two of the instrumentals is a great addition; only Nigel Mazlyn Jones has done something similar.
Vision On (2008) continues the mix of progressive-pop vocal tracks and prog rock instrumentals, with more of a band vibe as Tim leads the same group of musicians from the previous CD. Some tracks feature a combination of Steve Hillage-style spaciness and neo-prog that is unique, and in fact this CD includes a track dedicated to Hillage and Gong. Tim feels this album represents a return to his prog rock roots.
Whose Dream Are You Living? is a 2017 CD though the bulk of the music was released in 2015 as a download. The music was remixed and extended for this CD. The album features the same Tim Burness Band nucleus of Fudge Smith (drums), Keith Hastings (bass), and Monty Oxymoron (keyboards), with Burness on vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, e-bow, guitar synthesizer, keyboards and programming. Among the five guests is Lee Abraham. This is Burness’ best album to date, a very solid melodic prog album that is going to make more than a few prog fans wonder how they could have missed this artist before now. “Whose Dream Are You Living? is certainly a strong candidate to crack my best albums of 2017 list. Fans of the better CDs by Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Steve Hackett and others should really check this album out.” [Proggnosis]. “[Tim Burness] has a very English approach to progressive and neo-progressive rock and hits many, many musical bases. He is a bit like a musical magpie, picking up the shiny things and hoarding them, and while they are all valuable, they certainly don’t all sound the same. The first number These Are the Days could have come from Fudge’s previous band Pendragon in the very early nineties, while And Set Your Spirit Free has so much energy that one can imagine it being played in the clubs in Ibiza. Some songs are full on and over the top, while others are incredibly delicate and restrained. This is what makes this such an incredibly solid album; there is huge variety and depth in what he does.” [Kev Rowland / Prog Archives] Watch the video for Grass Is Greener.
Back in stock. Beardfish leader and multi-instrumentalist Rikard Sjöblom established that band as one of the most important contemporary prog bands before Beardfish came to an end in 2016. Sjöblom has also been active in other music projects, including joining English band Big Big Train. One side project is Gungfly, which began as his solo project but evolved into more of a band and is now the main vehicle for his creativity. On Her Journey to the Sun (2017, digipack) is a stellar 1970s-style prog album, one of our favorites of the year. At various times it evokes Canterbury, Gentle Giant, Genesis, or Kaipa, not to mention Beardfish. The first disc alone runs 74-minutes; this 2CD edition includes a bonus disc titled Best of Gungfly 2008-2011, covering the two earlier Gungfly albums. “Sjöblom’s Gungfly music is nothing short of remarkable, and anyone with a passing interest in him should take time to explore this album. Set loose from the confines of a particular style, the music here is lively and unpredictable. Fiercely progressive and wildly melodic, you barely have time to catch your breath before something new is thrown at you. Underpinning it all is that wonderful sense of classic songwriting though, and it is that which makes this release a contender for one of the albums of the year.” Read the full Echoes and Dust review, also the Progressive Music Planet review.
Back in stock. Lonely Robot is the project of songwriter/guitarist/vocalist/producer John Mitchell (Kino, It Bites, Frost, Arena). The follow-up to the 2015 debut Please Come Home is The Big Dream (2017, digipack) which again features drums by Craig Blundell (Pendragon, Frost, Steven Wilson), with all other instrumentation by Mitchell himself. This CD includes three bonus tracks. Read The Prog Mind and Progradar reviews.
Excavations of the Mind (2010) is the debut for Sky Architect, a quintet of relatively young Dutch musicians including three from a Rotterdam conservatory. They come right out and state that they are interested in reviving the symphonic progressive style of the 1970s. Sky Architect are a bit hard-edged, dark, quirky, and technical. Beyond a vague sense of King Crimson or Gentle Giant, they don’t really call to mind specific bands. There are lots of vintage keys including Mellotron. It would have been nice to hear some suggestion of Focus, Kayak, Supersister, Trace, Finch, or any other Dutch 70s progressive rock instead of only British influences, but it’s not uncommon today to find young European prog musicians unaware of their own heritage. Nevertheless, this is a very promising debut by a band who’ve gone back far enough in their listening to find the real, undiluted prog. Mark Wilkinson created the CD artwork.
Probably just coincidence, but Sky Architect’s 2011 follow-up A Dying Man’s Hymn does at times sound like the great Dutch prog band Finch! And how many later bands have ever been compared to Finch? A Dying Man’s Hymn is quite an extraordinary album, more mature than their debut. It is more instrumental than vocal, not without some contemporary aspects but primarily classic prog with a dark, Van der Graaf Generator vibe. The band relocated to the woods of Sweden to record this album, woods known to be full of prog magic.
A Billion Years of Solitude (2013) is Sky Architect’s third, which they describe as “heavier, more daring and inventive”. They say the result is “a stunning outburst of creativity featuring surprising changes, crazy rhythmic devices, polyphonic arrangements, and complex song structures”. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Watch the official video for Tides.
Sky Architect’s fourth album Nomad (2017, digisleeve) sees the band integrating their classic prog influences into a contemporary heavy prog style, likewise balancing complexity and chops with memorable melodies and stunning song climaxes. Read reviews of all the Sky Architect CDs at Prog Archives.
Christiaan Bruin is the Dutch musician who has released five excellent albums under the name Chris and eight discs of material in The Black Codex series, and is a member of Sky Architect, Nine Stones Close, and a few other bands. Inventions is a project akin to The Black Codex, where every two weeks Chris releases a new song plus a YouTube video in which he share the ideas and inspiration which led to the creation of the song. Along the way, he explores interesting ideas in art, mathematics, philosophy, music history and whatnot, to see how they can be applied to the creation of music. Meta is the first physical release containing all 11 songs from Series 1 plus four additional mixes. The CD comes in a lightweight mini-LP style sleeve. Watch the video for A Place Where We Belong.
Protein for Everyone (2014, digipack) is the fifth album for this band from Bristol, England. They marry the Canterbury style (e.g., early Soft Machine, Caravan) with classic psych-pop vocal melodies à la The Beach Boys, Stackridge, 10cc, early Split Enz, or XTC, with all the quirkiness that implies and more. One might compare them to a more accessible Antique Seeking Nuns (instrumentally anyway), or to Supersister, or (for those with an advanced degree in prog) to Moving Gelatine Plates. To quote the liner notes: “Occasionally melancholic and blackly humorous lyrics are wrapped in a musical blanket of odd time signatures, fizzing with lively energetic progressive arrangements that have a pop sensibility, luring you in with three part harmonies and earworm melodies before wigging out on an inappropriate glockenspiel and fuzz bass solo in 10/8.” This is a brilliant album, and you’ll probably need to watch the album preview video to hear for yourself. “This is a fantastic album and shows a band at the peak of their musical and compositional powers, and there is no weak track on it.” Read the full Progarchy and The Active Listener reviews.
While Protein for Everyone was on the Esoteric Antenna label, Schnauser have so much in common with bands on the Bad Elephant label that it’s not a surprise to see Irritant (2017, digipack) released by Bad Elephant. “Possessing a similar attention span to that of Cardiacs, Schnauser refuse to stay in one place for any length of time, musically speaking. Irritant is fit to bursting with the kind of abrupt chord changes, wonky tempos and lyric impishness that have sustained them since their formation in 2005, singer-guitarist Alan Strawbridge leading the quintet through a thicket of songs at breathless pace.” Read the full Prog magazine review. “...this strange hotch-potch of styles is incredibly appealing, even though I’m not sure why... This is a very British album; there is just no way any other country could bring together a mess of influences like this and make it into something that is quite special.” Read the full Prog Archives review, also The Progressive Aspect and Astounded by Sound reviews. Listen to The Monday Club.
Fulano is a long-lived Chilean band, probably the most sophisticated prog/fusion band that country has produced. Fulano combine fusion, progressive, ethnic, and RIO elements. Sax, flute, and clarinet combine forces with vocals, keyboards, bass, and drums. This 2017 digipack CD is an excellent document of the current incarnation of the band, recorded live without overdubs at the 2010 edition of the Festiv Alter Nativo festival that takes place annually in Mexico. Listen to Suite Recoleta and Godzilla.
The Great Filter (2017, mini-LP sleeve) is the debut for French band The Orvalians, a new entry in the Zeuhl (Magma-style) universe. The Orvalians emerged from the band Rhùn.
Shreds of Evidence (2017, digipack) is a collection of Flamborough Head rarities. Most of the tracks originally appeared on various artists projects including Mellow Records’ The Moody Blues tribute, Musea’s The Flower Kings tribute, Cyclops sampler CDs, Progwereld’s Prog NL CD, and the Dante’s Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso projects. None of these tracks are simple alternate mixes or edits. One is a reworked and extended version, otherwise the tracks do not appear on other Flamborough Head CDs. There are also some obscure unreleased live tracks. See the full track list specifying the origin of each track.
The other titles are the 2016 digipack second editions released on the Polish Oskar label. The audio of Tales... and Bridge... was remastered in 2016.
Unspoken Whisper (1997) is the debut from this Dutch prog band singing in English. It is good neo-prog with a strong Genesis/Camel influence, felt predominantly during the instrumental sections of which there are many. Sweeping synths and piano from the two keyboardists give ample room for emotive guitar breaks in the Steve Hackett or Gary Chandler (Jadis) style.
Flamborough Head’s fourth album Tales of Imperfection (2005) continues with the same lineup as 2002’s One for the Crow, now with female vocals. This album is more instrumental though, with more flute and recorder and a very strong Camel influence. While guitarist Eddie Mulder doesn’t have quite the warm, smooth tone of Andy Latimer, his leads are otherwise Latimer-like, and the prominent flute will remind the listener either of Snow Goose-era Camel or, when paired with 12-string guitar, early Genesis. The vocal sections have a different feel of course, similar to early Quidam or Karnataka. Mellotron flavors some of the music, and there are four tracks around the ten-minute mark, so at least for those oriented toward 1970s prog, this is Flamborough Head’s strongest album to date.
Bridge to the Promised Land contains the first recordings of Flamborough Head. It was originally released in 1994 only on cassette and led to the band being signed by the British Cyclops label. After Cyclops released the Unspoken Whisper and Defining the Legacy CDs, they released a CD of Bridge to the Promised Land in 2001 in a limited edition of only 500 copies. The CD includes three previously-unreleased tracks plus three very different versions of tracks from Unspoken Whisper and Defining The Legacy.
See our Dutch page for the full catalog of Flamborough Head CDs currently in-print, along with more info.
Spanish band Kotebel play instrumental symphonic prog that is an adept synthesis of classical and rock by musicians with a first-hand knowledge of classical music. Initially more melodic and romantic, Kotebel’s music has become increasingly angular and challenging and now represents a blend of the two styles, as one can hear in the album promo video for Cosmology (2017, digipack). This new album is centered on the Cosmology Suite, an ambitious work based on the musical representation of four conceptions of the cosmos. Watch the video for A Bao a Qu.
Live at Prog-Résiste 2013 is a double-CD (2016, digipack) featuring a remastered version of the album released in 2014 only as a digital download, containing Kotebel’s complete concert at the 2013 Prog-Résiste convention in Belgium. The album features the complete Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble plus pieces from Ouroboros. As such, this is Kotebel’s modern style, which is challenging and complex, closer to the likes of Anglagard, as opposed to Kotebel’s earlier more melodic/romantic style. This 2CD adds bonus tracks from Kotebel’s concerts at Portugal’s Gouveia Art Rock festival in 2007 and Madrid in 2011. See our Spanish page for more Kotebel CDs and more info.
Monarch Trail is the new band assembled by Canadian Ken Baird after five albums under his own name, and the natural evolution of Baird’s music. After Baird had written some music that required more collaborative arrangements than usual, he asked drummer Chris Lamont and bassist Dino Verginella to be a part of Monarch Trail. Lamont played on Baird’s previous three albums and Verginella on the previous two. Three guitarists split the guitar duties on each album, one of whom is Steve Cochrane, who also mastered both. Those familiar with Baird’s albums will feel right at home, but the band dynamic has taken the music to a new level, and Skye (2014, digipack) is one of the finest neo-Genesis style albums in a long time. Not in the sense of aping Genesis but rather sharing an aesthetic, one that has otherwise been supplanted. Skye consists of just four tracks, the longest exceeding 20 minutes. Plenty of prog bands these days attempt long tracks, most of which are simply fatiguing, not the case here as the music evolves and builds effortlessly and logically. (We’ve all heard long tracks with alternating loud and soft bits that could be rearranged in any order and the track stopped at any point, and it would make no difference.) Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Sand (2017, digipack) picks up where Skye left off. Listen to Station Theme and Missing. Incidentally, Ken tells us that the first Monarch Trail CD outsold the five Ken Baird CDs combined, which is a good gauge of how biased prog fans are against albums released under an individual’s name as opposed to a band name. But there is a steady, gradual evolution from the first Ken Baird album through the Monarch Trail albums, so be sure to check out the Ken Baird albums as all are close to going out-of-print.
Italian band The Watch have had a successful career as a clone of Gabriel-era Genesis. Their seventh studio album Seven (2017, digipack) features a guest appearance by Steve Hackett. Listen to It’s Only a Dream and Disappearing Act. Read The Progressive Aspect review. See our Italian page for the rest of The Watch CDs.
