A Piedi Nudi [Italy]
Updated 6/27/00

Discography
A Piedi Nudi (93?)
Creazione (95)
Eclissi (98)
Reviews
Italian Progressive Rock. They have a lot of that "Italian Prog" sound like Le Orme or PFM, but lean more heavily on Metal-style electric guitar than most. You could call them "Progressive Metal", but with emphasis on "Progressive". This is NOT just another Metal band who calls themselves Prog, these guys are very Prog. The music has lots of complex rhythms and fast flurries of notes, sometimes doubled on Guitar and Organ. Not that Keith Emerson distorted Hammond organ sound, but the mellower organ sounds used by a lot of Italian bands. The vocals are in Italian, which I've always liked. The singers become just another instrument, and I don't need to strain to understand the lyrics. -- Fred Trafton
Links
Mellow Records, A Piedi Nudi's label. There are also RealAudio samples available here.


Aardvark [UK]
Updated 8/15/04

Discography
Aardvark (aka Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It)(70)
Reviews
One-shot early seventies English band in the vein of some of the Vertigo swirl bands but not quite that good. Average rock with a slightly progressive edge.
Boring, fumbling, from 1970, when all bands tried and most of them failed.
Aardvark is best known among collectors as "the band without a guitar player". Their sole album is often underrated and overlooked but it's not that bad actually. This is an album of pleasant early British prog, not a masterpiece but not bad either vocalist Dave Skillin possesses a very nice voice, the music is melodic (not very original though) and the playing is fine. The first side of the album is rather mediocre but the 2nd side improves considerably with more complex and adventurous songwriting. If you like bands such as Spring, Cressida, Fields etc. Give it a try. -- Gil Keltch
[Evidently unsatisfied with his previous entry (above), Gil Keltch has submitted this longer review. I decided to keep both of them - Ed.]

The opinions regarding Aardvark's only album seem to be different among Prog fans, some like this album while other seem to hate it, or simply ignore it.

The reasons for this ignorance may include the fact that the band had no guitarist (although many other Proto-Prog bands, didn't had one either) or the not very original songwriting. On the other hand many other groups of that era shared the same faults or had others.

So after examining the negative angle, lets try the positive one. To start with, we have a set of very pleasant (though not very original!) set of short to medium-length tracks, reminding of the Moody Blues, Cressida and the rest of that bunch, but with a greater variety of influences, including Soft Machine (Vol. I era), Early Pink Floyd (their freakouts)and the Doors as well as strong folk influences on several tracks.

The band instrumention included in addition to the usual Organ-Bass-Drums, recorders and vibes which add some deapth to their sound. They also employ occasionaly fuzz bass and small percussion sounds which decorates the tracks, the band's vocalist and main song-writer Dave Skillin has a very pleasant voice reminding me of Cressida's Angus Cullen. Keyboardist Steve Milliner (ex Black Cat Bones)and drummer Frank Clark also does a good job, the weak link of the band seem to be bassist Stan Aldous who tends to play out of tune, here and there.

Of the seven tracks, the most noteable are the longer ones "The Outing-Yes" and "Put That In Your Pipe And Smoke It" which display fine improvisations highly influenced by Soft Machine and Pink Floyd. "The Outing-Yes" is nearly a re-make of the Soft's "We did it again", two more good tracks are the Proto-Progish "Very Nice Of You To Call" and the folksy "Once Upon A Hill".

In conclusion this is not bad but also not essential album, mostly recommended to fans of Early British Prog. -- Gil Keltch


Abacus [Germany]
Updated 2/14/11

Discography
Abacus (71)
Just A Day's Journey Away (72)
Everything You Need (72)
Midway (73)
Anyway We Can (76) Note: I can find no references to this album outside of the GEPR, this may be an error
Carribean Sun / Believe in Music (82)
Fire Behind Bars (01)
Retrospection (04, CD compilation of music previously only available on LP's)
Destiny (10)
Reviews
Abacus in 1982 - Standing up: Norbert Leifert (keyboards, vocals, flutes), Klaus Kohlhase (bass), Rainer Niklowitz (drums) and Jürgen Wimpelberg (keyboards, vocals, guitars). Reclining: Manfred Heilmann (lead vocals, guitars)

Original entry, probably in 2001:
Abacus was founded in 1971 and publishing 4 LPs on the Polydor label before breaking up in 1976 due to "musical differences". Some members regrouped again for 1982's Carribean Sun on the EMI label before once again splitting up.

Their 2001 release Fire Behind Bars released by Musea features multi-instrumentist Jürgen Wimpelberg who sings and plays keyboards and guitars. This album releases some of Abacus' unpublished works with some guest musicians. The previous GEPR entry on these guys said, "I assume that they only border the progressive genre." Judging only from Fire Behind Bars, I would say that this is a bit unfair, but I also can see why the reviewer would say that.

The music composition itself is oriented towards pop stylings, while the heavily symphonic orchestration and soloing are quite progressive in nature. Some of the songs, particularly "Avalanche Part 1", reminds me of an arena rock band like Styx, while others are in a more AOR ballad style like Toto or maybe even some Steely Dan. Several of the songs get so sappy (especially "Helping-hand-song" and "Loser") that I think they might be Barry Manilow pieces being played by a progressive band.

On the other hand, Wimpelberg is clearly a Keith Emerson fan ... the solos in "Don't Look Back" clearly sound like Emerson's style in both the organ and synthesizer soloing, while "Avalanche Part 2" might be fairly described as an ELP homage (or ripoff depending on your outlook), with organ and synthesizer phrases that are clearly quotes from Tarkus and ELP's concert renditions of "Peter Gunn". The ending even features a honky tonk piano similar to the bar room brawl sequence in "Benny the Bouncer" or "Bitch's Crystal".

From what I've already said, you may infer that I didn't like the album ... but that's not so. Actually, I quite enjoyed it. It's certainly not the pinnacle of progressive experimentation, but I actually enjoy listening to Styx in small doses too, so of course I thought this was a fun album, especially with the ELP style keyboards to spice things up. If you aren't too puritan about your prog, give this album of symphonic anthems a try. -- Fred Trafton

Links
Click here for Abacus' web site
Click here to order Abacus releases from Musea Records


Abel Ganz [UK (Scotland)]
Updated 3/20/07

Discography
Gratuitous Flesh (84)
The Dangers of Strangers (85)
Gullibles Travels (87)
The Deafening Silence (95)
Back From The Zone (02, Compilation)
Reviews
Abel Ganz in 1994 - Robert Wilson, Chris Forsyth, Hugh Carter, Colin Johnston (standing) and Stuart Clyde

Added 3/20/07:
[Editor's Note: The following is condensed from Abel Ganz' own write-up from their new web site, but since it contains factual information and not opinions on the quality of the music, I think it's fair to include this in the GEPR. Especially since you've now been warned.]

Abel Ganz was formed in 1980 by keyboard player Hew Montgomery and multi-instrumentalist Hugh Carter. Although both had played in various bands together over the years, it was a shared interest in progressive rock and a need for a songwriting platform that brought about the birth of Abel Ganz. The line up was completed with the addition of guitarist Malky McNiven and drummer Ken Weir. The band was playing regularly in the Glasgow area and decided to recruit a vocalist as their popularity grew. Diminutive singer Alan Reed came on board from Stirling band Trance Macabre and Abel Ganz recorded their first album Gratuitous Flash in 1983.

Alan Reed's performance with Abel ganz at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Festival brought him to the attention of Pallas who were searching for a replacement for the recently departed Euan Laurson. 20 years later he's still there! Malky meanwhile had left to pursue his horticultural career to be replaced by Paul Kelly on guitar and vocals swiftly followed by Gordon Mackie on bass as Hugh Carter stepped down to manage the band. This line up of Abel Ganz recorded a second album Gullibles Travels. Following this, Gordon left the band (Hugh rejoined), followed by Ken who was replaced by Alan Quinn and finally Paul and Alan both left. Hew and Hugh then went back to writing new material and released of the 3rd album The Dangers of Strangers with Malky making a return to provide guitar and Denis Smith joining on drums in the studio.

Line-ups continued to evolve. Keyboardist and co-founder Hew Montgomery left to be replaced by Stuart Clyde. Though their popularity was growing, their new sound was "slipping into the murky waters of AOR rock" with the release of their fourth album The Deafening Silence. Hugh Carter split the band "rather than let Abel Ganz turn into the monster it was threatening to become". Aside from a brief reunion a year later to play a concert for The Classic Rock Society, Abel Ganz was effectively defunct.

However, a chance meeting between Hugh and Hew in 2001 began a reformation of the band. They signed a new contract with F2 Records and released a compilation CD Back from The Zone. They have a new studio album in the works, and a web site to promote the band (see link below). -- Fred Trafton

Added 10/17/00:
[Editor's Note: The following article was supplied by Tommy Taylor, who was the manager for Abel Ganz for the release of The Deafening Silence album in 1995. I thought it was interesting enough to run here, since it doesn't contain any blatantly biased advertising.]

The band was based in Glasgow, Scotland. It was started by Hew Montgomery and Hugh Carter as the core of the band and the intention was to bring in different musicians on each project. The most noted player was Alan Reed who on the back of the Ganz appearance was picked up by Pallas.

The albums originally appeared on cassette in the eighties. The MSI label in France then took up the option to release the albums on CD in the early nineties and also wanted the band back in the studio for another album which became The Deafening Silence. This album took the line up of Hugh Carter (Bass), Robert Wilson (guitar), Stuart Clyde (Keyboards), Chris Forsyth (vocals) and Colin Johnston (Drums). Hew Montgomery did not play on the album but did contribute to co-writing four of the songs.

The Deafening Silence was full of great songs and good tunes and showed a harder edge to the music but was marred by a poor sound production, unfortunately. The band brought me in to promote the album and organize any tour dates that I could. The policy of picking the best available talent for the band really did pay dividends live. The biggest and best gig was at the Classic Rock Society in Rotherham, appearing with JUMP. (As an aside Martin and all the people at the CRS deserve a medal for what they do and will always be appreciated by every member of the band up here).

This was a great time for everybody connected with the band but as sure as night follows day problems within the band surfaced. It became a bit personal which led to the inevitable split. 1996 saw Hew Montgomery come back on board for a while with Hugh Carter (minus the rest of the Deafening Silence lineup) and I believe a cassette of reworked old material was produced for another CRS appearance -- but again personal differences split these old friends up.

I believe Hugh Carter has been working on a solo Abel Ganz project. Hew Montgomery was working on a solo project last I heard but he hasn't been in touch lately so I can't confirm this. The remaining members of the band, Wilson, Clyde and Forsyth have about seven or eight completed demos ready to take into the studio. These are strong prog songs in the Ganz tradition. However they are all working on different projects which takes up more of their time and energy than they can devote to the new band. So the album will be getting done in bits and I believe will take forever to come out, again in the Ganz tradition. The name for the band will be announced when they get into the studio to record the songs and I have the tapes in my hand. -- Tommy Taylor

English eighties neo-progressive who supposedly have a CD Dangers of Strangers out now, but before were confined to cassette. No reports as of yet.
They have 3 albums out to my knowledge, originally only available as cassettes. Dangers of Strangers is an excellent progressive pop album, in the classic 80's british style: Lots of bright melodic hooks, excellent vocals, inventive arrangements, comparable to the likes of Misplaced Childhood or Nomzamo. The other album I've heard is Gullibles Travels which is a little pale by comparison, definitely not as inspired. The other album I've not heard is Gratuitous Flesh. I'm not sure what order they came out in, no dates are listed on the CDs.
Links
[See Pallas]

Click here for Abel Ganz' web site


Abercrombie, John [USA]
Updated 5/24/00

Discography
Friends (72)
Timeless (74)
Works (74)
Gateway (75)
Sargasso Sea (76)
Cloud Dance (76)
Pilgrim and the Stars (76)
Directions (76)
Gateway 2 (77)
Characters(77)
Pictures (77)
Abercrombie Quartet (79, Live)
Arcade (79)
Straight Flight (79)
M (80)
Five Years Later (81)
Drum Strum (82, with George Marsh)
Solar (83, with John Scofield)
Night (84)
Current Events (85)
Witchcraft (86, with Don Thompson)
Getting There (87)
Abercrombie, Johnson, Erskine (88)
Animato (89)
While We're Young (92)
Abercrombie, Wall, Nussbaum (92)
November (92)
The Toronto Concert (92, Live)
Speak of the Devil (93)
Nosmo King (94)
Gateway: Homecoming (94)
In The Moment (94)
Now It Can Be Played (95)
Farewell (95)
Tactics (96, Live)
Open Land (99)
The Hudson Project (00)
Reviews
Abercrombie is most definitely a jazz musician. While he has done a lot of fusion stuff (especially during the 70's), he has also done a lot of straightahead jazz sessions. The Abercrombie record that I would expect to have the most appeal for "progressive rock" fans is Timeless with Jan Hammer on keyboards and Jack DeJohnette on drums, which many (including myself) consider to be a classic of its type. Guitar fans who are not particularly into jazz may also like Characters, a solo record with multiple guitars overdubbed on most tracks, and his two duo records with acoustic guitarist Ralph Towner, Sargasso Sea and Five Years Later. Other records that I particularly like are the first Gateway record with Dave Holland on acoustic bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums; Drum Strum, a duo (fleshed out with overdubbing) with drummer George Marsh; and Current Events, the first record by Abercrombie's regular late 80's trio with Marc Johnson on acoustic bass and Peter Erskine on drums. -- Dan Kurdilla
I have Sargasso Sea on which he duets with Ralph Towner. On this album, both play acoustic guitar, and Abercrombie adds some electric here and there. It took awhile for me to appreciate it. There is some great interplay between the two guitarists. Comparisons can be made to McLaughlin/Di Meola/DeLucia but more angular or modal. Another comparison would be Bill Connors's (guitarist with Return to Forever on one album) Theme to the Guardian. Abercrombie is usually considered a jazz guitarist and has worked with Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette (on Timeless), Billy Cobham, Gil Evans, Barry Miles, and several others. -- Mike Taylor
I have Timeless and Current Events, and I wouldn't call either of them particularly progressive on the whole. On the first, both of the Jan Hammer tracks are pretty jamming, but the rest are much more subtle. On the second, only "Clint" strikes me as even vaguely progressive. My impression from these two albums is that he's just another typical fusion guitarist who has a bent for songs that put me to sleep, and an occasional interesting track.
Typical of '70s jazz guitarists on ECM label, who participated in jamming on all other people's albums. Born 1944 New York, went to Berklee and studied jazz guitar, started career 1969, member of a lot of groups, just as everyone else in that style. Not interesting for prog people IMO, there is very little of composition in his musical style. Was however member of definitely important jazz/fusion groups, most important Cobham's Spectrum and De Johnette's Directions. Also two wonderful albums together with Ralph Towner, who is definitely IMHO interesting for prog people. Did little to renew himself as most jazz/fusion people struggle with.


Abiogenesi [Italy]
Updated 2/18/01

Discography
Abiogenesi (95)
Il Giocoscuro (96)
Le Notti di Salem (00)
Reviews
New Italian prog/retro that is a far cry from the lush, romantic stuff we're all used to. I only have their second effort, but from what I understand there hasn't been any big changes (if anything, their second one is prefered), and basically it's not very interesting. There are some similarities to their labelmate Standarte, also on Black Widow, but where Standarte boasts the coolest vintage retro sound I've ever heard, Abiogenesi sounds like they've recorded the entire album on a cassette-recorder or something; it's just very dull and "amaturish". Like a demo tape on CD. About the actual music then: a little symphonic rock with some major doses psychedelia (which is their most forgiving feature - great flute leads) and some second grade jazz freak-outs. Not great musicians and a vocalist from next door. Il Giocuscuro starts off with a 22+ minute, 6 part epic, which is really only a bunch of songs crowded together. To like this I'd say you have to be a die-hard, undiscriminating fan of garage recordings and extended solos (mainly organ and electric guitar) that go nowhere. Unusually much acoustic guitar for a hard band like this. -- Daniel
Links
Click here for the Black Widow label web site


Abissi Infiniti [Italy]
Updated 5/16/00

Discography
Tunnel (71)
Reviews
All-Music Guide claims that Tunnel was released on CD in 1994 on the Obettivo Musica label, under the genre of "World Music". This is probably a reissue of the original.


Abou-Khalil, Rabih [Lebanese/Germany?]
Updated 5/16/00

Between Dusk and Dawn (86), Nafas (88), Bukra (88), Roots and Sprouts (90), Al-Jadida (90), Blue Camel (92), Tarab (92), The Sultan's Picnic (94), Arabian Waltz (96), Odd Times (97, Live), Yara (99)

I think many fans of "progressive" music may enjoy Abou-Khalil's music, though I see hardly any "rock" influence in it. He is (I believe) a Lebanese living in Germany, and plays the oud (a middle-eastern lute). His work combines middle-eastern music with jazz or (in the case of Arabian Waltz) European classical music. Nafas, Roots and Sprouts and Tarab are a bit closer to the traditional end of the spectrum, with middle-eastern flute and/or violin sharing the front line. Bukra and Al-Jadida straddle the line, with middle-eastern and/or Indian percussion juxtaposed with acoustic bass (played by Glen Moore of the group Oregon) and saxophone (by jazzer Sonny Fortune). Between Dusk and Dawn, Blue Camel, and The Sultan's Picnic are closer to the jazz end, with more jazz musicians (such as Charlie Mariano, Kenny Wheeler, and Steve Swallow) featured. Arabian Waltz is, believe it or not, a really nice record of string quartet with oud, tuba, and frame drums. -- Dan Kurdilla

Click here for an Artist Profile and photo of Abou-Khalil Rabih from his record label, Enja Records.


