Magic Pie, Fragments Of The 5th Element, 2019

magic pie - fragments of the 5th elementAlbum number 5 for these Norwegian musicians. And 3 of the earlier albums you can find on these pages! And if you go look those up, you will find that not only they were the second band to get featured here, but so far I have loved everything they released!

And let me tell you upfront, nothing has changed in that respect. If you, like me, love melodic progrock with a bite and stellar playing, brought with a vibrancy and energy that is impossible to resist, you do not read on. Just go buy the thing!

Okay, if you are still here, you are either curious to read my thoughts, or just have too much time on your hands 😉 Whatever the case, I cannot stress enough how I love this band’s music. Always melodic, with loads of harmonies (2 lead singers and 3 additional vocalists), clever arrangements with songs / lyrics that do bring a smile on your face. And last but certainly not least, the musicians… For me Kim Stenberg is a player that can combine lightning fast shredding with above average melodic phrasing. But the whole band play tight and change style, tempo and metre in a heartbeat.
For the occasion they also recorded an epic track;  album closer The Hedonist clocks in at almost 23 minutes. And is still entertaining as hell.

Another winner then, kudos!

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Midnight Sun, Dark Tide Rising, 2019

midnight-sun---dark-tide-risingFrom the UK comes this debut album. Yes it is a debut and yes, I am aware the band name has been used before by a Swedish (I assume) band at the end of the previous century.
But while I do not recognize all members by name, one sure popped; lead singer Huw Lloyd-Jones. You might know him from Also Eden or his contribution to the track Glynyd from Cryptic Nature‘s Pandor album.
Anyway the album is promoted as bringing together a mix of metal and progressive rock with keyboard sound-scapes and melodic vocals. And you know what? That is actually accurate! Maybe we can call it an updated form of neo-prog…

So, Scheherazade opens with sequencing keyboards before the guitars kick in the door. Huw’s voice is very recognisable if you have heard him before. Somehow reminds me a bit of Abel Ganz I reckon. And the band gives him many platforms to shine. Be it metallic, proggy, laid back or furious, his characteristic tones lead the way.
The way the songs melt all their influences is quite interesting, especially since I feel they flow really well. Time spent on arranging this must be big. Great playing throughout the songs as well. And with some tracks clocking in at 8, 9 or even almost 11 minutes, those wanting epics are served too.

I do not want to present this as a “pleaser” album though. For me the band have indeed created an original sound that is very much worth checking out if you like progrock and are not afraid if the band wander into other territories. Very convincing!

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In Memoriam Neil Peart

RIP Neil PeartOn January 7 the world lost another iconic musician: Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist for Canadian legends Rush.

I fell in love with Rush through their 2112 album and from there on worked my way back into their back catalogue as well as buying every single album that they released afterwards.  And truth be told; Alex Lifeson is the reason I play PRS guitars nowadays. So yeah, I consider Rush a big part of my teenage days as well as part of my whole life.
Despite Rush not touring all that much in Europe, I still managed to go see them a couple of times. On stage 3 musicians that love what they do, obviously enjoying each others company as well as the audience reactions. And behind the mighty drum kit; the professor. The incredible rhythm- and wordsmith to many songs that, at least in my mind, are legendary.

The last couple of days were spent playing lots and lots of Rush albums, singing along to the words, trying to get back into the swing of life. Because life will go on, and the music of Rush will continue to inspire.

Rest in peace, the bell tolls for thee…

The Compounds, Far From Home, 2019

the compounds - far from homeThis is the debut EP from this young Dutch 4 piece. A singer, a drummer, a bass player and a guitarist screams rock doesn’t it? Well yeah, sometimes life is that simple 🙂 There are 5 tracks on this digipack and a good 20 minutes of music.

While listening I sometimes got a bit of a punk energy from the band. The sound is a bit rough around the edges, but I guess that is intentional. For me the drums could do with a bit more power in the mix and the bass sounds a little lightweight in my humble opinion. Or maybe the vocals and guitar are a tad too prominent? Let’s say tastes differ.
And while the singer already puts a lot of swagger in his performance, with a couple more years of experience his projection will get even better. Nice little Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) reference in closing track Rockin’ Machine by the way.

Promising first effort so look out for their new album, which they will be recording shortly.

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Intelligent Music Project IV, Sorcery Inside, 2019

intelligent music project iv - sorcery insideIndeed album number 4 for the Intelligent Music Project.  All songs are written and produced by Milen Vrabevski and are dedicated to the searching mind. And when I tell you that this album involves musicians like Simon Phillips, John Payne, Joseph Williams and Carl Sentance, you might already have an idea about what you can expect.

Yes, the  music as made popular by Toto and Asia must be an inspiration for Milen. So in essence this is a melodic rock album. But make no mistake, the project caries its name with pride so expect more complexity within. All done with a class cast and executed to perfection. So the richness in ideas and arrangements will also appeal to people who like their progrock melodic.

The result is a very entertaining album, on many levels. On the surface it has lots of appealing melodies and fantastic playing. But when you dig a bit deeper you will notice the intricate arrangements used in the songs. In short, fans of the bands and music mentioned should check this one immediately as they will not be disappointed.

My only comment is that I would love to hear these ideas in a bit more longer songs. Most of this albums’ 12  tracks range 3 to 4 minutes and a couple of 5 to 7 minute songs could give way to even more exiting ideas. But that is just minor, this album is compact and every song packs a punch.

