RPWL, Live From Outer Space, 2019

rpwl - live from outer spaceAfter their 10th album Tales From Outer Space, RPWL made the rounds in Europe, often playing sold out venues but always to enthousiastic crowds.
So no wonder they decided to record their seventh live album (!). Released on double CD, vinyl as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, this set of course features their sci-fi inspired Tales tracks, as well as songs from their extensive back catalogue.

CD 1 holds 8 tracks, and CD 2 delivers 6 more. And with this experienced band, you know you get quality. Nice touch is these versions are sometimes extended with on the spot jams.

Not sure if it will bring them new fans, but I sure do not mind listening to this band!

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Yogi Lang, A Way Out Of Here, 2019

yogi lang - a way out of hereYes, the RPWL frontman has released another solo album. Since it is now a year old, I guess most of you will already have heard it and/ or picked it up. For those not yet familiar, if you like latter day Pink Floyd, you will like this too.

But in all honesty that is a bit too easy even when Yogi does have a vocal sound not unlike that of David Gilmour and the overal vibe is similar to PF.
But Lang again proves to be a creative songwriter who is able to churn out great melodies and who can pack melancholy in songs of love and hope. After all, when there is a way in, there is a way out…

So Floyd fan or not, surely worth listening to, and not only for prog lovers!

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Moon Letters, Until They Feel The Sun, 2019

moon letters - until they feel the sunOpener Skara Brae will tell you a lot about the music on this album; music that flows from neo prog to technical prog metal to more intimate almost folky music. But it wasn’t until the vocals started that a name from the past kept popping up in my brain, that of Klaatu! Moon Letters have the same knack for melody but have expanded the sound into a mix that many lovers of prog will surely embrace.

Worth noting is that they avoided the trap of over producing the album. So the technical proggy bits still sound fairly dry and sit remarkably well with the more neo prog and or folky segments. So when they move from a moog inspired synth solo to a more heavy guitar part, the album still breathes.
As a result the album impresses with quality songs and playing and above all melodies that stick. The fact that their songs range from 1 tot 9 minutes only adds to the many colours.

That’s a job well done!

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War Gods Of The Deep, Action Space Battle, 2019

war gods of the deep - action space battle frontOver the years doing this, I have seen some pretty stunning artwork and packaging. But if memory serves me right, this is the first time an album arrived in a matching box! Which also contained a card, stickers, buttons, etc. See the picure below. All serving the same purpose, draggin you into the sci-fi world of War Gods Of The Deep. Kudos for that!

Now on to the music. While I could understand if for some the lead vocals are a somewhat aqcuired taste, I must say for me the often doubled and harmonized vocals, with additional harmony and gang vocals have created a sound I have not heard before. And the dark vocals suit the melodic metal music well.
Another trick used is introducing a song like you would on the radio. Was not sure that would work on repeated play but in reality I was not bothered much.

All tracks are powerful and are carried by catchy hooks and chorusses. The almost 11 minutes of The Machine are epic, but since most songs are around 5 to 6 minutes, they take time to develop a song and go places.

So put simple: I like it and maybe you will too if you give it a try!

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war gods of the deep box

Life in Digital, Signs To The Far Side, 2019

life in digitalVia his busy social media activities, I have been following the steps of John Beagley for quite a few years now, even buying several of his releases. So it was nice to receive the promo for his second Life In Digital album. Which is John and singer Robin Schell (who is a dead ringer for Jon Anderson).

Knowing that John not only comes from an Eighties pop/wave background, but also is a massive prog fan, it will not come as a surprise that this album is an amalgam of those influences. On this, fans of the Trevor Rabin era of Yes will find many things to their liking. And for avid proggies who think nothing is prog unless a song is over a quarter long, the album opens with the 22+ minutes epic Karma. Nice thing about it is that they were not afraid to add more ambient soundscapes. The other songs are more in the 5-6 minute range but also showcase their talent.

This is a very melodic prog album with obviously a strong Yes reference. Thankfully the music can stand on its own and turned out to be entertaining!