Abrahams, Mick [UK]
Updated 11/12/03

Discography
A Musical Evening With Mick Abrahams (71)
At Last (72)
All Said And Done (91)
Mick's Back (96)
One (96)
This Is (99, as Mick Abrahams and The This Was Band)
See My Way (00)
others?
Reviews
Mick Abrahams

Abrahams was the original guitarist with Jethro Tull (if you don't count Tony Iommi, who played with them previously [not quite right ... see next entry - Ed.], but didn't record) and Tull offshoot Blodwyn Pig (with Clive Bunker and Jack Lancaster). Abrahams' first solo LP, presumably recorded after the breakup of Blodwyn Pig is very much in the vein of Blodwyn Pig (and is somewhat Tull-like). That said, this LP is 100% flute and saxophone free, and has a heavier, more blues-oriented sound than either Tull or Pig. A useful comparison would be the Groundhogs' early stuff, and there are a couple of stretched-out jamming tunes that would please more hard rock-oriented prog fans. I would guess that most prog fans would consider this a straight hard-rock LP, however. Backing musicians include bassist Walt Monaghan (who was also in Freedom, one of 2 rock bands to record for BYG-Actuel!), drummer Ritchie Dharma (who went on to work with Lou Reed) and keyboardist Bob Sergeant. -- Dave Wayne

From Jethro Tull FAQ:

18. Did Tony Iommi ever play guitar with Tull?
Sort of. During the brief time in 1968 after Mick Abrahams left but before Martin Barre joined, Tull appeared on TV in a film called "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus." They performed "A Song for Jeffrey," though only Ian was actually live; the others mimed to a backing tape. Tony Iommi was the guitarist seen in this film clip with Tull, and apparently he nearly joined the band. Mick Abrahams recalls, "Tony only did the Rock & Roll circus thing. He phoned me up afterwards and told me he couldn't stand it - he quit straight after that." -- Thanks to David Reusch for pointing me to this item

Links
[See Blodwyn Pig | Jethro Tull]

Click here for Mick Abrahams' web site


Abraxas [Germany]
Updated 5/23/00

Vampire (88, Demo Tape), Shattered By A Terrible Prediction (89, EP on vinyl), Gates To Eden (90 Demo Tape), Signs (91 Demo Tape), The Liaison (93, Japanese CD), Tomorrow's World (97, Remastered CD version of "The Liaison", different artwork, 3 bonus tracks)

Power Metal with Progressive elements. Not to be confused with Polish Abraxas.

Click for Abraxas (Germany)'s publishers, Limb Music Products.


Abraxas [Poland]
Updated 5/23/00

Abraxas (96), Kameleon (96, Promo Single), Centurie (98), 99 (99)

Legendary Polish prog rock band existing on and off since 1985. Adam Lassa is the only original member remaining. Abraxas consists of the best tracks from the band's ten years history. The music in the vein of Marillion and Van Der Graaf Generator, and sometimes with a gothic rock influence. The music is is made with a powerful keyboard sound, wonderful guitar solos, and interesting vocals. Abraxas was one of the most popular prog CDs in Poland in 1996. Abraxas is great live band. Adam Lassa creates exciting music theater on stage, make-up, masks, etc. A very interesting group. -- Janusz Groth

Not to be confused with Power Metal German band Abraxas on the Limb label.

Click here for official Abraxas (Poland) web site.


Abraxis [Belgium]
Updated 11/1/02

Discography
Abraxis (76)
Reviews
Keyboardist Charles Loos and bassist Jean-Paul Musette are known to many prog fans as members of the great Belgian band Cos, which also included guitarist Daniel Schell and vocalist Pascale Son. Loos appeared on the band’s first LP, Post Aeolian Train Robbery, and Musette was present on tracks recorded in 1973 and early 1974 (which subsequently appeared as bonus tracks on the CD reissue). Both were long gone by the time Cos recorded their second LP, Viva Boma, in July 1976. The liner notes to the CD re-issue of Post Aeolian Train Robbery allude to Musette’s desire to play music that was more rooted in jazz, and the same was likely true of Charles Loos. Clearly, Abraxis was the manifestation of their desire to play complex, yet palpably jazz-based, original music. The band's eponymously titled LP was recorded in December 1976, and released on the "I. B. C." (International Bestseller Company) subsidiary of EMI-Benelux.

Besides Loos (on Fender Rhodes, miniMoog, and acoustic piano) and Musette (electric bass), Abraxis also included flutist Dirk Bogaert, guitarist Paul Elias, and drummer Jack Mauer (though Tony Malisan plays drums on most of the LP’s 9 tracks). Several of these guys played in other Belgian jazz-rock groups such as Placebo, Waterloo and Pazop. Abraxis' sound is fairly close to that of Cos, albeit jazzier and with Bogeart’s flute replacing Pascale’s vocals. Other stylistic points of reference are Placebo (a Belgian jazz-rock fusion band led by keyboardist / producer Marc Moulin), and the jazzier Canterbury-type bands such as Gilgamesh and National Health. The compositions (by either Loos or Musette) are all rather involved and multi-sectioned, though there is plenty of room for lengthy solos by Loos (whose playing reminds me a bit of Chick Corea’s), Bogaert, and the surprisingly excellent Elias. The musicianship is first rate throughout - Musette is better than solid, replacement drummer Tony Malisan is a monster, and guitarist Elias is right up there with the likes of Phil Miller. They also cover quite a bit of stylistic ground, from weird Zappa-like convolutions, to flat-out funky fusion jamming, to neo-classical ruminations for acoustic piano, acoustic guitar and flute. Fusion fans, flute fans, and those who enjoy intelligent progressive rock in general, should seek this one out. -- Dave Wayne

Links
[See Cos]


Absalom, Mike [UK]

Mike Absalom (71), Hector and Other Peccadillos (72)


Absolute Elsewhere [UK]
Updated 4/18/02

Discography
In Search Of The Ancient Gods: An Experience in Sound and Music Based on the Books of Erich van Daniken (76)
Reviews
A band about which not much is known (at least by me); I suspect they were a one-off. Prog fans might be suckered into buying their album In Search of the Ancient Gods because it features Bill Bruford on drums, but don't waste your money unless you're an absolutely fanatical completist. The album is basically New Age from before it was called New Age; lots of swooshy synths and the occasional moment that approaches mushy prog rock. Occasionally pretty, but not terribly inspiring, energetic, original, or complex. -- Greg Ward
UK progressive band (Paul Fishman - keyboards, flute, compositions; Philip Saatchi - guitar; John Astrop - bass) whose single album features Bill Bruford in a seminal hired-gun role. The music is 2/3rds uncomplicated, smooth, slightly jazzy, all-instrumental progressive rock and 1/3rd spacey synth music (some of which pleasantly recalls Klaus Schulze). Fishman's compositions aren't particularly memorable, the analog synths sound dated (this is both good and bad), Saatchi gets off a few nifty but too brief solos, and Bruford is his usual brilliant, dynamic self. To me, the most appealing aspects of the music are Bill Bruford's exceptionally well-recorded drums, some of the more uptempo bits on side two, and some the solo synth stuff. Otherwise, much of it is too sappy and mawkish for my tastes. -- Dave Wayne
This band later became New-Wave act Gang Of Four and in later stage supported Sam Brown. Their sole album as Absolute Elsewhere gained its status among collectors mainly due to the involvement of Bill Bruford. This is an album that merges Symphonic prog with early new-age/ambient and more rocking parts (where Bruford's talent come to fulfillment) it contains some interesting ideas but generally it's rather laid back and relaxed, this is recommended to diehard fans of Bruford or to fans of early synthesizer albums. -- Gil Keltch
In the Absolute Elsewhere section, someone suggests that the band -- apart from Bill Bruford -- went on to become Gang of Four. To my knowledge, this is so improbable, it is about as likely as Dubya being the reincarnation of FDR, or The Partridge Family being the real New York Dolls. There would have to have been changes of names, for a start; I know Bill Bruford quite well and he has never suggested anything of the sort regarding this pick-up outfit; guitarist Phil Saatchi produced pop acts in the UK in the 80s under his own name; this smacks of an urban myth in the making and I'd post it as such.

Finally, the British rock press is pretty voracious; if such a radical band as Gang of Four had a past in such an unbelievably limp prog album as Absolute Elsewhere, there would surely be now have been a feeding frenzy, certainly after Gof4 reformed a year or two ago. If there is any proof of this unlikely claim, I'll gladly admit my mistake, wear my sackcloth and ashes and laugh at Gof4's po-faced mystique being undermined, but be warned; in this case you may be posting bullshit of an unfeasibly and unacceptably high order.

[But I don't wish to] sound too judgemental about your correspondent. We've all been sold pups at some time or another. -- Paul Stump

[Editor's note: After doing some fact-checking, I agree with Paul about this alleged linkage. One possibility is that Absolute Elsewhere went on to become a band named Gang of Four that had nothing to do with the more famous band. If so, I have been unable to find any trace of such a group. However, I did find out that Dubya was actually a member of the New York Dolls briefly after his failed attempt at becoming a Texas oil baron. Just kidding. -- Fred Trafton]

Links
[See Bruford, Bill]


Absolute Zero [USA]
Updated 12/26/01

Discography
A Live In the Basement (90, Mini-CD)
Crashing Icons (01)
Reviews
I'd wonder if some music lovers would be waiting for the first full-length Absolute Zero CD more eagerly than I. Anyway, I believe some of you lovers of the most complex, intricate and adventurous forms of music can still remember that wonderful A Live In the Basement CD released by the band far back in 1990 at their own expense. Yes, this was just a 20-minute mini-CD yet it's filled with such unusual, diverse and intricate music that we all had to listen to it (to comprehend it properly) often more times than to some very complex full-length albums.

Frankly, being in touch with the band members for the last few years, I can confirm that they never disbanded. What's more, they were constantly in the working and creative process one way or another. So get prepared for the next news. A second full-length AZ CD is ready to see the light of day already this year. (Though, I'd recommend the people at AZ not to be in a hurry to release it the same year - why?) More: their third CD is wholly composed and a few tracks are already in the works, and now Absolute Zero are putting finishing touches on a fourth album. After all, do you really think Pip Pyle of the fame of several more than just Major Progressive bands would ever join even merely a good band? For all those who aren't familiar with this band creation I'd only add that all the members of Absolute Zero have had a high musical education (and not only). Back to my so special attitude to this band that so far have the only mini-CD, I challenge you to try and compare their music with some best (in your view) paintings by Salvador Dali. Then you'll perhaps understand that Absolute Zero is the only (at least) Earthly band whose music is so virtually surreal. To me, it's obvious this music is virtually vital for today's Progressive.

Although, according to the details of line-up and its equipment, Enrique plays a bass guitar, his instrument changes its sounds and tones much more often than a chameleon. While this little animal has just a few colours to change the image, then, talking of sound "colours", Enrique's bass guitar is one of the two most diversely changing instruments on Crashing Icons along with Aislinn's vocals. Apart from Jardinez's firm "fat" bass lines, the instrument, being in his hands, masterly calls forth strong electric guitar-like riffs and even solos, apart from a lot of other strange and indescribable sounds. To these ears, Enrique's bass sounds more diverse than even the stick. At least, this is probably for the first time I hear a bassist play such outstanding and variegated roles the album throughout.

Aislinn Quinn uses the 'voices' (sounds) of electric and acoustic keyboards, including her own voice (which itself sounds as a real musical instrument), in incredibly diverse and unpredictable ways too. It would be a long story to list all (the possible and even impossible) sounds from her keyboards while her own vocals range from high-pitched and very female to dramatic and operatic to aggressive. Aislinn moves easily from an Eastern woman's praying-like singing to an "unearthly" woman's roars of laughter and there's no limits to transformations into different singing entities in her vocal qualities. She sings, however, not too much on the album's star-war fields and the extremely intricate kind of elitist sci-fi actions, that are as surreal as Aislinn's vocals, will never stop until the end. These instrumental actions-arrangements, as though in an endless development, don't stop their steady movement to absolute zero (which is equal to absolute infinity, as well as microcosm is equal to macrocosm, - just think of computerization - reasonably) either Aislinn sings or she's silent. Grotesque, fantasy structures replace each other contrary to Euclidean geometry to the accompaniment of mind-blowing, full of unexpected beatings and breaks, often atonal drumming by Pip Pyle. "Alien" solos by the guest trombonist (especially in the very beginning of Slutter Rock) and percussionist (especially that long in the beginning of "Further On") just add more colours to the already wonderful picture of Crashing Icons (of all known things in Progressive, I think).

Although I've found elements (just elements!) of probably all progressive genres on Crashing Icons (Symphonic Art Rock, Jazz Fusion, Prog Metal, RIO), I can't squeeze this album (and the music of Absolute Zero in general) into any of them. It's hard even to put such a unique, revolutionary in many (progressive) ways music in any musical frame. This is avant-garde music, though of course this most brave and innovative music of (at least) today's Prog, actually is just in the vanguard of contemporary Progressive Rock movement. It's difficult for me to describe this music and its arrangements even my own special way because this is new music.

I've heard many vanguard avant-garde (in their own way) bands with female vocals - Henry Cow & Art Bears with Dagmar Krause, Thinking Plague, U Totem, Jose Fernandez Ledesma ... You won't find any vocal or musical comparisons between Absolute Zero and any other band. -- Vitaly Menshikov

Links
Click here for Absolute Zero's web site
Click here and here to read full reviews of each album on Vitaly Menshikov's ProgressoR web site


Abus Dangereux [France]
Updated 5/16/00

La Quatrieme Mouvement (80), Bis (82), Happy French Band (83), Live (85)

Jazz-oriented French fusion band led by guitarist Pierre-Jean Gaucher. The first LP (Le Quatrieme Mouvement) will be of interest to those who enjoy the more jazzy, improvised type of prog (e.g., Canterbury, RIO, etc.). The compositions are quirky, humorous and twisted, and Gaucher does not hog the solo spotlight. Instead, sax, and mallet percussion are prominent (as they are on all 4 Abus LPs that I own) and the overall effect is similar to Pierre Moerlen-era Gong. The following LP (Bis) is much more jazz-oriented, but will nevertheless please those listeners who are interested in superior fusion music. The third LP (Happy French Band) the weakest and least quirky, but is still worth having. The Live LP is a fine return to form, although they never again really did anything as unique and as wonderful ar their first LP. Several Abus members (drummer/percussionist Francis Verly and saxophonist Bobby Rangell) have acheived a modicum of prominence in the French jazz scene over the last few years. -- Dave Wayne


Academia [Sweden]

The Tale Of Ocean Waves (92)

Sounds like a mix of early Clannad, Oldfield, and pop music. Quite boring. I heard them live at Gothenburg Art Rock Festival '94, but went out after two songs. -- Gunnar Creutz


Accademia [Italy]

Accademia (81)


A.C.E.M.S. [France]
Updated 5/20/09

Discography
Ciguri (88, Compilation)
Reviews
Entry from the original GEPR:
Industrial music.
Update 5/20/09:
This author's curiosity about A.C.E.M.S. was first piqued by their entry in the GEPR. It simply stated that their only recording was on a various artist LP called Ciguri, that they were French and that they were "industrial". That a band with such a slim and marginal recorded history should warrant an entry at all was striking to say the least (one looks forward to the day when we see considered entries on Sphinx Tush and Stinky Winkles), besides which the author was heavy into his early industrial during this time.

Finally tracking down Ciguri (released on Odd Size in 1988), A.C.E.M.S. turn out not to be industrial, prog rock or even rock full stop. In fact they are one of the myriad children of Nurse With Wound and their ilk, their sole outing ("Froide Reminiscence D'Une Melodie Avortee") a two-and-a-half minute latticework of found sound, plucked/hammered piano strings and electronic interference. If you care for the kind of sonic collages that NWW display on albums like Drunk With The Old Man Of The Mountains, chances are you'll find this at least a little interesting.