Cosmograf is one of the ascendant stars of the British prog scene, a project led by multi-instrumentalist Robin Armstrong, who cites Steven Wilson, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour as some of his inspirations. Robin says the sixth Cosmograf album The Hay-Man Dreams (2017) harks back to the sound and feel of the classic prog era. “To complement the vintage theme, I wanted a warm retrospective sound. I’m making no apologies for this and I’m relinquishing any claims on being progressive with a small ‘p’. I’m largely fed up with the argument and I’m pretty tired of the notion that everything has to be new and original to be good. I like old stuff…The best music was made in 1970s. It’s a sound I’m familiar with and one I fell in love with when I was 15. Classic rock-inspired guitar, bass and drums, with some vintage keyboards. In fact you won’t find a single instrument on the album that wasn’t available in 1973, albeit a lot of the keyboard parts are very modern simulations of the real thing of course.” Guests include Rachael Hawnt (The Beautiful Secret), Kyle Fenton (These Septic Stars), Matt Stevens (The Fierce and the Dead), Rachel Hall (Big Big Train), and former BBC voiceover artist David Allan. Watch the album teaser, album sampler, and the video for Cut the Corn. See our British page for more Cosmograf CDs and more info.
The double-CD Holophinium (digipack) is the 2016 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 Rüsing 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 fair reference point as is the whole Unitopia family of bands for this very impressive album that seems like it came out of nowhere. Watch the album trailer.
Rather quickly the unknown-outside-Germany problem has been overcome, and Karibow are now commanding attention. From Here to the Impossible (2017, digipack, 72-minutes) features Jim Gilmour (Saga), Monique van der Kolk (Harvest), Sean Timms, Mark Trueack (UPF), Marek Arnold (countless prog bands), Daniel Lopresto (Southern Empire), and other guests. Watch the album trailer and the earlier sneak preview.
Discipline have rightly been hailed as the American Van der Graaf Generator and one of the top U.S. prog bands ever. Their new studio CD Captives of the Wine Dark Sea (2017, digipack) will be the U.S. prog album to beat in 2017. Watch the album teaser and the video for Life Imitates Art. See our U.S. page for more Discipline and related CDs.
English band Big Big Train began in the early 1990s as a soft neo-prog band, but steadily improving with each album, they have grown into one of the top progressive rock bands in the world, and one that is breaking new ground. The band that had already added drummer Nick D’Virgilio, former XTC and Peter Gabriel guitarist Dave Gregory, and best-singer-in-prog David Longdon, has now added Beardfish mastermind Rikard Sjöblom! Who doesn’t want to board Big Big Train now?
Big Big Train’s 10th album Grimspound (2017, digisleeve) follows swiftly after Folklore as the band found themselves with a wealth of new material and writing input from their newer members. They probably also realize that they’re at both a creative and popularity peak and are not taking the future for granted. Bassist Greg Spawton says: “There is some complex music on this album, with extended instrumental sections alongside vocal passages. We had a lot of fun making the album and have pushed ourselves as progressive rock bands should.” Judy Dyble adds vocals to “a song concerning the reported sightings of a ghostly apparition beside the cemetery gates in a quiet English village.” Nick and Rachel sing some lead parts on this album, further expanding the sonic palette. Watch the videos for As the Crow Flies and Experimental Gentlemen. Read the Progradar, The Progressive Aspect, and The Prog Report reviews.
And The Second Brightest Star (2017, digisleeve) follows just a couple months after Grimspound (which in May hit number one in the UK Official Rock Album Chart!), as The Second Brightest Star is considered a companion album. It features over 40 minutes of new songs and instrumentals plus 30 minutes of bonus music from the Folklore and Grimspound albums presented in extended formats. Listen to the title track. Read The Prog Report review.
A Stone’s Throw from the Line (2CD, 2016, digisleeve) is Big Big Train’s first live album. The album was recorded at the three sold-out Kings Place, London shows in August 2015 that garnered the band the Live Event of the Year award at the 2016 Progressive Music Awards. Those shows saw Big Big Train return to the stage after a 17-year absence. The best performance of each song from the three gigs made it to the CD while maintaining the actual running order of the shows. A 40-page booklet is included.
See our British page for the rest of the Big Big Train CDs. Note the majority have gone out-of-print, so if we have those in stock, they are our last copies. See our DVD/Blu-ray page for Big Big Train’s Stone & Steel Blu-ray, also now out-of-print.
Mogador are an Italian prog band from Como with one English expat, drummer/singer/lyricist Richard Allen. They were a quartet on their self-titled 2009 debut (out-of-print), continuing as a trio handling the same instruments on All I Am Is of My Own Making (2010). Mogador matured a great deal on AIAIOMOM. The production is greatly improved and the music is more original, eclectic, and multi-faceted. The departure of the guitarist who played on the debut is a positive development, as he preferred a heavier style. There is a strong Yes influence on AIAIOMOM, but overall the music feels closer to Glass Hammer (who are also very Yes influenced), with a good balance between electric and acoustic guitars, alongside mostly vintage keyboard sounds. The first two CDs are both primarily 1970s-styled though not entirely retro, more so AIAIOMOM with its greater sophistication and elegance. Read the Classic Rock Presents Prog review.
Absinthe Tales of Romantic Visions (2012) shows an evolution in style, sounding like it came straight out of the early 1970s, not Italy but Britain. This album features four international guest singers including Jon Davison (Yes, Glass Hammer) and two female singers. Absinthe... has a lot of hard-edged guitar, but still a 70s guitar tone. While one could mention Crimson, Gentle Giant, Tull, Van der Graaf, Yes, and Genesis, the music reminds us more of first generation American prog bands such as Netherworld, Mirthrandir, etc., who likewise absorbed the styles of those British bands and created albums of great quality. Listen to the album preview and the short song The Sick Rose.
The title of Mogador’s fourth CD Chaptersend (2017) refers to the closing of the first chapter of the band. They say that this new 74-minute disc has two distinct parts. The first part picks up where Absinthe Tales of Romantic Visions left off, with Jon Davison again singing on one song. The second part comprises completely reworked versions of the Fundamental Elements Suite from Mogador’s out-of-print 2009 first CD. Mogador have expanded to a quintet here, plus guests on violin and flute.
See our Italian page for the related band Sarastro Blake.
Bent Knee was formed in 2009 at Berklee College of Music in Boston. For their fourth album Land Animal (2017), the band have moved to the InsideOut label, which seems like an odd fit. For Bent Knee are an unusual prog/art-rock band that probably fall in the love-’em-or-hate-’em category. Newcomers are required to watch the videos for the title track and Terror Bird and read The Prog Report review. Brace yourself! This is the U.S. jewel case edition.
The Dutch band Plackband formed in the mid-1970s and were most influenced by Genesis. They took an 18-year holiday, reuniting in 2000. After 30 years, Plackband rebooted as PBII with three of the original members and the desire for a more modern sound. Plastic Soup (2010, digisleeve, 69-minutes) includes guests John Mitchell and John Jowitt, two guys who never met a neo-prog band they didn’t want to play with, and singer Heidi Jo Hines. It’s not a radical change from Plackband, as the old Genesis influence is still present most of the time. PBII’s desire for a more modern approach has more to do with the use of modern sounds, modern production, and the sound of the mix than a change in musical style. In addition to a standard CD, this Dutch edition of Plastic Soup includes a DVD (PAL, all-region) containing a 5.1 surround mix of the entire album, plus two videos. (There was a U.S. edition that lacked the DVD.) Read the Background Magazine and DPRP reviews.
The PBII@Boerderij.org DVD (2011, PAL, all-region) contains the launch concert for Plastic Soup. PBII perform the entire album plus additional songs that include covers of Here Comes the Flood and Have a Cigar. The concert features performances by John Mitchell, John Jowitt, and Heidi Jo Hines. It was shot by six HD cameras. The band says: “You will enjoy this concert in High Definition picture and sound”, and of course you won’t because this is a DVD, which is standard-definition picture and sound. (There is no Blu-ray.) Extras include behind the scenes material. 104 minutes, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio.
1000 Wishes is PBII’s most ambitious project to date. The CD (2013, digipack) features The Hague Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Steve Hackett guests. The story is about the fight of a young boy against cancer and more generally about cancer in children. This is certainly PBII’s best music so far, symphonic neo-prog that is often reminiscent of Yes due in part to the singer’s voice, while you may also flash back on Grobschnitt’s Rockpommels Land on occasion. Watch the promo video and the video for Evil Weed. Read the Background Magazine and DPRP reviews.
PBII have performed 1000 Wishes as part of a rock opera with the orchestra and a theater group (actors and dancers). The performances of 30-31 March 2013 were captured on the 1000 Wishes DVD (PAL, all-region, digipack). While the lyrics are in English, the play portion is in Dutch, so you have been warned, but it is a unique spectacle. Watch the DVD trailer.
Rocket (2017, digisleeve) is subtitled The Dreams of Wubbo Ockels. Ockels was the first Dutchman to go into space, and the Background Magazine and DPRP reviews will fill you in on the story behind this album. The band is assisted by three violinists and a cellist, while Nad Sylvan sings lead on one song. Singer Ruud Slakhorst sounds a lot like Jon Anderson, and this is an elegant Yes-influenced work that soars. Watch the teaser video and the video for Rocket Part II.
Glasgow’s 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 you’re a fan of UK neo-prog and didn’t 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 Errors’ 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 Errors’ best sounding CD to date and one that every self-respecting fan of neo-prog needs. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the Spirit sampler.
House of the Mind (2017, digipack) features five new tracks (two of epic length), plus a rearranged/rerecorded version of the classic Ever Be the Prize from Comedy of Error’s 1985 demo cassette! “Since reforming in 2011, this Scottish collective have released three albums, reflecting styles ranging from their original neo-prog roots to more contemporary symphonic rock. This fourth outing – ‘an exploration of the Jungian unconscious and non-linear time’ – reiterates these stylistic threads, evoking the likes of Camel, Twelfth Night, IQ, and The Flower Kings in the process, while moving the band into new territory.” [TeamRock] Listen to the album sampler.
See the related band Grand Tour.
Rob Reed is of course Magenta’s keyboardist and leader and one of those musicians who requires multiple outlets for his creativity (e.g., Kompendium, Kiama). Sanctuary (2014, digisleeve) is a rather amazing work, as it is in essence an alternate-universe version of Mike Oldfield’s 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 Music’s 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 Reed’s abilities on instruments other than keyboards hadn’t 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.
Rob Reed cements his status as the second coming of Mike Oldfield with Sanctuary II (2016, digisleeve), a double-CD + DVD (NTSC, all-region) set. The first CD contains Sanctuary II Parts 1 & 2. The second CD contains two more songs, two tracks from the Marimba EP, and some alternate versions/mixes. The DVD contains a 5.1 surround mix and 24/96 stereo of Sanctuary II Parts 1 & 2 as well as promo videos. Simon Phillips (who played on several Oldfield albums) plays drums, Angharad Brinn handles lead vocals, Les Penning plays recorders, and Tom Newman adds bodhran in addition to being credited as executive producer. The women of Synergy Vocals do the nonsense-syllable vocal style that Oldfield invented (and which Karl Jenkins later ran with in Adiemus). As Reed is carrying on Oldfield’s legacy, this album also moves forward in time from the Tubular Bells style of the first Sanctuary album to the next Oldfield phase, using a drummer and increasing the majesty of the soaring guitar lines. Uplifting, to say the least. Watch album promo 1, promo 2, and promo 3.
Sanctuary Live (2017) was recorded in October 2016 at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios by a 13-piece band, including fellow Magenta members Christina Booth, Chris Fry, Jiffy Griffiths, and Dan Nelson, plus vocalist Angharad Morgan (Kompendium). Reed’s ensemble performed a selection of music from his highly successful Sanctuary 1 and Sanctuary 2 albums as well as Willow’s Song. Both the DVD and CD feature the entire show; the DVD adds a documentary. Watch the promo video.
Variations on Themes by David Bedford (2017) is a CD-EP of Reed’s reinterpretations of three Bedford compositions. David Bedford was a renowned classical composer and Mike Oldfield collaborator who passed away in 2011. He would have been 80 in August 2017, and this EP is part of a celebration of his work. Alongside Reed, the EP features Terry Oldfield, Les Penning (Ommadawn), Angharad Brinn, and Tubular Bells producer Tom Newman who also mixed the album. The EP contains Rio Grande from Bedford’s album The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, King Aeolus from The Odyssey, and the title track from Nurses Song With Elephants. These pieces are then repeated once or twice in alternate mixes. Watch the video for King Aeolus. Those unfamiliar with Bedford would do well to listen to Reed explain things, or head to Prog Archives.
These exceptional Venezuelan musicians first made their mark in the progressive rock world at the end of the 1970s, became pop stars in their own country during the next decade, then were rediscovered by prog fans during the 1990s with the reissue of their excellent first album Atabal-Yemal (1979), followed by a new prog album in 2000 and an appearance at the Baja Prog festival. The Témpano saga continues with Nowhere Now Here (digisleeve), first released on vinyl and download in 2016; this CD followed in 2017. The album was recorded in both Venezuela and the U.S. Watch the album promo video. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Check our South American page for more Témpano CDs.
Ánimam (2016) is the outstanding debut by a young Brazilian keyboardist/composer. Gustavo Santhiago also plays flute and recorder and is assisted by other musicians on electric & acoustic guitars, sitar, bass, and drums. This is vintage-style keyboard-centric instrumental prog. Since you can find videos on YouTube of Gustavo (at an even younger age) playing pieces by Genesis and Renaissance, you can count those as two of his influences, and Camel and Rick Wakeman are probably two others. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Note the title above doesn’t actually appear anywhere on this double-CD -- they forgot that a CD needs a title -- but it’s what amazon is calling it, so we’ll be consistent. O Terço are one of the pioneering and best Brazilian symphonic prog bands, their best work being 1975’s Criaturas da Noite. O Terço seemed to be influenced by the more lyrical Italian prog bands, and in fact the two best O Terço albums were released on CD in Italy before they were released in Brazil. This is O Terço’s latest live recording, a 2015(?) concert featuring the original members playing the band’s most progressive material. The booklet and traycard are generally unhelpful, but we think this 2CD corresponds to the audio in this video.
