Monday, 17 October 2016

Sloche - J'un Oiel (1975)

Fantastic canadian band whose sole 2 albums are classic Gentle Giant styled music with just as much  exemplary musicianhip. This is their first album.

Together with Maneige and Et Cetera, Sloche is part of the Quebecois Holy Trinity of 70s Prog. Their debut album is an outstanding musical work that fairly deserves all the good rap that it usually gets in the Internet. Definitely, Sloche is one of those many unsung prog heroes that most prog collectors only got to know through CD technology and WWW merchandising. Their music tends to be a bit more bombastic that their aforementioned fellows, while keeping a similar fusion-oriented vein as Maneige; meanwhile, the dual keyboard layers provide a symphonic feel every now and then. The fusion facet is clearly influenced by Return to Forever and Weather Report, albeit less pompous than the former and a more uplifting than the latter. I observe some Kerry Minnear and George Duke influences on both keyboardists, but generally speaking, it must be stated that Sloche never gets derivative. The optimistic spirit that is generally spread all throughout "J'un Oeil" allows the complex compositions receive a certain air of catchiness, and also gives a frontal freshness to the musicians' intricate interplaying - structural sophistication and warmth, all at once. 'C'pas fin du Monde' kicks off the album as a proper sample of the band's style, displaying an attractive intensity and a healthy variety of moods expanded along the succession of different motifs. Things get more solemn in 'Le Karême d'Eros', which starts with a 3 ½ minute majestic piano solo, until a brief chorale enters along with the whole instrumental ensemble; the sung parts are accompanied by a series of voices of people partying, acting as a funnily disturbing chorus, and so the solemnity is over. But not the seriousness, as the alternate solos on synth and guitar show: things can only get better with a piece like this, specially when the string synth layers go fading out while a spatial Moog effect drags in to announce the entry of the funk-jazz closing section. Brilliant! The title track is the shortest and catchiest one, keeping things uplifting and a bit gentler. and gigantic as well, since it is the most Gentle Giant-like piece in the album. The same gentleness is carried out by the last two numbers, albeit they're a bit more complex: 'Algébrique' and 'Potage aux herbes douteuses' contain the biggest dose of funky colours in the album, but always keeping a constant loyalty to the overall fusion-prog essence of the album. In conclusion: a masterpiece. Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. C'Pas La Fin Du Monde (8:45) 
2. Le Karême D'Eros (10:40) 
3. J'Un Oeil (4:41) 
4. Algébrique (6:23) 
5. Potage Aux Herbes Douteuses (7:05) 

Line-up / Musicians

- Caroll Bérard / acoustic & electric guitars, percussions, vocals
- Réjean Yacola / piano, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, clavinet, celesta, Mini-Moog, percussions, vocals
- Martin Murray / Hammond B3, Mini-Moog, Wurlitzer, Solina, saxophone, percussions, vocals
- Pierre Hébert / bass, percussions, vocals
- Gilles Chiasson / drums, percussions, vocals 
Total Time: 37:34

Friday, 7 October 2016

Electric Orange - Misophonia (2016)

Fantastic krautrock music from this ever progressing band whos music always grabs you, much like the music of 'Can'. Would have to agree that this is probably their best overall album since 'MORBIUS'

As someone who remembers the classic era albums as new releases, I firmly believe some of today's 'retro' bands rival their Old Masters in quality and, paradoxically, originality. And this new Krautrock release from the 21st century's leading practitioners of the sub-genre is a prime example. I simply haven't heard a more beautiful Krautrock album since 'Future Days' in 1973. It doesn't sound like any other Krautrock exemplar, but this is definitely, definitely Krautrock.
Nothing has impressed me more about Prog Archives than the 'hit' status accorded to Electric Orange's excellent 2014 release 'Volume 10'. This is testament to the open-minded cultural vision of fans on this site. The only thing that has held me back from reviewing 'Volume 10' is the fact that my own rating would drag down its consensus score (slightly). Well, with 'Misophonia', Electric Orange have taken an artistic quantum leap - and it has the 'Wow!' factor I look for in awarding 5 stars. Their best album since the brilliant 'Morbus' of 2007 - and musically the two albums hardly sound like the same band. As others have said, Electric Orange never stop progressing.
Krautrock is not everyone's cup of tea, and I would not pretend there is any special musical cleverness required to appreciate this off-the-wall sub-genre. Really it is more a question of one's psychological state. But if you enjoyed 'Volume 10', you should love 'Misophonia'. And these albums are all on Bandcamp to hear - there is no excuse to avoid checking them out.
Verdict: A 21st century Krautrock MASTERPIECE.Review from Progarchives

Songs / Tracks Listing 
 1. Organized Suffering (18:09)
2. Bottledrone (11:48)
3. Demented (7:51)
4. Misophonia I (8:58)
5. Shattered (4:40)
6. Misophonia II (1:19)
7. Opsis (5:25)
8. Misophonia III (17:36)

Total time: 75:46

 Line-up / Musicians -
 Dirk Jan Müller / Farfisa compact, Hammond, Erebus, Solina string ensemble, MU modular synthesizer, Roland system 1
- Tom Rückwald / electric bass, fuzz bass, synthesizer bass, bottle bass
- Dirk Bittner / guitars, zither, mandolin, trumpet, phonofiddle, congas, bongos, cajon, voice
- Georg Mohnheim / drums, percussion, cymbals, beerbottles on carpet

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Steven Wilson - 4 and One Half (2016)

Yet another good album from Porcupine Trees main man. Most tracks seem to me though to follow the now over familiar Steve Wilson song style ,which is my only criticism here. To be honest it's not until we get to track 5 do we get into something more progressive/inventive and memorable. 'Vermillioncore' is a powerful instrumental with King Crimson styled bass. Now an whole album of this! would have been GREAT! 'Don't Hate Me' is an excellent, if unecessary reworking of one of Porcupine Trees best songs, with some female vocals and closes the album. Worth checking out for the tracks mentioned! SC&E

Steven has come back, with six easy-to-soak songs upon the newest album "4 1/2". Actually, I'm not so familiar with his creation until now enough to discuss his music style or album itself, but his previous album "The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)" has amazed me a lot ... anyway, I could listen to and enjoy "4 1/2" with fresh feeling, whether "The Raven ..." is fantastic or not. Able to mention this album should sound like his straight attitude for pop / rock, not so innovative nor novel though. Indeed the first shot "My Book Of Regrets" has a couple of variations scattered along with his soundscape, but his music basis sounds consistent from the beginning to the end ... Various phrases squeezed can be heard as a mass of rock. This mass cannot be divided into pieces (pop and anti-pop) ... can you?
"Vermillioncore" is another heavy and cool starshine around him. Tight but distorted vibes kick us away. Her vermillion would be attractive, mysterious, and poisonous ... that could kill us swiftly only if we touch this, I imagine. Such an obvious risk and benefit he might launch via this track. Aye for him, rainy Sunday might be a colourful day, I guess through "Sunday Rain Sets In". To run and hide our heads should not always be needed under the Sunday rainy sky, but be careful to get drastic shower or dreadful thunder / lightning sometimes attacking us ... he says upon this colourful stuff. Quite simple but enjoyable. And yes, "Year Of The Plague", almost a solo track by Steven, is one of my favourite songs. We must get immersed in river-flowing-out-like rhythm prints and dreamy, heartwarming melody lines ... he might show something veiled in his inner meditative world for grabbing our serious, sincere reaction in front of the song out.
And as a result ... I suppose all of his sincerity for music would be expressed over the last song "Don't Hate Me", that sounds of kaleidoscopic appearances. Sometimes quiet, sometimes violent (Theo's freakout saxophone is pretty effective), sometimes depressive, and sometimes enthusiastic ... and every vision repeats over and over on a regular basis. This atmospheric tide formed by Steven Project cannot be avoided at all. Every rock fan can enjoy this fantastic rock dish, I'm sure! 