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Suns Of The Tundra, Murmuration, 2019

suns of the tundraWhile I was working my ass off the last couple of months, in the very limited free time I had, this album was played quite often. And while it might not be an album that everybody will enjoy, I must confess I keep being very intrigued by it, and that is not because of the artwork. After numerous plays, I am still not exactly sure what its charm is.

Is it the prominent bass throughout, that keeps reminding me of Chris Squire and Geddy Lee? Is it the melodies that are slowly nesting themselves in my brain? Is it the diversity on display?

Well in any case this is a progressive album by name and nature. But based on songs with head and tail, rather than by an abundance of technique. Kudos for that.

So in the end I guess it is not really important what its key features are. What is important is that I never minded hearing it over and over again.  Job well done!

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Michel Héroux, Now, 2019

michel heroux - nowOn my quest to find the time to work my way through all the backlog regarding the reviews I want to write, it became time to listen to Michel Héroux.

He was so kind to include a letter with the CD, saying he was not sure about the direction he wanted, he just wanted an instrumental rock album, without it becoming a shredding project.

Well, this album did not help me shorten the list, as it turned out to be far too good for a limited amount of listens! There are a lot of influences shining through on the music on this album. Think folk, jazz, and prog rock. And while that may sound an eclectic mix, the songs delivered make perfect sense. And yes, no shredding, even though the guitar is the hero here.

Lots of feel from all involved, various moods and luscious grooves on offer. Diverse and vibrant, a great album to visit and re-visit!

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Yuval Ron, Somewhere In This Universe, 2019

yuval ron - somewhere in this universeLet me first set the record straight on the title. The official full length title of this album is Somewhere In This Universe, Somebody Hits A Drum. Featuring Marco Minneman.

With that out of the way, a confession; I have played this album many times now, and I still hate the title track that opens the album. The wordless “singing” from Ron destroys it for me. And there are other spots which keep putting me of. Something to do with the label name; Wrong Notes… On the other hand, there are also moments that I enjoy very much, like in Wifi In Emerald City and The Discovery Of Phoebe.
The strange thing is that it is advertised as a progressive rock album while for me it is above all a fusion record. And while it is less free form as some other albums discussed on these pages, in my current mood I have a hard time connecting to this.

No discussion about the musicianship on offer, technically this is great. Guess my expectations were just wrong, and I might also not be in the right state of mind. For me it is now time to move on. Sorry!

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Acoustic Black, In A Different Light, 2019

acoustic black - in a different lightFrom the Bavaria region in Germany come this trio, Acoustic Black. The name, in combination with the front cover, should tell you a lot. Drums and bass accompany the acoustic guitar, resulting in a form of rocked up singer-songwriter sound. Or alternative acoustic rock as they call it.

And truth be told, that is what you get. As well as some tongue in cheek lyrics, so don’t say Germans have no humour. It’s a easy listen this, I can imagine this working great on an outdoor event or at in home concerts. Lots of driving rhythms combine nicely with the pop melodies. What also helps is they they cleverly added additional instruments here and there to give the songs a bit of extra colour.

Also an album that will be safe to play on the family barbecue 🙂 Good job!

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Dimitris Korontzis, 5 Elements, 2019

Dimitris Korontzis - The 5 ElementsDimitris Korontzis is a guitar player from Athens in Greece. He has released his first Jazz-Fusion LP Empathy in September 2017 and here we have his second one by the name 5 Elements. It is described as an ambient guitar album related to the Chinese tradition of Wu Xing. There’s more:  according to this philosophy everything in the universe is made of this 5 elements Earth- Metal- Water- Wood- Fire

The basic music scale of the Chinese is the major pentatonic C-D-E-G-A and every note is related to each element, C is Earth, D is Metal, E is Wood, G is Fire and A is Water. The order of the notes he used is called the Productive Circle in the Wu Xing philosophy.  All songs are built using only these 5 notes with that specific order and a drone with the basic note of each element.

And for a guitarist it is a remarkably restraint effort. In Earth the guitar is hardly recognisable, while you can hear it play its gentle parts in tracks like Metal and especially Wood and Fire. The guitar is heavily processed with use of effects like reverb and delay and such. This makes it an album aiming for atmosphere rather than technique.

Something to chill to!

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