After their first period of activity, roughly 1970-82, O Terço disbanded, then reformed as a trio circa 1990 with guitarist/singer Sérgio Hinds the only original member and released a forgettable self-titled album. Drummer Franklin Paollilo returned for Time Travellers (1992), the band back to a quartet and with their direction sorted out. Time Travellers is a return to progressive rock, a very good album even if the sound is updated from 1970s O Terço. The lyrics here are in English and the style closer to international standard prog.
Live at Palace with Orchestra (1994, 73-minutes) is fantastic. O Terço perform with a symphony orchestra, singing songs from their first incarnation in Portuguese and songs from Time Travellers in English. This is the Record Runner edition, which contains one more track than the Movieplay edition. See Prog Archives for reviews of Time Travellers and Live at Palace.
Gustavo Montesano was the leader of the Argentine prog band Crucis. Homenaje (1977) was his first post-Crucis album. This is still the 1996 CD reissue that contains two bonus Crucis tracks. The CD had been unavailable for some time but has recently been repressed. Gustavo considers this the third Crucis album since the other Crucis musicians play on most of it, along with other outstanding instrumentalists. ‘Montesano’ became the band name on El Pasillo (1982), and the band included his brother Marcelo. If you can’t guess from the years, Homenaje is the proggier of the two, an Argentine prog classic, but El Pasillo is still quite good. In between the two albums, Gustavo collaborated with Alejandro De Michele of Pastoral in Merlin.
We’ve restocked several of the South American classics, so you might kill some time on our South American page.
This (2017, digipack) is the debut by Valdez, a prog/pop band from the Philadelphia area, but behind the new name are some familiar musicians. Number one is British expat Simon Godfrey (vocals, guitar), who was the leader of Tinyfish. Tom Hyatt (Echolyn) is the bassist. Keyboardist Joe Cardillo and drummer Scott Miller round out the quartet, while Echolyn’s Brett Kull produced the album and supplied additional guitar and backing vocals. Valdez was formed a few decades earlier as an ELO covers band, and though the current band is quite different, one can still hear traces of that Beatles-filtered-through-Jeff-Lynne influence. Maybe because Todd Rundgren is from Philly, the music makes us think of a blend of Todd, Tinyfish, and Echolyn. “This is a great album. I am still not tired of this pun and I don’t see myself getting tired of this album either. I had high expectations going in and Valdez delivered the goods. I hope the band is not just a side project because they are way too good to be relegated to that! This is damn good and you need to check This out. Rating: 9.5/10” Read the full Progressive Music Planet review. “...as wonderful a piece of crossover poptastic progressive rock as one could ever wish to hear. To say that this is a joy to listen to is to understate it immensely, and Simon in particular is a revelation. I don’t think I’ve quite heard everything he has released, but I’ve certainly heard most of it, and based on that I can say that it is easily the best thing he has ever been involved with. It oozes class, has hooks aplenty, loads of space and room to breathe, and is just awesome.” Read Kev Rowland’s full Prog Archives review. Watch the video for Black Eyed Susans, which in another era would’ve been the album’s hit single.
AKP (Antony Kalugin Projects) is the umbrella name for Ukrainian prog bands Sunchild and Karfagen. Maybe also Hoggwash and AKKO, but on this 2017 digipack DVD+CD, it’s Kalugin’s live ensemble on their 10th anniversary tour performing Sunchild and Karfagen material. (Karfagen is mostly instrumental, while Sunchild usually features vocals.) The 106-minute dual-layer DVD (PAL, all-region) and 79-minute CD were recorded live in Poland in April 2016. The DVD also includes some 2016 studio live material, plus two full albums as 320 kbps mp3s: AKP Live 2016 and Gnomology: The Best Collection (2012). Watch some of the live performance videos. If after ten years you still haven’t realized how good these related bands are, see our East European page for info on Karfagen and Sunchild and their studio CDs.
The Optimist (2017) is Anathema’s eleventh studio album. For the first time in years, Anathema recorded as a live band for a studio album, capturing an energy normally only present on stage. The Blu-ray is the format for audiophiles, containing 24/96 DTS-HD 5.1 and 24/96 LPCM 5.1 surround and 24/96 stereo (all lossless), plus mp3 download. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) in the CD+DVD mediabook (hardcover) contains 24/96 DTS 5.1 (lossy) and 24/96 LPCM stereo (lossless). The 5.1 mix is by Bruce Soord (The Pineapple Thief), who now has a number of surround mixes under his belt, while the album was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. Watch the video for Springfield. Read the Prog Sphere, Pop Matters, and Drowned in Sound reviews. The mediabook counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. Check our Blu-ray/DVD page for Anathema’s concert film Blu-rays.
As the press release states, Quiet Storms (2017, digipack) is a new Galahad album with a difference. As the title suggests, it shows a more mellow and at times pastoral side to the band’s output, containing almost none of the bombast and heaviness of the previous three studio albums. Instead the majority of the songs and their arrangements evoke a more laid back, spacious, and introspective atmosphere. You could say that Quiet Storms is a kind of consolidation album including some new songs plus a few older, slightly reworked versions of tracks that have never been released on an album before. As well as featuring songs that were included as extras on recent reissues, Quiet Storms includes several new songs along with new reworkings of older songs, plus a few tracks from the 2014 EPs now appearing on an album for the first time. Unusually for Galahad, the album also contains a couple of covers, one being a stripped-down piano/violin/vocal version of Rammstein’s Mein Herz Brennt, and a reworking of the John Grant track Marz with additional lyrics by Stu which, ironically, make it a deeply personal track. In addition to the core of the band, Quiet Storms includes several guests including Christina Booth (Magenta) on vocals, Karl Groom (Threshold) on acoustic guitars and occasional keyboards, long-time Galahad cohort Sarah Bolter on flute, clarinet, soprano sax, and backing vocals, and Louise Curtis on violin. See our British page for the rest of the Galahad CDs.
The CD Karma (2017, digisleeve) is the seventh for Swedish prog band Brother Ape, containing eight songs culled from a series of three digital EPs that began in 2015. The intent was to eventually pick the favorite songs from those and release them as this album, with additional songs added. The first EP Worlds Waiting was released in autumn 2015, followed by Mandrill Anthem and Other Tales in spring 2016 and First Class in autumn 2016. All the songs from First Class made the cut, while the other two contributed only one each; two more songs make their first appearance. See our Scandinavian page for the rest of the Brother Ape CDs still in print plus info on the band.
Signed to IQ’s Giant Electric Pea label, Damanek is led by Guy Manning, whose previous band Manning is responsible for a large catalog of high quality prog. Following an impressive first show at the 2016 Summer’s End festival, On Track (2017) is Damanek’s debut album. The band is Guy (lead & backing vocals, keyboards, acoustic instruments, guitars, EBow, percussion), Dan Mash (bass), Marek Arnold (saxes, clarinet, keyboards, Seaboard), and Sean Timms (keyboards, banjo, backing vocals). Sean Timms (Southern Empire, Unitopia) put his Mister Class and Quality stamp on the production. Damanek could be seen as an alter ego of United Progressive Fraternity since Guy, Dan Mash, and Marek Arnold are all UPF members, and Sean Timms was in UPF’s parent band. (Marek Arnold now is in so many prog bands that we’ve stopped trying to list them.) The album also features a host of guest musicians including Brody Thomas Green (Southern Empire), Luke Machin (Maschine/Kiama/The Tangent), Tim Irrgang (UPF), Nick Magnus, Phideaux Xavier, and more. Listen to the track Long Time, Shadow Falls. Read this review on Progressive Ears.
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 Hackett’s singer. Nad’s first 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 D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard), Gary O’Toole and Rob Townsend (Steve Hackett), Doane Perry (Jethro Tull), Annbjørg Lien, and others. Rooted in classic prog, Nad considers Courting the Widow “very much a symphonic album... I feel that I have delivered an album that’s true to myself and my values in life. It’s heartfelt, passionate, emotional, and full of dramatic passages.” Read The Prog Mind review. Listen to the album teaser.
Nad’s follow-up The Bride Said No (2017) features guests Roine Stolt, Steve Hackett, Guthrie Govan, Tony Levin, Jonas Reingold, Nick D’Virgilio, Doane Perry, and more. Watch the video for When the Music Dies. Read the DPRP reviews.
The Samurai of Prog is a project put together by Marco Bernard, the editor of Colossus magazine and the guy who organized all those various artists conceptual albums published by Musea. Bernard is an Italian who before moving to Finland was a member of the Italian band Elektroshock at the end of the 1970s. The core of The Samurai of Prog is Bernard on bass, drummer Kimmo Pörsti (leader of Mist Season), and American Steve Unruh of Resistor (vocals, violin, flute, acoustic guitar). There are numerous guest musicians on Undercover (2011), including Roine Stolt and Jonas Reingold (The Flower Kings), David Myers (The Musical Box), Alfio Costa (Tilion, Prowlers, Daal), Guy LeBlanc (Nathan Mahl), and Michael Manring. Undercover includes covers of some prog rock chestnuts: The Lamia (Genesis), Starship Trooper (Yes), World of Adventures (The Flower Kings), Assassing (Marillion), Gravita 9.81 (Arti+Mestieri), Dogs (Pink Floyd), and Jerusalem (based on the ELP arrangement). There is one original song written by Kimmo Pörsti and another by David Myers. The album concludes with four Elektroshock compositions, performed here by Steve Unruh’s band Resistor, Alfio Costa & Guglielmo Mariotti (Italy), Roz Vitalis (Russia), and Contrarian (USA).
Secrets of Disguise (2013) is a double-CD that contains some original compositions alongside the covers. But these are not the same old tracks that always get covered nor are they all covers of English bands. There is some depth here, with tracks from England, Crack, Sandrose, and Utopia, not to mention Van der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, PFM, Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, and Rush. The guest musicians include Jon Davison (Yes), Roine Stolt, Guy LeBlanc, Robert Webb (England), David Myers, Mark Trueack (Unitopia), Phideaux Xavier, Kamran Alan Shikoh (Glass Hammer), Linus Kåse (Änglagård), Mento Hevia (Crack), Lalo Huber (Nexus), Andrew Marshall (Willowglass), and many others. Watch/listen to the album montage. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The big change with The Imperial Hotel (2014) is that it is all original material. It is probably our second favorite CD of 2014, after Dave Bainbridge’s Celestial Fire. The core of the band remains Bernard, Unruh, and Pörsti, with major contributions from Robert Webb, Linus Kåse, David Myers, and Octavio Stampalia (Jinetos Negros). Guests include Yoshihisa Shimizu (Kenso), Kamran Alan Shikoh, Andrew Marshall, Martin Henderson (England), and more. All that talent and all that experience covering classic prog has translated to a fantastic album of classic-style prog. This is the real thing, with a lot of Yes and Genesis influence, Genesis style whimsy and Gentle Giant style intricacy, coming closest overall to England (Garden Shed). Well, that last statement has a lot to do with the fact that the title track and centerpiece of the album is the lost jewel of the band England, a 28-minute 1975 composition that finally sees the light of day. And it was worth the nearly 40 year wait. Despite the different composers, the entire album sounds remarkably cohesive. The CD comes in a beautiful six-panel mini-LP style sleeve with 40-page booklet and artwork by Ed Unitsky. “The Samurai of Prog have outdone themselves with The Imperial Hotel and I can safely say this is one of the best prog releases of 2014. If you enjoy the likes of Genesis, Yes, Kansas, et all, I cannot recommend this album enough.” [Sea of Tranquility] Watch the album overview video.
Lost and Found (2016) is a double-CD in a gorgeous six-panel mini-LP style sleeve, full of Ed Unitsky’s incredible artwork, with a 32-page booklet. Working with original members of Pavlov’s Dog, Lift, Cathedral, Odyssey, and Quill, The Samurai of Prog have excavated lost prog epics from the 1970s by these bands. Because of dissolving record contracts, band line-up changes, and the shifting landscape of popular music, these amazing compositions were never properly recorded... until now! These songs had survived only as old cassettes containing demo recordings, band rehearsals, or live performances. The Samurai have recorded stunning, brand-new arrangements, and the result transcends a mere new prog album. This is living history, or revisionist history, rendered in audiophile quality. The Samurai of Prog remains the core trio of Marco Bernard, Kimmo Pörsti, and Steve Unruh, plus Tom Doncourt and the late Stefan Renström (Simon Says). Special guests include Jon Davison (Yes), Mark Trueack (UPF, Unitopia), K. Alan Shikoh (Glass Hammer), David Myers (The Musical Box, solo), Linus Kåse (Änglagård), Chip Gremillion (Lift), Keith Christian (Quill), Johan Öijen (Brighteye Brison), and Steve Scorfina (Pavlov’s Dog). The album includes a 57-minute track The Demise written by Ken DeLoria and the other Quill members. Watch the album overview video.
On We Sail (2017, mini-LP sleeve) contains all original songs. To name just some of the large number of guests: Brett Kull (Echolyn), Michelle Young, Jacob Holm-Lupo (White Willow), Sean Timms and Mark Trueack (Unitopia), and Luca Scherani (La Coscienza di Zeno, Höstsonaten). Listen to the long album sampler.
Abel Ganz was the other Scottish neo-prog band during the 1980s progressive revival, Pallas being the better known of the two. Abel Ganz’s singer Alan Reed became Pallas’s second singer. Abel Ganz’s 1980s albums were initially only available on cassette before being reissued on CD circa 1991 by a now-defunct French label. The sound quality on those wasn’t great. In 2016, band co-founder Hew Montgomery remixed Abel Ganz’s 1984 first album Gratuitous Flash, keeping the original audio in the mix while augmenting it with additional sounds and keyboards. Of course if you remix, you must then remaster. There is one bonus track, Alan Reed’s superb solo arrangement of Kean on the Job. This is melodic symphonic prog that ranks with Pallas, Twelfth Night, Haze, Galahad, and Castanarc. Digipack.