  A surprise, in-between interim bridge-between album from workaholic master composer maestro mixer masterer overachiever extraordinaire Steven Wilson!
Jumping in, I'm caught by both stylistic and technical change from recent material - the 36--minute effort finds (forgive the phrase) Wilson at his solo work's most "accessible" and what I find to be the closest to the famed Porcupine Tree sound. Out are most of the avante gardish-ish jazz jam-isms we found on his seminal Raven that Refused to Sing album and to a lesser degree found on Hand Cannot Erase (though that album certainly was more "mainstream" and less jazzy). That should come as no surprise since a majority of the material here was cut from Hand Cannot Erase.
Not being a big fan of jazz in general, this, in this humble listener's opinion, is a good thing...
The album opener "My Books of Regrets" is a lovely nine-minute suite that, after 10 or so listens is really growing on me.
"Happiness III" is a wonderful gem, hummable and would have fit in nicely into of the lighter material we found in 2000s-era Porcupine Tree album.
"Year of the Plague" (dark, the listener can easily tell it's the only track here from Raven) and "Sunday Rain Sets in" (from WIlson's latest) are both lovely instrumental tracks- not the best he's done but great nonetheless.
Yet another vocal-free jam, "Vermillioncore" reminds me a lot of "Bornlivedie" (especially around the 2-minute mark) from one of my all-time favorites Signify.
A perfect Wilson/Ninet Tayeb duet re-imagining of 1999 Stupid Dream's "Don't Hate Me" closes the album (of course it does) finding Wilson and his solo-career comrades perfectly replicating and expanding upon the dreary 17 year-old classic. Theo Travis effortlessly replays his saxophone solo that I've always loved in this song too.

 Songs / Tracks Listing
1. My Book of Regrets (9.23)
2. Year of the Plague (4.15)
3. Happiness 3 (4.31)
4. Sunday Rain Sets In (3.50)
5. Vermillioncore (5.09)
6. Don't Hate Me (9.34)

Total Time 36:42

 Line-up / Musicians 
- Steven Wilson / vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass guitar
- Guthrie Govan / lead guitar
- Nick Beggs / bass guitar
- Marco Minnemann / drums
- Adam Holzman / keyboards
- Theo Travis / saxophone, flute
- Ninet Tayeb / vocals

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Astralasia - Wind on Water (2014)

Not a band you will find on any progressive/krautrock rock lists, better known as a trance music outfit really, i always thought they were more than just that though, and this latest offering confirms it, with its stunning mix of psychedelic tripped out sounds, and yes! fantastic krautrock.

 From the start you just know your into something special here, grabbing your attention with some out there sublime ambient hypnotic electronics which this band are so good at, especially on the track 'The Innosense' which is followed by the powerfull and superb 'The Desert' with the excellent voice parts. Icing on the cake though is the final track 'Continuim' which is a brilliant psyched out krautrock groove with distorted electric slide guitar which is just pure sonic spaceout immersion. 

I should add, this is one of those albums that is best listened to in its entirety for the maximum effect.

In 2014 Astralasia were approached by vinyl only label Fruits De Mer Records to produce an album of new music for a limited vinyl release. This release gained great press reviews and radio play and soon sold out and is currently unavailable. Due to incredible demand and soaring prices on Ebay of the now rare vinyl edition, Magick Eye Records is now releasing a digipak CD and digital edition.

The album consists of six tracks, some short and some long with an incredible mix of space and kraut rock combined with ambient, electro, prog and psychedelia. The album also includes 'The Desert' a track that has already been gaining interest from radio play and You Tube with its stunning, spaghetti western meets Mad Max feel.

Astralasia's Marc Swordfish said about the album:-
'Wind On Water' mostly came about thru jams, a bit similar to our first cassette, rather than being sample-led; it kinda takes us to a more organic, free situation. It certainly makes it more exciting for us, enabling us to do our full-on wig-outs. The current line up is so fluid, it's certainly a most exciting place.'

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Arsenal - Arsenal 6 (1991)

   Excellent russian jazz fusion album. This and Arsenal 5 (also 'Created withThere Own Hands' ) are the best three more accessible albums i have yet heard from this band. A fine mix of jazz fusion which at times reminds me of some of Klaus Doldingers Passport and just as inventive if at times jazzier. The track 'Yellow Sky' is a stunner with its ambience and oriental style flourishes.    ARSENAL, pioneers of jazz-rock in the Soviet Union, is a creature of Alexey (often spelled like Alexei) Kozlov (b. 1935), professional architect and self-taught saxophonist and composer. He played jazz since the 50s, had deep knowledge of its different styles, was a member of numerous bands, participated in jazz festivals in the USSR and abroad (Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary) and up to the 70s he had a good reputation in jazz circles. But as open-minded musician he was (and still is) always interested in different music styles. Listening to the music of bands like CHICAGO, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, BLOOD, SWEET AND TEARS, PINK FLOYD, KING CRIMSON, ELP and others gave him the idea to go in new direction and form a band, capable of playing the fusion of these styles.

According to Alexey Kozlov, he wanted to create a band of virtuosi, who can swing, improvise, have the "feel of the blues" and appreciate different music styles. It was not so easy to find musicians for new band. Most of experienced jazzmen were skeptical about rock and did not consider it serious music. Rock music in the Soviet Union was then in embryonic state and almost totally in underground, even the word "rock" was associated with hostile Western influences. Official equivalent of rock music existed in the form of so-called vocal-instrumental ensembles - professional groups, singing "songs of Soviet composers", without any rebellious spirit, specific to rock. Underground rock musicians were enthusiastic, but they were not able to play complex pieces, many of them even could not read music. The solution came mainly in the face of young Moscow Conservatory and Gnesin's Institute students, whose interests were not restricted by classical music only.

The band was called ARSENAL (there is a play of words - "ars" means "art" in Latin - and, additionally, it was in some way inspired by famous British football team). First ARSENAL rehearsal took place on November, 12, 1973. Initial line-up consisted of 4 singers and brass section, standard rock instruments were used as well. The band began to perform excerpts from Webber - Rice rock-opera "Jesus Christ Superstar", compositions of CHICAGO, BLOOD, SWEET AND TEARS, TOWER OF POWER and music written by Alexey Kozlov - and, obviously, became in the underground. Some records of that era were published only in 2005 on "Underground Arsenal" CD. Ensemble gave occasional concerts (without being paid for them, because it was against the law to get money for gigs if artists are not working in some official concert organization) and intensively rehearsed. Band members combined music with their "main" jobs and studies then.

Situation changed only in 1976, when Kaliningrad Philharmonic invited ARSENAL to constant job and the band became professional even from the official point of view. Ensemble extensively tours different towns and cities of the Soviet Union, takes part in some festivals at home and in East Europe, but is always under pressure of ideological machine - ARSENAL was not allowed to play concerts in Moscow until 1980, the first album, "Arsenal" (aka "Dangerous Game"), recorded in 1977, was published only in 1979.
ARSENAL music during its long career came through various stylistic changes. From   Songs / Tracks Listing Side 1

1. Сильвер-блюз / Silver Blues (8:01)
2. Жёлтое небо / Yellow Sky (5:50
3. Незнакомка / She Is A Stranger (6:05)

Side 2
4. Зависть / Envy (11:50) 5. Мир тесен / It's A Small World (8:58) Line-up / Musicians
- Alexey Kozlov / alto and soprano saxophones, keyboards
- Ivan Smirnov / guitar
- Andrei Denisov / keyboards
- Alexander Pishikov / tenor saxophone, flute
- Anatoli Kulikov / bass
- Igor Djavad-zade / drums
- Valeri Demin / percussion

Monday, 18 January 2016

Jody Grind - One Step On

Justifiably, Jody Grind who recieved little attention at the time, are now recognized for there two classic albums which predate the likes of Deep Purple Uriah Heep Vanilla Fudges more well known releases. Check out the fantastic lengthy jam opener! All in all this is one of those albums which you will be revisiting time and time again. Superb stuff!!

