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prog

The Sighs Of Monsters, Lie, 2017

the sighs of monsters - lieOh yeah, I cannot help but like a band who clearly state they love albums and respect the album as an art form. That’s the spirit boys! So hailing from London UK we have this quartet and their second album (after 2014’s Ground).  On it you will find 12 songs with a total running time of 46 minutes. In a way one could consider this as an art-rock or prog band. But actually that would be selling them short as the songs vary too much to put into one category. On the other hand, that might just be a very progressive thing…

Listening to the album I was hooked from the first bars of I Hear Drums. Call it infectious, call it catchy, call it what you like, it is a damn clever way to start. From a bit of distance it is quite remarkable how 4 guys can deliver music so diverse and still sound spot on in every second of it. Whether it is a more elaborate track like Superman In The Silence, the almost Johnny Cash sounding Fight or the almost New Wave sounding song like Hello. And if you now think this is a patchy work, forget it. Don’t know how they do it,  but nothing seems out of place here.

So there you go, the album as an art form and The Sighs Of Monsters as the advocate, I love it.

Website

Soul Exchange, Bloodbound, 2016

soul exchange - bloodboundEven though I believe this is their second album, for me this is my first time listening to Swedish band Soul Exchange. And the first name that popped up in my brain while listening to this was Demon. Might be due to the fact that some songs deal with topics like the ripper, pain, aliens, etc. Or that both bands create a working marriage of NWOBHM with prog.

Anyway, the quintet open with City Of The Ripper. Bells chime, and the stage is set for a song that slowly but surely creeps into your system. Especially the chorus with majestic harmony vocals hits home hard. I love harmony vocals, and this band treats them the way it should. Besides that, lead singer Daniel John has a voice tailor made for the genre. Powerful yet melodic. Next track Left Behind is more proof of the quality in the band. A clever riff put to good use as a foundation for the melodies. And a solo break that again shows prog tendencies. Also the tasty use of keyboards and organ does not go unnoticed. They really add to the overall sound.
Personal favourites are Torn To Pieces and Passenger Of Pain. But there are a lot of songs that will find a welcome home with those into melodic metal and more progressive accents.

So happy I got in touch with the band, this is a fab album! Head on over to their website and buy it!

Website

Savoldelli Casarano Bardoscia, The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky, 2016

savoldelli casarano bardosciaIf you take a look at the cover and the title of the album, I am quite sure a lot of you dear readers will already have a clue as to what is on offer here. Yes, this is a re-imagination of the Pink Floyd classic Dark Side Of The Moon. And to top that, this is not a note for note imitation. No, this is a very bold personal interpretation!

Lead by singer (and electronics handler) Boris Savoldelli, the other main musicians are Raffaele Casarano on saxes and electronics and Marco Bardoscia on double bass and electronics. Guesting are the great Dewa Budjana who plays guitars on Us And Them, WK569 with additional sound manipulation and Maurizio Nobili, reciting.
So limited instruments (although the sax and double bass are often featured prominently), lots of electronics and vocals and vocal noises…. And yet, it surprised me how this album grabbed me. Of course, some songs or parts of songs are still recognisable. But should there be anyone on the planet who does not know the original, I am quite sure he would consider this original material.
So while I normally am not very fond of tributes and or covers, this is done with style, conviction and a clear view of how to interpret these songs and make them their own.

For me an impressive achievement with an album that is considered holy by many.

Website

Magic Pie, King For A Day, 2015

Magic Pie - King For A DayThis band is amongst the first to get a feature here on the blog, and with good reason. It is always hard guessing how many people into prog are into them, but as they seem to keep progressing (hey I love any album from them even if not all are presented here) I am sure many will find at least something to their liking on this album.

Let’s start with the songs. There are 6 on the album, but as it is clocking in at 70 minutes, you will understand we have long ones on board. Something that seems obligatory for some fans to be taking seriously these days. 🙂  Well if 2 songs of 12 minutes and one of over 27 do not tickle your fancy, then I guess nothing ever will.
Other goodies include rhythmic changes lurking around any corner, melodies that nest themselves in your head within seconds and vocals and harmonies that can compete with the best of them. One thing I must not forget to mention is the guitar work. A tad more heavy than before I think, but with a great transparent sound, without losing a punch. And the solos… just plain awesome.

All in all I am tempted to say this may be their best yet and I recommend everyone into the genre to buy it on sight.

Website

17 Pygmies, Isabel II, Abaddon Rising, 2015

17 pygmies - isabel iiActually the picture on the left does not do justice to the packaging of this album. By now I would say “as usual” 17 pygmies spared no expense when it comes to wrapping their albums. Housed in a transparent little envelope comes a 26 page booklet, containing the essay Jackson Del Rey wrote about the story, a wrapper for the CD (beautiful) and a wrapper for the whole of it (pictured left), with the Fibonacci sequence on it (not visible here) if I am not mistaken. All very beautiful and probably costly.

And all that beauty is perhaps needed to match the music. Because beautiful is a word that pops up in my mind on a regular base while listening to this. The 10 tracks are Isabel XII to Isabel XXI, a logical continuation of the previous album. The opening track with the vocals of Meg Maryatt sets the tone. It may be mellow, but the tension building here is really great, very good start of the album and what we are to expect. Some of the songs are instrumental. Sometimes with a beat or percussion guiding the track along. Various instruments are used to help build the atmosphere needed. Especially the acoustic guitars and various violins prove helpful. The music is described as a mix of prog, classical and folk and that is a tag I understand. But for me this is a lovely album that anyone with ears and a heart will enjoy. So please give it a chance!