Their two and a half minutes of fame spent, A.C.E.M.S. disappear into the mists of time. No further information on just who the hell they were or even what the name stands for has turned up so far. -- Edward Martland


Acezantez Ensemble [Yugoslavia/Croatia]
Formerly incorrectly listed as simply Acezantez
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
Acezantez Ensemble (76)


Ache [Denmark]
Updated 8/20/04

Discography
De Homine Urbano (70)
Green Man (71)
Pictures From Cyclus 7 (76)
Blå Som Altid (77)
Reviews
Danish Band with strong Hammond organ. "De Homine Urbano" was quite popular because it is said to be the first rock-ballet ever put on stage. The LP-version of it (you find it on the first side of their second LP), is not that impressive (normal rock, not really progressive), but the piece on the other side called "Little Things" is a great sidelong guitar/Hammond jam. Their first (Green Man) is also not bad, but its rather a kind of psych-bluesrock. Both LPs have also been published as a double album in 1976. -- Achim Breiling
Nearly 20 years ago, I bought a double album containing Aches' first 2 albums De Homine Urbano and Green Man originally released respectively in 1970 and 1971. Ache were formed in 1968 and was at that time considered to be the Danish counterpart to Procol Harum. De Homine Urbano was the music for a ballet which were performed among others on The Royal Theatre (CPH.) and The Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow). Green Man contains the tune "Shadow of a Gypsy," which also was released on a single and made it to silver in France. In the late '70s, I found the sound old-fashioned (no synthesizers), so it went on the shelf in my collection. Actually the band broke up after the three releases (the single included), but was reconstructed in 1975. After the reconstruction they released two albums more Pictures From Cyclus Seven and Blå som altid (= Blue as Ever). After that they finally broke up. Though there was a reunion in 1985 from which there were no releases, as far as I know. -- Orla Hylleberg Eriksen
Regarding De Homine Urbano/Green Man (1970/71 Phillips 159 632-2)
Ache was a Danish band from the early seventies, they released these two albums, disbanded and reunited in 1976 to release two more albums before dissapearing for good. The two albums presented on this CD offers the listener an opportunity to learn how Prog evolved out of Psychedelia through constant jamming and experimentation.

The first album of the two De Homine Urbano contains two long suites of which the title track was an original score for a ballet. This track indeed has a very cinematic and open sound, it's mostly instrumental with some sparse vocals and based on long and complex jam that features fuzz guitar-organ battles with strong and dramatic rhythm section. The second track follows in the same vein and it's even better. Some of the band's influences at this point may have included Pink Floyd, Procol Harum, The Nice, Soft Machine, Deep Purple, and IMO also a hint of Zappa and VdGG as well as notable Blues and Jazz tendancies. They sound like much more complex and psychedelic instrumental version of Deep Purple MK II.

The second album Green Man is song based and has shorter tracks, the band maintened it's heavy sound but softens it on the second side (of the original LP) with strong influences of Procol Harum and the Beatles. This is Psychedelic Heavy Prog at its very best and is highly recommended. -- Gil Keltch


Acidente [Brazil]
Updated 7/17/02

Discography
Guerra Civil (81)
Fim do Mundo (83)
Piolho (85)
Quebre Este Disco (90, re-issued 2000)
Gloomland (94)
Farawayers (96)
Technolorgy (02)
Reviews
Acidente is a relatively new Brazillian progressive instrumental band that draws some influence from the likes of Camel, Floyd and others, yet these influences have been combined into a very original whole that points to some new directions. Their album Quebre Este Disco contains six long tracks, musicianship is superb.
Links
Click here for Acidente's web site


Acintya [France]

La Cite Des Dieux Qublies (78)

Violin driven symphonic rock from mid-70's France. They have only one album La Cite Des Dieux Oublies, which apparently was pretty rare until musea reissued it in 89. They have a knack for stretching three minute ideas into 15 minute tracks, and boring you to death with soloing/jamming in the process. I've heard this band compared to Wapassou many times, but to my ears, these guys are infinitely more boring.

These guys do sound a lot like Wapassou, but the integration of drums with a more Shylock/Arachnoid sound give this a much more original effect. A great album, but missing a little depth.


Acqua Fragile [Italy]
Updated 7/18/07

Discography
Acqua Fragile (73)
Mass Media Stars (74)
Reviews
Vaguely pop Italian progressive ensemble that sound very much likeChocolate Kings era PFM. Nice melodies, a hint of Genesis and short songs characterize this band. At least one of their albums is in English.
This band was a harder-rocking protege of PFM, with whom they were closely linked, in fact Acqua Fragile's lead singer Bernardo Lanzetti and lyricist Marva Jan Marrow eventually joined PFM in time for their Chocolate Kings and Jet Lag albums respectively. Mass Media Stars is their second album from 1974, and might evoke more than just a passing comparison to the two aforementioned PFM albums; the sound is very colorful, loaded with guitar/keyboard interplay, excellent vocals (in English), with an excellent rhythm section. The lyrics tend to be a little lame, but the strong music more than makes up for it. I'm not familiar with their first album.
The second album of this band was produced by PFM, and all the songs are in English. The sound is like the first Genesis, and Gentle Giant and the vocals remember the sound of CSN&Y and thanks to the pretty voice, Bernardo Lanzetti was call the Italian Peter Gabriel.
Acqua Fragile were a short-lived Italian progressive rock band from the early seventies, whose second release, Mass-Media Stars was also released domestically on vinyl. The music on this is very much in the PFM mold, in their style of the mid-to-late seventies, with English lyrics. This should not come as a surprise, though, since Bernardo Lanzetti (mid-period PFM lead singer) performs lead vocals, and production credits are given to PFM! Lanzetti's vocals are, at times, reminiscent of Peter Hammill, with an emotional delivery style.
Their first album was mediocre folkie music, which was only tangentially progressive. Lead singer Bernardo Lanzetti is one of the most bizarre vocalists I've ever heard, he sort of sounds like Gary Brooker being strangled! He harmonizes well, though. The vocal harmonies are the best thing about the first Acqua Fragile album, which overall most closely resembles Crosby, Stills and Nash. Mass-Media Stars is a considerable improvement over the first one, with fine keyboard work by Maurizio Mori, guitarist Gino Campanini playing some good solos as well as some beautiful mandolin here and there. And of course those pretty CSN&Y vocal harmonies. Lanzetti's voice hasn't got any easier to take, though, he's the one thing (aside from the really dumb English lyrics) getting in the way of an otherwise enjoyable LP. Lanzetti later joined PFM for their Chocolate Kings album. -- Mike Ohman
Though I have a strong distaste for Bernardo Lanzetti's voice, I really enjoy all 7 songs from their 1st self-titled album. The lyrics are in English but for the life of me I can't figure out the words being sung half the time; that's fine, considering the melodies overcome the pathetic vocals. It's a shame they couldn't have gotten a better singer to overdub Bernardo's vocals. Later he went on to join PFM and did a much better job there. Acqua's second release Mass Media Stars is also sung in English but isn't worth the stress of having to listen to that wretched voice a second time around because the songs are just too weak. -- Clayton Self
Reading the entries on Acqua Fragile's lead singer Bernardo Lanzetti where he is compared to quite a range of singers singing in English, I must say that none of the comparisons is adequate. The reason for this may be that the only British singer his voice is similar to, Roger Chapman (Family, later solo) is not widely known in GB, but more in Germany where he had some kind of a success. Another reason may be that Chapman is not to be considered progressive, at least not in his solo career. -- Roman Herrle
Links
[See Premiata Forneria Marconi]


Ad Infinitum [USA]
Updated 2/17/11

Discography
Ad Infinitum (98)
Reviews
Original entry 6/15/00:
Keyboardist Todd Braverman (formerly of Cathedral) put an ad in The Village Voice advertising for a guitarist/co-writer who wanted to help him to create a 1970’s-style progressive rock album. Guitarist Craig Wall answered the ad, and together they formed the nucleus of Ad Infinitum. They spent four years and used the talents of several other musicians in creating a fine album of progressive music. The vocals of Mike "Goose" Seguso are very reminiscent of Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins or Fish. In fact if someone had told me that "All Hallows Eve" is an outtake from a Genesis album circa Foxtrot or Selling England By the Pound, I would have believed them. Other vocals sound like Starcastle (somehow without sounding like Yes), though something about them also keeps reminding me of Klaatu. The tracks are long and the instrumentation is vintage in keeping with the goal of a 70’s sound. This is a good album. My favorite cut is "Waterline", which has a really excellent vocal refrain and a great melody line. My only complaint is that the use of drum machines to record this album, followed by a 3-day overdub session where a real drummer (Don DiPaulo) replaced all the drums makes the album sound a bit too sterile. I'll bet if these guys did a live performance of this music, it would be an incredible concert! Even so, this is a very listenable album and well worth a try. Oh, yeah, the album cover painting and logo are by Roger Dean. -- Fred Trafton
Update 2/17/11:
Most of the old Kinesis label artists are now available for download on Mindawn, including Ad Infinitum. See and links above. -- Fred Trafton
Links
[See Cathedral]

Click here for the Ad Infinitum page from Kinesis, including link to a bio


Ad Vitam [France]
Updated 5/17/01

Discography
Ad Vitam (99)
Reviews
This is a new band of guitarist Jad Ayache, formerly in Xaal. Music is said to be in the vein of Offering, as they've supported music with female singing. I guess the sound is still more in the vein of Xaal's Seconde Ere. -- Nenad Kobal
Links
[See Xaal]


Adachi Kyodai [Japan]
Updated 7/11/06

Discography
Adachi Kyodai (03)
Xianshi (05)
Reviews
The Adachi Brothers - Ryusuke and Source "K"

Light and lovely acoustic guitar compositions played with a spontaneous but authoritative feel not unlike John McLaughlin's My Goals Beyond period. Roused by the heat of Flamenco but influenced by modern jazz, Adachi Kyodai's Xianshi [Musea, 2005] is a refreshing and pleasing refrain. -- David Marshall


Adachi Kyodai isn't a person's name, but the band's name. Adachi is the name of brothers Ryusuke and Source "K", and I don't know what Kyodai means. But that's why this GEPR entry is filed under "AA" and not "KI". -- Fred Trafton
Links
Click here for Adachi Kyodai's web site
Click here for an interview with the Adachi brothers in Nucleus


Adisos [Greece]

Aperis Nai Alla... (84)

Symphonic '70s-sounding prog.


Aditus [Venezuela]
Updated 6/7/06

Discography
Através de la Ventana (77)
Aditus II (79)
Fuera de la Ley (81)
Reviews
Aditus 1982 - (Not in photo order) George Henríquez (keys, vocals), Pedro Castillo (guitars, vocals), Sandro Liberatoscioli (bass, vocals) and Valerio González (drums, percussion)

One of the rarities from Latin America and still undiscovered was a band called Aditus, From Venezuela. The first 3 LPs are 3 different animals.

A traves de la Ventana from 1977 is a blend of Brand X and Mahavishnu, a great progressive jazz rock album, mostly instrumental and almost impossible to find, no CD available. Aditus 2 from 1979 is a very different work, more Latin jazz rock oriented at times like early Santana but with sax and keyboards instead, instrumental. No CD reedition.

Fuera de la Ley - 1981 , this is it! For fans of the first 3 works of Saga, blend it with the first Asia and this is what you get, obscure and totally ignored. The guitar player left Tempano and joined them, after this one the band went mainstream, in the mid 90's the guitar player left them and joined with the other 3 original members of Tempano and went back to their progressive roots. The singer (the guitar player) is phenomenal!! No CD reedition.

Forget whatever comes after these 3 LPs. -- John Doe

Links
[See Tempano]

Click here for some information about Aditus on the Tempano web site


Adrenaline Mob [USA]
Updated 7/29/11

Discography
No albums yet
Reviews
Adrenaline Mob

Jeez. If I met these guys on a regular street, I'd probably soil myself. They definitely look pretty badass. But separated by the Internet Data Superhighway? No problem. This is Adrenaline Mob, and their drummer sounds like that guy from Dream Theater. Oh. Never mind. It is that guy from Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy ... or rather the guy who used to be in Dream Theater. Also Symphony X frontman Russell Allen, guitarists Mike Orlando and Rich Ward, and bassist Paul DiLeo. No keyboard player? Perhaps they ate him for lunch. Well, just saying.

Even with all these prog and proggish luminaries, they claim this is an old-school metal band, not prog-metal. Well, I've heard a preview of their songs on their Facebook page, and as far as one can tell from a collage of snippets, there's enough prog content here to make for at least a couple of good listens ... as long as you don't hate prog-metal. They haven't released an album yet, but look for one soon.

Oh, and this obviously isn't the Morse-Morse-Portnoy-Larue-McPherson band, which near as I can tell still doesn't have a name yet. -- Fred Trafton

Links
[See Dream Theater | Liquid Tension Experiment | Morse, Neal | Symphony X | Transatlantic]

Click here for Adrenaline Mob's Facebook page, where you can hear the "collage of snippets" preview by clicking on "Like".


Advent [USA]
Updated 8/15/07

Discography
Demo Tape (93?)
Advent (97)
Cantus Firmus (06)
Reviews
Advent - Mike Carroll (drums, not a permanent band member), Mark Ptak (keyboards, lead vocals, percussion), Alan Benjamin (guitars, stick, bass, mandolin, violin, keyboards, glockenspiel, backing vocals) and Henry Ptak (keyboards, lead vocals, electronic percussion). Not pictured, Roy Wilson (drums), also not a permanent band member. (Photo by Amy Benjamin)

Advent is a trio from New Jersey whose members are Alan Benjamin on guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals, and Henry and Mark Ptak, both playing keyboards and singing lead. The traditional musical influences they cite are as diverse as church motets, sea chanties, Procol Harum and Gentle Giant. These qualities are evident throughout the songs found here, and digital synths and modern guitar tones add the contemporary touch to Advent's sound. [Outdated e-mail address deleted. - Ed.]


One may occasionally bemoan the lot of the prog consumer, whose never-ending search for great music can quickly separate a fellow from his money, and often consists of wading through the extremes of industrial racket, ambient ooze, 3rd-rate rock bands and everything in between in order to discover those rare gems. Advent is one of the gems. For no other reason than their name they will draw comparisons to Gentle Giant. There are similarities especially in some of the vocal arrangements and of course, their excellent Gentle Giant tribute piece, "BITB". In most cases however, the similarity is merely that both groups feature complex and finely crafted compositions. These musicians understand the kinds of influences that helped to generate the progressive movement in the first place, so they don't come across as merely aping some of the characteristics of the seventies bands, rather they draw from the same well of inspiration. Rock & Roll, early liturgical polyphony, 20th century rhythm and harmony, and even a little Henry Mancini figure into a mix of influences that swirl under slight gothic overtones. The Ptak brothers, Mark & Henry, handle most of the composing, keyboards, and vocals. In particular, Henry Ptak's compositions and arrangements are featured and he proves to be an outstanding and highly imaginative musician, obviously trained in the art of thematic development; you won't find unrelated ideas haphazardly strung together here. Also in the group is multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Allan Benjamin, who contributes guitars, bass, stick, violin, backing vocals, and some fine compositional ideas of his own. The music on this disc is busy, tight, detailed and squeaky clean; everything in its place. So if your preference is the grungy, repetitive, heavier side of prog, look elsewhere. The band is aware that they will get some flak for the "demo" sound quality, though the sound is acceptable and often quite good. The use of the hated drum machine may draw critical fire as well, but this music is a rare case of strong ideas and performances transcending whatever technical limitations may have been imposed. One of America's finest unknown music ensembles. -- Ken A. Watson (Gibraltar Newsletter Vol. 7 #21, Aug. 1997)
Updated 8/19/04:
Since the previous entries, Advent are still together and working toward a second CD. In the meantime, they have contributed tracks to two Gentle Giant tribute CD's (Giant Tracks and Giant For a Life) and a Procol Harum tribute, The Best of the Whalers. -- Fred Trafton
Advent 2007 - Henry Ptak (keyboards, lead vocals, mandolin, eclectronic percussion), Benjamin Rose (fretless & fretted basses, backing vocals), Greg Katona (guitars, backing vocals), Alan Benjamin (guitars, Stick, bass, mandolin, violin, keyboards, glockenspiel, recorder, backing vocals), Mark Ptak (keyboards, lead vocals, percussion) and Drew Siciliano (drums) (Photo by Amy Benjamin)

Updated 8/15/07:
Advent finally released their second CD, Cantus Firmus in 2006. I haven't heard it myself, but I haven't read a single bad review. -- Fred Trafton

Links
Click here for Advent's web site


Aelian [Italy]
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
The Watcher (92)
Meeting the Watcher (Live) (93)
A Tree Under the Colours (00)
Reviews
Some songs sound like Yes, others remind me of the latest version of Genesis.
Many reports say this one [The Watcher -Ed.] is pretty weak.


