Bryan Beller, Scenes From The Flood, 2019

Bryan-Beller-Scenes-From-The-FloodSome musicians are so talented it’s almost inhuman. And when they often work with other guys whose chops are also out of this world, I get suspicious. Maybe the aliens are already amongst us and just dazzle us with their musical capabilities…

Well one can never tell for sure, but Bryan Beller sure is a guy that has talent in spades. And not just as a bass player, the job he’s best known for.

This double album proves he is much more. And thus delivers another album to prove people wrong who do not believe instrumental music can be as entertaining as vocals songs. (There are some vocals present on the albums by the way).
A lot of diversity on offer too, and all packed in Songs, not just your (above) average rifferama. From catchy to spectacular and everything in between, the album delivers! And accessible too, I loved it at first play. But that is not surprising or else I would have chosen other words to describe the joy of listening to this. Stellar!

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The Kentish Spires, Sprezzatura, 2019

the kentish spires - sprezzaturaSecond album from this outfit arrives hot on the heels of their debut. Now officially a sextet, so ready to come for you (when live performances are allowed again).

And where the first was a result of process of months of work, this one they recorded in 40 days straight, going for the ideas that immediately worked. From memory this one sounds a bit more polished though.

The result is an album that still contains their nod to the Canterbury style music wise, but with songs that are more easy to get into. At least that is my impression. And progrock fans will be pleased that the 8 songs consist of 2 trilogies, giving it a bit of a concept feel.

So it seems the band are growing as a unit, and are out to grow their fanbase too. Deservedly so!

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25 Yard Screamer, Natural Satellite, 2019

25 yard screamer - natural satelliteWhile I had promised myself to start writing shorter reviews to try to catch up a bit on all the albums waiting for their turn, this little ditty turned up.

And since at first play I thought it was rather pretentious, I was about to write a few lines and move on. But as this is a progressive rock band, that just did not feel right. Something to do with “taking the time to get into an album…”

The good news is; it does getter better after repeated play!  I read in the press info that the album is a combination of improvisations and one take performances with careful arrangements and playing. They’ve kept the sound rather sparse, which possibly contributes to the need of repeated play. But when you stick to the album, slowly it will reveal its magic to you.

Since this is a grower, I would not be surprised I will consider it a classic in a few years time. For now I think it is a damn good album that moves around a lot in various subgenres of progressive music and beyond.

Or as they say themselves: melody, beauty and aggression. And a bit of fun. Exactly!

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Dudley Taft, Simple Life, 2019

dudley taft - simple lifeSecond album from mister Taft to land in my player and, like the first one, I am liking what I hear!

This is another batch of blues infused rock that might not be something world shockingly new, but damn, are this tasty bits. And good that the man has a sense of humour too!

Opener Give Me A Song is a perfect introduction to the album. And the title track that follows too. I Can’t Live Without You has some twin guitars that would have made Thin Lizzy proud and on many other places, his bluesy strat licks add bits of magic to the already vibrant songs.

Yes, another album you should check if you like blues that rocks / rock with bluesy touches!

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Nicolas Meier World Group, Peaceful, 2019

nicolas meier world group - peacefulGuitarist Nicolas Meier has been featuring in many guises here on the blog. And where many of his contemporaries (on the familiar Moonjune label for instance) impress with improvisations (which do require a trained ear), Meier seems more at home in well thought out and arranged songs. The benefit? It is far easier to connect to his music!

Album Peaceful was released last year but as with a lot of albums, has silently been waiting on its turn.  Again this is an album one can play on many occasions. It is a joy for the casual listener because of the melodies and the obvious Eastern influences. And while I love that feel, I will always be impressed by the technical side too. Especially since here they are a means, and not a destination.

Another good one!

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Jolly, Family, 2019

jolly - familyAfter a rather lengthy break (the album title hints at one of the reasons behind that) the incredible Jolly are back with their 4th album.

And I don’t know about you, but their music always speaks to me. Whether it is a soft short piece like Who Will Remember, or a lengthy prog metal roller-coaster like Let Go, I feel at home with whatever they come up with. Guess some things are meant to be…

Anyway, if you are a regular follower of the blog, you will know that their previous output has all been discussed here and I like every single second of music. So welcome back guys, and please don’t take 6 years for the next one!

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The Gift, Changeling, 2019

The Gift - AntennaApparently the fourth album from this London-UK based band and the first to make it to my playlist. According to the press sheet, the band created more shorter and rockier songs for this album.

Lot’s of good things to say about this really. Yes a lot of songs rock, but melodies are never far away. Also a lot of diversity on offer, they do not shy away from calmer, more peaceful parts and arrangements either. Nor hide their progressive nature in songs like the 9 plus minutes of Changeling or album closer Closer.

The lead voice of Mike Morton needed a little getting used to for me, but overall I enjoyed listening!

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Introitus, Shadows, 2019

introitus - shadowsSince the review pile has become unacceptably long, I had to decide to start writing shorter reviews. I hope that with this (contemporary) change in process, I can finally catch up a bit and work much quicker through the backlog.

The first album presented this way is from 6 piece Swedish band Introitus. The album is called Shadows and I would like to tag it as a neo prog album with a female singer. There are some family relations in the band, with singer Anna being the wife of composer and keyboard player Mats Bender, and their son and daughter are active in the band too.

For me this is a solid prog release, with special mention to keyboards and guitars. The 7 melodic songs range from 4 to 13 minutes, keeping the total playing time just under an hour. The singing of Anna is not bad, but somehow just not my cup of tea. This is of course a matter of personal taste, so you might feel totally different about it.

Fans of modern prog should give it a listen and make up their own mind.

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Mark Wingfield & Gary Husband, Tor & Vale, 2019

wingfield husband - tor and valeGuitarist Mark Wingfield is no stranger to these pages. And while not everything he does suits me, several of his albums are a pleasure to hear. Sadly, this album with Gary Husband on piano is not one of them.

The reason for this is simple (at least for me); 3 of the 8 songs (together 39 of the 76 minutes of the CD) are spontaneous improvisations, recorded directly after they finished recording the other 5. And while there is no denying that these guys are very capable musicians, I am having a hard time connecting to this. Maybe I am currently not in the right set of mind or something. For me this is too abstract, too free of form and without structure.

So if that is something you do enjoy, be your own judge. I’ll take a rain check and play a more simple album…

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The Aristocrats, You Know What..?, 2019

he aristocrats - you know whatWhen some of the most technically gifted musicians on the planet form a band, that is both exciting as well as dangerous. And both for the same reason; what music will they come up with? Will it be sick technical overloaded stuff, or will they present us with great songs…

Well, in case of Govan Guthrie (guitar), Bryan Beller (bass) and Marco Minneman (drums), we do not need to worry! Everyone who is already familiar with them, knows what they are capable of. These guys have nothing to prove so just go about delivering real songs. That will also always showcase their incredible skills. Whoever wrote a song, together they make sure it is a song, and not one technical exercise after another.

And whatever style they choose to incorporate, they do it well and with an audible pleasure. So whether it is flamenco, blues, metal, prog, country, shred, rock, pop, you name it, they play it somewhere. And they can be gentle and modest too. Their level of amusement also goes beyond the musical, as the artwork shows they do not take themselves all too serious 😉

The result is a very entertaining instrumental album that keeps you interested along the ride. Along every time you play it. So for all the people who think only a vocal band can be worth listening to, these c(r)ats will prove you wrong. Brilliant.

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