JD is one of those early 70's UK proto-prog that enjoys a semi-legendary status mostly because their two albums were highly sought- after by collectors along with Indian Summer, Cressida and a few others. I must admit that I like most progheads hailed these groups as they received early 90's Cd reissues that made them fairly easily obtainable and allowed us to discover those small-unearthed gems. But some 15 years later, have those groups kept their early discovery magic? Not really, if you ask me. Most progheads marvelled at these unearthed albums (me included) because they got reissues in very dire times (just before the start of the second prog boom in 93-4), so the famined proghead was maybe a bit too enthusiastic back then, just as they were in the 80's with those neo-prog groups that wouldn't raise an eyebrow today.
JD delivered only two albums, but did so fairly early and disappeared relatively quickly from the scene, even if all three members would find future adventures throughout the rest of the decade. With this haunting and bizarre artwork, their first record was a very honest and thrilling debut, even if it was a bit indulgent in terms of songwriting. Indeed most of the tracks have a jam-derived structure, especially the sidelong title-track that included a rendition of the Stones' Paint It Black and a drum solo. But with their organ-driven hard prog, the group manages to stray fresh, energetic and maintain your enthusiasm, sometimes by short brass/horn section bursts that provided incredible surges of power and intrigue, Hinkley's organ providing much of the sound, but was often superbly seconded/answered by Holland's fiery guitar solos.
The flipside unveils what they were taunting us with: the horn section coming in a full part of their music. Indeed Little Message and Night Today appear as almost full-blown brass rock: while not abusing of them either, this remained quite tasteful and as powerful as when Atomic Rooster used the brass section. The lengthier (almost 7-mins) blues-rock USA is a real pleaser and the highlight of this side of wax, while the closer is a Foghat-like boogie-RnR track without much interest.
This debut album came out when the adjunction of heavy horn/brass arrangements was obviously the craze, but if JD's debut bows to that trend/fad, they do not succumb to it either: their brass section is made of guest musicians and are not part of the group. While hardly essential on a prog scale, JD's first album is a pleasant affair even if at times they could've been slightly more concise.   

 Since I knew the band for the first time (I just known it couple of months ago) I started to search the net and found very limited information about this band. The one I got from Wiki was about the organ player Tim Hinkley but not about Jody Grind. But from what I learn from the net this band was established at the end of 60s. Tim Hinkley was basically a session player for other musicians but nothing was specified in reasonable details about Jody Grind. If you have information about the band please do let me know. Thanks.
Excellent vintage music!
I am so curious about the band because I really love the vintage brass-rock music it delivers and reminds me to bands like Chase or Collosseum. The music is really something that I like. The opening track "One Step On" (18:47) is an epic comprising four parts : a. In My Mind, b. Nothing At All, c. Interaction, and Rolling Stones' d. Paint It Black. This epic really explores the guitar solo by Ivan Zagni who plays the solo wonderfully throughout almost first 8 minuets of the track. There are much of jazz and blues influence throughout the song. His guitar improvisation is really enjoyable and, in fact, captivating. The brass section augments the music nicely. Tim Hinkley's Hammond organ work is also great and another key attraction to the overall track and album!
"Little Message" (4:42) starts brilliantly with Hammond organ punch followed with brass-based music and high register notes vocal work. This is something like Chase, really. The guitar provides its stunning solo afterwards. It's so cool, so lively and so vintage! The organ returns back with dazzling sound backed with inventive bass lines. Oh man .. I like it! "Night Today" (5:04) is a jazzy tunes that moves the album in moderate to mellow tempo. It's another great composition which relies in the combination of vocal, guitar, brass section and organ. I imagine that the music is a blend of Chase and Dave Brubeck's band. The guitar solo really blows me away!
"U.S.A." (6:41) tones down the music a bit with a bluesy style but still using organ and guitar as major components of the music. The guitar exploration now centers around blues notes in a bit rocky singing style and it makes an excellent combination. As the title implies "Rock 'n' Roll Man" (4:31) is Jody Grind's interpretation of rock'n'roll which is delivered excellently. The singing style is excellent especially when it's combined with stunning guitar work.
Overall, this is a gem that you have to own the album if you really love vintage sounds. The key to the music is the guitar work and organ augmented with brass section. The guitar work blows me away. The vocal is also excellent. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Keep on proggin' ..!
Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)  Reviews from

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. One Step On (18:47)
- a. In My Mind
- b. Nothing At All
- c. Interaction
- d. Paint It Black
2. Little Message (4:42)
3. Night Today (5:04)
4. U.S.A. (6:41)
5. Rock 'n' Roll Man (4:31)

Total Time: 39:47

Line-up / Musicians
- Tim Hinkley / organ
- Ivan Zagni / guitar
- Barry Wilson / drums
- Louis Cenammo / bass (1d, 2 & 5)

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Gourishankar - 2nd Hands (2007)

Extraordinary album by this russian band. Musicianship is superlative and complexities are truly mind boggling with a mix of styles which is quite unlike anything else you've heard before!! If you thought bands like Gentle Giant etc were intricate, this goes way beyond them all! A masterwork!!

One may consider me a maniac giving 5 stars to every Prog band from post-Soviet area.I must disappoint you - I'm a quite adequate person and use 5 stars pretty rare. These incredible guys truly deserve every star from all 5!Participating in a number of other projects (from alternative rock to electronics), guys distancing themselves from Prog label as well as from any other.Come on, don't be shy - you're Prog! Welcome!
OK, sceptics, look here - we have amazing blend of Retro and Modern Prog with perfect equilibrium. Don't stuck to PORCUPINE TREE or TAAL comparings - they are used only to denote that THE GOURISHANKAR is the same way beautiful, challenging and essential. If you'll miss it, then go and burn your CD collection: you're progger no more.
The album starts from oriental flavour of "Moon7" - energetic complex instrumental evoking best ANGLAGARD's moments, but with dozens of other influences from almost EVERY musical genre we - humans - have. THE GOURISHANKAR have probably wider range of influences ;). One can notice that flavour in almost every track - the following "Endless Drama" (think of GENTLE GIANT jams with DREAM THEATER) has it, and "Queer Forest" with unexpected Reggae mid-part too. That's great - the band named in eastern way MUST have some mystic eastern tunes!And it has and in a good way. Short "Taste a Cake" leads you to "The Inexpressible Chagrin", a wonderful H's MARILLION-like ballad (a radio piece? ;) ), which proves how strong these guys are in songwriting - complex but never chaotic, melodic but never cheesy!!! Awesome! Another dark instrumental follows ("Syx"), and seventh track frightens us with its name ("End"). Hell no! The good MUST last for some long time, and closing 18-min long monster ("Marvelous Choice") is alone worth buying of this CD!
EXTREMELY RECOMMENDED for EVERY PROGRESSIVE ROCK listener! Open your minds and enjoy! Simply the BEST from the whole 2007 I heard so far!

This band is really unbelievable. The music is very technical, but very melodic, and full of surprising ideas in rhythm development. You hear beautiful violin tunes and suddenly you hear rumba and in no time you hear wall of prog keyboards. You can never predict whether you hear classical sound or running rock or reggae next to what you hear now. It changes by seconds. Waoh.
Another remark we can make is they are talented in melody making. The second track "Endless Drama" is for instance like a song of Pet Shop Boys, yes, it is pop but entirely progressive rock that walks in the center of this genre. Can you imagine ? I say no you can't until you hear the music. Five-star album with no hesitation. For all prog fans.

The Gourishankar are an incredible Russian prog act. Their music is sublime - literally. It has complete and incredible mystery, like no other music ive ever heard before. It has such a deep, meaningful, spiritual sense to it. It often sounds like a jam with wierd effects, total electronic madness, yet it has strange sense and a true progressive sound.
It is completely different from anything i have heard. They arent afraid to create interesing, happier, more up-lifting moments. The outro of the song "..end" is magnificent and totally up-lifting. Styx and Moon 7 are incredile displays of virtuosity and technical wizardry - yet they never sacrifice origionality and melody for technicality.
Overall, a really decent band, with a suberb album that deserves 5 stars for origionality, a special kind of unique music and outstanding musicianship. Reviews from

Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Moon7 (10:11)
2. Endless Drama (7:45)
3. Queer Forest (6:30)
4. Taste A Cake (1:47)
5. The Inexpressible Chagrin (6:54)
6. Syx (11:08)
7. ...End (8:40)
8. Marvelous Choice (18:16)

Total Time: 71:11

Line-up / Musicians
- Vlad MJ Whiner / lead vocals
- Doran Usher / keyboards, programming
- Nomy Agranson / guitars, backing vocals
- Cat Heady / drums, loops

Guest musicians:
- Vladimir Rastorguev / violin, viola
- Dmitry Ulyashev / saxophone, flute
- Alla Izverskaya / backing vocals

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Magma - SLAǧ TANƶ (2015)

To my ears one of the best, if not the best of Magma ( Christian Vander) albums.This  has all the Zeuhlistic trademarks - pulsating bass, massed vocal dexterity,intricate and powerfull drumwork, which reaches those frenzied heights only this band know how to do, and all melded together as one whole, which demands to be heard from start to finish. I love the shamanistic ritual vocal touches which is quite new with this band. Check out the awesome live video below!