Aeoliah [USA]

Many

Electronic artist


Aera [Germany]
Updated 11/15/01

Discography
Humanum Est (75)
Hand And Fuss (76)
Turkis (79)
Live (80, Live)
Too Much (81)
Akataki (82)
Reviews
Aera from Munich belonged to a group of bands with tight connections to Embryo (others were Missus Beastly, Munju, Real Ax Band, Snowball and some more). Several members of these band frequently exchanged between each others bands during their existence. Not surprisingly they all played a similar and typical musical style, a kind of German fusion/jazz rock with strong sax and flute. Such kind of music is thus dominant on all Aera LPs as they did not change too much throughout the years. If one likes Embryo in their middle seventies period (with Mal Waldron and Charly Mariano), before they went into the ethno-field, one might give also Aera a try. -- Achim Breiling
Aera was a very capable, occasionally excellent, German band that specialized in largely instrumental music that straddled the fence between jazz-rock and progressive rock. Their debut LP, Humanum Est, leans more toward the progressive rock end of the spectrum. It features the riff-based compositions of guitarist Muck Groh, who was previously in Ihre Kinder - a progressive folk-rock band. Listening to this LP, it's not hard to fathom Groh's involvement in folk music: he's fond of his twelve string, and his intricate leads and solos on that instrument bring Dan Ar Bras to mind. On the electric 6-string, he leans toward a Jeff Beck / Janne Schaffer sort of approach - he's not really a jazz guitarist, but an accomplished soloist in a creative blues-rock vein. The bulk of Aera's jazz influence at this point could be credited to the band's other main soloist, soprano saxophonist / flutist Klaus Kreuzeder - he's quite good. On the minus side, the rhythm section (drummer Wolfgang Teske and bassists Dieter Bauer and Peter Malinowsky) is somewhere between wooden and serviceable.

Groh, Kreuzeder (now on alto sax, in addition to flute and soprano sax), and Malinowsky (who also does brief novelty vocals on 2 tracks) are aboard for Aera's 2nd LP, Hand und Fuss. New members include violinist Christoph Krieger and drummer Lucky Schmidt. Though Krieger is decent enough - he sounds pretty nice in unison with Kreuzeder, and he provides an additional solo voice - it is Schmidt's dynamic, jazzy kit work that really kicks Hand und Fuss up several notches above Humanum Est. Several of the compositions (all by Groh, or Groh and Malinowsky) have a vague Mahavishnu feel. As a guitar soloist, however, Groh still resembles Ted Nugent more than he does John McLaughlin. Kreuzeder's playing is even stronger than on Humanum Est - an amazing feat when you consider that he is confined to a wheelchair. The great variety and increased complexity of the compositions is the most appealing aspect of this recording - it's hard to imagine fans of instrumental progressive rock and jazz-rock not liking this LP. Though Hand und Fuss may not floor you with jaw-dropping chops and astounding technique, there's a folksy warmth to it that I find lacking in much of the fusion / progressive genre. The music on Hand und Fuss is undeniably charming, imaginative, distinctive, and still bears repeated listening. For many, this will be their finest moment.

Significant personnel changes occurred prior to the recording of Aera's third LP, Turkis, in early 1979 (about 2-and-a-half years after Hand und Fuss). Here, only Klaus Kreuzeder remains from any of the band's previous incarnations. Muck Groh appears as a "guest" on one track (along with Embryo / Missus Beastly bassist Locko Richter). The lineup now includes drums (Lutz Oldemeier - ex-Missus Beastly), percussion (Helmut Meier-Limburg), bass (Matz Steinke), and keyboards / drums (Freddy Setz). A second keyboardist (Achim Gieseler) is added on three tracks (Setz switches to drums on these - the double drumming seems a bit much, but actually works fairly well). The band's progression towards funky jazz-rock fusion (and away from progressive rock) is pretty much complete at this point. Kreuzeder dropped the flute in favor of the lyricon. Bassist Steinke, with his prodigious Jaco / Stanley Clarke-like finger-poppin' chops, functions more-or-less as a lead guitarist on several tracks. The two (or three!) percussionists impart a decided Afro-Latin flavor to the music. Steinke and drummer Lutz Oldemeier share the compositional chores. Though some of their efforts are shockingly derivative (one track borrows heavily from Weather Report's "Boogie Woogie Waltz", another rips off WR's "Teen Town"!), the band's abilities in the jazz arena have increased to the point that they can get by with merely serviceable tunes (as long as the solos cook!). Overall, the band's sound is in line with many other Euro-jazz-rock fusion bands active at this time. Besides Weather Report, other useful comparisons would include Pierre Moerlen's Gong, To Be, Kraan (less the vocals), the last edition of the Release Music Orchestra, Missus Beastly, and Munju.

Additional personnel shifts are evident on Aera's Live LP, recorded in November, 1979. Ex-Embryo bassist Locko Richter has replaced Matz Steinke, and the band also added long-time Embryo guitarist and vocalist Roman Bunka. Richter is good enough, but a bit of a letdown following the departure of the amazing Steinke. Bunka, on the other hand, is not such a good fit. His psychedelically-charged, over-the-top guitar soloing is fine - in spots it reminds me a tiny bit of Pete Cosey's work with Miles Davis, and he keeps the band from sounding like yet another one-dimensional jazz-funk outfit. Unfortunately, Bunka also sings on two tracks, and his whiny voice is similar to Joe Walsh's, only more irritating. The compositions aren't all that substantial either - though this edition of the band seems to be about jamming more than anything else.

Too Much introduces an entirely new version of the group, with saxophonist Kreuzeder and percussionist Meier-Limburg (now calling himself 'Limbus') as the only holdovers. The new personnel include drummer Toni Danner, bassist Peter Kuhmstedt, and keyboardist Achim Gieseler (who guested on Turkis). Unfortunately, the band has settled into playing rather faceless and undistinguished jazz-rock - quite similar to Klaus Doldinger's Passport following the departure of Curt Cress. Though the music isn't totally lame, most of Too Much would make a great soundtrack for a travelogue or documentary on, say, downhill skiing. On the plus side, Kreuzeder sounds great (as usual), and the rhythm section is appealingly chunky. Gieseler is also quite proficient and gets some nice, fat sounds out of his analog synthesizers and Fender Rhodes.

Generally, the progression for these bands is to get blander and more sold-out as time goes on, but Aera's sixth and (to my knowledge) final LP, Akataki reverses the trend. Akataki is actually Aera's most creative and original work since Hand und Fuss. It also marks the first time the band retained the same personnel over two consecutive recordings. Gieseler gets an incredible range of sounds out of his keyboards, and his compositions - which make up a third of the LP - are quirky enough to keep things from getting dull (as they did on Too Much). The title track is a group-written, side-long magnum opus that segues from Headhunters-style jazz-funk jamming to a dense drum duet, to downtempo jazz, and culminates in massive, thunderously funky jam around a very simple marching drum pattern. The latter section contains some of Kreuzeder's best recorded soloing. Besides all the cool stuff on Akataki, there is also a brief, comedic vocal number ("Wieder Da!") that might put some folks off a bit.

I don't know what happened to the band members after Akataki, though Kreuzeder did record at least one solo LP during the early 1980s. -- Dave Wayne

Links
[See Embryo | Ihre Kinder | Missus Beastly | Munju | Snowball]


Affinity [UK]
Updated 7/31/00

Discography
Affinity (70)
Reviews
Fronted by vocalist Linda Hoyle, supported by guitarist Mike Jupp, bassist Mo Foster, organist Lynton Naiff and drummer Grant Serpell, Affinity were one of several UK prog/jazz-rock groups signed up by the influential Vertigo Records. But altough the band's seven track debut was well received by the critics it didn't dissuade the group from splitting up soon after its release in 1970. Linda Hoyle continued to record for Vertigo, releasing the LP "Pieces of Me" in 1971, on which she was backed by Chris Spedding and Soft Machine members John Marshall and Karl Jenkins. The LP was a much more varied one than Affinity's, ranging from ballads to hard rock, and it was commercial success. Drummer Grant Serpell went on join Sailor, organist Lynton Naiff gigged with Toe Fat, the band led by ex Rebel Rouser Cliff Bennett. -- Andras Sumegi
Affinity were a jazz-rock band whose sole album is nice but not particularly strong or memorable (my impression at least). The arrangements are dominated by organ and vocalist Linda Hoyle's undeniably strong voice. The highlight is an 11-minute version of “All Along the Watchtower” with plenty of solos. The album is available on Repertoire Records CD, which also includes two single tracks, thus containing the band’s whole recorded output in one package. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Links
[See Ice | Sailor]


Afflatus [Japan]

Very powerful fusion with intense guitar, I've only heard two tracks by these guys, on Made in Japan's "Jazz Rock Sampler," and in fact I don't know if they have anything else out. Reminds me of stuff like Joaquin Lievano. Certainly one band worth watching for!

A killer Crimson/zeuhl / Fusion crossover band that has a couple of tracks on a compilation, but otherwise has no legitimately released material. I've heard a bootleg of a live show from '86 and they smoke! Unfortunately, they've broken up since, so I doubt we'll ever see a real album. -- Mike Borella


After Crying [Hungary]
Updated 10/22/01

Discography
Overground Music (90)
Megalázottak és Megszomorítottak (92)
Föld És Ég (94)
De Profundis (96)
Elsõ Évitized (96)
6 (97)
Almost Pure Instrumental (98)
Struggle for Life (00)
Reviews
After Crying 1998 - Pejtsik Péter (cello), Görgényi Tamás, Winkler Balázs (trumpet), Egervári Gábor (flute), Torma Ferenc (guitar)

Founded in 1986, After Crying went on to become one of the most innovative and interesting progressive rock bands in the 1990's, pulling off the jolly nice stunt of making real change and progress with each new studio album, while still having a sound that was distinctly their own. The band's original core consisted of Csaba Vedres (piano, vocals), Péter Pejtsik (cello, vocals) and Tamás Görgenyi (lyrics). This line-up recorded Overground Music (Periferic Records BGCD 001) in 1990 with a help of several guest musicians on various wind instruments. The album's almost entirely acoustic music draws heavily from classical and jazz, but unlike the dark dissonance of the likes of Univers Zero, this is melodic and accessible music that still bristles with intricate counterpoint and harmonic sophistication. Despite the lack of rhythm section (I think there is some synthesized hi-hat on one song) and sparsity of instrumentation, the music sounds driving and full, as Vedres' truly virtuosic piano work cascades around and bounces from Pejtsik's alternatively lyrical and sawing cello. Recognisable influences include Emerson, King Crimson (in the occasional angularity and polyrhythms) and Frank Zappa (the jazzy "European Things" is a credited homage to Zappa and like with many of Zappa's lyrics, its humour is both mordant and morbid), but many sections could just as well be described as light classical music. Shaky and accented vocals are a minus but do little to detract from the music. The final track "Shining" is the most successful, featuring angelic female vocals and relentless trumpet fanfares against the darkly ethereal bedrock of cello and piano.

By the time Megalázottak és Megszomorítottak (Quint QUI 906014) came out, the band had been augmented by the addition of László Gacs on drums and Balázs Winkler on trumpet and keyboards. With a more conventional, though still selectively deployed rock rhythm section and synthesizers, After Crying develop a darker and more symphonic chamber sound that makes a good use of space and gradual increase of tension, so that when they come, changes and releases are dramatically magnified. Nowhere is this more evident than on the 22-minute opening track "A Gadarai Megszállott", which builds over light, hypnotic drumming, churning keyboards and brooding cello and effortlessly changes mood from lulling to sinister as piano, percussion and various winds drift in and out of stereo field, generating enormous tension that is released in a brief burst of manic trumpet shrieking. The two short middle tracks feature string arrangements and solemn vocals which contribute to the sober, almost religious atmosphere of the record; the use of Hungarian lyrics also improves the overall vocal effect. The title track scurries along for a while with a kind of schizoid energy and spy movie drama, but then dissolves into a floating, funereal wind-down where whispered vocals, gossamer-like keyboards and a mournful trumpet create an air of cathartic finality. Of all After Crying albums, Megalázottak és Megszomorítottak is the most consistent in its moodiness and solemnity, and as such is probably their most consistent effort, though not the easiest one to digest. It certainly is well worth the effort though.

After Crying's third album, Föld és ég (Periferic Records BGCD 002), saw the arrival of guitarist Ferenc Torma, but apart from an acoustic solo number "Zene Gitárra" his contribution is not yet very pronounced, though he definitely adds a new sound to the palette of keyboards, strings and winds with his fuzzy, Fripp-like textures, especially on the rocking "Júdás". Instead the first songs on the album are keyboard-heavy prog in the style of ELP, with "Rondo" being a very faithful recreation (=slavish imitation) of The Nice/early-ELP sound, and the two-part "Manticore " combining Emersonian keyboard bombast to a sweeping vocal melody (making it more attractive, at least to my ELP-unfriendly ears, than a lot of ELP's own output). Latter songs pick up the band's more idiosyncratic sound from where the previous album left it, and hone it to ethereal perfection. "Leltár" features almost perfect Gregorian-styled vocal harmonies, "Puer natus in Bethlehem" consists of just a slow, solemn trumpet fanfare against a sombre synthesizer sky and is devastatingly beautiful, while the 13-minute closer "Kétezer év" bubbles and flows with silvery piano and variously ominous and tender vocals, building and gathering intensity without ever actually erupting out of its gothic mausoleum. All in all, Föld és ég is one of After Crying's strongest works, and perhaps the best place for a newcomer to start.

After the album was finished, Vedres left the band to become a concert pianist, though he would return to the world of prog a few years later with Townscream. The rest of the band did not sit still, however, but pushed on and produced their most ambitious work to date. De Profundis (Periferic BGCD 005) is a complete departure from the previous album's Emersoniasms, being much closer to classical music, employing a large guest cast to achieve a matching sound and skilfully combining various discrepant instruments and influences into a working whole. The ethereal church choir and synth pads of the opener "Bevezetés" give way to the hybridization of "Modern idök" where half-spoken, pseudo-rap vocals and scuffling rhythms merge with towering orchestral arrangements and melodies. The King Crimson influence comes to fore in "Stalker", as Torma's guitar takes the centre stage among the brooding synths and winds, alternatively weeping mournfully and then screaming and slashing out with flurries of Frippian feedback. The title track is another strong, restrained symphonic chamber work, while "Esjüszegök" takes the heavily orchestrated symphonic rock sound to its limit. Though impressive works in their own right, the guitar, keyboard and cello solo pieces at the middle of the album sound out of place and break up the album's flow somewhat, making it less than a perfect effort. Still, this is another indispensable album and stands quite unique among other mid-1990's prog efforts, with perhaps Isildur's Bane's magnificent Mind Volume 1 as its only real comparison.

Elsö évtized (BGCD 006/007) is a peculiar two-disc compilation: the first disc contains a few unreleased tracks and a number of songs drawn from the first four albums, but particularly Overground Music. These have been remixed with new vocals and Hungarian lyrics, which admittedly eliminates their main weakness. Of the unreleased tracks, the most memorable are the rhapsodic chamber rock of "Vándor" and the pleasant acoustic guitar/trumpet melodicism of the aptly titled "Novelty"; none of the rest are earth shaking. The second disc is a 1991 concert recording with Vedres and Pejtsik both performing an impressive solo number on their respective instruments along with impeccable renditions of songs from Overground Music and a couple of more otherwise unreleased tracks, the beautiful "Jó éjt!" being by far the best of these. Finally, the band show off some of their influences by including a 1993 performance of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", a dignified, if unsurprising rendition of this old concert warhorse. Though there is quite a lot of redundancy, Elsö évtized still holds enough interesting material to warrant getting it, especially if you like the acoustic sound of Overground Music, but only after getting the more essential releases.

The first thing one notices about 6 (BGCD 009) is its bright, yellow-dominated sleeve, quite a departure from the any-colour-you-like-as-long-as-it's-black sketches decorating the earlier albums. The music inside hasn't changed as radically, but changes there have been and not always for the better. The band has returned to English lyrics, which eliminates some of the distinctive air of the earlier releases, and the exquisite vocal harmonies of Föld és ég have by now been almost completely replaced by harsher and too often inadequate individual contributions from several singers. There is greater reliance on digital synthesizer textures, and more Crimson-like angular rockers than before, some more successful than others (the-big-band-from-Hell number "Big Evil Fun Fair Finale" being an example of the successes). In contrast, there are also a number of quieter numbers, most notably the classical piano solo "Burlesque" and the evocative "Sleepin' Chaplin". Somewhere between them is "Struggle for Life", a Hungarian folk melody given almost a cinematic treatment and interspersed with a wonderfully chilling recitation section featuring a poem by the band's (apparent) favourite poet Attila Josez. The album concludes with the aptly titled "Conclusion", a tribute to Keith Emerson that reminds of Emerson-Lake-Powell but is far superior to anything that formation ever did. Veering dangerously close to sappy at first, the song eventually rises to a nice synth-fanfare propelled sweep, but this version suffers from weak vocals and thin synth sounds and doesn't do full justice to the composition. The effect one gets from this album is of fragmentation, with several high points but somehow a more pedestrian overall impression than with De Profundis. While 6 is of the calibre that not many contemporaneous prog bands could have hoped to match, for a band with After Crying's track record it must be regarded as a mediocre effort.

After Crying's next release was a compilation album Almost Pure Instrumental (BGCD 027). It has its problems: both Föld és ég and De Profundis are represented by measly one track, which gives little concrete idea of the albums themselves (especially as the Föld és ég track is "Rondo"), and most of the longer works are omitted. On the plus side, it does gather a lot of the band's best material into a quite workable and consistent whole, and includes four shortish tracks that are unavailable elsewhere. Of these, the most successful is the Mendelhsson-derived "Pilgrim's March", a warm, relaxing tune with floating percussion and an Oldfield-styled electric guitar melody. Like all compilations, however, it is primarily either for new-comers or completists.

