Electric Mud, The Deconstruction Of Light, 2018

electric mud - the deconstruction of lightAfter repeated listens to this album, I still was struggling a bit with how to describe it. So I checked the website, and there the answer was: “moving from krautrock to ambiant, from post rock to traditional prog, from edgy to contemplative. Imagine Deep Purple and Camel jamming together with Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream”.

And I must say, the unique feel of this album hit one of my soft spots. Because you might be lead to believe that all these influences lead to a patched up collection of sounds and ideas. But the reality is, that this is not the case. If anything, the project have managed to deliver an album that keeps you on your toes, anxiously waiting for what will happen next. Ideas develop, and then slowly transform. So you do get all these different genre typicals, but the 3 guys (Hagen Bretschneider; idea, sound concept and bass – Lennart Huper: rhythm guitar and Nico Walser on all other instruments and… sound alchemy) mix and match, transform, evolve and warp everything. So what sounds like an old fashioned obscure and rocking Deep Purple song at first, might end up sounding like an ambient Tangerine Dream like electronic track.

Add to that: this is another example of how to create interesting instrumental music. It is creative and exciting, and is definitely exploring new grounds. Recommended!

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Claudio Delgift, The Essential, 2018

claudio delgift - the essentialClaudio Delgift is an Argentinian guitarist who so far has released 7 albums and a couple of EP’s. All these are only available in the digital format so with The Essential you get the chance to listen to a collection of his songs on CD or Digital. All in remastered form. His 2018 album One Life Many Roads is featured here.

There are 12 songs on the release, ranging from 2 to almost 9 minutes. What always strikes me most about “C” is the quality of his guitar playing. Which is of course at the centre of each song. He uses a fairly clean guitar tone, but always manages to surprise with tasty solos and inventive song structures. Even when he is not the best singer in the world (you cannot have all), his delivery is always honest and authentic. Guitars and bass and some keyboards are also handled by Claudio, with additional keyboards coming from One and Fernando Refay. Drums are provided by an international cast of 4, Tom Geisler, Theo Heidfeld, Nicolas Jourdain and Nicolas Roldan.

So what more is there to tell? Well, to me it seems that the melodic intent of the songs makes them accessible. This means that even people who are not really much into progressive rock, could enjoy this material, should they give it a chance. And the more critical listener is sure to discover more and more less obvious details on repeated listen.

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Marching Out, Rock Will Never Die, 2015

marching out - rock will never dieSo, you name your band Marching Out, your album Rock Will Never Die and start with a track called Prelude. If all that has not told you Yngwie inspired neoclassical metal, than nothing ever will.

These guys are from Japan and I must say, they are pretty good at what they do. Their guitarist must be a big Malmsteen fan, and must have studied pretty hard to get all them chops in his fingers. He sure is on fire here. And, since Yngwie has been getting quite some critique for no longer working with a decent singer, this band might provide lovers of the style with a decent alternative.
Maybe the pronunciation sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, but there is nothing wrong with the vocal prowess here. A bit in Dio territory I think.
Also, the songs are solid and with enough variation and bite to keep the momentum going. By the way, some of the ultra high soloing reminded me more of Uli Jon Roth than of YM, but that is probably just me.

So the songs are there, the voice is there and the flashy guitar playing is there. Seems to me lots of people would love to add this to their collection! No clue about availability alas, but if you dig this style, you might want to follow the below link to their website and pick up a copy. Oh, and yes that is Doogie White on the bonus title track.

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Cody Carpenter, Force Of Nature, 2019

Cody Carpenter - Force Of NatureMaybe not everybody will agree, but I think, when done right, instrumental music can be just as exciting as vocal music. There are already numerous examples on these pages.  And now we can add Cody Carpenter (keyboards) to that list.