 A MUST HAVE for any any MAGMA fan! Only complaint is , i wished it were longer!!

There are several things that set this album apart from other Magma albums that I have heard. First and foremost is the amazing cymbal play of drummer extraordinaire, Christian Vander. Second is the way in which Magma have refined and mastered their delivery format for their stories from the world of Kobaia. And third is the way in which the long-time band members have mastered and refined their vocal instruments: Stella Vander, Isabelle Feuillebois and Herv' Aknin (and even Klaus Blasquiz, who does not appear on this album) are simply astounding. They are solid as rocks. They are so seasoned that it is hard to discern any flaws in their work. It must be so nice for band leader, Christian Vander, to have such companion/collaborators who seem so unwavering in their support and who are so dedicated to this form of music, to the vision of their band leader, as well as to the betterment of their own skills. While I have to admit that I find Slag Tanz slightly less engaging than Magma's previous recent studio releases, however, I find it hard to rate any modern recording of Magma's with anything less than five stars because the composition, performances, and recording/engineering is so consistently strong (even though many of the compositions were composed decades ago and have been performed live for years). It is my strong opinion that we music listeners are so very privileged to have the recordings and concert performances of an artist with such strong and independent vision who always composes and performs at the absolute highest levels every time (and, of course, demands the same of his collaborators). 

This might be the single greatest piece of music that i've heard from MAGMA. According to Christian Vander it was written back in the seventies and played live in different forms since 2009. I'm such a big fan of not only dark and intense music like we have here but especially when contrasted with mellower passages. Now these more laid back sections often have this burning undercurrent to them but they also that lighter sound with female vocals at times. This is a 21 minute piece of seamless music divided into eight parts.
"Imehntosz-Alerte!" features Fender Rhodes, cymbals and bass early on as male vocals kick in. It settles back into a dark atmosphere as the male vocals return. Some tension here for sure as it blends into "Slag". The bass and vocals really impress here as it becomes fuller right away. It's picking up in tempo and in intensity a minute in. So good! Check out the insane vocals before 1 1/2 minutes as well as the killer drum work. It settles right down before 2 minutes as Fender Rhodes, drums, bass and female vocals lead the way. The insanity is back after 2 1/2 minutes but then it settles and blends into "Dumb" where female vocals and male vocals lead the way. They are burning it up with male vocals once again around a minute and check out the female vocal melodies that follow. Contrasts continue then a calm follows as bass and drums take the spotlight. It turns extreme again.
"Vers La Nuit" is led by female vocal melodies, bass and drums then the male vocals arrive as they trade off before both join in together as it turns fierce late. "Dumblae-Le Silence Des Mondes" settles to start with male vocals before it builds with male and female vocals. Check it out at 2 1/2 minutes! That female voice that cries out and the bass in that doom-like atmosphere. Incredible! "Zu Zain!" sounds amazing with the bass from Bussonnet that is just grooving and Vander's random drum patterns. Female vocals arrive around 1 1/2 minutes. "Slag Tanz" is beyond profound in my world with those intense vocals along with the Fender Rhodes, bass and drums. Simply killer! It settles late and it feels right that this EP should end here but then we get "Wohl Dunt" which is almost dirge-like with piano and Christian's slow vocals as it gives us a chance to figure out what the hell just happened.
I wasn't that impressed with the previous EP by MAGMA but man they have blown me away with this one.

Alright, here's the one all the Magma fans have been waiting for for quite some time now, and the question is, has the wait been justified? They've been playing this piece live since around 2009, and it has slowly morphed into the piece it is today. Bits have been chopped off, bits have been added, and does it work? Well for me, the answer to that is a resounding "yes". On my initial hearing, I didn't quite know what to make of it. It was certainly different than the live versions I had heard, it seemed to be lacking the sheer metal brutality of its live predecessor on Epok V, and I took this to be a weakness. Yet, there was still something in there that brought me back to it. After many listens, my ears have definitely warmed up to the sound of it, it is definitely less raw and metallic than the live version, but it is just as effective. This piece is very dense and episodic, alternating flawlessly between dark and heavy to angelic beauty. In other words, the piece is constantly moving itself forward, there is very little downtime; boring is the last word one could use to describe it. What it may lack in brutality, it makes up for with intensity and power. What I find most striking about this piece is its genius use of it's main, pulsating 5/4 bass riff (sort of like De Futura). The riff is present throughout nearly the entire piece, and yet it morphs to fit the mood of whichever section of the piece it's in. This riff lies under both heavy, dark passages as well as the light, melodic ones, and I believe this is where the genius of this piece lies; the ability to take this single riff, and flesh it out into a beautiful and powerful 20 minute piece. This is the very definition of fully fleshing out a single idea. Yes, I did say only 20 minutes, but the quality totally exceeds the quanitity. Vander's been working on this piece for years, he wouldn't release it as an unfinished work, he doesn't seem to be the one to take short cuts. Highly recommended.  Reviews from

 Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Imëhntösz - Alerte ! (2:19)
2. Slag (3:03)
3. Dümb (2:57)
4. Vers la nuit (3:30)
5. Dümblaë - Le silence des mondes (2:58)
6. Zü Zaïn ! (2:16)
7. Slaǧ Tanƶ (2:29)
8. Wohldünt (1:23)

Total Time: 20:55

Line-up / Musicians
- Stella Vander / vocals
- Isabelle Feuillebois / vocals
- Hervé Aknin / vocals
- Benoit Alziary / vibraphone
- James Mac Gaw / guitar
- Jérémie Ternoy / piano, Fender Rhodes
- Philippe Bussonnet / bass guitar
- Christian Vander / drums, piano, vocals 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Carol Of Harvest - Carol Of Harvest (1978 )

A masterpiece of an almost perfect combination of psychedelic/ folk and progressive rock.

Hailing from Germany Carol Of Harvest sole album is a real collectors item , selling for hundreds of dollars and probably one of the few thats really worth it!

Imagine if you will then , german bands like Emitidi and Holderlin fused with Rennaisance and Pentangle, and you will have a pretty good idea of the style of music on offer here. Although bands like the ones just mentioned only hinted at this. Sounds closer to me more like " Solstice " with a similar roaring emotive power as on there first release.

The simplistic but superb ( english )vocals by one Beate Krause are really delightfull and the longer songs such as "Put On Your Nightcap"and "Try a Little Bit" give the band plenty of room to stretch out with soaring lead guitar and expressive harmoniuos , synth mellotron infused passages, full of atmosphere. Most of the songs do sound similar , but more like a theme everything seems to flow as a whole. 
If your a fan of the aforementioned bands then this is an ESSENTIAL album.

A really nice record here. The sound is reminiscent of bands like Emtidi (Saat) or Holderlin (Holderlin's Traum/Hoelderlin). You get a similar feel, though there is more of a (prog) rock approach. It sounds like it came out of the early 70s too. The music is generally quite melodic, generally melancholic and or poignant, and contains common structural variations common in prog and instrumental sections and or solos as well as generally a very high level of musical skill. Beate Krause's vocals are beautiful and delicate yet confident and soulful."Put On Your Nightcap" is the best song here and is the most developed idea, with many parts and high quality musicianship and songwriting. My only complaint is that it ends randomly without any conclusion. It is a poignant and sorrowful song about war (it isn't ever graphic, you just have lyrics like "Who can decide when to love when to fight?" or "Preachers of god you have never understood" or the refrain "Close to the edge of the world"). The other four songs on this album sound a little unpolished songwriting-wise and for that reason sometimes sounding patchy or like unfinished or patched-together ideas. Those are my harshest criticisms. "You and Me" is a nice short upbeat song that concludes "side A". "Somewhere at the End of the Rainbow" is the most fully polished song on here and is a very nice melodic and meaty enough song (instrumentation/musicianship/songwriting-wise). "Treary Eyes" for me is the weakest track on here, though it is melodic and holds enough interest to get the listener across 4 minutes to the next song. The final song "Try a Little Bit" is a good one, with several very good parts, though it is slightly uneven in flow and quality. It is perhaps more ambitious than "Somewhere at the End of the Rainbow" but it is also more unfinished and less polished.
There are more than a few very good ideas in the three bonus tracks though they are not fully-formed songs, more like fragments or ideas, and they are played live and have a horrendous recording/sound at times. They are a nice addition and leave me wishing they recorded a second album.
This record is essential for fans of acid-folk of the 70's and the more melodic and melancholic sides of krautrock, and highly recommended to fans of progressive music, folk rock, and great female singing.

