Claudio Delgift, One Life Many Roads, 2018

claudio delgift - one life many roadsClaudio Delgift is a musician from Argentina, who is also known as “C” or Delgift. His main instrument is the guitar (which he masters) but you can also find him on other instruments as well as vocals. I know of at least 3 albums, but am not sure about his total discography so far.

One Life Many Roads is his current album and I think this can be categorized as progressive rock, even when some songs or parts lean on blues. Opening with the 10+ minute Diamond Heart, his prowess on the guitar can be heard throughout the song. Not only electric, but also on acoustic.  Vortex is the first time we hear him sing. Now his voice may not be everyone’s taste, but it is honest and authentic.  And fair is fair, the song still impresses through his playing skills. Not that he is a very fast shredder by the way. Delgift is more about moods and feel. Highlighted in for instance track 3, Song For You. Great melodies and hooks. Life Element is a song where that bluesy feel prevails. The guitar is used in many ways, to riff, to play melodies, chords and solos, maybe influenced by Jimi Hendrix. Nice groove too! On Rogue’s Day Out I am strangely reminded of Robert Plant during his days when Robbie Blunt was his guitar player. There are 4 more songs to enjoy, including a wonderful acoustic workout called The Marketplace.

So when you love stellar playing and variety, this is an album to check!

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DBA, Skyscraper Souls, 2017

dba-skyscraper-soulsIn full this is the Downes Braide Association. With Geoff Downes being the prog rock legend from the Buggles, Asia and Yes. And Chris Braide being a master in pop hits with the likes of Beyonce, Lana del Rey and Britney Spears to name a few. It is their third album together and according to the press sheet their most progressive so far. I would not know, as this is the first I have been listening to.

Well, with someone with such a pedigree in hits, it will not be a surprise that melodies are very important on this album. Even the 18 minute title track has many moments that catch your ear with ease! The good thing with melody is of course is that they catch your attention easily. Yet in this case that does not mean the material is lightweight or plain fluffy. What the duo have created has much more depth. And it is a band effort too, with drummer Ash Soan and bassist Andy Hodge adding their qualities to the songs. As well as guests like Andy Partridge (XTC) and Kate Pierson (B-52’s). And the art from Roger Dean is fitting too, especially since Braide’s voice is not too distant from that certain mister Anderson.

Anyway with 9 songs ranging from 1 to 18 minutes and a total playing time of 53 minutes, this is an album that will appeal to an audience beyond the fairly closed prog rock community. And that cannot be a bad thing!

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The Foxholes, Sci-Fox, 2017

the foxholes - sci-foxThe Foxholes have been featured here before, making this their second release on these pages. And from a dialect, we now move on to Spanish as the language of choice. But no translations this time.

The album opens however with the instrumental title track. Or actually part 1 to be more accurate. And it is a prime example of how to build up such a track. Just like the other instrumental tracks they have on offer, Andromeda Blues and part 2. Themes, riffs and breaks are glued together in such a manner that the song has a clear identity. And the sound is just very transparent, yet powerful, great job!  And speaking of powerful, next track La Ciencia De La Confusion opens with a very attractive hook! It immediately sucks you in, especially since it is based on a groove Led Zeppelin would have been proud of. But the guys manage to work a little beyond that idiom, adding textures and parts that sometimes turn it into a more progressive song. Anyway, great track. And even though I barely understand any Spanish, it does not withhold me from enjoying all I hear.
Mephistopheles is the shortest track on the album. Very catchy chorus, and the use of dynamics is plain clever. In a perfect world this would have the potential to become a hit. Tierra Ni Hogar continues the high level of songwriting, and the same goes for the bonus track Cada Miércoles.

In my book there is only one flaw with the album, with 7 songs and less than 40 minutes it is a bit short. But we can’t have all now can we.