A wider cross section of the band's music can be found on Struggle for Life (BGCD 054-55), a double live album recorded mostly in 1999. Many of the songs here are superior to studio versions in terms of energy and impact; this is especially true with "Conclusion", which is stretched into a thirty-minute medley with the inclusion of both parts of "Manticore" and a number of solo performances. The solo numbers, including Torma's Soundscapes-like guitar/synth showcase "Crash and Cry", work better in this kind of context than they work on the studio albums. This time the King Crimson cover is "Starless", performed in 1997 with John Wetton guesting on bass and vocals. Wetton's voice isn't in top condition, but the band pull off a suitably passionate, large cast version of the classic. The second disc also has a multimedia section with three MP3s (one previously unreleased song, the rather skimpy "Radio Rarotonga"), band biography and some lyrics. This section is omitted from the one-disc, "essential" version of the album, though it has "Radio Rarotonga" as a normal audio track. Apart from being an excellent live recording, Struggle for Life is a good summing up of the first ten years in After Crying's recording career. Hopefully the next ten years will be equally fruitful. -- Kai Karmanheimo

Sound like Islands era Crimson and a must for all Crimson fans. Prog rock on classical instruments that manages to be a remarkable improvement on the early Crimson style rather than just a copy.
Symphonic prog band. Long tracks and complex arrangements are characteristic of all their for albums (to date), of which I have Föld és ég (Ground and Sky) and De Profundis. In addition to the common instruments such as guitar, synths and drums they play a wide variety of classical instruments (cello, violin, piano, trumpet, horns, winds, flute to mention but a few). In certain tracks they use exclusively classical arrangements, which gives their music a chamber-like character. If one claims that they are King Crimson-influenced, yes, it is true, and they never denied it. (In fact, the band started its career with the live performance of Crimson's first album, and I can tell you it was astonishing.) This group, however, is far from being a Crimson clone. Lyrics in Hungarian (except Overground Music, which are in English), but do not be afraid; they don't use it extensively. And anyway, you can enjoy the marvellous Hungarian language. My personal favorite is De Profundis, a concept album in 74 minutes. The music is rather dark (my wife actually calls them "Happy Dance Boys") with some gothic elements, and After Crying play it as an orchestra and not as individuals (here you can strongly feel their classical training). On De Profundis, a dozen of other musicians play on classical instruments, helping out the six-membered band. Definitely not an "easy" music, but it is well worth trying. I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes music that makes you think. -- Csaba Nemes
De Profundis by the Hungarian band remains true to a very classical approach that still dominates the rock elements. The extremely rich instrumentation features keyboards and cello but also includes flute, guitar, trumpet, drums, vocals (in Hungarian), oboe, bassoon, clarinet, etc... Many tracks are in the chamber music format but others, more busy ones, include a more important symphonic delivery. The compositions are original, production is excellent, arrangements are rich, tasteful and performances reflect a strong classical training. The mood is often solemn but will certainly satisfy those who are seeking a serious dose of symphonism. -- Paul Charbonneau
Links
[See Townscream]

Click here for a good fan site


After Dinner [Japan]
Updated 8/20/04

Discography
Paradise of Replica (89)
Editions (??)
Paradise of Remixes (00, EP)
Reviews
After Dinner can produce both incredibly fragile and awesomely strident musical passages. In their quietest compositions one gets a sense of ancient Japanese musical "styles" (as in Shakuhaci or solo Koto), though with a thoroughly modern tonality. Of their more strident pieces, Rick Brown of V-Effect/Fish & Roses/Timber/etc. described them as one of the more controversial bands to have performed at the Mimi festval in France. As this seemed entirely improbable, I asked him why. His response was that they were a "guitar band". IMHO this does a great disservice to their creativity, though they can produce some scorching guitar work. On Paradise Of Replica, instrumentation includes vocals, percussion, indian harp, chinese dulcimer, glockenspiel, various keyboards, sorobatone (?!), guitar, toms, tung-siao (?), japanese oboe, charango (?), cello, tenor sax, violin, and volleyball. There is a WONDERFUL picture on the back of the CD of Haco (photo) sitting at a piano (drawing) that is pouring forth music pages that form a dragon. On Editions, the combo of Recommended studio/live releases, the bands are made up as follows: studio: 17 people; live: 11 people. The prime instigators seem to be Haco (Vox, keyboards & volleyball) and Tadahiko Yokogawa (bass, violin, mandolin, vox). After Dinner also generate very strong moods in their music, and I have been told they have a fairly theatrical presence onstage.

An extemporaneous description of the song "Re": The music rises slowly, sparsely. A man's voice very haltingly, almost sadly, attempts to define a space within this sparseness. Suddenly the music changes. Violin comes in almost folklike, and triangles start surrounding its repeated melody. Then the violin starts to improvise. There is still a sadness underlying the somewhat happy surface of the music. The male voice seems to be trying to describe a place which cannot really be described. "Soon I will tell you all of this, all for you." The song ends. The song after "Re" is called "Kitchen Life." After the sparse elegance of "Re," it just sort of staggers in and never really gains a (physical) sense of balance. This "lack of balance" is an excellent example of After Dinner's ability to create the different moods I mentioned.

After Dinner are a difficult band to describe because their music covers stylistically such a wide range. One might be tempted to call them classical, while definitions like sparse, loud, dynamic, mysterious, enchanting, minimal, or even orchestral come to mind. They are a quite unique band in my opinion, and while their music could be used for background, I inevitably find myself drawn away from whatever I was doing to end up simply listening. -- David Bryant

Regarding Paradise of Replica/Paradise of Remixes (1989/2000 ReR AD2)
After Dinner are a Japanese combo that mixes various influences to create a very original brand of RIO, the album opens up with a track that sounds like a mix of Brian Eno and Can with operatic female vocalist and hand beaten percussion.

The female vocalist dominates most of the other tracks as well, while the band uses many acoustic instruments including violin, viola, Koto, tuned percussion etc. as well as electric piano and Mellotron to create a very dense and psychedelic background to their unique vocalist. When the band get the chance to express itself instrumentaly the result is very close to Brian Eno's 70's work. Some of the tracks are more acoustic and based on string instruments, other tracks has some oriental influences, you will also hear cabertic and semi-classical tracks.

Because of the many directions the band took they remind of diverse acts like Slapp Happy, Hatfield And The North (with the "Northettes"), Haikara, Sotos, Magical Power Mako, Kate Bush, Popol Vuh, Samla Mammas Manna and Henry Cow.

The tracks on Paradise Of Remixes EP are more electronic and experimental resulting in strong improvised Space-Rock that will appeal to fans of Eno, Ron Geesin or of the Berlin School. -- Gil Keltch


After The Fire [UK]
Updated 5/17/00

Discography
Signs Of Change (77)
Laser Love (79)
80-F (80)
Batteries Not Included (82)
ATF (82)
Der Kommisar (82)
Reviews
Their indie debut, Signs Of Change, was a snappy album of melodic prog similar in style to England's Garden Shed. Despite an undercurrent of "born-again Christian" themes in the lyrics, it's a fine album, with good organ and synth work from keyboardist Peter Banks (no, not that one). Later (major-label) albums go for a bouncy synth-pop approach, leaving prog in the dust. The next two albums were good of their kind, though, but the band reached their musical nadir (yet commercial high point) with "Der Kommisar" from ATF, an obnoxious cover of a song originally done by Austria's much-reviled Falco. -- Mike Ohman


After The Stranger [UK]
Updated 5/30/03

Discography
Another Beauty Blooms (86)
Reviews
They have a very dark progressive-meets-modern pop styled EP titled Another Beauty Blooms. That was from around 87. Never heard of them again.
After The Stranger's guitarist Ian Simpson wrote me to give me a bit more info on this band. They made only this one album, then went on to produce 3 mini-albums on cassette, though Ian did not give me the titles. They were together for only about two years from 1985-87. There was a brief reformation in 1988 which produced two tracks for a demo, but that project was shelved after recording. Simpson continues to record musical projects using improvised ambient electronics with prepared guitar, which he distributes on his own label (see link below). Click the MP3.com link above to hear some of Simpson's current work [Note: MP3.com has gone out of business, so never mind ... -Ed.].

Tim Bowness was also a member of After The Stranger, and has gone on to success with No-Man, Henry Fool and Samuel Smiles. -- Fred Trafton

Links
[See No-Man]

Click here for Ian Simpson's web site


After The War [Denmark]

Trouble (70)

Prog/jazz in the vein of Ben or Nucleus, has been compared to Burnin' Red Ivanhoe.


Ag A.M. [Germany]
a.k.a. Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ante Meridiem
Updated 6/27/05

Discography
Erinnerungen an eine Positive Phase (77)
Links
Click here for some info from A Crack In The Cosmic Egg, Web version


Agamemnon [Switzerland]

Agamemnon Parts 1 and 2 (81)

Rare Swiss symphonic band who put out at least one album called Agamemnnon Parts 1 and 2 Average yet enjoyable synth music.


Agamon [Sweden]

Open Up Your Eyes (and see the world go round and round) (93)

The leader of the band is Magnus Andersson, who plays keyboards and sings lead vocals. There is also the keyboardist Mats Öberg on vocals, the drummer Morgan Ågren (both have played with Zappa), a string quartet, and six more people. It is a intriguing mix of everything, with very nice melodies. Almost like a progressive musical. -- Gunnar Creutz

[See Steensland, Simon]


Ageness [Finland]
Formerly known as Scarab
Updated 3/1/08

Discography
Showing Paces (92)
Rituals (96)
Scarab (96, Originally recorded in 1983 as Scarab, released only 180 copies, re-released in 1996)
Imageness (98)
Reviews
Ageness - 1997 Imageness Line-up

I was curious to hear Ageness after reading some good reviews. Unfortunately none of those reviews mentioned much about the band's sound. They relied on labeling Ageness "good" and "great" instead of describing what the music is like. I was very disappointed in hearing Ageness. If someone had said that they were a Marillion-style neo-progressive, I wouldn't have bothered.


Ageness is mildly interesting as progressive music, falling into the Pendragon / IQ / Jadis category. However I'd refer to them as stadium rock, an attempt of the sound of these bands, as well as Asia and Rush. I understand that many people like the neo-progressive genre, and that's fine. Maybe there should be a warning label on albums like this so when someone calls such a band "progressive" we'll know what they mean.
Ageness is not particularly talented and the vocals are outright poor - something like those of Pendragon, but worse. Guitar and keys spend most of the time hitting power chords and building sugar-coated rhythms. The drums play an ominous *boom* *thud* *boom* *thud* while backing the vocals, and do little more in the way of fills. This album is much more AOR than progressive and one should keep that in mind before purchasing.
Ageness make a great joke for your prog rock friends who break into hysterical laughter when they hear a Fish wannabe. This is where cheesy symphonics and pompous watered down "prog" rock rein supreme. I thought I'd die laughing.
I, for one, think that Ageness is not at all bad, if you're into neo-prog (a term, which sends disgust up and down many peoples spines, mouths and other organs). But then it's always easy to beat down a musical genre you don't like, right boys? Ageness' first album Showing Paces was good, though not great. There are a few really good songs on the album, though -- even one where the essence of Symphonic has been squeezed into a four-minute piece, suitable even for brave radio people to play! The lyrics on Showing Paces are the weak part of the album. They are bad. I mean, really bad. It's not that they lack point or anything, it's just that the guy who wrote them don't seem to know his English grammer very well. Listen with an open mind. The band's second album Rituals came out in early 1996, and it's clear that the band has learnt something between now and when Showing Paces came out. Gone are the grammatical horribilities, the playing is much tighter and the overall sound has really improved. Really recommended if you're brought up on Marillion, Yes and Rush and now want to expand your progressive horizon. For all you slaggers, give'm another listen -- Ageness is really good! -- Robin Llaurén
Links
Click here for Ageness' web site
Click here for Ageness' MySpace page


Agents of Mercy [Sweden]
Updated 7/23/10

Discography
The Fading Ghosts of Twilight (09)
The Power of Two - Live in USA (10, Live with Karmakanic)
DramaRama (10)
Reviews
Agents of Mercy - Nad Sylvan and Roine Stolt

Original Entry 12/27/09:
In 2009, it seems that Roine Stolt had no time for his "primary" band The Flower Kings. He was involved with too many "side projects", including Karmakanic, the revival of Transatlantic, and now Agents of Mercy with singer Nad Sylvan of Unifaun. They released a CD in 2009, The Fading Ghosts of Twilight, and took the show on the road with many Flower Kings members, and even Spock's Beard frontman Nick D'Virgilio on drums for the US portions of the tour.

Though I haven't heard the whole album, I've listened to the songs they've put on their MySpace page, and it's pretty darn good stuff. Sylvan continues to sound a whole lot like Peter Gabriel, which gives it a certain Genesis vibe. However, the vocal overdubs, keyboards and guitar stylings make it sound a lot less like Genesis than the Unifaun album did. Well, Sylvan's Mellotron work kicks it back towards Genesis again sometimes. Oh, never mind.

Evidently this album was supposed to be a sort of acoustic/accessible album. It certainly fails at that ... this is really nice progressive rock. I recommend you give it a listen for yourself at the link below. -- Fred Trafton


Agents of Mercy (DramaRama line-up) - Lalle Larson (keyboards), Walle Wahlgren (drums), Nad Sylvan (vocals, keyboards), Roine Stolt (guitar) and Jonas Reingold (bass)

For their second album DramaRama, Karmakanic has sort of merged with the previous Agents of Mercy line-up to form the members of the band on the new album. Since there are several common members, my previous statement that members of The Flower Kings helped out is also true. I've heard some promo materials from the new release, and it's very strong material for those who like the rockin' prog/pop style of, say Transatlantic or The Flower Kings. In all cases, I would call these bands prog/pop with emphasis on the "prog", and in all cases involving Roine Stolt. No accident there, I imagine.

This merged band toured and a live album called The Power of Two has been made, mostly recordings from the 2009 CalProg festival. This concert featured Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard, etc.) guesting on drums, who can be heard on The Power of Two. See the Karmakanic entry for details. -- Fred Trafton

Links
[See D'Virgilio, Nick | Flower Kings, The | Karmakanic | Spock's Beard | Stolt, Roine | Transatlantic | Unifaun]

Click here for Agents of Mercy's web site
Click here for Agents of Mercy's MySpace page


Aghora [USA]
Updated 7/14/08

Discography
Aghora (99)
Formless (06)
Reviews
Aghora - Sean Reinert (drums), Charlie Ekendahl (guitar), Danishta Rivero (vocals), Santiago Dobles (lead guitar)

It's an obvious idea when you think about: instead of disfiguring your sophisticated technical metal with cookie-monster vocals, find someone who can actually sing. If that someone is a classically-trained mezzo-soprano, so much the better. The pure vocals make the instrumental parts of the tunes even crunchier, and the abrasive textures in turn make the singer sound that much more ethereal. The singer here is Danishta Rivero. The other members of Aghora are Danishta's brother and Berklee product Santiago Dobles, lead guitar; Charlie Ekendahl, guitar; and Sean Reinert, drums. Sean Malone plays his usual excellent bass on their CD. The music sounds a lot like Cynic -- not surprising, given the line-up. There are some significant differences, though, and not just the vocals. The songs are longer, a bit jazzier and more oriental-sounding, and Dobles takes more and longer solos than his counterparts did on Focus. There are some echoes of Allan Holdsworth and Mahavishnu here and there, and one can also detect more than a bit of Steve Vai in Dobles' soloing. Although the singing is a vast improvement over that in Cynic, the lyrics are in the same quasi-mystical vein: "The God is in the man/The man is in the God," etc. The playing throughout is intense, and the bass is mixed high enough so that you can hear every note Malone plays. -- Don McClane

News 3/6/06:
Aghora has been recording a new album entitled Formless since April of 2005. Although the album seems to have still featured Danishta Rivero on vocals, a touring band has now formed with an almost all-new line-up. Only Santiago Dobles (guitar) is still left from their first album release. A second guitarist, Alex Meade joins the band, along with new vocalist Diana Serra and bassist Alan Goldstein. There's also a drummer, Ian (I can't find any last name for him on the web site), who also plays on the new album. There's also a report in the band's forum (today!) from Santiango that "Sean Reinert [Cynic, Death] has confirmed that he will record on the new album", though the band's journal entries end on October 23, 2005, with it sounding as if they're nearly done with the recording and no mention of Reinert. It's all very confusing. I'll try to find out what's happening and report back when I can. -- Fred Trafton
Aghora 2007 - ? (drums?), Santiago Dobles (guitar), Alan Goldstein (bass) and Diana Serra (vocals)

News 7/14/08:
Aghora has released their second CD Formless, and are working on a third. Their web site is still pretty useless when it comes to figuring out what's happening with the band, but the current band members appear to be Santiago Dobles (guitar), Diana Serra (vocals), Alan Goldstein (bass) and newcomer Matt Thompson (drums). No mention is made of the Ian fellow I discussed above, nor of Sean Reinert nor of guitarist Alex Meade. I believe the band photo at left depicts the above line-up except for Thompson. I have no clue as to the identity of the fellow in the red shirt. -- Fred Trafton

Links
[See Cynic | Death | Gordian Knot | Malone, Sean]

Click here for the Aghora web site


Agincourt [UK]
Updated 8/20/04

Discography
Fly Away (70)
Reviews
This is virtually the same group as Ithaca, and therefore this recording is quite similar: folk-psych with some touches of prog, although this last element is more subdued here. The songs lean on the acoustic side, with the electric instruments used just in the right way to fill the songs. Some moments are not so great as Ithaca's (mainly some songs composed by Peter Howell, who didn't take writing credit in that record), but if you liked that one, I strongly recommend this Fly Away. The great "Through the Eyes of a Lifetime" should be a delight to any Moody Blues fan, or to anyone hoping to dream and fly away from his life for a moment. -- Paco Fox

Peter Howell and John Ferdinando of this group, have been responsible to several legendary albums of Progressive Folk including; Ithaca, Alice Through The Looking Glass and Tomorrow Come Some Day. This was their third project together and still had strong folksy leanings, resulting in a great set of songs. The playing and singing is also quite good, largely based on acoustic instruments (guitar/piano/flute) and very pleasant (male and female) vocal harmonies. The album however is largely under-produced resulting in the songs sounding like demos rather than complete work, on the other hand the sparse production adds certain distinction to the songs. Inspite of this fact, the album is still a minor classic of it's genre and well worth investigation for fans of Progressive Folk as it contains some charming Folksy songs, strongly influenced by the Moody Blues and some good instrumental work. Fans of Spirogyra, Principal Edward's Magic Theatre and early Moody Blues or Barclay James Harvest will all find this interesting and rewarding. -- Gil Keltch

Links
[See Ithaca]


Agitation Free [Germany]
Updated 3/6/01

Discography
Malesch (72)
Second (73)
Last (77)
Fragments (95)
At the Cliffs of The River Rhine (96)
River of Return (99)
Reviews
Agitation Free

Absolutely excellent early German space rock band who was slightly well known for containing Michael Hoenig in their ranks. Very much like your early Ash Ra Tempel - Guru Guru type bands except with a cultural influence.