Carole of Harvest, like Emtidi, Gurnemanz, Ougenweide and Hoelderlin, showed that a psychedelic prog folk scene did exist in Germany in the 70s, but their sole effort came along when the other bands had shifted or disappeared, and therefore the genre was of less interest by then. In fact, one might even ask what the point was. Most of the ideas presented here were long past their expiry date both in their native land and elsewhere, often sounding more like early than late 70s. The instrumentation is sparse and samey, featuring mostly heavily strummed electric or amplified acoustic guitars, with the keys secondary.
Where Carole of Harvest departs from all of the above in a favourable sense is the superb vocals of Beate Krause, who is reminiscent of the singers in the aforementioned groups but also of Jacquie MacShee and Annie Haslam. It is expressive and is in perfect sync with the accompaniment, no more so than in the finale of the original LP, "Try a LIttle Bit", 10 minutes of prog folk bliss with more bite than Pentangle or Renaissance could ever hope to muster. Ms Krause's wordless acompaniment that follows the main part of the song is masterfully expressive and harmonious, and the synthesizers, and perhaps mellotron at the finale, provide just the right augmentation to the basic sound. While drums are present on this track, they are kept low and are not needed, so potent is the basic groove. That is the general trend in the album.
The other major highlight is the longest song, the 16 minute anti war reflection called "Put on Your Nightcap" that opens the album with tentative guitar reflections, unrushed and pregnant with promise, accompanied by the sounds of the wind. The structure and manner of buildup is very progressive, with time given to express the lyrical themes and some impressive synthesizer and lead guitar work, mostly played at a slow pace reflecting the ponderous nature of the theme. A second part is slightly more upbeat with more emphasis on the rhythm, and some prominent bass work.
The other three original songs from the LP are all shorter and decent but not quite to 5 star level, being like more concise but less interesting versions of the two monsters. The bonus material is live, shows a more straightforward rocking side of the band, and sounds quite out of place given the strength and style of the other material.
While the harvest reaped is superficially similar to the usual autumn fare, the album manages to carve a feast for the prog fan with an interest in electric folk, as well as an indelible niche among the many German one-offs in existence. Highly recommended.

What an incredible find! This album is a true delight from start to finish, and a great example of the modest and short-lived resurgence of interest in folkish psychedelic music in free Germany in the latter seventies.
Carol of Harvest unfortunately released only one album, and that originally only in the form of a small private pressing. The album was re-released in the nineties, and again on CD several years after that. Prior to these releases this music was pretty much reserved for those who were fortunate enough to pick it up at its original release, or those who had thousands of dollars to invest in an auctioned copy. Today the CD is available for little more cost than that of any modern popular band, and includes three live tracks of unspecified origin.
There is almost no information available on the web or in library archives that gives many clues as to where and why these guys came into existence. Too bad, because I’m quite sure the story is fascinating. I also cannot find any evidence any of them pursued music as a career after the band folded, with the exception of bassist Heinz Reinschlüssel who ended up in the pop-nostalgia band Rey Vulcano, with whom he apparently still performs. Again, too bad: singer Beate Krause has a folk-laced, almost operatic voice that should have graced the grooves of many albums, and guitarist Axel Schmierer’s sound is in the finest David Gilmour / Steve Rothery tradition. Jürgen Kolb’s moog would have placed him well in any number of psychedelic, symphonic, or even hard rock bands of that day; while the rhythm section, though not exactly stellar, is well-suited to their subdued supporting role.
The band’s name is taken from the American poet Walt Whitman’s epic ‘Leaves of Grass’, and specifically from the stanzas where he describes the wasteland of the battlefield strewn with casualties, and where he philosophically posits that carrying-on with life is all that remains to do for the survivors (the CD’s liner notes include an excerpt from Whitman’s poem). This sentiment is similar to Voltare’s idea of “cultivating our garden” in the depressing but hopeful ‘Candide’.
And this is also the sentiment of the band, particularly in the lengthy opening track “Put on Your Nightcap”, in which Ms. Krause croons in hypnotically appealing tones about war and its aftermath. Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention comes to mind, as does the activist/musician Peggy Seeger. But it is important to note this album was recorded in 1978, not a decade earlier though that is what it sounds like. Considering the common musical fare of the late seventies, it’s not surprising this one never made any kind of impression on the masses. Our loss. The opening track starts out sounding very much like an old Fairport Convention, Joan Baez, or Peter, Paul & Mary folk song, but quickly proves its mettle by progressing into a borderline psychedelic work with rangy, soaring guitar by Schmierer and a sporadically heavy rhythm. This is undoubtedly the highlight of the whole album, although the rest is well worth many listenings.
“You and Me” is the track most often played on college radio or obscure compilation albums when Carol of Harvest gets represented. This is probably because it is short, mellow, willowingly upbeat, and more representative of the folk side of the band.
From there the band launched into another extended track with “Somewhere At The End of the Rainbow”, which sounds remarkably like the later British band Mostly Autumn, or maybe even Stream of Passion. This is another track that skirts the boundary between hippy and acid folk, and manages both with equal skill. The almost bluesy guitar solo in the middle is simply beautiful, and also features the only really prominent bass lines on the album.
“Treary Eyes” is another short tune, and like “You and Me” features acoustic guitar and very understated keyboards. This one reminds me quite of a bit of the interaction between Nancy Wilson’s acoustic guitar and sister Ann’s soulful singing on Heart’s ‘Dog and Butterfly’ album, and in fact was recorded around the same time.
The first few guitar chords of “Try a Little Bit” are suspiciously similar to the Animals’ rendition of “House of the Rising Sun”, and the track does manage to stray well into the psych R&B sound of that band almost immediately. The guitar work here is again exceptional, intricate and emotive while at the same time disciplined. Aside from the opening track this is probably the strongest work on the album, and the noodling moog and loose bass line sound much closer to the end of the decade in which is was recorded, as opposed to the rest of the album that sounds like a Woodstock-era throwback.
The final three tracks on the CD are live, which of course begs the question of when and where they were recorded. Not sure, but there is definitely an enthusiastic crowd. “River” and “Brickstone” are heavier and more melodic than the original album, and the keyboardist seems to have traded in his moog for an analog organ of some sort. The recording quality of these tracks isn’t so good, but both songs are energetic and fun to listen to, although not representative of the rest of the album.
The remaining live track is “Sweet Heroin”, which I’m positive is a cover of someone else’s, but I don’t know whose. This is an intensely psychedelic composition with extended instrumental passages, moaning vocals courtesy of Ms. Krause, and overall a Jim Morrison Doors-like feel. This is easily the heaviest work on the album, and the crowd responds enthusiastically. Ms. Krause borders on sounding like Patti Smith as she spits out the vocals in between flights of guitar fantasy. Again, great track, but not consistent with the rest of the album.
So in all this is an outstanding album, with only a couple of very minor quibbles to keep it from being considered a masterpiece. Primarily is this feeling that the band was originally scoping this as a concept album (as evidenced by the band’s name, artwork, and opening track), but for some reason the theme doesn’t seem to quite hold throughout. Also, the lack of any kind of detailed credits or liner notes is a bit disappointing considering the relative obscurity of the band. This is a tack that bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and even punk bands could pull off, but it’s just annoying with this band.
Maybe this is a masterpiece anyway, but for now I’ll say it is a solid four stars, and will perhaps revisit that someday.
Reviews from

Heldon - Un Rêve Sans Conséquence Spéciale (1976)


