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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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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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.

Karmamoi, The Day Is Done, 2018

karmamoi - the day is doneKarmamoi are an Italian prog rock band around the duo of Daniele Giovannoni (drums, keyboards and backing vocals) and  Alex Massari (guitars and backing vocals). Daniele wrote the music and lyrics are provided by singer Sara Rinaldi. The album is inspired by the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire. There are several people guesting on the album, of which Colin Edwards might be the most prominent one.

The mood of this album is already set with the opening title track.  It is a slow, and very emotional track. No wonder, as it is dedicated to the 2 Syrian refugees Omar and Mohammed, of which the latter died in the fire. The final solo abruptly coming to silence, is surely reflecting the tragedy.
Emotions keep running throughout the album, sometimes reminding me of Pink Floyd. This because of the tasty arrangements, with the guitar whispering or rocking out over the music. And lots of slow and mid-tempo tracks.
Besides the vocals of Sara and the guitar solos, another highlight is adding flute to the proceedings. As we all know, that alone qualifies this as a progressive album… 😉

All kidding aside, for me Karmamoi have managed to create a wonderful and emotional monument for a moment in time that should only be classified as horrific. As has been said many times before, sometimes the hard times provide the best inspiration. And inspired and inspiring this is for sure!

If you like this, also check their Odd Trip album.

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Tusmorke, Osloborgerlig Tusmorke, 2018

tusmorke - osloborgerlig tusmorkeApparently the Norwegians of folk/ psych/ rock band Tusmorke are working so hard, they can manage to release 3 albums in 12 months. Yet in reality this is not a regular studio album, but more or less a collection of demos and outtakes.

And truth be told, that is something that is noticeable a bit throughout the album. Some (vocal) parts are clearly not quite up to par.
Not that is necessarily a bad thing, especially not for their fanbase. Because their songwriting talent still shines through on this collection of songs. And they did give the subtitle some thought “Vardoger og utburder”. It seems vardoger is a kind of premonition, a feeling of knowing what will happen. And utborder are children carried out to the woods after birth. After which their cries haunt the night…

Anyway, despite their continued use of their native language, their music is surely enjoyable for people who like old Jethro Tull, King Crimson and the like. So expect instrumental passages, flute, hammond, and lots of dynamics.

Overall I liked this a whole lot more than their previous one.

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Oak, False Memory Archive, 2018

oak-false-memory-archiveI know some people think rock is dead. Or that the only good progressive rock music was released in the Seventies. Well I don’t think either of the 2 opinions are true, and releases like Oak’s False Memory Archive prove the point. At least for me.

Yes, the Norwegians of Oak are a progressive band of sorts. But of the non technical kind. Instead they choose to add electronica to their very melodic and melancholic music.  The result is breathtaking.
With emphasis on their spine tingling songs they have managed to deliver a genre crossing, and thus truly progressive, album. And deliver that with a sound that is clearly their own.
Every one of the 9 songs on the CD impresses me. Great hooks, based on keyboards and vocal melodies, and with the guitar adding colour instead of body. And underneath it grooves its way into your system. And just listen how the already awesome lead vocals are supported by clever harmony vocals!

There is no need to write a long piece about this album. This is one you have to check for yourself. Whether you are a dedicated music fan, or a more casual listener, this is a must hear. And since the quality of the songs is high throughout, you can just hit play. Yet if you do want to hear the album’s pinnacle, try the title track. Or Lost Causes. Or…

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Overhead, Haydenspark, 2018

overhead - haydensparkWow, over 6 years have passed already since I wrote about the magnificent Of Sun And Moon album from Finnish band Overhead. And now they return with album 5, Haydenspark.
If you are not yet familiar with the band (shame on you 🙂 ) they play an interesting and quite addictive combination of heavy rock with many progressive elements. Always melodic (the singing actually reminds me of Saigon Kick) and diverse in arrangement, as they do not shy away from more subtle atmospheres.

One of the many good things about their songs is that they always deliver great hooks. Their themes and melodies bring their music close. At least for me, when I play this, I have to listen with full attention.
So from opener Animation For The Poor Man to closer Gone Too Far, the guys again deliver an album that delivers on all accounts. Never a dull moment, some fantastic display of musicianship in the instrumental parts, and still it will always be about the song, and not about the technical abilities they have in abundance.

If this does not cement their place in progrock history, then I don’t know what will. Just have a listen to the title track and hear their homage to many greats from the scene like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Rush, all in a song of their own. This band deserve to be big and sell out stadiums all across the world. Yes they are that good. Everyone that calls himself a progrock fan ought to own this. Simple as that.

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Pymlico, Nightscape, 2018

pymlico-nightscapeOriginally a project that served as an musical outlet for Norwegian drummer and multi-instrumentalist Arild Broter (with a / through the “o”), Pymlico have since evolved into a 7 piece band and with Nightscape have released the fifth album. You can find these (and the live EP) also on these pages, with the exception of debut Inspirations (2011)

The most accurate description of the music I have read so far is instrumental progressive rock, mixed with fusion and with added cinematic textures. Another way of describing it is tasty, smooth, melodic and sophisticated.

That is not saying this is middle of the road typed stuff. They are too good musicians to play it safe all the time. Yes, I would not mind a little more energy here or there, but overall this is another damn fine listening experience with songs that stick. So you will again not miss vocals at all. And as usual this is an album that grows with every play. They know how to arrange their songs to the extent that you keep discovering.

But since the band have just released a new video of the track Tofana 10AM, here you have a simple way of finding out how you like what they do. I know I will enjoy to keep listening !

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