A classic of the German space genre. Long extended guitar solos over a mesmerizing backdrop. Their aptly titled Last is considered by many to be one of the best live space albums ever. I don't know if I'd go that far, but it is a great album. Lots of acid-drenched guitar and electronics to really carry you "out there." It also features Michael Hoenig (soon to be with Tangerine Dream) on his first recording. One of the best in this area.
Top-flight German space-rock featuring synthesist Michael Hoenig and future Ashra guitarist Lutz Ulbrich. Both Malesch and Second are excellent space excursions worth taking, featuring droning and warbling synths, wailing guitars and the like, but with a strong rock rhythm section giving it more drive than your average space-rock band. Malesch has a strong Middle-Eastern feel to it, incorporating some taped street-sounds apparently recorded live in Cairo into the music. Second is more Euro-folk inflected, with a stronger use of acoustic guitars and (on one track) bouzouki! I haven't heard Last. If I had to compare them to anyone, it would be Ash Ra Tempel, but they really defy comparison. -- Mike Ohman
Links
[See Ashra | Hoenig, Michael | Tangerine Dream]

Click here for the Agitation Free official home page.
Click here or here for Agitation Free profiles/hype from their new label, BSC Music.
1970's material is available on CD on the Spalax label.


Agnus [Argentina]
Updated 6/27/05

Discography
Pinturas y Espresiones (80)
Reviews
Large '70s underground prog band did classical/Latin folklore pastiche on one hand, Floydian guitar-driven space rock on the other. Their album Pinturas y Espresiones is diverse and fascinating. -- Mike Ohman


Agora [Italy]
Updated 11/18/02

Discography
Live in Montreaux (75)
Agora (76)
Reviews
Agora is a very fine electric jazz / jazz-rock quintet (Roberto Bacciocchi - electric piano, vocal; Renato Gasparini - guitar; Ovidio Urbani - soprano sax, cymbals, vocal; Paolo Colafrancesco - electric bass, vocal; Mauro Mencaroni - drums, vocal) with a sound somewhat influenced by Miles Davis (circa Jack Johnson), Weather Report (pre-Heavy Weather), and Mahavishnu. The influence of several Italian jazz-rock / progressive rock bands, such as Perigeo, Goblin, and Area, is also palpable. This LP [Live in Montreaux] was produced by Claudio Fabi (who produced the majority of the jazz-rock LPs on the Cramps label), so maybe the distinct Italian flavor of this music is no coincidence. Guitarist Renato Gasparini is the band's most effective soloist. He has a nice fat distorted tone, and plays those super-fast McLaughlinesque licks with alarming ease. Pianist Bacciocchi is quite good as well, though he doesn't get many chances to stretch out. Everyone else in the group is better than competent, and the compositions are multi-sectioned and relatively complex, with the occasional odd time signature. Overall, rather similar to Perigeo's better stuff. There are some rather unobtrusive wordless vocals on most of the tracks. A very worthwhile LP, especially if you like jazz-rock. Also, Live In Montreux has a nice gimmick jacket with a tree that folds out and stands up. They've done at least one other LP. -- Dave Wayne


Agoston Trio [Hungary]
Updated 9/11/01

Discography
Lakni, Lakni (Livin and Livin) (96)
Reviews
Consists of three members and guest musicians. Music is that of quirky RIO-type symphonic jazz and even includes a vocal track. Now for the treat. There are Hungarian bagpipes on about half the tracks of this 70-minute album (bet you did not know that bagpipes are not really a Scottish thing as they originated actually in the eastern euro region by peasants but the Scottish adopted them later on to be their trademark instrument). There is also an excellent saxophonist who plays some very captivating pieces on the saxophone. If you like saxophone-dominated progressive jazz music and want to hear some of that with keyboards, bagpipes and some eastern euro touches with sprinkles of RIO, then you should check out this band. -- Betta


Aguaturbia [Chile]
Updated 12/17/01

Discography
The original GEPR listed Hermoso Domingo (7?) as an album, but this is evidently the title of a single they released in 1973. I believe the correct discography for Aguaturbia should be:

Aguaturbia (70)
Volumen II (70)
Psychedelic Drugstore (93, Compilation?)

Reviews
Wild fuzzed-out wah-wah guitar psych with over-the-top female vocals.
Aguaturbia's controversial 1970 album cover

According to the old Gibraltar EPR, Aguaturbia's music represents the "psych" with wild "wah-wah" guitar solos and great female vocals. While I agree with both the latter points absolutely, the band's stylistics has, in my view, a little to do with real psychedelic music. It is not easy to make out the elements of it there even through a "prism" of the album's specific title. At the Down of the Genre and Rock Music in general "psych", along with Progressive, was one of the main musical constituents of the great Pink Floyd, as well as Clear Blue Sky and Hawkwind (apart from such real psych-makers as early Amon Düül II, Can, etc). So, despite the fact that there are the elements of "psych" on the Psychedelic Drugstore album, on the whole I regard the music of Aguaturbia as one of the early manifestations of Progressive's Space Rock sub-genre: it is well known that the real Space Rock is, on the whole, quite heavy music. Not as progressive as the debut album of the Space Rock pioneers Clear Blue Sky Out of the Blue (1968), Aguaturbia's Psychedelic Drugstore is, nevertheless, not only one of the best Space Rock albums. Along with Out of the Blue, this is one of the most innovative and unique albums ever created within the frame of sub-genre. -- Vitaly Menshikov

Links
Click here for an Aguaturbia web site (in Spanish)
Click here for Vitaly's complete review of Psychedelic Drugstore on his ProgressoR web site
Click here to order Psychedelic Drugstore from Hi-Note Music


Aguilar, Ildefonso [????]

Erosion (??)


Ahleuchatistas [USA]
Updated 6/11/07

Discography
On the Culture Industry (03)
The Same and the Other (04)
What You Will (06)
Reviews
Ahleuchatistas - Derek Poteat (bass), Sean Dail (drums) and Shane Perlowin (guitar)

Ahleuchatistas' latest album What You Will is on Cuneiform Records, but their earlier albums are on other labels. What You Will is the only one I've heard. They describe themselves as an "avant-technical, post-Beefheart, improv-core, math-metal, art-damage, punk-rock power trio from Asheville, North Carolina". Yup. Couldn't have said it better myself. Noisy, violent, precise, technical, gut-wrenching racket. Though they're hard to compare them with anyone else, I'd say that if you like Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, maudlin of the Well or Guapo, there's a good chance that Ahleuchatistas will turn you on too. To be frank, a little too raw for my tastes, but I do recognize brilliance when I hear it, and these guys have it.

The CD also has three Quicktime videos on it of the band playing in what looks like their garage practice room. They're not too bad, considering. The band is at work on a new album entitled Even in the Midst ..., due out in September (2007), again on the Cuneiform label. -- Fred Trafton

Links
Click here for Ahleuchatistas' web site
Click here for Ahleuchatistas' page on the Cuneiform Records web site


Ahora Mazda [Netherlands]
Updated 5/5/02

Discography
Ahora Mazda (70)
Reviews
Group from Netherlands not from Sweden [as previously reported in the GEPR -Ed.]. Same titled album released in '70. -- Ryszard Ryzlak


Ailana [USA]
Updated 12/12/02

Discography
Archipelago (85)
Reviews
Ailana is led by the duo of Joe Gallivan (synthesizers, percussion) and Charles Austin (saxophones, flute) - both well-known in the avant-garde jazz community for their work as free improvisors. Gallivan is an important figure in the world of electronic music, as well - he's done more with the Moog drum than anyone else, by far. He's also worked with Kieth Tippett, and ex-Soft Machiners Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean. Though jazz-based improv plays a significant role on "Ailana", this is by no means a free-improv jazz recording. Other significant members of this collective include reedmen Clive Stevens (who did 2 good jazz-rock LP's in the mid-1970s), Peter Ponzol (who also plays lyricon), and George Bishop (a bass clarinet specialist), and guitarist / synthesist Ryo Kawasaki. Counting Gallivan, the band has up to 5 percussionists, 3 of whom play bata drums - hourglass-shaped hand drums used in traditional Santeria religious ceremonies. So - why am I telling the GEPR about this LP? Well - the title track is quite reminiscent of Jon Hassell's work (especially Earthquake Island), only with more aggressive, jazzier soloing. Gallivan, Kawasaki and Ponzol really stretch out on their synthesized hybrid instruments, and the multilayered polyrhythms set up by the bata drummers are remarkable. The rest of the LP is pretty good: highlights include a traditional bata drum work out, and a cover of Elton Dean's "Forsoothe". -- Dave Wayne


Ain Soph [Italy]
Updated 5/17/00

Misty Circles (9?), III (??)

Advertisement from Old Europa Cafe label on CD release of III:
"This stuff was produced only as tape in a very limited edition of just 100 copies and never reissued! This legendary tape will now be released into 2 cd's: the 1st cd features the ritual "l 00", which is an endless trancy loop, the 2nd cd which is also entitled "Crucifige" features tracks composed by one of the former members of Ain Soph "Crucifige" himself! co-produced with Misty Circles! Limited to 565 copies."

Supposedly avant progressive.

III is available from Old Europa Cafe.


Ain Soph [Japan]
Updated 5/17/00

Ride on a Camel (78) (recorded as Tenchi-sozo before first official release, released 91), A Story of Mysterious Forest (80), Hat and Field (87), Marine Menagerie (91), Five Evolved From Nine (93)

In 1998, Yozox Yamamoto and Masahiro Torigaki of Ain Soph joined Taiqui Tomiie and Mitsutaka Kaki to reform the disbanded Bellaphon.

This band is nearly 100% instrumental, and their sound is very close to bands like Caravan, Camel and Soft Machine. Ride On a Camel is a live one, and while the performace is exceptional, the recording quality is only a little better than so-so. Marine Menagerie contains studio versions of most of the better material on the first, plus some new material as well.

There was a band called "Tenchi Sozo" (which means "The Creation") in the late 70s. They played Canterbury progressive Jazz-Fusion as heard on Ride on a Camel which was recorded as a demo tape in the late 70s. The members were: Yozox Yamamoto on guitars, Kikuo Fujikawa on keyboards, Masahiko Torigaki on bass, and Hiroshi Natori on drums. In 1980, they changed their name to "Ain Soph" replacing the keyboard player, and released the 1st album A Story of Mysterious Forest as the 2nd album on the King Nexus label. (The 1st album of the label was Novela). The new keyboard player Masey Hattori left the group and formed a Fusion band "99.99" and Ain Soph seemed to have broken up. Around 1986, the original keyboard player came back and a new drummer Taiqui Tomiie, who was a member of Bellaphon, joined. The quartet released their 2nd Hat and Field. The bassist Masahiko Torigaki played on the 1st album of Bellaphon titled Firefly in 1987. From 1991, they released albums constantly: Marine Menagerie as 3rd, and Five Evolved From Nine as 4th album.

Breathtaking instrumental progressive from Japan. From the really short, Mahavishnu-type fusion rifferama of "Crossfire" which opens A Story of Mysterious Forest, you know you're in for an enjoyable ride. There's a definite jazzy undercurrent to a lot of this, but the players surprise you with sudden symphonic interjections with baroque harpsichord and swirling Mellotron. Keyboards are certainly centre stage on this album, the synths are always tasty. The drummer also bangs out the complex rhythms imaginatively and effortlessly. Altogether, I think the word classic describes A Story Of Mysterious Forest accurately. I've heard a bit of Marine Menagierie, but I don't remember much about it, except that I wasn't anywhere nearly as impressed with it as A Story Of Mysterious Forest, which is definitely the one you should start with anyway. I think a lot of people will like it.

Ain Soph are a recent Japanese band with several albums to their credit. I have heard one cut from Ride on a Camel. The album is well-named as a tribute to Camel and this is reflected in the music. This album was poorly recorded before their first LP, suffers from a great deal of hiss and is not really representative of their style to come. I will say, however, that as a tribute to Camel, the song is very nicely played, with strong Camel influences but also a spark of originality. Although I have not heard it, I understand Hat and Field to be a similar tribute to Hatfield and the North and the Canterbury scene.
A Story of Mysterious Forest opens with an excellent fusion vamp in the vein of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Arti E Mestieri, with great guitar and synthesizer playing, as well as some fine drumming. This sets the stage for the next couple of songs, which are very jazz and fusion driven progressive songs, albeit with a more laid-back groove. Soon, the Mellotron enters and you are treated to some very satisfying, smooth and intelligent progressive rock/fusion. The music shifts seamlessly between fusion and classical progressive passages that are pastoral and spacey or driving and intense. In particular, the title track is well-named; the extended spacey suite tells of a fog-shrouded forest's mysterious qualities. The cut also contains a few surprises, which I leave for you to discover. In short, A Story of Mysterious Forest contains excellent musicianship, flows extremely well and is highly recommended.
Five Evolved From Nine starts a little weaker, if only because of my preferences. Their style is still very jazz-inflected but now has a "contemporary jazz" feel, at least for the eight minutes of "The Two Orders of Image." In addition the band seems to lack some of the intensity and drive they displayed on A Story of Mysterious Forest. The musicianship is still of the same high caliber, however, and the album abounds with excellent playing from all musicians. One fine example is "Ancient Museum," which starts a little stiff but, suddenly, the groove clicks and a jammin' guitar solo emerges. In fact, the quality of the music improves and remains generally excellent for the remainder of the album. Another good cut is "The Valley of Lutha," which opens up with a clear-toned jazz guitar solo, then a more distorted fusion guitar solo, which then gets into an interactive jam between guitar, piano, bass and drums. Overall, Five Evolved From Nine is a very good and very solid album, much better than many popular prog bands. I simply do not think it is up to the consistent standard set by A Story of Mysterious Forest. -- Mike Taylor

Ain Soph are a post-Canterbury Japanese quartet who have certainly paid their dues, and whose Hat and Field album marks their return to the progressive/jazz scene from a six year hiatus since their 1980 classic A Story Of Mysterious Forest. The music on Hat and Field is perhaps more subtle and subdued than their recent work, 5 Evolved From 9, but is also more consistent. While they are still guilty of occasionaly dabbling in virtually new age territory, it works better on this album because of the more mellow atmosphere. Which is not to say they don't heat it up -- on "Suite: Hat and Field" there is some blazing guitar/synth harmony lines which surprise the listener with their intricacy and accuracy. The drummer and bassist take more of a supporting role than is usually heard in this style, but they do it well. The drummer is light and quick, and the bassist moves nimbly through rapid chord changes to provide a solid rhythmical backdrop for the lead lines to work against. Fans of Chick Corea, Caravan, Pat Metheney, and National Health will all find a lot to enjoy on this album, which is overall more solid than anything Ain Soph have done since. Furthermore, for symphonic or neo-prog fans wanting to explore new realms, Hat and Field represents the Canterbury genre very well. -- Dan Casey

[See Bellaphon | Heretic]


Ainigma [Germany]

Diluvium (73)

This one is pretty dated for its time. Rather punkish in parts, put altogether a sort of Amon Düül (circa Wolf City) / Pink Floyd blend.