Long Earth is a new branch of the Glasgow prog family tree. The Source (2017, digipack) is their debut. Long Earth features two former members of Abel Ganz: Ken Weir on drums and Gordon Mackie on bass. The music is a mix of influences firmly rooted in classic prog, and was recorded, arranged, and produced by the band members and Hew Montgomery (Abel Ganz, Comedy of Errors, Grand Tour). Check our British page for the rest of the Abel Ganz CDs and Grand Tour’s CD. Note a new Comedy of Errors CD is scheduled for 16 June 2017.
Lullabies in a Car Crash (2014, jewel case) is the debut solo CD by Airbag lead guitarist and main songwriter Bjørn Riis. While Riis sings backing vocals in Airbag, he is lead singer here. The album features Airbag’s Henrik Fossum on drums and Asle Tostrup providing loops and effects. Long-time Airbag collaborator Vegard Sleipnes co-produced the album along with Bjørn. Bjørn says the album is very much a personal statement, with lyrics dealing with fear of abandonment, alienation and loss, while also an homage to many of his musical influences. In case there’s any doubt who his biggest musical influence is, Riis is the creator of the website Gilmourish.com, which gets a lot of traffic. This should be an easy decision for Airbag and Pink Floyd fans. Listen to the album preview.
Bjørn Riis’s second Forever Comes to an End (2017, jewel case) features guest appearances from Airbag’s Henrik Fossum on drums and Asle Tostrup on programming, Simen Valldal Johannessen from Oak on piano, and vocals from Norwegian-Grenadian singer Sichelle Mcmeo Aksum. Watch the album preview video and listen to the title track and Winter. “Light on lyrics, heavy on atmosphere, Forever Comes to an End delivers an emotional story through music. Don’t expect a display of technical wizardry, guitar acrobatics or catchy tunes. Instead find a cohesive, gorgeously crafted story with few words, little excess, and so much depth.” Read the full The Prog Mind review, also the Progradar review. See our Scandinavian page for the Airbag CDs.
Finnish fusion-prog band Progression was formed way back in 1976, then reformed in 2002 with only bandleader Harri Nokso remaining. Their first album The Dream of Cecilia was released in 2007. “This is just a mind-blowing example of classic jazz-fusion with a modern touch.” Read the full Sea of Tranquility review, also the Proggnosis review.
More lineup changes followed that first album, and Progression prepared for a second album in 2010. But the recording sessions ground to a halt in 2011 and the recordings languished until the newest band members decided to finish the project. Noxologic (2017, digisleeve) is the result. As some of the intended tracks were never recorded in the studio, live versions of four pieces have taken their place. The six-man lineup includes Harri Nokso on electric guitar, Otso Pakarinen (Paidarion, Ozone Player) on drums, Jan-Olof Strandberg (Strandberg Project, Paidarion, The Fusion Project) on bass, Kimmo Pörsti (Mist Season, Paidarion, The Samurai of Prog) on drums, Jaan Jaanson (Paidarion) on electric guitar, and Jussi-Matti Haavisto on viola. As you can hear in the album promo video, Progression play classic instrumental fusion (e.g. Mahavishnu Orchestra) with classic Scandinavian symphonic prog blended in.
Zé da Flauta is a Brazilian musician whose career began in the early 1970s, but Psicoativo (2016, digipack) is the first album under his name alone. Zé plays flute and leads a band of younger musicians on electric guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums, plus several guests. The music is instrumental prog that owes a large debt to Jethro Tull while also displaying subtle influences of Brazilian musicians such as Hermeto Pascoal. OK, they didn’t spend a lot on the cover art, but the music makes up for it.
Hypatia (digisleeve) is a 2015 CD, but we just got a few copies in via a back channel, and the album probably isn’t as well known as it should be. Telergy is the Ayreon-like project of American multi-instrumentalist/composer Robert McClung, with a few dozen other musicians on this third Telergy album that include David Ragsdale and Oliver Wakeman. “Hypatia has so many brilliant moments that deserve to be heard by any self-respecting fan of modern prog. Telergy have once again delivered a complex, bombastic, no-holds-barred progressive rock epic with Hypatia.” Read the full Progarchy review, also the Prog Sphere and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Pendragon celebrated the 20th anniversary of probably their most successful album, The Masquerade Overture, with a special show at Teatr Slaski in Poland on May 18, 2016. They play The Masquerade Overture in its entirety (including bonus tracks) followed by additional songs drawn mostly from Men Who Climb Mountains, 17 tracks total. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) includes an interview with Peter Gee and Jan-Vincent Velazco among the extras, and surround as well as stereo audio. The double-CD comes in a fat digipack. Read the Prog Archives review. More Pendragon DVDs.
Scrape Across the Sky (2017) is IQ’s first Blu-ray release. Recorded in December 2014 at The Boerderij in The Netherlands, the concert was part of the The Road of Bones tour and features all the tracks from the first The Road of Bones CD, along with a host of other live IQ favorites. Audio options include stereo and 5.1 surround. The special features include the encores from the Borederij gig (Ten Million Demons, Widow’s Peak), the video of Until the End from the 2014 Lorelei festival, all the projections from the complete gig (encores too) set to the live stereo soundtrack, The Art of The Road of Bones: Peter Nicholls in conversation with artist and designer Tony Lythgoe, plus a photo gallery. Watch the album promo video. * IMPORTANT! This Blu-ray is not guaranteed to play on all players outside the PAL zone (Europe, Australia, New Zealand), and returns are not accepted due to player incompatibility. Your player must be capable of playing and converting 1080i50 (50 Hz, 25 fps) video. If you own an Oppo, you should be set; owners of other brands and especially older players should check their manuals. We refer you to Big Big Train’s technical briefing. The disc is all-region, but that’s an entirely separate issue. See Page 2 for more IQ titles and our DVD/Blu-ray page for IQ’s standalone DVDs.
These are the 2015-17 digipack editions on Sireena Records of Eileen (1977), Dry (1979), and Sky Racer (1981), all mastered from the original tapes. Streetmark was a German prog band that released four albums on Sky Records, beginning with Nordland in 1976. Keyboardist Dorothea Raukes was a founding member and one of the first female figures of the German prog scene.
Eileen is the latest to be reissued. For this album, Wolfgang Riechmann joined the band on keyboards, guitar, and vocals. Riechmann would later release the electronic music album Wunderbar. He wasn’t around to see the release of that album as he died after being stabbed without reason by two drunks while on a walk in the Düsseldorf Altstadt in 1978. Sky Records later reissued Eileen under the artist name Wolfgang Riechmann and Streetmark and changed the name of the album to Dreams for maximum confusion. (Dreams is significantly higher rated than Eileen on Prog Archives with the same small number of raters, so the one bonus track on Dreams must be one heluva track.) Riechmann replaced the singer on Nordland that nobody likes, and he wrote or co-wrote all the songs on Eileen. So Riechmann had a big impact on the sound of this album, which shows influences of Eloy and Genesis mixed with cosmic Teutonic electronics.
Streetmark 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. Streetmark are at their best in the vocals department on their last two albums. 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 “Neue Deutsche Welle” (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 it’s actually not a horrible track. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
After recording their first three albums in Conny Planck’s studio, Streetmark moved to Dieter Dierks’ 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. You’d think the short song Stick to Reggae would be one to skip, but it’s 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 don’t hear anymore. Fortunately Streetmark didn’t 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. Listen to Settlers to the West.
This is the single CD edition of Sight of Day (2017, digisleeve); the 2CD limited edition is sold out. Angela Gordon (flute, keys) makes her long-awaited return, and multi-instrumentalist/singer Chris Johnson makes his first appearance since Heart Full of Sky. Troy Donockley guests as he usually does, along with first-time guest Anna Phoebe (violin). Sight of Day is much more upbeat than its predecessor. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to Sight of Day and Tomorrow Dies. See our British page for the full Mostly Autumn catalog.
This is the 2017 digipack debut by U.S. prog band Troposphere, who share most of their members with the bands Canvas and October Tree. Not surprisingly, Troposphere sound similar to those bands, that is, melodic prog with a 1970s pop/rock aesthetic and organic sound, in the vein of Phil Manzanera/801, later Caravan, or The Alan Parsons Project. This album is probably the best yet from this group of related bands.
Argentina’s premier prog band, who played at NEARfest 2000 back when they had a female vocalist, are now an instrumental band. En el Comienzo del Topos Uranos is Nexus’s 2017 studio CD. Watch the album trailer. See our South American page for more Nexus CDs and more info.
We Are Legend (2017, digisleeve) is the new Magenta album. The DVD contains the 5.1 surround mix, video interview and promos. “Magenta have once again extended themselves beyond what any reasonable fan can expect, and have delivered something classic that will appease diehard fans, but also something new that might just conjure a new audience.” Read the full The Prog Report review. “In We are Legend, Magenta have created one of the best albums of their career by daring to stretch and express themselves with great integrity and dazzling imagination. This will be regarded as one of THE progressive rock albums of 2017.” Read the full The Progressive Aspect review, and if still not convinced, the Progradar and Get Ready to Rock reviews. Watch the album promo and Trojan videos. Note the band have already sold out of this edition, having replaced it with a CD-only edition.
Chaos from the Stage (DVD+CD, digisleeve) presents Magenta live at The Assembly - Leamington in November 2015. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the entire 105-minute concert. The CD contains as much audio as would fit. Watch the promo video. See our British page for more Magenta titles.
Every two years since 2002, Marillion have welcomed their fans to a Marillion weekend. During the March 2015 Marillion weekend in The Netherlands, the band recorded the Saturday night performance of their Marbles album (the complete 2CD version, in order) plus three more tracks. The Marbles in the Park Blu-ray (2017) contains that performance. The Blu-ray contains some minor extras, but more importantly it features DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and hi-res PCM stereo audio. It runs 134-minutes, is all-region, and the video is 1080i/60, meaning no compatibility issues with North American Blu-ray players. Watch the trailer.
F E A R (2016), short for F*** Everyone and Run, is Marillion’s 18th studio album, containing five new tracks broken into 17 parts. Long tracks divided into sub-sections, your assurance that it’s prog! “It is an album jam packed with wonderful music, gorgeous melodies, complex and personal lyrics – everything that can be expected from 21st century Marillion, but boosted up a notch.” Read the full The Prog Report review. Listen to The New Kings, or listen to the band explain the album.
This SACD version comes in a hardcover digibook. It’s a hybrid SACD, meaning it also functions as a CD. But pop it into an SACD-capable player (these days usually a compatible Blu-ray player), and you not only get hi-res DSD audio, you get hi-res surround. The back of the digibook states “MULTICHANNEL 5.0”, so if that’s accurate, they decided to omit the LFE (subwoofer) channel from the mix. Which is OK. See our British page for some Marillion CDs.
Bring Me to the Water (2016) is a seven-track CD with a playing time of 34:34 by a Dutch prog quintet featuring powerful and beautiful female vocals somewhat similar to Magenta’s Christina Booth. While five of the tracks are listed as bonus tracks, they are actually remastered versions of the band’s 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.
Collision (2017, digisleeve) is Golden Cave’s first full-length CD, again mixed and mastered by Christiaan Bruin. The album contains reworked versions of their first two singles plus seven brand new songs. This is a talented young band making music that is undeniably prog but capable of drawing a wider audience into the fold. Songs with actual hooks that you want to hear a second time, imagine that! Read the Progradar review.
Dave Bainbridge was the main creative force in the band Iona. After reaching their peak in prog rock terms on 2006’s The Circling Hour and the subsequent departure of Troy Donockley, Iona returned to their early sound and de-emphasized the progressive rock aspect of their style to some extent. Well, energy cannot be destroyed and must go somewhere, and now it’s crystal clear where Dave Bainbridge’s progressive energies have gone. Celestial Fire (2014, digisleeve) is absolutely incredible, a masterpiece and an album Dave says he’s always wanted to make. Dave explains: “It’s an album which really draws upon the excitement and exhilaration I first felt, listening to many of my early musical heroes: Yes, Gentle Giant, David Sancious and Tone, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Curved Air, Hatfield and the North, Deep Purple, Clannad, Mike Oldfield, The Enid, Keith Emerson, Allan Holdsworth, Alan Stivell, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, to name but a few! It was listening to all these great musicians and composers that first inspired me to become a musician and composer.” The album showcases some amazing playing from Dave on both guitar and keyboards, and though the music is heavily instrumental, there are vocals from numerous singers including Damian Wilson, Joanne Hogg, and Sally Minnear (daughter of Kerry). Dave is assisted by Troy Donockley, his Iona bandmates, Randy George (Ajalon, Neal Morse Band), and many more. For all the details, read the Musical Discoveries review. They chose Celestial Fire as their best album of 2014, and so did we. Also read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Dave Bainbridge formed a band to perform the complex and demanding music from his Celestial Fire album live, and naturally that band got named Celestial Fire. The band was also tasked with playing music from Dave’s first solo release Veil of Gossamer as well as anything from the vast Iona back catalog, along with Dave’s occasional unique twist on a traditional British folk tune. Dave enlisted Iona cohort Frank van Essen (probably unique in the world as an incredible drummer & percussionist as well as an amazing improviser on the violin), singer and multi-instrumentalist Sally Minnear, guitar virtuoso and composer Dave Brons (Top 10 Guitar Idol 2014), and bass & Chapman Stick genius Simon Fitzpatrick (Carl Palmer’s Legacy). In early 2017, Iona decided to call it quits as a touring and recording band. In many ways, Celestial Fire is the new Iona but is significantly proggier than where Iona left off. The Live in the UK DVD+2CD (2017, digisleeve) was recorded on Celestial Fire’s first concert tour and is their first release. It features a mix of Iona music (some rarely played live), music from Dave’s solo albums, even a Yes cover or two. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) and double-CD both feature the entire concert, filmed with multiple cameras by a television production company. The DVD also includes rehearsal footage and photos. Watch the promo video.
See Page 2 for Veil of Gossamer and the Iona catalog.