Being the son of actress Adrienne Barbeau and the maybe even more famous John Carpenter, Cody sure is coming from a talented gene pool. And it shows throughout this album. A mix of progressive rock with fusion elements, the songs on this album all are examples of how to write songs that have melodies that make you sit up and pay notice. Also the interaction between the musicians and the arrangement details here and there show the quality involved. It surely helps when people like Jimmy Haslip and Virgil Donati get involved, even when the keyboards form the base of the tunes, without forgetting about guitars.

Just listen to Fantasy Of Form, where 2 melodies react to each other and weave an intricate web that fascinates. For me every song on the album is worth mentioning. So I won’t. This is an album that fully deserves its title. If you are a fan of this type of music, you have to go and have a listen. And if you are not, this might be the album that proves you wrong. So have a listen and see what happens…

I love this to bits.

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Unified Past, Shifting The Equilibrium, 2015

unified past - shifting the equilibriumRecently I got in touch with Stephen Speelman, radio host of Friday Night Progressive. Turns out he is also the guitar and keyboard player in this band, Unified Past. So he was kind enough to send me a copy.

I am guessing that on first impression there will be little discussion about what genre we can expect here: yup, progressive rock. While listening to the album, my thoughts sometimes drifted back to the US outfit Cairo (where have they gone?). Not only because of the sound and timbre of singer Phil Naro, but also because of the complex nature of the songs. Which do not bother Naro to still succeed in delivering accessible melodies!  The band is completed by Dave Mickelson on bass and Victor Tassone on drums.

The 6 tracks that form the regular album all are ticking the right boxes for people into this type of prog: rhythmic changes, lots of ideas, technical wizardry on guitar and keyboards, epic songs, etc. And as I already mentioned, the singing keeps it all together and prevents the music from being all mind and no heart. There is a bonus track available on the limited edition but not sure you can find that anymore.

Damn good if you ask me, sorry I missed the original release!

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Rome, Le Ceneri Di Heliodoro, 2019

rome - le ceneri di heliodoroHere is something for ya! This has turned out to be a very interesting affair. But before I get ahead of myself a short introduction. Rome are from Luxembourg, and apparently are quite the name in the neofolk scene, with this being their 13th release. Well, silly me would not have known that! Yet in fact the sole permanent member is Jerome Reuter. Who calls this mix of American folklore, French Chansons and English Punk: Chanson Noir. And he might have a point…

Now to the album. For me the folk can be traced back to the constant use of acoustic guitar accompanying the vocals. Through the addition of chants and choirs, strings (or keyboards), bass and drums, the sound evolves into something special. More so because of the use of several languages throughout the album. You can hear Italian, German (or maybe Luxembourgish) and English. And the lyrics paint a rather bleak picture of the state of today’s world. Europe dissolving, the current affairs in the US, etc. All comes in a beautiful package with an extensive booklet.

If I put all that aside and just concentrate on the music, I cannot help but be impressed by the sheer power of the emotions that shine. No power from heavy guitars of course, but the combination of all elements of this album just grabs me.  The tracks might not be all too complex, they do hit the mark!

These are songs that question without answering. They make you think. And that is something we surely need if we want to get out of the current mess we are experiencing all around us…

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Ronny Morris, Sweet Silence, 2018

ronny morris - sweet silenceI cannot help but smile while listening to this debut from Danish musician Ronny Morris. Not because of the beautiful and a bit mysterious artwork. Not because of silly lyrics, or anything like that.
No I smile because this album keeps reminding me why I like music. This guy obviously creates for the love of art. And not because of stupid things like fame, winning TV competitions, reality TV, etc.

But even if you do not fall for that, there are lots of reasons why you should check out this album. First; it is a damn good pop rock album with tons of moody songs that reach out to your soul and heart. Morris also has a fine voice with that bit of edge that many people find attractive. Also the performances and production are top notch.
Another reason is that this is produced in a climate neutral way. First time I ever heard about that, and, being a firm believer we are here to make sure our children also have a planet to live on, a worthy cause.