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Dave Kerzner, Static, 2017

dave kerzner - staticDave Kerzner has been making a name for himself with Sound Of Contact. Or with working with artists like Kevin Gilbert, Steve Hackett, Keith Emerson, Alan Parsons, and many more. Should you still have no clue; he is a singer and keyboardist, as well as a songwriter and producer. And Static is his second studio album. And guesting on this are even more names! Like for instance Nick D’Virgilio, Durga McBroom and Colin Edwin.

Looking at that list it will not be much of a surprise that this is tagged as progressive rock. But like with the music of Kevin Gilbert, this is music that in my humble opinion stretches beyond that. The reason being that this is about songs, and not about technicality. And in songs, melodies are always important. And the artwork gives clues about what to expect. Fake News and faceboot 😉 Yes this is an album about all the clutter in life today. Especially those twisted minds in politics, media or society in general.
The result is an album that is not as dark as the subject would imply. Of course it is not “party all night long” music, but to me it is more melancholic than angry. And as we all know, melancholy is a feeling that reaches out easily and creeps under your skin before you realise it. And when it gives you beautiful songs like Chain Reaction, Trust or in fact any other song on the album, who cares?

Excellent album from start to finish, and another one of those that just keeps getting better.

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Staring Into Nothing, Power, 2017

staring into nothing - powerIt took me a while to realise that the male lead vocalist and parts of the music reminded me a bit of B.D. Gottfried, discussed here not so long ago. But don’t let that fool you in any way, because apart for the positives vibes that gave me, this is a whole different animal altogether. In essence Staring Into Nothing are a 3 piece, with additional musicians helping out. So welcome Steve Rogers on keys and vocals, Savannah Rogers on acoustic guitars and vocals, and Kurt Barabas on bass, pedals and backing vocals.

The music is very melodic and often with an upbeat, light-footed sentiment. But when a band is not afraid to add 9, or even 18 minute songs, I guess we all know we are entering prog territory here. But I think this is the kind of prog that could make a lot of people realize that, when done this well, prog is entertaining as hell. Because SIN manage to pour their ideas into SONGS. The melody always seem to come first, and breaks, solos, or instrumental parts, serve to enhance, rather than take over.
And the quality of the songs is of the highest calibre as far as I am concerned. Produced to perfection too. Every note belongs and with every play you become more and more addicted.

So even when I don’t know much about the band, I think this is a massive album that deserves a home in any collection. Simply brilliant!

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Tusmorke, Bydyra, 2017

tusmorke - bydyraThis is certainly a first; a psychedelic progressive folk rock band from Norway delivering their fifth album, aimed at and done with children. Comprising of 2 mini musicals, written for a local school in Oslo, this is indeed something unique. According to their label both children and adults will be able to enjoy the album. But alas I think they forgot that most of the world are not so fluent in Norwegian.

Now I am able to “understand” the music and think the genre description is quite accurate. And while I understand that within the concept it makes sense to add children singing to a lot of songs, it also makes me question the people who will fall for this. Especially since the language barrier isn’t helping me. So I do not understand the humour on display or the stories about urban wildlife, skyrocketing prices of houses, the financial crisis and so on.
On top of that I think the melodies are often fairly simple, aimed to sing along to at schools. Nevertheless, the music is done well and really supports the ideas. So it makes sense to think that in Norway this is welcomed with open arms. For me its appeal is limited alas.

If you are able to listen past language and or enjoy children singing and a band performing folky rock songs, you might enjoy this more than I did.

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Wingfield Reuter Sirkis, Lighthouse, 2017

wingfield reuter sirkis - lighthouseYou can agree or not, but much of the so called progressive music of today is in fact quite the opposite. Seventies music redone in various forms and combinations. Not necessarily a bad thing though, good songs and vibes are always welcome in this house. And while I do understand it will be impossible to create something so new it has never been done before, I never understand people arguing about some of the genre style standards.

But anyway, before people want to lynch me for blasphemy, here we have something that is progressive in my book. Recorded in a long improvisational jam in Spain, guitarist Mark Wingfield, touch guitarist Markus Reuter and drummer Asaf Sirkis have created this album of… Is it jazz, rock, progressive rock? Well whatever you want to call it, it is certainly an album for the daring. I guess best recognisable for people into the soundscape side of King Crimson, so this isn’t your regular cup of tea. It is a bold, non conform and really stretching work of seasoned professionals who live to expand their horizons. So no easy songs structures or recurring themes here. Just 3 musicians feeding off on each other.