Calculated Risk (2017, digipack) is the debut for German instrumental sympho-prog quartet Force of Progress, led by keyboardist Hanspeter Hess, who has released several superb albums under the name The Healing Road. Watch the album sampler video and listen to a snippet from The Man Who Played God.
“Infernal Spheres (2017) is another fine release from Richard Wileman who continues on the crest of a creative wave. His skill at taking chamber classical, jazz, and rock influences and turning them into something new is beyond reproach and he continues to give his audience fascinating and intelligent music of real depth.” Read the full The Progressive Aspect review. “I have known Richard for more than twenty years now, and I have yet to hear anyone else achieve what he manages with Karda Estra. He still surprises me in so many ways, as he moves within so many different styles, yet all with a common theme of being visual -- I always ‘see’ his music as well as hear it. It may be his fourteenth album but he shows no signs at all of slowing down, and I actually think this is his finest yet.” Read Kev Rowland’s full Prog Archives review. See our British page for more Karda Estra CDs and more info.
Eye 2 Eye (formerly Eye to Eye) are a French prog band singing in English, formed in 2003 by former members of ADN and soon joined by other musicians. Their debut One in Every Crowd (2006) features intense symphonic rock, influenced somewhat by Pink Floyd but more by Marillion, though they sound distinct from either. The mood is consistently dark and dramatic. The keyboardist says he loves Banco’s Darwin album, and one can hear some of that classical influence. The CD includes two 16-minute tracks, two 8-minute tracks, and a cover of Ayreon’s Back on Planet Earth among the songs. A violinist guests on the final epic. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
After a minor change in spelling, Eye 2 Eye returned in 2009 with a new singer and new bassist and their 75-minute second studio CD After All. The style is essentially the same: dark, powerful symphonic rock influenced by Pink Floyd and early Marillion but more symphonic than either, with lots of massed strings and choir pads. The bombastic style recalls Arena at times. The violinist appears again on several tracks, a welcome addition. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
The Wish (currently out-of-print) followed in 2011. The Light Bearer (2017) is Eye 2 Eye’s most ambitious and probably best work to date. Watch the album trailer.
Motis, whose first album is from 2005, have blossomed into one of the top current French (classic-style) prog bands. Live: Sur les Chemins (2016) was recorded between 2014-2016 during two years of performances across France at many venues and festivals. The live energy makes a difference, and now that Motis are seasoned live performers, you may prefer their live albums to their studio albums. Watch the album teaser and listen to Josquin Messonnier (live) on YouTube. See our French page for the entire Motis catalog and much more info.
Twenty Four Hours is a modern Italian band led by keyboardist-singer Paolo Lippe. On their third album Oval Dreams (1999), the quartet performs music close in spirit to early Porcupine Tree, elegantly and convincingly blending airy guitars with linear rhythm lines and energetic themes. Pink Floyd and Ozric Tentacles can also be mentioned (one track is named Twenty-Four-Pink-Hot-Tentacles). There are two covers that point to other major influences: Van der Graaf Generator’s Darkness (11/11) and The Beatles’ Mother Nature’s Son. The album finishes with The Bastards, a nearly 20-minute suite. This mini-LP edition is the 2009 limited edition released by the MALS label under license from Musea, which comes in a heavyweight cardboard sleeve.
Twenty Four Hours’ fifth album Left to Live (2016) is subtitled A Meditation on Past and Present Perfect Crimes. For the first time the band employed an external producer, Andrea Valfrè, whose production credits include Le Orme and Lunapop. Watch the album trailer.
T.Phan is the project of Stéphan Caussarieu, the drummer from the band Tai Phong. The two band names sound similar, and not by chance. For those who don’t know Tai Phong, they were a French progressive rock band from the second half of the 1970s signed to a major label; their singer Jean-Jacques Goldman went on to become one of the most respected singer-songwriters in France. They had a European hit with the song Sister Jane and created quality melodic prog sung in English, roughly a blend of Yes and Barclay James Harvest. Thirty years later, T.Phan continues the story with Last Warrior (2009). While it sounds distinct from Tai Phong, it’s close enough that it could be the follow-up album to Last Flight, given that 30 years have passed since that final album of Tai Phong’s initial phase. Maybe the best reference is Camel from Nude on. Last Warrior is not quite on the Camel level, but it is sung in English, features a similar balance between vocals and instrumental passages, has touches of jazz, some great melodies and fine playing. Read the DPRP review. Soon (2016) continues in a similar style.
Magnesis are a French prog band formed in 1987, in the style of Ange and Mona Lisa, with some influence of Genesis and early Marillion. In addition to the French-language vocals, the band has two keyboard players, a guitarist, bassist and drummer. While Magnesis can be considered to have followed in the footsteps of Ange, they have long since stepped out of Ange’s shadow, as there is much to their style that is distinct from Ange.
La Dame de Braise (2015) relates a tale from Burgundian history, the story of Catherine de Châteauneuf, last chatelaine of Châteauneuf-en-Auxois. We won’t spoil the ending. This is Magnesis’ own brand of classic French symphonic prog. Watch the album teaser and listen to Catherine de Chateauneuf on YouTube. See our French page for more Magnesis CDs and more info.
Anaïd is a French band that released two albums in 1986 and 1989, influenced by both Zeuhl (Magma-esque) and Canterbury music. Libertad (2016, digipack) is their third, featuring Anaïd’s two founding members with two new musicians, adding to their unique legacy.
At last, Twice Bitten on CD! Twice Bitten is 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) ‘quasi-prog compositions’ and inventing the genre ‘heavy wood’ -- melodic music relying on electric and acoustic stringed instruments with no keyboards or drums. As Rog says: “Frequent appearances at the Marquee in London in support of various proggy luminaries (Twelfth Night, Solstice, Pendragon, and so on) had built Twice Bitten a loyal, if slightly baffled, following.” Twice Bitten released only two cassette albums: Dialogue in 1984 and No Third Man in 1985. Late Cut (2015, digipack) is the CD reissue of 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. Read the Progradar review.
Following the dissolution of Twice Bitten in 1986, Rog Patterson carried on in a similar style, releasing the cassette albums M25 (1986) and Talking to the Weather (1987), The Unexpected EP (1988), and the LP Flightless (1989). He toured extensively after Flightless, collaborated with Nigel Mazlyn Jones (whose style is similar) and Anthony Phillips, and became a member of Coltsfoot, appearing on the albums Action at a Distance (featuring a young Steven Wilson) and A Winter Harvest. By this time, Rog was touring regularly with Pendragon as sound engineer, which led to more sound engineering and tour management work. The Flightless CD (2017, digipack) offered here contains the six songs from the LP remastered plus three bonus tracks; one appears on Talking to the Weather and the other two are previously-unreleased. Stylistically, Rog describes his music as “gluten-free Jethro Tull”. Not overly keen on the phrase ‘singer-songwriter’, he regards himself simply as a lyricist who owns some guitars; he takes his lyrics very seriously, and himself not even slightly seriously. Thanks to the Bad Elephant label for rescuing this music! But we’re told only 200 were pressed, so you can only drag your feet to a point.
Gargoyles (2017, digipack) is the second album for this Glaswegian prog band. Big Hogg are one of the latest generation of UK prog bands that gravitate to the Bad Elephant label, bands who are simultaneously offbeat and accessible, clever and inventive yet catchy. Canterbury is a label you almost have to attach to Big Hogg, though it alone doesn’t explain them. There are male and female vocals, flute, and keyboards dominated by electric piano. Horns that suggest Chicago Transit Authority play a big role, and there are other flavors of late 60s psychedelia, but the music clearly belongs to the progressive era. “Big Hogg have really done it: Gargoyles is one of the more unique, fun, and singular releases I’ve heard in awhile. The album fully inhabits that 1967-1969 period without coming off as retro, and it’s at least as upbeat as it is offbeat. Don’t fear the strange and unfamiliar, folks; embrace the weird and the wonderful. There are plenty of sing-along hooks and smile-inducing horn breaks here to carry a new listener through the initiation, and once you’re in, you’ll have twice as much fun as your benighted friends. Recommended for fans of progressive music, jazz, Bob Fosse dance sequences, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore films, boozy Halloween parties, and Stonehenge.” Read the full Progradar review and The Progressive Aspect review. Watch the video for Solitary Way.
Alan Reed was until 2010 the singer for Scottish neo-proggers Pallas. On his surprisingly good First in a Field of One (2012, digipack), Reed is assisted by original Pallas keyboardist Mike Stobbie, Pendragon drummer Scott Higham, guitarists Jeff Green (Jeff Green Project) and Kalle Wallner (RPWL), and Magenta’s singer Christina Booth. Karl Groom recorded the drums and mixed the album. Honestly, we expected this to be watered-down Pallas or not proggy at all, but it is so much more. Pallas are a band that can sometimes give bombast a bad name. Alan Reed’s album eschews overblown neo-prog in favor of a more classic approach and a more personal style. The album actually sounds closer to classic prog than Pallas, thanks in part to Stobbie’s organ, Mellotron, and other keys, and the space in the mix. We particularly like the Scottish Celtic touches (there could have been more!), and the songwriting is strong. In relation to the parent band, this is arguably more successful than Fish solo albums are to early Marillion. Fish didn’t get any proggier than his old band, but Alan Reed has made improvements. Watch the video for Kingdom of the Blind. (Note the version sold by amazon is an on-demand CD-R, ours is the real thing.)
The Live in Liverpool EP (digisleeve) was recorded during Alan’s 2013 tour as support act for Steve Hackett. It captures Alan in full flow in front of a capacity audience at The Philharmonic, Liverpool. The EP comprises Alan’s entire 26-minute set, warts, banter and all.
Honey on the Razor's Edge (2017, digipack) again features Mike Stobbie (keys) and Scott Higham (drums) throughout, with Jeff Green and Christina Booth also returning. Claude Leonetti of Lazuli guest on leode (his custom instrument), along with a certain Steve Hackett on harmonica. Harvest’s Monique Van Der Kolk and Weendo’s Laetitia Chaudemanche also add their voices. The music here suggests that Reed is brimming with confidence, firmly establishing his solo voice as Fish did, and with the superb musicians behind him, Reed’s work could very well exceed what Pallas does from here on out. (Consider that a challenge to Pallas.) Watch the video for Razor. Read the Progradar and Get Ready to Rock reviews.
One of Norway’s best known and best loved prog bands, White Willow have managed a distinct sound on each of their albums, with lineup changes often a contributing factor. (From the press release:) Their seventh album Future Hopes (2017, digipack) sports a Roger Dean cover and sees White Willow exploring some of the most ‘progressive’ territory the band has ever ventured into, with several lengthy tracks and more instrumental passages than they are usually known for. Musically the album builds upon the foundation of its predecessor, with a modern approach to production. Future Hopes also features heavy use of synthesizers, including the vintage classic Yamaha CS80. The lineup, which as always is a loose constellation of musicians with multi-instrumentalists Jacob Holm-Lupo and Mattias Olsson at the core, sees the return of several White Willow stalwarts including flautist Ketil Einarsen (Jaga Jazzist, Motorpsycho), keyboardist Lars Fredrik Frøislie (Wobbler, Tusmørke), and bassist Ellen Andrea Wang (Pixel, Manu Katché Quartet). The singer however is new. Venke Knutson is best known in Norway for a string of Top 10 hits and is well established as a solo pop artist. She came into Holm-Lupo’s orbit as a guest singer with his other project, The Opium Cartel. Guesting on several tracks and putting a clear stamp on the album is Norway’s trailblazing guitar hero Hedvig Mollestad, known from her own Hedvig Mollestad Trio. Holm-Lupo felt the material needed a soloist who could navigate the tricky, almost jazz-influenced chord and time changes on the album while retaining a rock edge, and Hedvig fit the bill perfectly. Watch the video for the title track. See our Scandinavian page for more White Willow CDs and more info.
Stewart Bell is the keyboardist and main composer in Citizen Cain. It looks as though going forward, the Citizen Cain franchise is in his hands, as Bell plans the 74-minute The Antechamber of Being Part 1 (2014) to be only the first in a trilogy. It’s a prog rock opera featuring five vocalists: Simone Rossetti (The Watch), Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon), Bekah Mhairi Comrie, Phil Allen (Citizen Cain), and Bell himself. Allen also plays guitar, so two-thirds of Citizen Cain is present. Musically and even vocally, it sounds quite a bit like Citizen Cain, albeit slightly heavier, picking up where Citizen Cain left off with 2012’s Skies Darken. The Genesis and Peter Gabriel allusions still abound (if you don’t hear Genesis’ The Knife at one point, you’re just not listening), though the songwriting chops are not on the Genesis level. The music is complex and dense though not impenetrable; the same could be said of much of Citizen Cain’s music. Read the DPRP, Jerry Lucky, and Background Magazine reviews.
The Antechamber of Being Part 2 (2017) is subtitled Stories from the Antechamber and also runs 74 minutes. It features the same five vocalists each playing a different character in this second volume of the story. Watch the promo video and the video for Time Dilation. See our British page for the Citizen Cain CDs.
JPL is Nemo’s guitarist/singer/bandleader Jean-Pierre Louveton. With Nemo currently on indefinite hold, JPL is the new host of the spirit of Nemo, though more guitar-centric. Le Livre Blanc (2017, digipack) features Nemo’s Jean Batiste Itier and Guillaume Fontaine, as well as Ludovic Moro (Wolfspring), Dominique Léonetti (Lazuli), and Steph Honde (Hollywood Monsters). Watch the videos for L’étoile du Nord, Convoléances, and La peste et le choléra / l’antidote. See our French page for the rest of the JPL CDs and the Nemo catalog and more info.