Underground heavy psych with organ and guitar.


Air [France]
Updated 5/5/02

Discography
Moon Safari (98)
The Virgin Suicide (00)
10,000Hz Legend (01)
Reviews
French duo with an impressive collection of analog synths and keyboards. Not progressive rock properly speaking, but rather ambient spacey pop music that wouldn't sound too out of time in the early 70's. OK, some of their songs are just plain pop songs, but on a few tracks they get a certain fusion-light/space rock groove going. The Virgin Suicide is a soundtrack, and so even more ambient. I've noticed that people who are into prog and symphonic music love these guys (as I do), even though it's very "easy" music. Moogs and vocoder galore. -- Daniel
New album 10,000Hz Legend - very much in late Pink Floyd's style. -- Ryszard Ryzlak
Links
Click here for Air's very complex web site, including a radio station playing their album 10,000Hz Legend


Airbridge [UK]

Paradise Moves (82)

British neo-prog band from the early eighties.


Airey, Don [UK]
Updated 5/17/00

K2 (88)

Ex Colosseum II keyboard player, has a lot of ties to regular rock musicians.

Very Wakemanesque.

Played with Rainbow among others.

Don Airey: ex-session keyboardist with Ozzy Osbourne and Whitesnake, among others. Not a very good keyboardist, and not a very good songwriter. Basically, it's pompous keyboard rock/metal - not a good mix.

"The music portrays both the savage mystery of the mountain and the tragic events of the 1986 expedition ..." is an excerpt from the sleeve notes for K2. This is a symphonic, Wakeman-esque, keyboard extravaganza led by accomplished keyboardist Don Airey (Colosseum II, Deep Purple, etc.). Combined with some narration, this is certain to appeal to those who enjoyed the earlier efforts by Rick Wakeman. It also features Gary Moore, Cozy Powell, Colin Blunstone (Alan Parsons Project), and Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann's Earth Band).

[See Colosseum II]


Airlord [Australia]

Clockwork Revenge (77)

Airlord are a symphonic prog band with influences that are identifiable but combined to make the band fairly unique sounding. The first and last track are the most Genesis sounding, featuring an excellent bassist and drummer. On the title track of Clockwork Revenge, the singer sounds like Peter Gabriel, sped up. In fact, the entire track sounds like Genesis on speed. Most songs contain scorching guitar solos contrasting with symphonic layers of keyboards, often with many changes in direction. "Pictures in a Puddle" is a short acoustic guitar piece with a hint of Mellotron, with an electric guitar solo in the middle. This tune has some similarities to Nektar. In fact, the singer reminds me most often of Roye Albrighton, Nektar's lead singer. There are strong guitar solos in most songs, with other influences ranging from The Moody Blues to Jefferson Airplane, maybe even a bit of the spaciness associated with German syphonic bands such as Novalis. However, the strongest comparisons are to Nektar. A couple of songs, while not bad, aren't particularly engaging, giving the album an uneven quality. Overall, though, it's pretty decent and worth picking up if you can find it. -- Mike Taylor

Weird Australian band with strong Genesis influence and a lyrical penchant for surrealism and twisted irony. The title song, for example, is about an army of wind-up toys attacking an old woman. Music reminds me of Split Enz circa Mental Notes (tortured vocals and all) minus the wacky British music-hall influences. -- Mike Ohman


Airto [Brazil]
Updated 12/18/02

Discography
Seeds on the Ground (71)
O Galho de Roseira (71)
Free (72)
Fingers (73)
Virgin Land (74)
Identity (75)
Promises of the Sun (76)
I'm Fine, How Are You? (77)
many others
Reviews
Flora Purim and Airto Moreira in 1977

A child prodigy, Airto Moreira was already a well-known singer, percussionist, and folk music preservationist in his native Brazil when he co-founded Quartetto Novo with multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal during the mid-1960s. Quartetto Novo was perhaps the first group to fuse modern jazz with bossa nova and Brazilian folkloric music. Several years later, Airto emigrated to the US (where his wife, singer Flora Purim, eventually joined him) and began working as a drummer, percussionist and vocalist with Cannonball Adderley (whose band included keyboardists Joe Zawinul and George Duke). It wasn't long before Miles Davis became interested in Airto and the many exotic sounds he produced with his voice and vast array of percussion instruments. He joined Miles' band in late 1969, where he remained until early 1971. Airto can be heard on some of Davis' greatest recordings: Bitches Brew, Live - Evil, and several others. After leaving Miles Davis, Airto joined the first edition of Weather Report (he appears on their first LP). Alphonse Mouzon was the drummer in that group, while Airto sang played Brazilian percussion. He was also a member of the first edition of Chick Corea's Return to Forever (where he sang and played drum kit, and percussion) with his wife, vocalist Flora Purim. This was not, by the way, the crunchy, guitar-based version of the band - but an earlier edition that also featured saxophonist Joe Farrell and bassist Stanley Clarke. They recorded one eponymous LP for ECM, and one (Light as a Feather) for Polydor, before Corea changed his musical direction. Corea's sunny, Latin jazz was also highly influential, and perhaps even more popular than the dense, sometimes quite abstract, electric music of Miles Davis and Weather Report.

Airto is an incredible kit drummer, a fine vocalist, and an acknowledged master of the tambourine. While touring and recording with Miles Davis, Weather Report and Return To Forever (RTF), Airto introduced a number of exotic Brazilian percussion instruments to audiences all over the world. These include the cuica (a small drum with a stick attached to the inside of the head - the stick, when rubbed with a wet cloth, makes a crying / squeaking sound), the berimbau (a single-stringed bow with an attached resonator gourd), the caxixi (a small shaker often played simultaneously with the berimbau) and many others. These instruments are now all rather commonplace - they are even mass-produced, and you may well be able to find them at your local music store! So, in a significant way, Airto can be credited for helping change the face of music as we know it. If that ain't progressive, I don't know what is! Even if he hadn't gone on to produce a string of intelligent, driving solo LPs that combine Brazilian folk and pop forms with electric jazz, funk and rock, he would surely deserve inclusion here on the basis of his percussion innovations alone.

Airto's first US recordings as a leader are 2 amazingly varied LPs for the Buddah label in the early 1970s. I am quite fond of both, as they feature Airto and Flora in the company of guitarist Sivuca, bassist Ron Carter, and the incredible Brazilian multi-instrumentalist (keyboards, flutes, saxophones, drums, percussion, guitars) Hermeto Pascoal. In a way, this group is an update of Quartetto Novo. Brazilian folkloric music and thorny modern jazz play a large role in this music, which may not be to the liking of most progressive rock or fusion fans. Every fan of Hermeto Pascoal should hunt these LPs down, though!

Airto subsequently recorded a few more conventional LP for Creed Taylor's CTI label. The first of these, titled Free, featured George Benson, flutist Hubert Laws, and Keith Jarrett, in addition to all of RTF. Not surprisingly, Free is musically similar to the first two RTF LP's, albeit with big-budget CTI production values. For his second CTI LP, Airto totally abandoned the sunny latin jazz approach for a surprisingly chunky rockish sound that bore some similarity to Brazil's better progressive rock / funk bands (e.g., Som Imaginario, Egberto Gismonti's Academia das Danças, etc.). On Fingers, Airto and Flora are backed by the Uruguayan rock band Opa (keyboardist Hugo Fattoruso, drummer Jorge Fattoruso, bassist Ringo Thielmann), plus the very underrated guitarist David Amaro. I have only recently begun to appreciate Fingers, myself - it's not a jazz record, but a first-rate ethnic progressive rock LP with some jazzy overtones, great tunes, and excellent vocals. I'll bet it's in David Byrne's LP collection! As good as Fingers is, Virgin Land is even better. Recorded in 1974, with Flora, Stanley Clarke, David Amaro, George Duke, and a host of others, Virgin Land is perhaps the purest "jazz-rock" recording in Airto's extensive catalog. There are also some notable stylistic twists and turns as well - two tracks produced in collaboration with Bulgarian keyboardist Milcho Leviev ("Peasant Dance" and "Lydian Riff") have a pronounced Eastern European flair. "Stanley's Tune" and the title track flat-out rock with boiling fusoid intensity. Guitarist David Amaro really shines on the latter.

Airto then left CTI (there might have been a live LP for CTI as well, but I don't have it). Identity, Airto's first effort for his new label, Arista, was produced by Herbie Hancock, and returns to the progressive rock-derived approach of Fingers. Unfortunately, Identity is nowhere near as successful as Fingers. Airto's chief collaborator on Identity is the great Brazilian keyboardist / guitarist Egberto Gismonti. So, it's no coincidence that Identity sounds quite a bit like Gismonti's electric progressive rock LPs (none of which were ever issued as LPs [in the] US). This is one of Airto's least jazz-influenced recordings - a true progressive Brazilian rock vibe permeates the whole LP, and there are vocals / lyrics on nearly every track. This is an LP I wanted to like, but never warmed to for whatever reason. His second LP for Arista, Promises of the Sun is an improvement - steeped in Brazilian folkloric music, it also has a lighter, jazzier sound. Hugo Fattoruso is Airto's right-hand man on this LP, though two tracks are collaborations with the great Brazilian singer / songwriter Milton Nascimento, and the whole LP just seems looser and more energetic overall.

Airto switched labels again in 1977, and recorded I'm Fine, How Are You for Warner Brothers (which was then on a bit of a jazz kick, and also released Hermeto Pascoal's Slaves Mass, and Pat Martino's Joyous Lake around the same time). This LP is still pretty darned good from a jazz / Brazilian / funk fusion perspective, but also shows signs of the creeping commercialism that plagued Airto's subsequent LP releases for WB. Here, Airto is accompanied by Flora, Hugo Fattoruso, Hermeto Pascoal, and the George Duke Band (in its entirety).

The LPs I have listed here are but a small sampling from the early days of Airto's career. I also feel that these few will be of the most interest to the readers of the GEPR. Airto Moreira and Flora Purim went on to collaborate with Carlos Santana ("Borboletta"), and Greatful Dead drummer Mickey Hart on several projects, including the soundtrack for the movie "Apocalypse Now". Airto and Flora have produced a string of recordings (most quite good in a funky Brazilian jazz vein) for a variety of labels over the years, and continue to tour, perform and record. -- Dave Wayne

Links
[See Davis, Miles | Duke, George | Return to Forever | Weather Report]

Click here for Airto's web site


Aisles [Chile]
Updated 9/9/09

Discography
The Yearning (07)
In Sudden Walks (09)
Reviews
Aisles (post-The Yearning line-up) - Luis Vergara (piano, keyboards), Sebastian Vergara (lead & backing vocals, flute), Filipe González (bass), Rodrigo Sepúlveda (electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals), Germán Vergara (electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals), Marco Prado (drums), Alejandro Meléndez (piano, keyboards). Filipe and Marco were not yet band members for the recording of The Yearning.

Original entry, 11/14/07:
Well, it's pretty rare that a promo shows up on my doorstep unannounced and totally knocks my socks off. But such was the case for The Yearning by a new band from Chile calling themselves Aisles. If you ever needed proof that you can indeed make wonderful progressive rock using digital synths instead of analog, look no further than The Yearning. Two guitarists and two keyboardists make the sound so thick you can cut it with a knife. For the album, they don't even have a bassist or a drummer, though their requisite sonic niches are nicely filled. Though I haven't seen any corroboration of this, another reviewer has said that they used drum machines for this album. If so, they're the best I've ever heard ... I would swear this is a real drummer, and a good one at that!

The first cut, "The Wharf That Holds His Vessel" has a brilliant, uplifting sound that reminds me mood-wise of Yes without sounding musically the slightest bit like them. Complex, yet musical and melodic at the same time, this is probably my favorite cut on the album, though several others including "The Shrill Voice" and the album closer "Grey" (clocking in at 16:29) are also spectacular. Some of the songs are more balladish than I might have wished for given the way the album opened up, but even these are really good. There's lots of acoustic guitar work that's almost more "classical" in style than "rock", but these are beautifully done and are merely short stops on the way to other musical places ... each song twists and turns through heavy and light sections, rock and classical parts and electronic vs. acoustic contrasts. The vocals are also nicely done, sung in barely-accented English.

Aisles is going to be on my short list for best new bands of 2007, and anyone who loves complex symphonic prog would be well advised to be sure to pick this one up. Very highly recommended! And, Germán Vergara tells me that Aisles will be recording a new album in Jan/Feb of 2008, hopefully for release by April. I'll be looking forward to it! -- Fred Trafton

Update 9/9/09:
Well, it's been more than a year since the predicted release date for their second album (anyone familiar with the release of prog albums knows that's a pretty common thing to happen), but Aisles has finally released their second album, In Sudden Walks in the late summer of 2009. Was it worth the wait? Oh, yeah. Another great album from these Chileans.

If I had to sum up In Sudden Walks in a single word, it would have to be "beautiful". There are lots of pastoral, acoustic parts using flutes, piano and acoustic guitar, perhaps with some "straight" electric (maybe some phasing or chorusing, but no distortion) that sometimes brings Camel to mind. Lots of vocal harmonies go along with this, with mostly english lyrics (the first song, "Mariachis" is spanish, and thank God sounds nothing like mariachi music). But there are also sections with tasty distorted electric guitars, digital and analog synths and a more agressive feel, but even here the music never gets harsh or difficult to listen to.

Underlaying all this is perfect, pristine and inventive production that sometimes makes me think I'm listening to an Alan Parsons Project album. This can almost make it feel like you're listening to an "adult pop" album sometimes, until the music takes off in a particularly proggy direction for a while.

The most terrible thing I can say about this album is that it might be accessible enough to gain a wide audience, sometimes in an arena rock sort of way, and other times in an Alan Parsons Project way. Neither of these are bad, and they are just part of Aisles' sound, along with nice, mellow prog. I hope for Aisles' sake it's just accessible enough that they can continue to make albums of this quality. I'll be looking forward to hearing anything these gents come up with. Truly exceptional music. -- Fred Trafton

Links
Click here for Aisles' web site
Click here to order The Yearning from Musea Records


Akacia [USA]
Updated 4/1/07

Discography
An Other Life (03)
The Brass Serpent (05)
This Fading Time (06)
Reviews
Akacia (The Brass Serpent line-up) - Mike Tenenbaum (guitar, keyboards & vocals), Eric Naylor (vocals), Dave Stratton (keyboards), Steve Stortz (bass) and Doug Meadows (drums)

Original entry, last updated 6/12/05:
When I first reviewed Akacia around 2002, the only release they had available was a 20+ minute demo on MP3.com. I said then, "the music is not bad, but the recording quality leaves much to be desired". True then, but not true of Akacia's two studio albums, 2003's An Other Life and now 2005's The Brass Serpent. An Other Life includes a proper recording of the MP3.com demo (I believe it was the title track, "An Other Life") plus several other long prog tunes. Akacia has come a long way! The An Other Life line-up is reduced by one from the demo; original keyboardist Charles Nehemia seems to have departed the band, but Tenenbaum's keyboard work is more than an adequate replacement.

Like Divine in Sight (see that review for my general feelings about "Christian Prog"), I really wanted to dislike this album, but these guys are just too good to dislike. Akacia plays a very Yes flavored prog, and like Yes their lyrics have a spiritual theme. In this case, however, read "spiritual" as "christian", with many allusions to "Jesus died for you, crucified, resurrected", etc. But if these kind of lyrics are either your cup of tea or you can just let the content go, the music here is outstanding. In composition, recording quality and overall "feel", this album is very much like Yes' Fragile album, with some hints that further development could lead them into Close to the Edge territory. Tennenbaum is obviously a Steve Howe fan, and mimics his fluid guitar soloing technique almost frighteningly well. Bassist Steve Stortz also has the Chris Squire Rickenbacker sound down to a tee, and some of the organ solos even sound a heck of a lot like Rick Wakeman used to in those days (including the sloppiness of some of the arpeggios ... but, hey, he's in good company here!). But vocalist Eric Naylor, while doing an excellent job, sounds nothing at all like Jon Anderson. Well, you wouldn't want them to sound exactly like Yes, would you?

If I had it my way, I would substitute the lyrical content for something more eastern religious flavored, or at least something generically spiritual without being quite so liturgical. But, I don't have it my way, and Akacia will sing about whatever they please, and this is as it should be. Their music and playing won me over anyway. I can absolutely recommend this album to anyone who thinks that early Yes is a good example of progressive rock ... and that would be most of us, I think. If you're actually looking for "christian prog", I would put these guys second only to Divine in Sight. With that exception, I like Akacia much better than any other christian prog band I've heard (including my own '80s christian prog band Chosen). Hmm ... if you're into a folkier christian prog, you might also like Farpoint. But I digress ...