Great Heldon album,probably my second favourite to 'Stand By' A very masterfull album indeed!
Reve sans Consequence Speciale" is my all-rime favourite Heldon album, and it is certainly the most aggressive of this French project's discography. For this one, Pinhas had a very effective partner in drummer/percussionist François Auger, who without doubt played a crucial role at enhancing Heldon's sonic power the way it is reflected in the album's repertoire. Other collaborators are synth player Patrick Gauthier, and bassists Didier Batard and Janick Top (of Magma fame). The featured presence of the rhythm section is based on a more pronounced role of the synthesized loops, and of course, Auger's intrepid drumming: some percussive stuff is frontally tribal, like a soundtrack for a wildest mystic trance. This album is pretty much like a constant ride though stormy weathered lands, with Pinhas' guitar lines and riffs assuming a higher level of aggressiveness than ever before: at times the guitar gets really violent, and as a Fripp-inspired guitarist, he keeps the guitar stuff very dissonant and floating. This intention is made clear from the opening track 'Marie Virginie C.' - the CD edition ends with a live rendition of this same number, which bears a slightly altered title. The 15- minute 'Toward the Line' is the longest track in the album, and it also represents firmly the line of work described before: this is as powerful as minimalistic rock with an electronic basis can ever get. 'Perspective IV Ter Muco' and 'MVD II' keep the same ideology, only with a decreased level of energy, but still these are strong numbers, designed, just like the other two, to shake the listener's aesthetic foundations rather than to make them enjoy (in a conventional sense of the word). The repetitive nature of this tracks' cadence may remind the listener of Can or Neu!, but with a more ballsy attitude - that comes from the Fripp influence, of course. 'Elephanta' is the only non- Pinhas number in the album. It was written by Auger, and it mostly consists of a hypnotic ritual of drums and assorted percussions "dancing" frantically to an eerie tempo, with Pinhas using his Moog as an extra percussive implement in order to give this ritual a more delirious texture. Well, I've got nothing else to say about this exciting album, except that it is a prog masterpiece. I know that Heldon is not your typical progressive band, and it even was labeled as "cyper-punk" by the French musical press; I also keep in mind that Heldon is not a band you might call particularly recommendable, since its style is overtly cryptic. But if we keep in mind that, generally speaking, modern experimentation is an essential ingredient of the greatest prog, and that Heldon's music is closely related to big prog names such as KC and Tangerine Dream, then I can only conclude that this is not only a very good progressive music album, but also a masterful example of the most experimental side of the prog movement. This is Heldon's most brilliant and cohesive album, and as such, I can only give it the maximum rating. Review from

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Marie Virginie C (11:42)
2. Elephanta (8:29)
3. Perspective IV Ter Muco (Live, bonus track on CD) (5:25)
4. MVC II (6:13)
5. Toward The Red Line (15:16)
6. Marie Et Virginie Comp (Live, bonus track on CD) (9:36)

Total Time: 56:38
Line-up / Musicians
- Richard Pinhas / guitar, Moog B et III, EMS
- François Auger / drums, percussion
- Janick Top / bass, Fracello (4)
- Didier Batard / bass (3)
- Patrick Gauthier / Moog (1

Eloy - Rarities (1991)


This is a very nice compilation of Eloy tracks, but is not altogether as the title may suggest. Most of the songs already being available on various albums. We do however have one or two little gems in here not to be found elsewhere, most notably the song "Let the Sun Rise in Your Brain" which is in typical Eloy space rock mode with some excellent flute breaks in Jethro Tull vein. There's also a different version of ' Child Migration" and a longer version of " Wings Of Vision " and also has some single versions of other well known songs.

Rarities is more for the Eloy completist, but is nevertheless an excellent compilation in itself by germany's premier space-rock outfit!

Good compilation of Eloy tracks here, ranging from 1973 to 1984. But Rarities may be a little daring as a title; in fact, only 60 % of the record is rare. So I will focus on these novelties.
The first half of the disc is hardly composed of A and B sides that cannot be found on official albums/lives. It opens energically with the psychedelic hard rock instrumental Daybreak, carved in the same stone than Floating. On the Road sounds very Deep Purple-ish with its omnipresent organ and is very catchy. The best rarity here is the cosmic mini-epic Child Migration (different and as less as good as the track of the same name from Colours). The song begins trippy synthetizer to go on with high-pitched vocals and powerful guitars, definitely worth the trip. The calms reappears with Let the Sun Rise in Your Brain, relaxing musical piece featuring beautiful flute playing. On the contrary, Wings of Vision is not much welcomed in this compilation it is a little bit cheesy.
The second half of the compilation is merely composed of top tracks taken from Eloy's classic 80s albums (Colours, Planets, Time to Turn and Metromania), with the lengthy version of Wings of Vision.
Not the best place to start with Eloy, but surely a good investment for Eloy and space rock fans.

  "Eloy" didn't release any new studio album between 1988 and 1992. It was maybe the kick for their label to release these "Rarities".
Several songs do have an historical interest but not more. It is the case of "Daybreak" as well as "On The Road". Good old "Eloy" songs. Fully psychedelic. Both were released on the remastered version of their debut album. The most interesting is "Let the Sun Rise in Your Brain". It is one of their few (if not only) "Tull" oriented songs. This flavour is provided with a good fluting break. IMO, it is one the best number from this complilation.
I also lilke very much "Through a Somber Galaxy". The great guitar solo is fully Floydian and it was one of the very few good songs from "Time to Turn". This version has been edited slightly (almost one minute). There are two additional songs from this abum as well but they are really painful : "Wings of Vision" and the title track "Time to Turn" (even featured twice here)! These single (or extended version) won't do any good.
Their album "Colours" which I didn't really appreciate will provide the core of this album. Four numbers actually : "Child Migration ", "Horizons", "Silhouette", and "Sunset" which was one of my fave from this average album.
This collection of songs is by no means of deep interest. Just a couple really deserves any attention. Two starsReviews from

Songs / Tracks Listing

  1. Daybreak (3:39)
2. On the Road (2:30)
3. Child Migration (4:03)
4. Let the Sun Rise in Your Brain (3:28)
5. Silhouette (3:30)
6. Horizons (3:20)
7. Wings of Vision (3:50)
8. Sunset (2:56)
9. Time to Turn (4:33)
10. Through a Somber Galaxy - 5:16
11. The Stranger (3:59)
12. Wings of Vision (12'' version) (4:14)

Monday, 4 January 2016

Porcupine Tree - Voyage 34 (1992)

One of the greatest of all Porcupine Tree albums. A pure gem of spaced out rhythmic cosmic music which flows together beautifully. 

Apart from Steve Hillage, what was big in the sixties and seventies, less so in the 1980s, but then fully embraced by the emerging underground squat-rave movement of the 1990's...? Have you guessed it yet? Yes, of course, I am talking about LSD. An incredibly-potent chemical that has essentially influenced virtually all the good music ever(maybe over-egging the pudding a little here, apologies), this once-legal drug changed everything back in the 1960s, paving the way for the counter-culture movement that bore such influential groups as Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd whilst also helping to ferment revolution, progression and new ideals that revolutionised society. Not bad for a tasteless, odourless liquid often served in either sugar cubes or on blotting paper. Discovered, quite accidentally, by Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman during World War 2, LSD has gradually become less-and-less popular over the years, matching the declining quality of popular culture with scary authenticity. However, those who still like to tune in, turn on and drop out still exist, and Steven Wilson, founder of top British prog outfit Porcupine Tree, was obviously one of them. This album, which is split into four parts, recounts an LSD trip from exciting beginning to awe-inspiring end, a brilliantly-conceived, 1960's-style narrator helping us along our journey. Part-ambient, part-progressive, at times almost dancey yet always utterly engrossing, 'Voyage 34' may not be for everyone yet that, it seems, is exactly the point. Few people truely love LSD - many are terrified of it - but there is no denying what an incredible, conscious-altering substance it actually is. This album is the perfect foil for understanding this strange little drug, and those with an interest in all things psychedelic are urged to investigate. But remember folks, drugs are bad! STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2014 

Originally intended to be included on the "Up the downstair" album, this 30 minute piece was omitted from that collection and released instead as a 12" single. The track was split in half due to the limitations of vinyl, this becoming "parts 1 and 2".
While primarily a lengthy instrumental work firmly rooted in the psychedelic sounds of Pink Floyd, the various motifs which make up the piece are interrupted by dispassionate narration. This tells the unfolding tale of an LSD trip by someone called Brian, his experiences being increasingly disturbing.
Musically, this is essentially a vehicle for Steve Wilson to put together some fine lead guitar work in a succession of riffs and occasional solos. Part 2 is less dynamic and thus less effective than side one, the emphasis being more towards the after effects. The narrative becomes increasingly troubled, and the music more ambient with trance overtones.
While "Voyage 34" is now considered to be of its time, I still find it to be a highly enjoyable listen, especially Part 1. Admittedly, it lacks the tightness of modern day Porcupine Tree, but the persistent rhythms and overall ambience are, in their own way, rather alluring.
Incidentally, the title of the "Up the downstairs" album is taken from the narrative of part 1, where "Brian" is devastated to meet himself coming down an up staircase. 