And last but not least, even when all songs are accessible, by no means they are carbon copies of things you have heard a thousand times before. If I would be forced to mention a reference, it would be something like Bryan Adams met Donald Fagen with a bit of Beatles thrown in for good measure. Also the sophisticated sound reminds me a bit of 3rd Matinee, but that is a reference not all too many will understand.

Most important thing is you go listen to this album, it truly deserves your attention.

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Seven Thorns, Symphony Of Shadows, 2018

From Denmark arrives power metal band Seven Thorns. Whom I suspect also love the likes of Symphony X, since their sound incorporates lots of the same neo-classical / progmetal trademarks. And having Tue Madsen produce your album, sure helps to get a bombastic sound, with still all necessary details in the right place.

Yes, it is clear that Seven Thorns mean business. So it is rather a good thing they remembered to include lots of flashy solos as well as choruses that easily stick in your brain. Center stage is the playing of Gabriel Tuxen (guitars) and Asger Nielsen (keys). Keeping all together are Mads Molbaek (bass) and Lars Borup (drums). With singer Björn Asking they also have someone in their ranks that is able to project a wide palette of styles in his singing. But none of the musicians is a slouch, they all perform top notch and pull off some amazing musicianship. While thankfully infusing lots of melody too. Nice addition is a female singer in Beneath A Crescent Moon.

It is safe to say that the 9 tracks on offer will please fans of bands like Symphony X, Adagio, as well as Helloween or Stratovarius.
All this does not mean they offer something that has never been done before. But they are really good at what they do and pour tons of energy in their performance and songs.

If you dig the bands mentioned, you can buy this on sight.

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The Chris Squire Tribute, A Life In Yes, 2018

the chris squire tributeThe Chris Squire Tribute is carried largely by producer Billy Sherwood. Who not only is the replacement of Chris in Yes (on his request!) but also a long time friend. So little wonder Billy plays most of the bass parts on this. On drums we find another long time collaborator of Billy, Jay Schellen. Who also is no stranger to Yes. Same can be said of course of people like Patrick Moraz and Jon Davison, who join forces on opening song On The Silent Wings Of Freedom.

Tributes like this are always a sort of who’s who: so expect Steve Hogarth on Hold Out Your Hand, Annie Haslam on Onward, Steve Stevens on South Side Of The Sky, Sonja Kristina on The Fish, etc. Or what about David Sancious, Steve Porcaro, Steve Hackett or more Yes connections with Tony Kaye?
Other songs present are the majestic The More We Live, Roundabout or a more surprising choice like Don’t Kill The Whale ( with Candice Night).
My version has 2 bonus tracks that include Squire himself, on bass on The Technical Divide (with Alan Parsons singing) and Comfortably Numb, where he sings and plays bass. The latter probably taken from an older Pink Floyd tribute album.

Anyway, Squire will always be a legend, and the music is timeless. No matter in whose rendition. So any fan will enjoy this tribute.

Rich Krieger, Nowthen, 2018

rich krueger - now thenLet me first confess I am not really an Americana expert. Still I think that Rich Krieger’s album Nowthen qualifies as such. And even when for me, this is a couple of songs too long (15 tracks and 74 minutes), I firmly believe that for the right people, this will be a very enjoyable release.

Also I guess that listeners who enjoy storytelling a lot (think Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen for reference), will admire the way Rich goes about. His high baritone singing surely adds to that.
Because of the variation in the musical landscape ( brass, violin, accordion, pedal steel. upright bass are amongst the instruments used, besides the more regular electric and acoustic guitars, bass, piano and drums) we can enjoy a plethora of moods. Taking into account this is done independently only makes me appreciate the effort even more. This has been done with 100% dedication and professionalism!

So even when the pun of Elisabeth (RePlease) is probably only really funny once, this seems to be an album that fans of the genre will applaud. Of course the lyrics and vocals take centre stage here, but the arrangements make sure you are taken along for the ride. Those lyrics can be found in the booklet by the way, so you can read along too.

Check this out of this is a genre you like. (and someone please tell me where that chord sequence in The Great War is from, it keeps slipping away from me)

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