This is the CD+Blu-ray digipack edition of Steve Hackett’s 2017 studio album The Night Siren. The Blu-ray (all-region) contains a surround mix in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and 24/48 5.1 LPCM, plus hi-res stereo (24/48 LPCM). The Blu-ray also features a behind-the-scenes video examining the creation of The Night Siren. In addition to the members of Hackett’s current band, there are many guests including Nad Sylvan, Troy Donockley, and Nick D’Virgilio. Watch the video for Behind the Smoke and listen to In the Skeleton Gallery on YouTube. Read the Echoes and Dust and Progradar reviews. See our British page for more Steve Hackett CDs and our DVDs page for Hackett’s DVDs.
Riding on the success of The Grand Experiment album, The Neal Morse Band (Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Eric Gillette, and Bill Hubauer) set out on a world tour in the spring of 2015. Alive Again shows them performing for an enthusiastic audience in The Netherlands in March 2015. “The Neal Morse Band are a force of nature. They have evolved into a great live band, one that is as good as there is in music and they really shine on this live set. The performances here are jaw-dropping and might have you giving a standing ovation from your couch. Take a bathroom break before you start too, because once you start watching, you won’t be able to stop.” Read the full The Prog Report review. Watch the trailer.
Morsefest! 2015 is a two-disc Blu-ray set with each disc corresponding to one of the two nights of Morsefest 2015, running over five hours total. Disc 1 contains the ? album performed in its entirety plus an album’s worth of other Neal Morse and Spock’s Beard tracks and a cover of MacArthur Park. Disc 2 contains the performance of the entire Sola Scriptura album plus more Morse and Spock’s Beard tracks, with Nick D’Virgilio joining the festivities, culminating with a medley of songs from Transatlantic’s The Whirlwind. Read The Prog Report’s review of the festival and review of this set for more details. Watch the trailer.
See our U.S. page for a selection of Neal Morse CDs.
Cast’s 2017 CD Power and Outcome (digipack) is again sung in English, with both male and female vocals. Roberto Izzo of GnuQuartet, who became a permanent collaborator on the previous album Vida (both studio and live), remains in the lineup on violin. Watch the album teaser.
Sands of Time Live is Cast’s first Blu-ray, the culmination of a series of concerts to promote the Vida album, featuring the current Cast lineup. It was recorded in Mexicali, Mexico in April 2016. Watch the trailer and this longer medley. Note the disc is a BD-R, to be expected for a small run Blu-ray such as this. The disc label, insert, and booklet printing is fully professional.
See our Mexican page for more Cast CDs and more info.
Blackfield is a collaboration between Israeli star Aviv Geffen and Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree begun in 2001. This is the Israeli edition of Blackfield’s 2007 second album II, with a slipcase for the jewel box.
Welcome to My DNA (2011) is the third studio album for Blackfield. This is the deluxe digibook (hardcover) edition that has been deleted for some time, so last copies. Read reviews.
Blackfield V (2017, digipack) sees Wilson return to being fully involved, and both musicians consider this to be their best collaboration to date. Written and recorded over an 18 month period in both Israel and England, Blackfield V contains 13 linked songs that form a flowing 45-minute ocean-themed song cycle. With the pair expertly handling vocals, guitars, and keyboards, they brought in Tomer Z from the Blackfield band on drums and Eran Mitelman on keys, while string arrangements were performed by the London Session Orchestra. Alan Parsons worked on three of the album’s key tracks. Watch the videos for Family Man / Sorrys / How Was Your Ride?, From 44 to 48, and Lonely Soul. Read The Prog Report and Sputnik Music reviews.
Blackfield is fleshed out by three other musicians for live performances. The Live in New York City DVD (NTSC, all-region) captures Blackfield live at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on 16 March 2007, performing 18 songs. The DVD also includes three music videos: Hello, Pain, and Blackfield. Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround audio. Originally a DVD-only release, KScope later repackaged it, adding the audio CD and lowering the price, then repackaged it again, now a digipack.
American drummer Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Stick Men) and German touch guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Markus Reuter (Crimson ProjeKCt, Stick Men) are two of the busiest and most in-demand musicians in prog. The duo was formerly known as Tuner, last heard from ten years earlier with the album Pole (which we thought was great!). Face (2017, digipack) has been in the works ever since. Mastelotto & Reuter are aided by 16 illustrious guests including Steven Wilson, David Lynch collaborator Chrysta Bell, and The Rembrandts’ Danny Wilde. Face consists of one unbroken track which the duo describe as a roller-coaster prog epic. (If we may continue to crib from the press release...) With echoes of Mike Oldfield’s melodicism, Crimsonesque complexities, churning bass that wouldn’t be out of place in classic-era Yes, and even languid Floyd-like soloing, the progressive rock vocabulary is unmistakable. Canterbury and Gentle Giant deserve mention as well. For all the intensity, the music is melodic and structured. The orchestration is intricate; the instrumentation includes several singers, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitar and guitar synth, bass (fretted and fretless), and all manner of strings, woodwinds, and brass instruments. Markus says that Face represents the sum of all his musical experience to date, calling upon the entire body of compositional techniques. “Face is very much a special piece in the body of my work. I don’t think there’s anything else quite like this out there today”.
“Face is a true prog journey, but unlike some songs that rely on the abundance of notes, this one is about the right note being in the right place with the right rhythm and structure. Honestly, this is one of the most fascinating things I’ve heard in quite a while. Face renews my hope in truly progressive music. This is easily going to be a part of my best releases of 2017. Incredible. Not to be missed! Rating: 10/10” Read the full Progressive Music Planet review.
King of Agogik is a German instrumental prog band that has been flying way too far under the radar, maybe because of the obscure words in the band name and album titles. (The word is agogic in English and refers to accenting a note by increasing its duration.) King of Agogik is the project of Hans Jörg Schmitz, an accomplished drummer with much band and live experience. He was the drummer on Traumhaus’s Die Andere Seite and Willowglass’s The Dream Harbour albums, and there is a King of Agogik track on Decameron: Ten Days in 100 Novellas - Part II.
The King of Agogik CDs thus far are: Morning Star (2017, digipack, 71-minutes), Exlex Beats (2014, digipack, 77-minutes), From A to A (2011, digipack, 77-minutes), The Rhythmic Drawing Room (2009, out-of-print), Aleatorik System (2008, digipack, 75-minutes), and Membranophonic Experience (2006, digipack, 74-minutes). Start with the later CDs and work backwards. All feature other musicians (see the list); among the many musicians on Exlex Beats are Steve Unruh (Resistor, The Samurai of Prog), Andrew Marshall (Willowglass), and Arne Schäfer (Versus X, Apogee). The instrumentation is extensive, and though it varies from album to album, there are keyboards including Mellotron, flute, violin, mandolin, Chapman Stick, sax, oboe, and female voices, not to mention guitar, bass, and drums. The music is generally symphonic prog/neo-prog but it is eclectic, with sections that range from metallic to jazzy to pastoral to cinematic to jamming and more. Head to Prog Archives for reviews and details, and see the band’s review compendium. Watch Exlex Beats trailer 2 and trailer 1 and that’ll probably be enough convincing without having to read anything.
The latest and greatest Morning Star is inspired by German poet and author Christian Morgenstern and again features Unruh and Marshall, plus Chip Gremillion (the U.S. Lift) among an international cast of musicians. This is an exceptional work; it’ll be a crime if King of Agogik isn’t better known after this album. Watch trailer 2 and trailer 1.
Moods (2009, digipack) is the second studio CD by this Dutch band playing in the Dutch neo-prog style exemplified by Egdon Heath, For Absent Friends, Sinister Street, and various bands on the defunct SI label, which operated during the 1990s. Silhouette’s music is very melodic and symphonic, closest to Egdon Heath’s style, and sounds like it could have been recorded in the early 1990s in that there are no concessions to more modern trends. It won’t convert any neo-prog haters but is easily recommended to fans of Marillion, Pendragon, et al. Moods was mixed and mastered by Gerben Klazinga of Knight Area, while guitarist Aldo Adema (Egdon Heath, Seven Day Hunt) guests. This is the 2013 digipack second edition.
Across the Rubicon (2012, digipack) is their third, Silhouette showing steady growth with each album. This is the 2015 second edition, which adds two bonus tracks. Read reviews at Sea of Tranquility, Background Magazine, and Prog Archives. Watch the video for When Snow’s Falling Down.
Kayak’s Ton Scherpenzeel guests on Beyond the Seventh Wave (2014, digisleeve), which puts Silhouette up there with the best continental neo-prog bands. Other guests add clarinet, flute, cello, and violin. Read the DPRP reviews. Watch the videos for In Solitary and Escape.
Staging the Seventh Wave (2017, DVD+CD, digipack) is Silhouette live at Parktheater Alphen, where they performed Beyond the Seventh Wave in its entirety plus some older songs. The CD contains all the live Beyond the Seventh Wave tracks plus two songs from Across the Rubicon live. The DVD adds another song (off Moods) from this concert, then adds video of three tracks from a concert in Utrecht. The DVD is PAL; make sure you can play it. Watch Web of Lies on YouTube.
Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me 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 D’Virgilio, and Gary O’Toole. The label says the album is “a mercurial journey that seamlessly shifts between the realms of progressive rock and adventurous pop.” Watch the official videos for the title track, Feed the Troll, Father Daughter, Nightschool for Idiots, and Praying to a Mute God.
Unlike the debut album with its many guests, Beggs chose to keep Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth (2017) to the core trio, ensuring a laser focus and consistency throughout. Roger King, the album’s keyboardist and producer, also works with Beggs on Hackett’s sold-out world tours. King has long been Hackett’s right-hand man, serving in production, arrangement, and writing capacities. Marco Minnemann, considered one of the top drummers of our time, has worked with Beggs extensively on many Steven Wilson tours and recordings. Watch the video for We Can’t Carry On. Read The Prog Report review. Both of these titles are the U.S. jewel case edition.
Polish band Retrospective released their first full-length album Stolen Thoughts in 2008. That album contained dark, despairing modern prog sung in English, like a more depressed Riverside. While there is only a little actual metal, the aesthetic seems closer to the modern metal aesthetic, though there is some Pink Floyd and a little 1970s King Crimson influence.
Four years later and Lost in Perception (2012, digipack) was released on the German Progressive Promotion label. The model for Retrospective may still be Riverside, but this is a more self-assured effort, with the band playing more to their own strengths. Female vocals from the keyboardist complement the male lead vocals. Watch the album trailer and the videos for Ocean of a Little Thoughts and The End of the Winter Lethargy, which are the album’s two singles. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Five more years and we have Re:search (2017, digipack), Retrospective’s strongest album to date. Watch the album trailer and the video for Right Way.
Hopefully many of you are by now familiar with The Winter Tree, the Vermont-based band led by Andrew Laitres that evolved out of the band Magus and as such have been making music since at least 1987. For Mr. Sun (2017, digipack), Laitres took an Alan Parsons approach, using several different singers, and the music (a mix of vocal songs and instrumentals) sometimes does resemble the Alan Parsons Project. More often it represents a return to the Magus style. Watch the video for the title track, which features Alistair Gordon (Tony Banks’ Bankstatement) and Neil Taylor (Tears for Fears, Chris de Burgh). Those two appear on other tracks as well, and there are several other musicians on vocals, guitars, and keyboards, varying on a track by track basis, while Nashville’s Tom Dupree III plays drums throughout. The guests seem to inject extra energy and enthusiasm; beautiful packaging design too. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. See our USA page for the full The Winter Tree / Magus / Andrew Laitres catalog and more info.
Greyfeather is an American all-star prog band featuring Brian Coralian (IZZ) on drums & percussion, Kevin Jarvis (Farpoint) on acoustic guitar & vocals, Steve Katsikas (Little Atlas) on vocals & keyboards, Dennis Mullin (Iluvatar) on electric guitars, and Wade Summerlin (Cobweb Strange) on bass & vocals. Their 2017 debut CD was recorded over several years. Listen to the album sampler on YouTube. Read the story of how Greyfeather came about. The CD comes in a simple printed sleeve and counts as only one-half CD for shipping.
Awaking the Muse (2009) is the very strong debut by a Dutch symphonic prog band formed by members of Flamborough Head, Nice Beaver, Trion, King Eider, and Pink Floyd Project. Leap Day play upbeat, melodic neo-prog in the old Marillion, IQ, and Egdon Heath styles; The Flower Kings is not a bad reference point either. Simply ear candy for lovers of undiluted neo-prog. Watch the video for Eyes Wide Open. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Skylge’s Lair (2011) is their second, and it is less neo-prog than their debut, more of a sense of Kayak and to some extent Focus, less of Marillion. Well, Flamborough Head developed similarly, becoming more of a classic prog band on later albums, and King Eider and Trion always leaned more toward classic prog than neo. There are lots of vintage keyboard sounds -- enough Mellotron flute to suggest The Beatles, enough bouncy electric piano to bring Supertramp to mind. Greenslade is a good reference point since both bands have two keyboardists, and Camel must also be mentioned. Excellent melodic prog with a stately feel. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
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. “Taking 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 Day’s 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.” 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. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Live at the Northern Prog Festival (2016, digipack) is a concert album from Leap Day’s 2015 appearance at the Northern Prog Festival, an annual Dutch festival that began in 2013. The six-man lineup performs songs from all four of Leap Day’s studio albums. Read the Background Magazine review.
Dreamcatcher (2015, digipack) is the first solo CD for Eddie Mulder, guitarist of Leap Day, Trion, and Flamborough Head. The album is pensive, peaceful, and largely acoustic guitar oriented, with accents from keyboards, flute, and electric guitar. Assisting are some of Eddie’s bandmates: Edo Spanninga (keyboards, production), Margriet Boomsma (flute), Gert van Engelenburg (keys), and Derk Evert Waalkens (keys). Watch the album sampler video.
Mulder’s second CD Horizons (2016, digipack) contains 12 new tracks plus five live bonus tracks. His bandmates Edo Spanninga and Margriet Boomsma again contribute keyboards and flute, respectively, alongside a guest violinist. The live tracks are performed by a five-person band.