Voyage 34 is a brave step into the unknown. Steven Wilson's unique blend of Psychedelic Prog, Trance and Spoken Word is a swirling love/hate affair that plays out as a pathetic fallacy for a personal LSD trip, either beautifully relaxing and easy or frustrating, annoying and scary. Although the main theme of Pink Floyd's The Wall does lend itself well to this context, its overemphasised repetition a haunting background to the spoken testimonies of acid users in Phase II, its a shame Wilson couldn't come up with a riff of his own for such a mindbendingly experimental product. Even not viewed as a blotter paper induced nightmare Voyage 34 is a lush epic instrumental with some fantastically emotional lead guitar work. Hardly an everyday casual listen yet most fans of early Porcupine Tree should be able to appreciate this once in a while. Reviews from

 Songs / Tracks Listing 
1. Voyage 34 - Phases 1 / 2 (30:04)

Sunday, 3 January 2016

One Shot - Vendredi 13 (2001)

First rate zeuhl music for all Magma fans. All of there releases are well worth checking out if you can find them!

Get in line, put down your money and get yer Zeuhl fix right here. Satisfaction guaranteed.
One Shot, featuring Emmanuel Boghi, keyboards, James Mac Graw, gujitar, and Philippe Bussonnet, bass, all members of the 90s Magma line-up, plus drummer Daniel Jeand’heur, churn out instrumental Magmoidisms that will excite and give great satisfaction to all those who love the legendary French group which spawned Zeuhl music.
The music derives from Magma’s Udu Wudu period with all of the requisite sounds, style, gestures and more. The opening track features the band riffing on motifs which are inspired by “Zombies.” Borghi favors the Fender Rhodes electric piano with fat, juicy and weird harmonies, nervous figuration and erratic rhythms. The heavy vibrato and upper register synthesizer of “Blue Bug” is reminiscent of the Moog line at scattered throughout “Troller Tanz.” Bussonnet has captured the sound and spirit of Jannick Top and Bernard Paganotti. His work is spotlighted throughout in “No.” While it does not focus on virtuoso technique, Bussonnet showcases are more trebly and brittle sound than that of either Top or Paganotti, though when he rips into his instruments, he elicits that famous and devastating buzzing sound that is the calling card of Magmoid bassists. “In a Wild Way” features a tasty bass part that features little strummed chords, as if played on rhythm guitar, and a wah-wah pedal, breaking a bit from tradition. Also, the tune breaks into a straight ahead jazz fusion passage and even moves into a funk groove, but one with that wonderfully weird Zeuhl component.
Additionally, while Magma only occasionally included guitarists, Mac Graw’s guitar is in keeping the style and specter of those few guitarists; think of the guitar workby Gabriel Federow on Magma’s live albums. He is a remarkable virtuoso and often playing front and center. While Jeand’heur does not quite imitate Vander’s sound and style, his playing fits in perfectly, full of fire and explosive power.
The kicker is that this is a live recording and One Shot proves to be one tight and overpowering group. Stunning!

Dean SUZUKI (Expose – Issue 23 – December 2001)

Blank Manuskript - The Soldier (2015)

Certainly a band to watch out for. There first album was really excellent but this one surpasses even that one! Fantastic progressive rock music with nods to the likes of \pink \floyd etc. A supremely varied concept album with lots of unique touches which will keep you coming back for more. They do me anyway! Look forward to there next one! Check out the amazing 'Pink Floyd' covers by this band below!!

Each time I receive an album from my good friend Alfons Wohlmuth I ask myself how different would be the story of BLANK MANUSKRIPT if they had been born in the UK instead of Austria, because each and every one of their previous releases has been impeccable and brilliant, but never got the attention that many inferior British bands receive.
Their debut Tales from an Island - Impressions from Rapa Nui was excellent A Profound Path was too short but better musically , now I received the conceptual The Waiting Soldier, which is as good as all the previous but on a full length LP Format, so there's not a weak moment on their career.
My first positive impression was when I saw the cover, a beautiful presentation in LP format that made me remember my youth, after opening it read the lyrics and found an interesting concept in the form of a diary of a guy who wants to be called a soldier, but really isn't one neither too brilliant.
Now to the music: The Waiting Soldier is opened by Induction, a track that starts with the sound of marching boots and almost immediately leads to a guitar solo enhanced by the band that morphs into a jazzy flute section. But from them , we can expect almost anything, the band performs frenetic passages interrupted by soft melodic passages where the keyboard and vocals remind me of PINK FLOYD but with an aggressive side.
Public Enemy is a delightful heavy Prog song with s a strong melody and radical changes that go from oneiric and atmospheric moments to powerful explosions of sounds. The radical changes are delightful and the vocals remind me again of Pink Floyd. . Kites to Sky is a beautiful tune with the charming voice of Nora Sigl who creates a naive atmosphere that fuses perfectly with the dramatic guitar solo and the nostalgic feeling that the band provides. Tender song in contrast with the frenetic end experimental Doubts that brings ALAN PARSONS PROJECT to my mind, but only for a moment, because the operatic section (with a tenor's voice) and the vibrant flute finale blew my mind. Really exiting.
The Night is the longest track of the album and BLANK MANUSKRIPT explore places they never visited before, too hard to describe and words can only ruin the experience of guitar solos, lush keyboard passages and vibrant rhythm section with dramatic changes..:Better to listen it without having a hint of what's coming,
The album ends with Conclusion and Cloud, the first one, my favorite song, because somehow comprises all the story in one song that again has a bit of everything for the pleasure of Prog geeks like me. Cloud on the other hand is a collection of sound effects that in my opinion shows the chaotic state of mind of the "Waiting Soldier"
No problem with the rating, The Waiting Soldier is at least as good as A Profound Path, which received 5 stars from me, so have to go with the same rating.Review from

 Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Induction (6:09)
2. Public Enemy (5:42)
3. Kites to Sky (2:54)
4. Doubts (3:45)
5. The Night (9:17)
6. Conclusion (5:07)
7. Cloud (6:36)

Total Time 39:30

 Line-up / Musicians
- Dominik Wallner / Keyboards & Vocals
- Alfons Wohlmuth / Electric Bass & Guitar, Vocals
- Manuel Schönegger / Baritone Sax, Trombone, flutes, Electrc Guitar
- Klaus Ackermann / Drums, Percussion
- Jacob Aisleitner / Alto Sax
- Peter Baxrainer / Electric Guitar
- Georg Dürnberger / Vocals
- Helüt Mulbacher / Electric Guitar
- Cecilio Perera / Electric & acoustic Guitar
- David Saudek / French Horn, Trumpet, Vocals
- Jakob Sigl / Cloud /Sound FX
- Nora Sigl /Vocals

Ozric Tentacles - TECHNICIANS OF THE SACRED (2015)

For me probably my favourite Ozrics album, and i didn't think i would be saying that, but they have come up trumps on this one.Everything seems to gel much better, musically with a plethora of excellently integrated synths/effects and just the right amount of guitar without becoming too overwhelming. Maybe i like it the most because it's probably their most spaciest tripped out outing so far. Hope they keep it up!

