The progressive music scene in Italy is still very alive, and thanks to Fabrizio from Coral Riff management, I am able to present to you this band with the wonderful name Gran Turismo Veloce. Well, my Italian is not very good, but I think it is something about a speeding car. The album title loosely translates into The meat of the Animal, but again feel free to comment if you know this interpretation to be wrong.
But on to the music, which is what this is all about anyway. First song Sorgente Sonora has a great groove in 5/4. And another fine thing is the keyboards are mainly piano and accordeon. Gives the track a lot of breathing room. Next song Misera Venera is a very emotional song (even if the Italian language in my ears always has a certain drama to it) with outstanding delivery. Quantocamia is a surprise, opening with a heavy riff which is developed by the whole band, before it all breaks down into a very chilling atmospheric piece with great keyboards and a lyrical guitar solo. Wonderful!
So you may have noticed we´ve got something going on here. This proves to be an album that is easy to listen to, and still has a lot of variation, but that is of course a natural style ingredient. Don´t worry about the language, the music transcends the message. Fans of the genre, whether into the Italian style or not, should track this down.
The Canadian band Mystery has graced these pages before and while it took them a few years to release this album, another release is already imminent, so as usual I am running late. But don´t let that stop you for checking out this one, as I think it will proof to be worth every dime you invest in it. That is, if you are into quality progressive rock.
Core of the band is again singer Benoit David (back from his fling with Yes) and Michel St-Pere (guitars and keyboards). Antoine Fafard is playing bass and Nick D`Virgilio has found another home after leaving the drum kit of Spock´s Beard behind. Together the quartet have recorded a massive album that is a showcase of everything that is to like about this type of music. It may be preaching for the converted (as I bet most self proclaimed haters of the style already skipped reading this), but Mystery are a band that proves that music in this genre cán be elaborate yet melodic and catchy. Interesting and complex and still strike an emotional chord. Rock hard or be gentle like a soft summer breeze. Well, you get the idea.
For me it is easy to listen to this all day and never get bored. Premium stuff, buy it!
Ah, it has been a while since a Beardfish album landed in my player, but the boys are back with this 2012 release of The Void. In between more material has been released by the way, but I am still catching up!
So the first thing to notice is that the guitars are cranked up quite a bit here. And I like it! Voluntary Slavery almost becomes a prog metal work out, such is the power and riffage on display. And Turn To Gravel opens with a heavy groove that would make Led Zeppelin proud. But of course a band of this calibre will not let us get away with only throwing a lot of power at us. The keyboards are there, don´t worry. Alas the hammond organ is less prominent than before, but if you listen close enough, more vintage sounds pop up. In They Whisper it is a Wurlitzer, and the piano version of Ludvig & Sverker is based upon…, well I guess you figured that one out already. So as the CD develops things are becoming more in the expected progressive rock territory. Again Beardfish prove to be able to entertain with ease. And when an album gets better with every playback, you just know you are slowly falling in love with it.
So don´t worry about guitars, or about crossing borders, Beardfish still manage to come up with music that is simply too good to ignore. A must buy for fans of the genre and people with an open mind have another CD to delve into.
Site regulars might remember Godsticks from a review I did earlier, about their Spiral Vendetta album. That was an album that impressed me very much. So you will understand I started listening to this new one with a lot of expectation! And despite the change in personnel (Brian Beller made way for now bass boy Dan Nelson), misters Steve Roberts (drums and keyboards) and Darran Charles (vocals, guitars and keyboards) have done it again, so let me explain:
Maybe you will agree with me that many progressive acts focus most on technique and can come across a bit clinical. Well, not this bunch. Despite a lot of genre characteristics (changing rhythms and time signatures) and more influences than I care to remember, I am again dumbfounded by the instant attraction of this music. It has feel pouring on just about every second of music. It is a simply wonderful album from start to finish. Everything I have said about them before is still valid. I can repeat myself by stating this is an album that any serious lover of music ought to own. Forget the genre tag, this is universal music that will creep under your skin and will make you want to hear it over and over again.
Easily one of the best albums so far in 2013, and maybe one of the best in a long time!
Should anybody worry about the future of progressive rock, there is no need for that. At least I think that is the case as long as bands like The Aurora Project keep popping up. Not that the band is about creating a new niche for themselves. No, it is because they are able to create music in the best prog rock traditions and still manage to let it sound fresh and interesting.
So no new mixing of contradictory styles, impossible time signatures or infusing strange ideas or instruments into the songs. Instead we get 7 songs reminding me of genre greats like Arena, Marillion and Pendragon. They work a lot with dynamics and prove to have a good ear for melody. And with this third release they also prove to have enough experience to carry the weight of the almost obligatory concept album. Which in this case is handling the development of society since the introduction of the internet. So yes, expect recurring themes and a lot of words sometimes. But in my ears this is an entertaining album, that withstands repeated play with ease and just keeps on getting better.