Tales from the Silent Ocean (2015) is the debut CD for Steve Hughes. You may know Steve as the drummer for Big Big Train on four albums or the stand-in drummer for Kino in 2004. He also spent four years touring and recording with The Enid (1994-1998) and has had stints with countless other bands over the last 20 years. One of those was Rush tribute band The Spirit of Rush, which also featured vocalist Dec Burke (Darwin’s Radio, Frost, solo). Tales from the Silent Ocean features Sean Filkins on vocals, Maciej Zolnowski on violin and cello, Jamie C. Strand on electric & acoustic guitars, several additional singers and a couple guest guitarists. The music is superb symphonic prog that is fascinating throughout the album’s 79-minute length. In terms of the classic prog bands, it’s coming more from a Genesis direction than any other, but it has a more contemporary style closer to Frost, Kino, or Sean Filkins’ album. Watch the album preview video.
Once We Were: Part One (2016, digipack, 77-minutes) is Hughes’ second, which features contributions from Dec Burke, Maciej Zolnowski, guitarist Keith Winter (ex-Shakatak), and others. The monumental 33-minute track The Summer Soldier is the new high water mark for Steve. Watch the album trailer video and the video for Was I Wrong?. “It’s the originality of the material however that sets this album apart, as the 33-minute The Summer Soldier testifies. True, it references other artists and styles in places, but I can guarantee that you’ve never heard a long-form piece quite like it. Even the shorter songs mostly avoid the usual verse-chorus format. Moreover, the journey from the epic scale of The Summer Soldier to the intimacy of the album’s closing songs is breathtaking in its scope. Like its predecessor, this is a strong contender for my album of the year.” Read the full DPRP review, also the Background Magazine review.
The promised and now delivered Once We Were: Part Two (2016, digipack), featuring most of the same line-up, means that if Part One was contending for your album of the year, now you’ve got two to deal with. Watch the album trailer video.
Hauras Silta is the 2009 debut by a 9-person Finnish prog band using both female and male vocals. This is one of Kimmo Pörsti’s bands; Kimmo is also in The Samurai of Prog, Mist Season, and Maahinen. The music of Paidarion is closely related to Mist Season and Maahinen. “It is somewhat retro, no question. I hear the echo of Renaissance, chiefly, but then also Jethro Tull, Holdsworth-era Gong, fusion, and even Steely Dan in some of the blistering, crafty, perfectly tailored guitar solos. But Hauras Silta is retro in the clean, appealing sense of the term as we might apply it to, say, Anglagard. In other words, Paidarion takes its genre tradition seriously, resides within it, but then also offers clever interpretations, subtle blends and bends, and the freshness of modern studio embellishment to end with a truly fine album -- the best new prog release I’ve heard in a very long time... If more contemporary prog rock scaled these heights, I’d be a bigger fan.” [Progressive Ears]
Paidarion introduced a new line-up on Behind the Curtains (2011), the band now a live act and not just a studio project. The lyrics have switched to English, the female vocals courtesy of new member Elina Hautakoski; there are also some male vocals from guest Rob Price (Supernal Endgame). Among the other guests are Americans Michael Manring (bass) and Steve Unruh (violin). The music is about half instrumental, where Paidarion can often be compared to early Isildurs Bane, between the symphonic rock with Scandinavian folk melodies of the first two Isildurs Bane albums and the upbeat symphonic jazz-rock of their third and fourth. There are also moments where an ELP influence can be heard, other moments that recall Pekka Pohjola, while some of the vocals tracks tend toward jazz song. Even with the switch to English, Paidarion sound like a Scandinavian prog band. Their music has a sense of place, of terroir, a quality far less common now than in the first generation prog bands. Read the Progmeister review.
For Two Worlds Encounter (2016), the band name is extended as this time it’s a special project with international friends: singer Jenny Darren, Robert Webb (England), Kev Moore, Bogáti-Bokor Ákos (Yesterdays, The Cosmic Remedy), and Otso Pakarinen (Ozone Player). In 2015, Paidarion invited these musicians to play concerts with them in Finland. After the gigs, they decided to record the material in the studio and release a new Paidarion album. Since the songs had first been played live, the live feel carries over to the studio album. Two Worlds Encounter is sort of a cross between a Paidarion album and a The Samurai of Prog album. It includes a cover of the England song Yellow, from the famous Garden Shed album, and Horsemen to Symphinity, from Windchase’s Symphinity album (in effect the third Sebastian Hardie album). The CD comes in a gatefold mini-LP style sleeve with 20-page booklet. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Prog Archives reviews. Watch the Fragile Bridge and album overview videos.
Blue (2014, digipack) is the debut CD by German/English prog band Eyesberg, whose first period of existence was in the late 1970s and early 1980s. All the compositions here date to that time but have been recently recorded. The drummer on this first album is Ulf Jacobs (Argos, Yacobs). Eyesberg’s singer Malcolm Shuttleworth has a voice a bit similar to Phil Collins, and Genesis is probably the band’s primary influence, but the end result may have greater appeal to fans of neo-prog. It’s really a case of one foot in classic-prog and one foot in neo-prog, always melodic and majestic. Watch the generous (10:46) album trailer.
Masquerade (2016, digipack) is Eyesberg’s superior second album. It contains new or mostly new compositions that continue in a Genesis vein, approximately Wind and Wuthering era, culminating in the five-part, 18-minute closing track Wait and See. Jimmy Keegan (Spock’s Beard) is the drummer. This is an outstanding album for Genesis lovers. “The seven tracks are well written, well performed, and offer the sort of prog that will be very at home at the annual circuit of Summers End, Night of the Prog, or Crescendo festivals. With their roots embedded in the soil of Genesis, the music on Masquerade wanders between classic symphonic prog and classic neo-prog. Its constant core of heavy rock energy and a dynamic, clear production prevent anything from sounding too dated.” Read the full DPRP review, also reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the album trailer and Faceless on YouTube.
t is the moniker used by Thomas Thielen, formerly of the band Scythe. Epistrophobia (2016, digipack, 78-minutes) continues an amazing string of albums for Thielen, with t now getting the recognition this music deserves. “Thielen’s music has always demanded your time and attention when listening to it in return for the rewards it eventually yields. It is a hugely impressive and deliciously complex weaving of lyrical poetry and philosophy with musical inspiration and hard fought creativity to form a sombre yet highly melodic set of heartfelt explorations which are intellectually intense and emotionally provocative in equal measure... Profoundly brilliant.” Read the full The Progressive Aspect review of Epistrophobia, also the Sea of Tranquility review. See our German page for more t CDs and much more info.
The Ancient Tale (2013) is the second album for Norwegian quintet Fatal Fusion, following their 2010 private release Land of the Sun. They play classic style prog and progressive hard rock, naming Genesis, Camel, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Rainbow as some of their influences. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Prog Archives reviews. Watch the album teaser video and listen to Halls of Amenti.
Total Absence (2016) is their follow-up. Listen to Shadow of the King and Forgotten One. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Noi al dir di Noi (2016, digipack) is the debut by this Italian quartet from Genova, assisted by many guests. Promenade play a fantastic jazzy prog blending the Canterbury and Rock Progressivo Italiano (Italian sympho-prog) styles. The music eschews bombast in favor of a sophisticated harmonic vocabulary, while Promenade’s Italian DNA ensures the music is warm and seductive. Read the progVisions review (which also features an audio sample). Listen to the album teaser.
Per Questi e Altri Naufragi (2007, mini-LP sleeve) is the debut CD of former Germinale guitarist Salvo Lazzara. Germinale released four CDs between 1994-2005 before splitting up. This first album is different from what would come later, more of a solo album consisting of relaxing acoustic and clean-tone guitar instrumentals with overdubbed bass, some percussion and piano, similar to Riccardo Zappa’s mellower pieces: refined, dreamy, pastoral, and atmospheric. The use of found voices and sounds adds a slight avant-garde edge.
Pensiero Nomade eventually transformed into a full band with a bigger sound. There are seven musicians on their fifth album Da Nessun Luogo (2016, digipack), led by Lazzara on guitars, bass, and touch guitar, with the other musicians contributing female vocals in Italian, piano, synths, trumpet, flute, MIDI horns, bass, and drums/percussion. This is striking, innovative fare, balancing intelligent songwriting with challenging and creative instrumental work. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the videos for Più lontano più forte and Niente, Finalmente.
Jack O’ The Clock are a band from Oakland, California who, like many of the Bay Area bands, are adventurous and outside the mainstream. Like most truly inventive bands, Jack O’ The Clock are difficult to describe, but there is something special going on here. Their third album All My Friends (2013) is nominally artsy-prog-folk, and though it could be called avant or experimental, there is none of the cacophony that suggests. Jack O’ The Clock are pushing their music in new directions, but this album remains dedicated to songcraft, and their music has warmth. They “take us on a journey away from the three minute pop song to a nirvana of freeform yet relaxed musical complexity.” [Bluesbunny, Glasgow] Their sound has elicited comparisons to Sufjan Stevens, Henry Cow/Art Bears, Gentle Giant, and Frank Zappa. We’re sometimes reminded of However’s gentler songs, or even an American counterpart to Stormy Six circa L’Apprendista. The thirteen pieces on All My Friends showcase the band’s core of voices, violin, guitar, hammer dulcimer, bassoon, bass, and drums, plus an expanded woodwind/brass section (eight guest musicians) and found objects such as wine glasses, corrugated pipes, heating grates, and more. “Jack O’ The Clock are an unbelievably great band, Damon Waitkus is an extraordinarily courageous composer... some of the freshest and most surprising music I’ve heard.” [Fred Frith] “The perfect album for the discerning listener looking for something different yet not alienating.” [Prognaut] Read the Exposé, Progulator, and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Night Loops (2014) is noticeably darker and less folky, striking a good balance between RIO-style chamber music and progressive songs with soothing vocals. As the title suggests, this album is dominated by a nighttime mood, while All My Friends has more of a daytime feel. “This is some of the most stunningly original music that one is likely to hear, on this world or any other.” [Exposé] Read the Progulator review.
Maybe Jack O’ The Clock’s appearance at ProgDay 2015 had something to do with Repetitions of the Old City - I (2016) being a more conventionally progressive album, one that will be accessible to more mainstream prog fans without losing anything of their old style. Actually though these are the songs that have formed the backbone of Jack O’ The Clock’s live sets over the previous six years or so. Since then, they’ve been refining the mixes, doing overdubs, and bringing in some wonderful guest musicians including Fred Frith. The band says: “We are making a deliberate effort this time around to capture the intensity and immediacy of the live Jack O’ The Clock. This doesn’t mean there is absolutely no production, but there is a crisp, concise core and a unity to the sound that is true to all five of us and sounds more like the band than ever before. It took a few years and a lot of experimentation to find this sound, but we’ve learned how to put all the funny pieces together, how to make this unruly beast sing. This is our main sequence, our bright, rich, fully-cooked state.” It’s an outstanding album, and the fact there is a ‘I’ in the title means a second new album should be upon us soon. Listen to .22, or Denny Takes One for the Team on YouTube.
After a few years of inactivity, the ProgQuébec label returns in 2016 with a holy grail of 1970s Québec progressive rock. Unreleased and virtually unknown until now, Maelstrom recorded a full album in 1976, at the height of Quebec’s golden age of progressive rock. The band performed live and toured until 1978, notably opening for PFM, Van der Graaf Generator, and Strawbs. After failing to land a record contract, the master tapes were forgotten... for over 40 years! This is not an album of interest only to collectors, this is a masterpiece, among the top prog albums from Québec. That an album like this can be unearthed in 2016 is astounding. As the label says: “Melding unbridled virtuosity and exceptional creativity, the music and lyrics of the album Maelstrom will catapult you into a vortex of sounds and allegories that almost makes you giddy as you feel swept far away from everything. From the opening notes, the listener is immersed in a musical universe reminiscent of that of groups such as Gentle Giant, Yes, King Crimson, and Genesis, but with a sound signature uniquely and truly Québécois... Comparable Québec peers include Et Cetera, Opus 5, Le Match, Maneige, and Harmonium. The six francophone pieces stretch out through long instrumental segments, permitting a demonstration of the band members’ talents.” Note this Maelstrom is no relation to the U.S. Maelstrom from the same era, other than that both played progressive rock.
Awake & Dreaming, the debut by London’s The Gift, is a 71-minute neo-prog opus consisting of two long song suites. The music relies heavily on the vocals of Mike Morton, which are front and center, very clear in the mix, while instrumentally it is mainstream symphonic neo-prog along the lines of Galahad, Tr3nity, Landmarq, etc., with just a touch of heavy riffing to let you know it’s a modern record. The jewel case is the original 2006 edition on the Cyclops label, who over-hyped it to call it the best prog album of that year; nevertheless it is a fine album that will probably require a few listens to get under your skin. The digipack is the 2016 remastered edition on the Bad Elephant label, which features all new artwork. Read the Prog Archives and DPRP reviews.
The follow-up Land of Shadows (2014) was a long time coming and finds The Gift on the Bad Elephant label. While in the same vein as their first, this is the superior album, slightly darker and showing progression in several areas. Tinyfish now strikes us as a decent reference, though unlike Tinyfish, The Gift have a keyboardist. We wouldn’t put The Gift alongside Big Big Train just yet, but they’re heading in that direction. Some of the songs are in that one-foot-in-prog, one-foot-in-serious-melodic-rock category, the focus on storytelling and thoughtful lyrics, the style not far removed from later Pink Floyd. But the Gift’s longer tracks are the proggy highlights, particularly the nearly 20-minute The Comforting Cold. Read the Lady Obscure and Prog Archives reviews.