This is an album that I liked immediately--for the familiarity of the sound that is so uniquely that of OZRIC TENTACLES--but that has taken me quite some time to get familiar with. That seems to be the problem with these modern artists who release 80-plus minute long albums (Dave Kerzer, Sanguine Hum, Barock Project, Nightwish, IOEarth, Sylvan, are a few of the others who have released long playing albums this year, so far.), it takes quite some effort to listen through and to thoroughly get to know them compared to a 45-minute long release. Anyway, the patience and time invested in getting to know Technicians of the Sacred has been well worth it. This has become my favorite Ozrics release since Jurassic Shift. While all the albums I've heard have been nice, none have really possessed that magic touch that compels me to return time and again. And, while the Ozrics sound, style, and magic is pretty generic (it is often difficult to distinguish individual tracks by title--this owning to the fact that they are an instrumental band), yet almost every song on Technicians has had a way to worm into my brain, to get me engaged and then to build, shift, add, twist and turn enough to keep me interested--and, often, smiling! These guys certainly have an unique way of creating sound combinations. I cannot think of anyone quite as eclectic and electronic as them and yet they are always grooving me with their bass and drum rhythm tracks. Always! Plus, their unusual combination of spacey, "Nature" electronic walls of sound with odd and unexpected world instruments never ceases to astound me. And these guys have been doing it for 30 years! BUT they have NEVER done it better than they have on this album. Hail Technicians of the Sacred! The stars have aligned in such a way that Ozric Tentacles have created a masterpiece (of their own genre of music)!
Favorite songs: 11. "Zenlike Creature" (9:54) (10/10); 9. "Smiling Potion" (7:12) (10/10); 3. "Far Memory" (7:12) (10/10) 4. "Changa Masala" (6:05) (10/10); 10. "Rubbing Shoulders with The Absolute" (8:36) (10/10); 8. "The Unusual Village" (6:21) (10/10); 7. "Epiphlioy" (11:50) (9/10); 2. "Butterfly Garden" (5:04) (9/10), and; 6. "Switchback" (10:13) (9/10).
This is an album that is hard to find flaw with as it is all pretty engaging and highly creative (even witty) stuff. 4.5 stars rated up for its unique style and high level of consistency. Check it out for yourself. You may be surprised! Review from

It's hard to believe that psychedelic space rockers the Ozric Tentacles are now thirty years and twenty studio discs (if you count those first six cassette releases) into their career! By the time of their terrific 1999 Album `Waterfall Cities', the band had begun evolving further than ever before in an electronic-driven direction, and it was a move that would affect their sound to this very day. But although the last few albums have hardly been poor (there seems to be some opinion that `The Hidden Step' from 2000 was their last truly great moment), there was a sense of repetition sinking into their music, perhaps even signs of a band just going through the motions a little, even though each album still had plenty of stand-out tracks throughout. But it's a welcome surprise to find that `Technicians of the Sacred' is their best release in many years, and this bold, confident and creatively inspired two disc musical statement has all the acoustic, electric, ethnic, world, ambient and psychedelic flavours expected of the band, as well as wholly embracing modern styles such as Goa and psy-trance to concoct a fascinating mix as always!
The title suggests that these two discs reflect the coming together of the technological modern and future age with the ancient, spiritual and meditative ways of old. Much of the first disc moves these cyber hippies the closest they've come to more purely electronic journeys, and there's definitely less histrionic guitar wailing than any other Ozrics album. Unsurprisingly, their soundworlds are constantly upbeat, spiritually blissful and still just a little schizophrenic!
As most Ozrics pieces end in a completely different place from where they begin, it's best to simply look at some standout moments instead of entire tracks. `The High Pass' is a pretty reliable Ozric opener that sounds exactly like you'd expect them to, all synth trickles and bubbling effects, pulsing beats and delirious electric guitar meltdowns. Tribal chants float around ripples of synths, a joyous trilling loop and slow-burning guitar in `Butterfly Garden', and `For Memory' holds blissful chiming guitar ruminations and gurgling beats. `Changala Masala' is a deep electronic psychedelic trance and world music race with slinking programmed bass and frantic guitar bursts (dig the manic throwback to their earlier track `Kick Muck' ever so briefly too!), after an almost oriental themed intro `Zingbong' morphs into one of those loopy reggae diversions that the band do so well, and `Switchback' delivers cascading and joyful synth melodies that could also get you dancing in between subtle moments of long ambient low-key stretches, and they even almost flirt with a kitschy J-Pop style in the opening!
Guitar is more prominent throughout the second disc, and in some ways represents the earlier era of the band more frequently. `Epiphiloy' harkens back to the dusty mystery and eastern bazaars of `Saucers' off `Strangeitude' where hypnotic acoustic guitar intertwines with gnarling synths, gongs, hand percussion, chimes and some biting heavier electric guitars to emerge as something of a modern classic from the Ozrics, and if the band can play it in a concert setting, it's sure to become a live favourite for many fans! Dream-like synth ambience glides through `The Unusual Village' with cutting little electric guitar spikes, and your mind grinds to halt with the lethargic and distorted groaning synths dropping mud-thick grooves on `Smiling Potion'. `Rubbing Shoulders with the Absolute' (now there's a title that electronic ambient musician Steve Roach likely wished he'd got to first!) has some lovely sedate and reflective moments due to glistening electric piano fingertips and washing Alpha Wave Movement-like synth caresses, and album closer `Zenlike Creatures' combines ethereal synth waves full of wonder and equally soaring and chilled guitars.
Even in the few less interesting moments, the album still sounds like addictive sonic ear candy all the way, and while it may not always hold their strongest or most memorable tunes, it's been a while since Ed Wynne and company have sounded not only so focused and determined to impress, but wanting to prove that they still have plenty of worthwhile music to offer and are more inspired than ever. `Technicians of the Sacred' is the Ozrics at their most vibrant, colourful and downright cool for some time, and it's great to have them back and finding their tentacled muse again!
Four stars - and bombard your senses by playing it louder for the best results! Who knows, it might even have you thinking it's one of the best and most addictive albums of the prog year! Review from

The cover sure looks encouraging, some guy going by the name of Natan "MantisMash" was responsible for the cover and it's very much an Ozric cover. This guy sure has Blim's spirit in the artwork, those similar psychedelic colors (lots of yellow, orange and blue). The title I'm certain came from a book published in 1968 by Jerome Rothenberg, which happens to be entitled Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia & Oceania, which is as the book describes: poetry from indigenous tribes from around the world. Meaning it's the kind of book you could imagine Ed Wynne would read and likely felt this would make a nice title for the new Ozric release. Turned out Ed stated the title had to do with Mayan astrology, he made no mention of the book, but I'd be surprised if he didn't get the title of "Techicians of the Sacred" from that book.
The Wynne family included a returning Paul Hankin as well as Hungarian drummer Balazs Szende, and let me tell you this one just blew me away. It's literally the best Ozric release I've heard in a very long time, and easily the best with Brandi. This album has a more grand and epic feel than Paper Monkeys, with a more spacy vibe, and in fact perhaps one of the spaciest Ozric albums I have ever heard! Paper Monkeys seemed more rock-oriented, this one tends more heavily on world music, lots of Asian (Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian gamelan) and Middle Eastern styles, and some reggae thrown in (as they sometimes do, but used to do more frequently in their early releases). Of course, you still get treated with synths and Ed's trademark guitar playing. Lots of reminders of the Ozric past, but on some of the songs they actually try something new, such as electronic percussion that sounds different ("Zingbong" has some of that percussion that sounded like Jean Michel Jarre used on "Equinoxe V" or "Oxygene IV"), new synth textures I've never heard on an Ozric album before (I just love that gliding synth on "Zingbong"), and a strange experimental piece with strange sounding violin on "The Unusual Village". There's also strange female tribal chants on "Butterfly Garden" and "Changa Masala" while the latter also includes a quote from "Kick Muck". "The High Pass" has this grand intro, but they really get rocking.
Either I'm losing my mind, or I'm some fanboy, but I really think this is their finest release since their glory days, in fact I rank it up there with their best material ever! I know Brandi is on here, and the stuff the Ozrics done with her on board has been frequently dismissed, but for me, the truly stands tall with the classic. And in hindsight, the stuff they've been doing since Spirals in Hyperspace has been a bit inconsistent (usually some ugly techno experiment), each of those releases still had great material. Plus I found Paper Monkeys surprisingly consistent, which I felt was a turn in the right direction. Technicians of the Sacred really exceeded all my expectations, this is truly a masterpiece, although many might not agree, it sure sounds like one to me! It's a masterpiece if it consistently reenters my CD player!

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