Like I mentioned, probably only for the brave, despite the undeniable class at work.

Mark Wingfield    Markus Reuter    Asaf Sirkis

Uriah Heep, Raging Through The Silence, 2017

uriah heep - raging through the silenceUriah Heep have also gone independent and this is their second release on their newly formed label. The band are determined to close all the gaps in their discography so the core fans (me included) will be pleased with this double disc and DVD, as this has only been available on a long lost VHS at the time.

What we have here is the 1989 concert of their 20th Anniversary show. Also included is an interview which was recorded at that very same time. Which makes 2018 their 49th year of existence… In the band besides ol’ Mick Box (RESPECT), Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon, are Trevor Bolder (RIP) and Lee Kerslake. Besides mandatory pieces like July Morning, Stealin’, Gypsy, Easy Livin’ or Look At Yourself, we also get more recent material from that time. Like Bad Bad Man, Blood Red Roses, Too Scared To Run, Cry Freedom or The Other Side Of Midnight.
Because Uriah Heep never was a band content with delivering another greatest hits set and always look to perform their newer songs. And in the process captivate every audience they can play for. A live band par excellence! And even when I own 5 live albums now, as well as all the studio albums, I never get tired of listening to the band. Classic songs and a bunch of guys thoroughly enjoying what they do.

On to the 50th anniversary! And more music please 🙂

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Cairo, Say, 2017

cairo - sayThis version of Cairo is not the same as the US band that released a trio of great prog albums between 1994 and 2001. This is an UK band, also of progressive nature, and is the new outlet for singer and keyboard player (and writer) Rob Cottingham, of Touchstone fame. The name might be new, but the sound of the band is not that distant from his previous band. This even has a female singer adding to Rob’s delivery.

The album opens with Cairo, an instrumental with a nice Eastern feel. Next is a prelude to Shadow’s Return, and mainly contains spoken word. And finally after some 5 to 6 minutes into the album we hear the first singing. Not that I got bored before mind you, I think the mood was set to get you to listen carefully.
Of the 13 songs on the album, many are in the 2 – 3 minute range. And of course there are songs that tick the 9 minute mark. It is also obvious experience rules in the band. Many layers, clear production and interesting arrangements galore. Happily all this led to an album that is far from sterile. If anything it sounds warm and convincing. In fact, I’d expect that even non prog lovers would find several songs on this very appealing. Songs like Wiped Out or Say are plain catchy! Another bonus is the band is not afraid to experiment. Just have a listen to Katrina Breath mix, the closing song.

So there you go, if you liked Touchstone, you will not have a problem liking this too. And if you are into quality music with great melodies, you might want to have a listen to this. It is very tasty!

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Major Parkinson, Blackbox, 2017

Major-Parkinson-BlackboxAs I understand this is the fourth album from this Norwegian band, labelled as cult prog rock in the press sheet. That continues to write: come over to the passenger side, open the lid and embark on an unparalleled journey through cinematic progressive soundscapes and otherworldly melodies. Eh? So you can imagine I was curious to hear what the band had to offer.

And I must say after hearing the music, I was starting to understand the information. This turns out to be quite the unique experience. That is, I know of no other band combining eighties new wave sounds, with pop sensibilities over a progressive foundation. Growing up musically in the seventies and eighties, I must also confess I really like what I am hearing here!
The lead singer has a low and dark voice, not quite unlike Tom Waits. The melodies are there and they are instant. There is a constant feeling of mystery and tension throughout the album. The combination of the vocals, the synths, the fierce drumming and guitar interludes keeps you on your toes. And still you never get lost. I don’t think it makes sense to lift out specific songs from this release. This is best listened to as a whole as that will give you the best idea of their attraction.

Very special, very interesting, very good. Go listen!

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