The Gift have expanded their lineup to a six-piece on Why the Sea Is Salt (2016, digipack), now looking like a full band as opposed to a studio project. The music is still centered on the lyrics and vocals of Mike Morton. Guests include Anthony Phillips, Steve Hackett, and Peter Jones (Tiger Moth Tales, Red Bazar). “Why the Sea Is Salt is a truly exceptional album and deserves to propel The Gift into the higher echelons of current British progressive rock music. Simple as that – it really is that outstanding. Very few albums indeed have the potential to attain the status of a ‘classic’ album, which will live long in the memory like Why the Sea Is Salt.” Read the full Progradar review. Listen to Tuesday’s Child, Sweeper of Dreams, and The Tallest Tree on YouTube.
Given the Impossible (2016, digipack) is The Far Meadow’s second album, following 2012’s Where Joys Abound. It’s their first featuring vocalist Marguerita Alexandrou and Brazilian guitarist Denis Warren. Where Joys Abound appears to have been available only as a digital download, so The Far Meadow will probably be a tremendous surprise to many. This is the most traditional symphonic prog band on the Bad Elephant label, for us the best period. The crystalline female vocals remind us of Solstice (just don’t ask us which Solstice singer we’re reminded of because they had several), and the music itself is somewhere between Genesis, Solstice, Renaissance, UK, and any number of modern prog bands rooted in classic prog but not pretending to be from another era. This is real prog, with a true pianist/keyboardist, and a guitarist who can play in multiple styles none of which is metal. Epic compositions with extended instrumental workouts, virtuoso playing all round, and superb production make this one of the best prog albums of the year. We’re in love; if you don’t like this album, you’re probably on the wrong site. “This album is an absolute standout that I hope you do not miss as I almost did. It is without reservation that I can recommend this album as one of the best of 2016.” Read the full The Progressive Aspect review, also the Progradar review.
This Greek prog band debuted in 2010 with So Close & Yet So Far Away. There was undeniably some Fish-era Marillion influence on that album; one clue should be that the lead singer (who is also the keyboardist and composer) goes by a single made-up name, in this case, ‘Jargon’. But generally Verbal Delirium’s music has a distinct identity, a slight melancholy (and delirium?) characteristic of the Greek prog bands. Overall the music is more romantic than Marillion, partly because Mr. Jargon is more of a pianist than Mark Kelly and partly due to the contributions of a guest cellist, while on a few other occasions, it’s just heavier.
The Imprisoned Words of Fear (2016, digipack) is Verbal Delirium’s third album. They are at times heavier now (one song is prog-metal), but overall more symphonic proggy, especially on the long tracks The Decayed Reflection and Fear. Read the Progressive Music Planet and ProgRocks.gr reviews.
Another find for the Bad Elephant label, Under a Banner is led by Adam Broadhurst on acoustic guitars and lead vocals, with other band members on electric guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, and backing vocals. A cellist guests on two tracks of The Wild Places (2016, digipack), which follows two full-length albums plus two EPs. This is at its core passionate and sophisticated Celtic-tinged folk-rock that crosses well into prog by virtue of the expansive arrangements and production, somewhat along the lines of Manning. This is a band that gigs a lot, and the album has a live energy.
Emmett Elvin is the keyboardist for Knifeworld, Guapo, and Chrome Hoof, but he is also a multi-instrumentalist and composer. Assault on the Tyranny of Reason (2016, digipack) is his first album of new material since 2014’s acclaimed Bloody Marvels. Sarah Anderson (Chrome Hoof), Anna Tam (Mediaeval Baebes), Chlöe Herington (Knifeworld), Beverley Crome (The Cesarians), and Daniel Friend reprise guest appearances, joined by drummer Alex Thomas (Chrome Hoof) who adds a new distinctive percussive edge. Other stellar musicians from Emmett’s circle also guest, including Knifeworld and Gong main man Kavus Torabi. Read the Progradar, The Progressive Aspect, and Music from the Other Side of the Room reviews.
AltaVia are an Italian prog quintet (vocals/keys/guitars/bass/drums, with four members singing) formed in 2007. Girt Dog (2011) is their debut. The band say that “their main influences can be found in both the classic and neo-prog scenes (Yes and Genesis, but also IQ and It Bites) while also featuring rich orchestral atmospheres and catchy melodies.” Their music mainly falls in the IQ and Jadis camps, with a bit more pomp, but if this isn’t the first really convincing British-style neo-prog to come out of Italy, it is the best. As far as non-UK bands playing this style, AltaVia are at least on the same level as Collage, Opus Est, or Martigan. Most of the continental neo-prog bands took their cues more from early Marillion, which often led to darker, pseudo-serious neo-prog. AltaVia however have the bright exuberance of Jadis or Magenta, and a very British melodic sense. It’s easy to see why Rob Reed of Magenta and Will Mackie of Caerllysi Music chose this as the first release on their White Knight label.
AltaVia’s second Kreosote (2016, digisleeve) is again sung in English except for one song which is sung in the ancient Etruscan language. (If you don’t know who the Etruscans were, it’s a good bet you’ve never been to Tuscany.) Watch the video for Road to Nowhere.
Materya are Italians Andrea Stagni (piano/keyboards, guitars, bass, vocals) and Betty Copeta (vocals), with the assistance of drummers Claudio Trotta (Deus ex Machina) and Marcello Bellina. There are drums on 7 of 12 tracks of Materya’s debut Case (2012, digipack). Stagni, Copeta, and Bellina are all members of AltaVia. Materya is to AltaVia as Aries is to La Maschera di Cera. Betty has a gorgeous, crystalline voice, delivering lyrics in both English and Italian. Stagni also sings, and as a keyboardist sounds influenced by Tony Banks / Genesis. It’s mandatory to mention Renaissance in all cases of prog with pure, female vocals, and we comply, but references to Magenta and Karnataka are also apt. This is a beautiful album, with Materya’s version of Stella Splendens the highlight. Stella Splendens is a late medieval song that appeared in a manuscript from 1399 or thereabouts. The song has been recorded by just about every artist doing medieval music, including Adaro, Blackmore’s Night, and Companyia Elèctrica Dharma, but Materya’s arrangement is the best we’ve heard, with a slab of Genesis sympho-prog inserted.
Eden Shadow are a young Welsh prog band on Will Mackie and Rob Reed’s White Knight label. They debuted in 2012 with a mostly instrumental CD-EP called Hail. Phases (2014, digipack) is their first full-length CD, and it does have vocals. Instrumentally, Eden Shadow are a guitar/bass/drums trio with the guitarist and drummer adding keyboards; like so many modern prog bands, they lack a true keyboardist. Nik Turner guests with a flute solo on one track.
Melodies for Maladies (2016, digipack) is Eden Shadow’s second full-length CD and features Theo Travis guesting on flute and soprano sax. “I believe the term ‘the best band you’ve never heard of’ comes into play here, and with an album this good, it’s incredibly easy to say. In a scene where there are numerous clones and rehashes, this album is a breath of fresh air.” Read the full Progarchy review, also the Prog Sphere review.
25 Yard Screamer are a Welsh band signed to the White Knight label. Something That Serves to Warn or Remind (2013, digipack) is the band’s fourth or fifth album. Initially a guitar/bass/drums trio, their earlier albums received some attention in prog rock circles, but to us the lack of a keyboardist made it problematic to consider them a prog band (though if Rush are near the center of your prog universe, you probably feel differently). For this album, 25 Yard Screamer added a keyboardist, though the music is still composed by the trio. While the keys play only a minor role, the additional tone colors do help, and the album has less of the hard rock of some of their previous efforts. There is enough subtlety, atmosphere, and mood variation to place this album solidly in the modern prog camp. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Keep Sending Signals (2016) is the follow-up. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Get Ready to ROCK! reviews.
Ampersand Vol. 2 (2016) contains 12 brand new studio tracks. As with the first volume of Ampersand, these are orphaned IZZ tracks, tracks that haven’t found a home on a previous IZZ album or were recorded in between album sessions. If you’ve heard the first Ampersand then you know the quality is at IZZ’s usual high level. Watch the video for Fine. The CD comes in a simple printed jacket with no booklet, but you can download the booklet in PDF form. Counts as only one-half CD for shipping. See our U.S. page for all the IZZ CDs.
Norway’s Gazpacho have become one of the more prominent prog bands today, but there are probably quite a few fans who haven’t heard Gazpacho’s early work. These are the 2016 digipack CD reissues on Kscope of Gazpacho’s first three albums. Gazpacho used programmed drums on Bravo (2003), which doesn’t really detract much from the music. The music is spellbinding and dreamlike, with Mellotron strings used here and there and guests on violin and flute adding to the rich textures. Gazpacho added a full-time drummer beginning with their second album When Earth Lets Go (2004). Firebird (2005) was originally released on Marillion’s Racket Records label, with Steve Rothery guesting on one track. See our Scandinavian page for the full Gazpacho catalog and more info. You’ll see that Kscope has been reissuing several titles as mid-price digipacks while the mediabook editions disappear.
Rabbit in the Vestibule (2008) is the debut by Toronto’s Half Past Four, an excellent, eclectic prog band that with this album could be grouped loosely with Echolyn and IZZ in that they have a modern, energetic sound that is nevertheless respectful of the classic progressive rock bands, with some nimble playing and complex arrangements. Likewise, Half Past Four have a true keyboardist (who favors piano), the essential element missing from too many modern so-called prog bands, so the balance between keys and guitar is what it should be for a prog band. Half Past Four’s songs are centered around talented female vocalist Kyree Vibrant (which is a pretty good name). The music is often arty and quirky, skirting Squonk Opera territory, simultaneously innovative and catchy. Read the DPRP review.
Good Things (2013, digisleeve) is Half Past Four’s second CD, showcasing songwriting and playing that has matured over the previous five years. “Three Russian emigrants to Canada join with two native Canadians to form one of the most unclassifiable bands to come along in some time. Half Past Four fuse aspects of The Police, Primus, Yes, King Crimson, Heart, and Kate Bush with Zappa-esque quirk and humor, the jazzy chording of Allan Holdsworth, and the sludge-heavy guitars of Porcupine Tree, sometimes all within the same song! Especially noteworthy is singer Kyree Vibrant... Good Things is a remarkable concoction of excellent musicianship and wildly inventive arrangements.” [Progression] Also read the Sea of Tranquility review. Be sure to watch this video advertising the CD, also the video for the title track featuring Goblin’s Maurizio Guarini as ‘the gardener’.
Land of the Blind (2016) contains five wildly-varying, eccentric, and intricate new songs totaling 26 minutes, so call it a mini-album. The songs Mood Elevator and Toronto Tontos (a Max Webster cover) are heavier, sometimes fusion-y, and Zappa-esque. They’re quite good, while the other three may be the best things Half Past Four have yet created, indicating that this band may still not have peaked. “As this absolutely jubilant and refreshing record comes to a close I just cannot help but smile. These are virtuoso musicians without a trace of smugness or superiority, they just play and sing for the love of the music and it shows, in spades. A joyous expression of love, hope, and humour all rolled into an incredible package that you just can’t resist.” Read the full Progradar review, also The Progressive Aspect review. The CD comes in a simple printed sleeve.
Your eyes do not deceive you, it is a new album by Welsh prog band Multi Story! Part of the British progressive revival, they released their first LP East/West in 1985. We must’ve liked it because it became the second CD released on the Kinesis label (or whatever we were calling the label in 1992). The key members of the quintet are writing partners Rob Wilsher (keyboards) and Paul Ford (vocals). There was a second Multi-Story LP (there used to be a hyphen in their name), 1987’s Through Your Eyes, with a different singer, but don’t fret too much if you’ve never heard it as it’s a fairly tepid AOR affair. More recently, Wilsher and Ford got the creative juices flowing again and started working on new material as a duo. The material was nearing completion when Rob met brothers Jordan and Aedan Neale on another music project, which sparked the idea of reworking the material to accommodate a full band and fire up the Multi Story machine again. Bassist Kyle Jones completed the new lineup, and the band began gearing up for live dates. With the key original members in charge, Crimson Stone (2016) resembles East/West except that while the latter contained mostly short songs, Crimson Stone has mostly long tracks, only one under five minutes. If you’re not familiar with East/West (it’s out-of-print), the music was closer to Yes than to Genesis/Marillion, which set Multi-Story apart from the other neo-prog bands. The Yes influence may be more imagined than real though, the similarity between Paul Ford’s and Jon Anderson’s voices having much to do with the perception. To rerun an old quote from CD Services: “The band actually sound similar to Yes but not in the clone way that Starcastle did, more like imagining that if Yes existed in a parallel universe, this might be the musical direction they could have taken. This is how they might sound, only with a bit more variation and less intensity, but still with a sound full of rich textures and excellent compositions plus good vocals from Paul Ford. This UK band had the potential to be big during the second phase of prog rock in the 1980s, but like many other excellent bands, it never quite happened.”
Having completed the massive Dante’s The Divine Comedy project, Finnish progressive rock association Colossus continues its excellent series of various artists progressive rock concept CDs, digging deeper into Italian literature of the Renaissance with another classic: Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. Each participating band created a new piece of music, generally in a vintage style and often lengthy. Musea released the 4CD Part I in 2011 and the 4CD Part II in 2014. The Seacrest label took over the franchise beginning with Part III (4CD, 2016), a logical fit as not only is Seacrest a Finnish label, they’re also home to The Samurai of Prog, featuring some of the same musicians and also focused on vintage prog. Just some of the bands on Part III: Latte e Miele, United Progressive Fraternity, Robert Webb, Ageness, Ellesmere, JPL, Willowglass, Trion, Nexus, Elephants of Scotland, Jinetes Negros, Interpose+, Court, Il Tempio delle Clessidre, Rebel Wheel, Taproban, D’accord, Phoenix Again, Castle Canyon, Il Castello di Atlante, Faveravola, Cirrus Bay. Artwork for the album and its 64-page booklet is by Ed Unitsky. So much good prog here at only pennies per minute! Watch the 10-minute album overview video (where you’ll also find the full band/track list) and the teaser video for United Progressive Fraternity’s Mercenaries. Counts as 2.5 CDs for shipping.
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