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B.D. Gottfried, Motion Fever, 2015

bd gottfried - motion feverMuch to my amazement this turns out to be the seventh release by this Canadian musician. Alas I have never heard of him before let alone his music. And I say “alas” deliberately because if this album is anything to go by, the music speaks volumes and will surely attract people that are into rock with influences from pop and prog. The result of that mix is an album that is very melodic and catchy, yet its elaborate arrangements will also appeal to people that like their music a bit more challenging. The quality is really high, but with some award winning names involved (Siegfried Meier) and being able to work from your own studio surely helps I guess. Also the art of of high calibre.

The music did remind me a bit of the Belgians of Fish On Friday. Or maybe a bit of Alan Parsons but with a far more rockier edge to it. Bill is not only the song writer, but also provides vocals, keyboards and drums. Help comes from Meier on backing vocals, guitars and bass, Dan Gottfried on drums and various others on guitar and bass. This is an album that can be played back to back easily. Very varied, and still the melodies are on the forefront. Most songs are fairly short (hence the pop reference) but there is never a dull moment.

So I find myself very impressed by this, and you will be too if you give it a try.

Website

Platens, Out Of The World, 2014

platens - out of the worldDario Grillo is a busy man. Another band of him Violet Sun, was featured here not that long ago, and now he is back with what I believe to be the second Platens album, on the wonderful Melodic Rock Records label. Here he is the singer, guitar player and adds some keyboards as well.
And the name of the record label gives a bit of a clue as to what to expect. Melodic rock it is, albeit with a somewhat more elaborate feel to the songs. So do not be surprised if some songs border a bit into prog territory. But that actually makes for a far more interesting listening experience. We get some breaks and instrumental parts and solos along the way, but they never take away the thing that melodic rock is favoured for, melodies. And lots of harmony vocals of course!

So this Italian quartet is on a roll here. Where I find some of the artists delivering quite predictable songs in this genre, that is not the case here. Because of the extended arrangements, never a dull moment! But please don’t think this is a genuine prog album. This is melodic rock with catchy choruses. It’s just the approach of the band making them work harder at delivering interesting songs. Mission accomplished, great album!

Website

Jennie Abrahamson, Gemini Gemini, 2014

jennie abrahamson - gemini geminiSomewhere I stumbled on a video of Jennie Abrahamson and it made me very curious to hear this album. It took some time tracking it down, but boy, was that worth the wait! By way of exception I will add that video to this post, because I think it is the surest way to let you get quickly acquainted with this singer. And of course, you should!

As a reference, think of a mix of Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. So expect music that is accessible, without being simplistic. Far from that in fact, I think the way the music is arranged is testament of a curious talent that is not afraid to experiment. Which makes it all the more great to listen to the songs.

Opening with Snowstorm I am immediately drawn into her voice and the percussive sounding synthesiser (at least I guess that is where the sound comes from). Goosebumps all over, what a delivery! The War starts with an orchestral intro before evolving in a world typed percussive song, something mister Gabriel would not shy away from. Next is Wolf, which you can listen to below. And if you feel that is something you like, then do yourself a favour and go pick this up. I love this from start to finish but any aspiring artist needs an audience to be able to grow. And man, I wanna hear more…

Website

Anette Olzon, Shine, 2014

anette olzon - shineWith a melodic rock and gothic / prog background, and most famous for her time with Nightwish, I was kinda curious as to where this solo album from Anette Olzon would lead us. And you know what, I am confident any fan of her past adventures will be happy with how this turned out.

Opening with Like A Show Inside My Head, we are treated with a beautiful song that could be described as a less metallic version of that Finnish band she was in. Melodic, at times bombastic, just very enjoyable. And this continues as the album plays on. Sometimes a bit more heavy, but never really over the top, this is a release that is a testament of her vocal prowess. And with all songs co-written by her, there is even more to wonder about. Floating for instance, is a happy little ditty that vaguely reminded me of Valensia. Lies is another song that would feel at home in her past, yet again brings its own character to the table. Great vocal also, especially as she looses the clear voice and gets a little rough around the edges.

Some may say this is nothing new and maybe they are right. But I like the album for what it is, a collection of melodic rock songs with light and dark, grandiose arrangements and convincing delivery. I say a job well done!

Website

Susan Clynes, Life Is, 2014

susan clynes - life isSo, just when you think you have figured the MoonJune Records label out, they surprise you with this release. Instead of another virtuoso on guitar, we now get a Belgian lady that sings and plays piano. On 5 tracks Susan is accompanied by cellist Simon Lenksi and on 2 by drummer Nico Chkifi and bass player Pierre Mottet. And what the thumbnail on the left hardly makes noticeable, the whole album is recorded live!

So is this singer songwriter material? Well, not quite I think, or at least not all. When 11 songs clock in at over an hour, you know you can expect more elaborate work. Which is not so strange when you know she has guested with The Wrong Object, and is a Conservatory graduate. Her piano work is playful and full of depth. Sometimes her vocals reminded me a bit of Kate Bush, with whom she probably shares a desire for artistic freedom and the capability to express herself very well on an emotional level. Other references are Tori Amos and Fiona Apple. The cello functions not only as an orchestral addition, but also sometimes adds an almost human voice to the music. Very original. A truly interesting mix of songs from a undoubtedly talented performer. And yes, sometimes a bit rough around the edges, but hey, it is recorded live! Recommended.

Website