Label Freia once again releases this on both (beautiful) digipack as on limited edition vinyl for the true collectors. Combos are also available. I say grab a copy pronto and delve in deep!
Jeff Cannata, despite being in the biz since the seventies I think, is not a man of many releases. He always chooses quality over quantity and that is why about anything he has done over the years, is at least a great, if not a classic record. He can be found in acts like Cannata (duh), Jasper Wrath, Zoldar & Clark and this, ArcAngel. Some of the songs on this album got a rerun on other releases, just to show how much staying power they have.
The man himself is also multi talented. Besides writing the songs (with in this case Michael Soldan), he also perform lead- and backing vocals, drums and guitars. With just over 37 minutes this is of course a product of it´s time, and aimed at regular LP length. Still you get 10 amazing prog rock songs that impress most because of the melodies. Catchy but never over simplified, easy on the ears but never syrupy. Cannata shines vocally with just a little dose of roughness around the edges. So the music, while being categorized as progressive rock, will have cross over appeal. Quite sure that a lot of people whose primary choice is melodic rock, can handle this quite well.
For me there is little use in pointing you to certain songs. From opening with Stars, to closing with King Of The Mountain, every second here counts. Just unbelievable this is only considered a classic in a few places. Way to few if you ask me, so all, please set it straight and dig this up!
It never seizes to amaze me how many undiscovered talent is walking the face of the earth. Take for instance Norwegian multi instrumentalist Arild Broter. Drummer, keyboards, guitar and composer of some intricate instrumental rock that shows a keen ear for infectious melodies and riffs, combined with an obvious love for intelligent rhythmic ideas. And to these ears influenced by the greats of seventies progressive rock. Considering he is of an age where most dudes just want to hang out with as much girls and alcohol as their body or parents lets them, makes his achievements even more impressive.
So this second album under the Pymlico banner (he released first album Inspirations a year earlier) turns out to be quite the treasure for people who have a knack for that type of progressive rock (think King Crimson, Pink Floyd et al), with some more modern ambient – new age typed parts thrown in for good measure. And should you not be aware, to make instrumental music sound as logical and easy to digest as vocal music, takes some effort and talent. Especially if you like to throw in some more complex stuff here and there as well.
My thanks go out to Arild for letting me in on his music. I love his work so far and hope he keeps himself entertained enough in his basement to keep releasing this quality work. And I suggest you all head over to his website and go check this out and buy it. This music needs listeners, as much as possible!
Next up is this independent self titled release by Dutch prog rockers SemistereO (you try typing that!). Although I needed repeated play to get into the album, I think the 5 piece have delivered a very interesting and entertaining album.
So the first question will probably be why I really had to dig in. Well, that is because of the sound of the lead vocal. Martijn Weyburg has a typical voice, that I needed to get used to, especially higher up. But the big surprise is, when he does harmonies, he amazes with a awesome melodic touch and a very playful way of arranging them. Very good!
Secondly the band use a wide range of influences. In that way they remind me of bands like Porcupine Tree and especially the wonderful Leprous. So very adventurous and versatile. And then those grandiose harmony vocals really come in handy, as they take care of attracting you to the songs. Because when 10 songs bring you 65 minutes of music, you can be sure there is a lot going on.
Even if the band is not yet of of Leprous standard (which is part a money thing as big productions don´t come cheap), I am impressed with the musicianship and overall quality on offer here. Any open minded prog rock lover should show their support and get this. Then the band can develop and will certainly surprise even more in the future.
American musician (guitars and keyboards) Jeff Hamel serves up another tasty bite of what is maybe best described as ambient progressive rock. And it is not that my project Forest Field operates in about the same field, that I like this. No, Jeff has been releasing albums for quite some time now and this double disk shows how accomplished he is. Together with Mike Kosacek on drums and percussion and vocalists David Cagle, Tara Morgan, Chris Hodges and Celine Derval, these two compact disks feature a wide range of songs with a lot of shifts in style and moods. Short songs or epics, all material is as good as it sounds.
And where I sometimes complain that epics feel patched, Hamel´s body of work always is organic and logical. Which is absolutely not the same as predictable. Despite of all the mood shifts and influences I got sucked in right away. The quiet parts are often hauntingly beautiful and send shivers down your spine. And it does not matter if it is instrumental or vocal! Also the more rocking bits still fit the overall feel of the album. It is just as if all this variety takes you on a journey and makes you dream of distant shores (or whatever your favourite destination is) and you just never wanna leave…
So very impressed by this music and I fully recommend it to people into progressive rock and or more ambient sounds.