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Guitarist Matheus Manente releases live video

Guitarist Matheus Manente releases “Kinetic Disturbances” live music video.
Act celebrates the 5th anniversary of the album “Illusions Dimension”

Multi-instrumentalist Matheus Manente has just released a new live video of the song “Kinetic Disturbances”, recorded in São Paulo – Brazil. This release marks the fifth anniversary of his album “Illusions Dimension”, inspired by the power of music to make people think, question the world and evolve.

Originally released in 2014, the song’s concept deals with philosophical struggles. Despite having several layers of instruments in its studio version, it was reduced to its essence and performed in a power-trio format, with Leandro Fonseca on bass and Leo Miyata on drums. Thus, the musicians seek to explore new tones, refusing the over-processed sound that became part of modern music.

Matheus Manente already has vast experience in experimental music, recording for worldwide musicians and accumulating 10+ years of music production. “Kinetic Disturbances” is an ode to the 70s progressive rock classics dressed as modern metal.

 

Inventions, Logica, 2019

Invententions - LogicaThe latest music from Dutch multi-instrumentalist Chris(tiaan) Bruin (Chris, The Black Codex, etc) is being released under the Inventions moniker. This is the 3rd album in the series, and the first I have been able to give a listen. With him on this album are Theo Travis on flute and saxes and the Rotterdam based DOT quartet on strings. Story telling is by Andy Rowe.
Parts of the album were recorded in churches and theatres which suits the album pretty well. Because there is no denying that this ambitious album is leaning heavily on classical music inspired ideas. No wonder it is advertised as having a symphonic, orchestral sound.

As a result this is an album to listen to from start to finish. It is an experience rather than it is a collection of songs. So that repeat button will come in handy as I also feel it needs more plays in order to fully appreciate it. It is a world of its own so to say.
Therefore it will not come as a surprise that the music is carried mostly by the strings and the saxes and flutes. Of course Chris sings here and there and adds his drumming and other stuff, but a lot of musical themes are built on these instruments. And this creates something entirely different which you really have to hear for yourself.

I think it is magical, even when I am not always keen on narrations. But the guy does not seem to know any boundaries in what he can do. Amazing!

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Tragik, The Power Of Suggestion, 2019

tragik - the power of suggestionThe man that never sleeps is back! This time with Tragik and the Power Of Suggestion. Of course I am talking about Phil Vincent, singer and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire.  On this album he is joined by regular mates Damian D’Ercole and Dirk Phillips, but also by Vince O’Regan. And Tom Bushell, who co-wrote Her, plays bells on that track.

Opening the album are a couple of rockers, Victim, All I Have and Crazy, which are carried by the trademark vocals and harmonies as well as by more guitar extravaganza from O’Regan. Then comes Learning To Live which has hit written all over it. Should there be any justice in the world…
Already Gone is another rocker, where Over You has a pulse akin to Maneater by Hall & Oates. Done in Vincent style of course. Through It All has a nice solo section where the spotlight is on keyboards and guitar. Told You So is another track with a chorus you sing for days. It is kind of a Seventies classic rock track transported into a modern metal song.
The album closes with the epic (almost 10 minutes) of Her. Opening with an a capella vocal line after which the piano comes in and the song really takes off. Of course the song moves through several arrangements, including a couple of beautiful solos.

In short: he’s done it again!

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Crystalline Dream, Seventh Chakra, 2019

crystalline dream - seventh chakraBeen a while since some kind of instrumental ambient / new age typed music arrived. But here we have Crystalline Dream, which is in essence Richard Ross and guests. As far as I can tell this is his fourth album under this moniker. With of course 7 tracks, all clocking in at around 7 minutes.

Opener Grounding is a slow and brooding track. The addition of a guitar finger picking throughout, while the sequencers ebb and flow, is a bit surprising. And on the other hand, the addition of flute(s) is something I hear a lot in chilled music. More flutes on Sensual Waters, the longest track. There is a bit of chirping going on in the first minutes, as well as something that sounds like monks chanting in the background. My guess is that this would be perfect background music for meditating.
Next up is Inner Will, where son Korey Ross (see Volte) adds guitars. For me the combination of percussive sounds with the synth pad layers and the guitar playing really works well. There is also more melody in this one, which always suits me more.
It will not come as a surprise the remaining tracks work just as well within this described frame.

So there you go. Anyone looking for new music to relax to, for meditation, or just to enjoy some chilled sounds, have a listen to this!

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Brighteye Brison, V, 2019

brighteye brison - vBrighteye Brison are a name I had heard of before, but this is the first time actually hearing their music. Well, and if I tell you that  there are 3 songs on this album, that clock in at almost 67 minutes, I think most of you (when not already familiar with the band) will know exactly what this is about. Yup, progressive rock it is.

I must confess I am usually not a big fan of lengthy tracks. Mostly because they often give me the feeling of a bunch of individual ideas being forced together,  “because long songs are so popular amongst the fans”.
Yet when they really flow, and transitions and time signature and arrangement changes are made in a way that I find logical, these songs can work.

So now the question is; how are these 3 songs delivering? Well, let me first say that I really like the multi-part vocals from the Swedish quintet. They sound influenced by bands like Gentle Giant, Yes, Kansas and the like. Also their sound, with a great balance between keyboards and guitars is really up my alley. Especially since the music is melodic and not unnecessary complicated.
Having said that; the first few spins did not convince me that all the tracks and parts flow in a natural way. At least to me.
Of course this type of music needs time and a lot of listening. So over time I might feel different.

Still, lots of good stuff to enjoy, and overall interesting enough to make me want to investigate previous releases.

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