Mike Tenenbaum mentioned to me (via e-mail) on April 4, 2003 that Akacia had recently have been joined by Dave Stratton on keys. He said, "he's a fast learner - played out with us last night for the first time and did a great job." Stratton is the main keyboardist on Akacia's second album, The Brass Serpent, which pretty much picks up where An Other Life left off as far as compositions and style. Still very much in the Yes vein, and still very christian, this album has several lengthy epics and even better recording technique. But as much as I appreciated An Other Life, The Brass Serpent feels more confident and less strained. This is a band that continues to mature, though not (as I said earlier) into Close To The Edge territory. The Brass Serpent never gets as experimental as CTTE, but still progresses into new areas of its own devising.

There are a few telltale signs on The Brass Serpent that the band is either recording in a home studio or a less than stellar pro studio. The usual telltale sign, badly recorded drums, is NOT a problem with this album, but there are some occasional out-of-tune solos (only slightly out of tune, but this drives me nuts) and odd extraneous noises such as ability to hear "punch-in" of tape hiss when suddenly bringing a new track into the mix. But as I already said in comparing the first album to Fragile, the minor studio issues don't detract significantly from the enjoyment of the excellent playing and compositions on The Brass Serpent.

Another thing Akacia seems to be trying to do like Yes is to keep cycling through keyboardists at an alarming rate. At some point after the recording of The Brass Serpent, Stratton departed and has been replaced by Trish Lee. I haven't heard any of her work yet, so I can't comment on whether this is to the benefit or detriment of the band, but I can only assume that since the last 3 keyboardists (including Tenenbaum) have all been pretty good, that Akacia wouldn't settle for anything less than a great musician. I look forward to hearing Lee in the future. -- Fred Trafton

Update 9/27/06:
Akacia has released their third album, This Fading Time, sporting cover art from Paul Whitehead of Genesis and VDGG album cover fame. This album may be their best work yet overall, though I must say that new keyboardist Trish Lee isn't as much of a standout as Dave Stratton, mostly staying in the background and adding textural synth sweetening. Too bad, but guitarist Mike Tenenbaum and bassist Steve Stortz provide plenty of interest to the album.

There's still plenty of Yes-like feeling to this album, but some of it actually reminds me more of Relayer than Fragile, a positive direction for my personal tastes. It never gets as strange and noisy as Relayer (Trish Lee is stylistically way far away from Patrick Moraz), but there's some nice Howe/Squireish improvised-sounding parts, particularly in "In The Air", a cathartic song about 9/11. In addition to the Howe-like guitar work, there's also some more Hackettish parts, especially some of the acoustic work. But at this point, there's hardly any need to compare the band to others ... Akacia has already made a name for themselves in the prog rock world, and there's no need to say much more than the new album sounds like ... Akacia. But maybe with some new features added.

Finally, I wanted to mention that the band has sorta vanished from the internet. Their old URL appears to be for sale, and a Google search reveals only an out-of-date site that still lists The Brass Serpent as their latest release. I've tried contacting the band members through the e-mails listed on that site, but have not received an answer back. So I don't know what's going on with the band at this time. When I find out, I'll pass it along. In the meantime, you can enjoy their latest offering by ordering it from Musea Records. -- Fred Trafton

News 11/3/06:
Akacia has started a new web site (see link below) with news that they have replaced singer Eric Naylor (who has quit to spend more time with his family) with Nick Inglis, previously in a band named Salieri. Mike Tenenbaum had to have back surgery, but is now said to be out of the hospital and working on regaining back strength. They say they are planning to do some concerts in support of the new album, though these will probably be local in nature. Stay tuned to their new site for updates. -- Fred Trafton

[Editor's Note - well, here's a little moral dilemma. I've always said that members of bands are not allowed to write their own reviews for the GEPR ... they are, after all, a bit biased about their own music. When Tricia Lee submitted this a couple of years back, she was NOT a member of the band, and did not play on the An Other Life CD she's reviewing here. However, she is now a member of Akacia, their newest keyboard player. But rather than remove her review just because she's now a band member, I thought I would leave it here with the warning you're reading now.]

Michael Tenenbaum has finally completed his first long awaited progressive rock release titled An Other Life. Joined by talented musicians Eric Naylor (Lead Vocals), Steve Stortz (Bass Guitar), and Doug Meadows (Drums and Percussion) this band has created a solid and exciting first release. The title track "An Other Life" begins with catchy guitar riffs and precise bass and drum runs. The song features catchy harmony vocals along with interesting melodies. Quick transitions into quirky, revved-up synth solos are all interesting and well textured. "No Other Life" eventually brings you back to the original riff giving the song continuity. "Mary" is a colorful arsenal of guitar and keyboard riffs that Tenenbaum handles impressively. On "Hold Me", Stortz kicks it up with solid bass lines while Meadows keeps the beat steady and interesting throughout the entire 11-minute song. Tenenbaum's interwoven guitars and nicely colored synth tones along with Naylor's outstanding vocals propel "Hold Me". "Journal" is a 22-minute musical journey. The lyrics are powerful and speak of man's struggle and plea for God's intervention. I found the music to be equally impressive, combining first rate composition and strong playing by all. An Other Life is a CD worth checking out. -- Tricia Lee

Links
Click here for Akacia's new but very "under construction" web site
Click here for Akacia's old and now stale web site
Click here to order An Other Life, The Brass Serpent or This Fading Time from Musea Records


Akasha [Norway]

Akasha (77)

Very obscure Norwegian progressive in the symphonic / electronic mode. Their only album, is keyboard dominated and is a fine example of euro-styled symphonic progressive. The vocalist is almost a Greg Lake carbon copy.

Akasha's self-titled album, originally released in Norway on BAT records, is one of those records that sells for mega-bucks in collector circles and makes Mellotron fans drool with childish delight. A quartet, Akasha consisted of Sverre Svendsen (vocals, Mellotron), Kjell Evensen (drums), Arild Andreassen (bass) and Jens Ivar Andreassen (guitars, Mellotron, synth, piano, organ). Mellotron fans will hve no doubt noticed that two Mellotrons are credited but Svendsen only uses his on one track, "Light and Darkness." Akasha consists of eight tracks, lasting anywhere from two to eleven minutes. Most are 5-6 minutes. The eleven minute "Isle of Kawi" is the opener, and is enough to to send 'tron fans into raving fits, as it is featured prominently amidst the abundant synth work. The synth and Mellotron are the dominant instruments, in that order, while the guitar plays a secondary role. Jens Andreassen exploits his synths to the fullest, wrenching out many "experimental" type analog sounds and noises. Just listen to "Bondage" or "Electronic Nightmare" to hear what Andreassen does with filters and oscillators. Titles like those just mentioned, as well as "Death Hymn" and "Light and Darkness," combined with a "dark" production give Akasha's music a distinct Scandinavian feel. The production also gives it a bit of a dated sound, which is why I never fully got into the album. Akasha could have recorded this in 1971 and got away with it, perhaps, but not late 1976. While I worship at the alter of the 'tron and have a particular fondness for Scandinavian prog, Akasha never caught on with me for one reason or another. But, if your mouth is already watering from reading about some of the key elements Akasha offers, then you need to be contacting your favorite prog dealer. -- Mike Taylor


Akin [France]
Updated 6/3/11

Discography
Stanzas (99, 4-song demo) Listen
Dreamland (00, 3-song demo) Listen
Verse (01) Free Download
Forecast (03, EP) Free Download
The Way Things End (11)
Reviews
Akin - (not in photo order) Luc Babut (bass), Matthieu Baker (guitars, backing vocals), Philippe Chaubiré (flute), Julien Chometton (rhythm guitar), Romain Fayet (drums), Adeline Gurtner (lead vocals) and Pierre Lucas (keyboards)

Akin is alleged to be prog-metal. Well, I certainly hope I won't offend this excellent band if I say, "NO WAY!" Sure, there are heavy guitar parts and even a bit of shredding, but these are relegated so far down in the mix that you actually have to listen for them. How can you call a band prog-metal when they rely this heavily on a real string ensemble, lots of acoustic guitar plucking and strumming, flute, harmonizing vocal overdubs and a non-operatic female lead singer? Personally, I can't. The poorly-defined Prog Archives designation of "heavy prog" I might buy. But calling this band prog-metal just doesn't work for me. Not that I have anything against prog-metal you understand. I just think it's a poor description.

Akin is a French band, though you can barely detect any accent from lead singer Adeline Gurtner as she belts out these tunes in flawless English. Don't expect any operatic vocals á la Jessica Lehto (Factory of Dreams) or Simone Simons (Epica). If not for the heavy guitar oriented accompaniment, I'd almost call her vocals "folksy". That's by no means a bad thing ... her vocals fit wonderfully into the music, which is complex, orchestrated with a great deal of variety and mood changes, and with liberal dashes of very Bach string concerto classical-sounding passages.

After a long hiatus (ten years!) since their last full album, Akin returns on the Progrock Records (the USA one) label with a fantastic new album, The Way Things End. If you're interested in hearing their earlier album (and an EP), click the links above to download them for free from their Bandcamp site. The new album The Way Things End will be released by Progrock in September 2011. -- Fred Trafton

Links
Click here for Akin's Facebook page
Click here for Akin's Bandcamp page
Click here for a review of The Way Things End on the Femme Metal Webzine


Akinetón Retard [Chile]
Updated 9/24/01

Discography
Akinetón Retard (98)
Reviews
Akinetón Retard - (not in photo order, as of 1998, it seems to have changed at least once since then): Estratos Akrias (sax, clarinet), Petras das Petren (sax, clarinet), Tanderal Anfurness (guitar), Lera Tutas (bass), Bolshek Tradib (drums) (these are pseudonyms, of course)

They have their own "language" (I don't know if it's really a language or just some kind of weird chanting, anyway if anybody knows what "Jandererering fóyoti jati jati jatei jaaah" means, just let me know!), sounds like a mixture of German, Greek, Latin and Turkish. Magma-like? Kind of, but not quite. They also make intensive use of sax and clarinet. Lizard-era King Crimson? Kind of, but not quite. The most useful reference here is Zeuhl, also maybe RIO, but the (interesting) truth is that Akinetón Retard developed a unique style. As said before, the music is predominantly sax and clarinet-driven, with a fair amount of dissonance. Sometimes, when the winds play freely on top of a complex drum - bass - guitar pattern, one can have reminiscences of Canterburian bands. And, as Canterburian bands, they have a sense of humour. Quite dark and ironic (as in the excellent lyrics for "Gansos, Patos y Gallinas", in Spanish, anyway), but humorous as well. If you are into the radical side of prog, you might definitely like it.

Trivia: "Akineton Retard" (without the accent on the "o") is a medicine for Parkinson's disease. Don't try to listen to Akinetón Retard as a cure for Parkinson. Your condition can only get worse with this... :-) -- Rodrigo Farías M.

Links
[See Neura, La]

Click here for a web site
Akinetón Retard is distributed in Europe by the Lizard label


Akkerman, Jan (and Thijs Van Leer) [Netherlands]
Updated 12/20/02

Discography
Talent For Sale (70?)
Guitar For Sale (73)
Profile (73)
Tabernakel (74)
Eli (77)
Jan Akkerman (78)
Aranjuez (78)
Live (79)
Talent For Sale (7?)
3 (79)
Transparental (80)
Best Of Jan Akkerman (80)
All (Oil?) in the Family (81)
Can't Stand the Noise (83)
It Could Happen to You (85)
Focus (85)
The Complete Guitarist (86)
Pleasure Point (87)
The Noise of Art (90)
Heartware (98)
Reviews
Jan Akkerman in 1975

Akkerman and Van Leer were the two main guys in Focus (Guitar, and Keyboards/ Flute/Vocals respectively). They released one album together in 1985, long after the breakup of focus titled Focus. This is a very jazzy album, not like the band Focus at all, but still very worthwhile iff you're into the jazz side of things. Akkerman also has several solo albums out under his own name, one of the better ones I remember is Tabernakel.

A superb Dutch (ex-Focus) guitarist and lutist whose solo albums have never measured up to my expectations. Profile, Akkerman's second album, is his best. Side one of Profile is an improvised Mahavishnu-styled jam with fellow Focus members Pierre van der Linden (drums) and Bert Ruiter (bass). Unlike a lot of the early attempts at "rock-jazz" recorded around this time (i.e., side two of Peter Banks' first solo album), what I hear on Profile is vital, visceral, inspired and rewards your rapt attention. Side two of Profile consists of several shorter tracks - some solo lute and guitar pieces, a couple of Focus-inspired tunes with van der Linden and Ruiter, and an odd bluesy tune which would have been at home on a Harvey Mandel record. Tabernakel is a respectable followup to Profile, but suffers a bit from the same sort of fussiness that made Thijs van Leer's solo albums such tiresome affairs. Side one of Tabernakel features several short Baroque and Baroque-inspired tunes with Akkerman playing mostly lute and acoustic guitar, accompanied by drums (Ray Lucas or Carmine Appice), bass (Tim Bogert) and a small chamber ensemble. Some of it works and some of it doesn't. Side two is an improvement, as Akkerman gets to stretch out on electric guitar for about five minutes with Bogert and the highly overrated Appice (who couldn't carry Pierre van der Linden's drumsticks!). Then, the choir and chamber ensemble return and the atmosphere becomes rather stuffy. During the early 1980's, Akkerman flirted briefly with fusion. Jan Akkerman's eponymously-titled first album for Atlantic is a good example of his jazz playing and, while pretty subdued and mellow in spots, is his best recording since Profile. It Could Happen to You, recorded in 1982 but not released until 1985, is a somewhat inferior followup. Akkerman's brilliant solos ride over static Euro-funk grooves, but interaction with the other players is minimal. Kenneth Knudsen contributes some tasty, but too brief, synth solos, and the drums and bass are steady and funky. A point of reference here would be mid-1980s Miles Davis (e.g. "You're Under Arrest"). Not a bad album, just a bit disappointing. -- Dave Wayne
Focus is the most recent release by the duo who were the core of the group that introduced the concept of yodeling into the progressive rock genre. It is an all-instrumental piece of work, from 1985, and now out-of-print, featuring Akkerman on guitars and synths, and Van Leer on a variety of keyboards and flutes. The music is similar in style to some of Ronnie Montrose's more melodic instrumental works, and includes crisp electric guitars over a tight rhythm section and full synth chords. The highlight is the 10+ minute track "Beethoven's Revenge (Bach-One-Turbo-Overdrive)," which is a fast-moving, rhythm-driven piece, topped off with Akkerman's nimble fretwork multi-tracked over a melange of keyboard and bass sequences, almost like Tangerine Dream meets Al DiMeola!
Born 1946 Amsterdam. Studied classical guitar at the conservatory. Took off with the group Brainbox in 1968-69 I think and thereafter joined Focus in 1969. Drummer P van der Linden from Brainbox followed into Focus 1970. Akkerman was with Focus until 1975, and in parallell made some solo albums. In 1976 he worked with singer Kaz Lux, also from Brainbox and they made two albums. Later concentrated on solo stuff. According to a Dutch friend of mine, he has got enough money and can do absolutely what he wants and don t care about the public. That seems true because his production is terribly uneven. The best is fantastic, the worst is to be ashamed of, especially because of his uncritical use of drum machines. All his solo records combines fusion, funk, rock and classical elements. Focus is IMO one of the best prog groups ever, and Jan Akkerman will therefore be of interest to prog collectors. He mixes styles, and there are definitely prog elements in all his records.
For prog collectors, his work with Peter Banks of 1972-73 may be of interest (where also Steve Hackett, John Wetton and Phil Collins participated). Akkerman also has played on many jazz albums with various people.
Profile is genuine, with one classic / prog side and one side that I only want to forget, gruesome fuzz-jamming. Tabernakel is an almost all-classical record and quite good at that, Eli is fusion and half of it is very good, half of it terrible because of Kaz Lux. Jan Akkerman is fusion again, and half of it very good while the rest is boring because of his lack of talent with the drum machine. Aranjuez is a wonderful reworking of older and newer classical pieces for electric guitar and symphony orchestra, incredibly arranged by Claus Ogerman. One may discuss whether the reunion of Akkerman and van Leer should be classified as solo or a Focus album, it is however, apart from the terrible drum machines his best effort in the 80s. All in the Family from 1981 is a flop, I can t believe it is Akkerman, while Pleasure Point from 1987 contains really fine things.
Regarding Talent for Sale 1970 (?):
Don't be fooled by the cover photo, which shows Jan Akkerman demurely strumming a classical guitar: his first LP is a collection of 11 brief (mostly less than 3 minutes in length), gutsy blues / R'n'B / jazz instrumentals. Pretty much a typical bar-band repertoire: a few originals plus decent cover versions of "Mercy Mercy Mercy", "Green Onions", "What I'd Say", "Ode to Billy Joe, and "Comin' Home Baby" (to name a few). Most of it is sorta like a Graham Bond Organisation LP without the vocals and organ, though Akkerman's heavily leslied guitar on "Bags' Groove" and Steve Winwood's "On The Green Light" will almost certainly remind you of something that Stevie Ray Vaughan (who was probably still in junior high when this was recorded) might've done. The only other soloist besides Akkerman is an uncredited piano player who takes a brief solo on one or two tracks. There are uncredited strings and horns on a few tracks also. Ron Bijtelaar is on bass, and Sydney Wachtel is on drums (except for one track where "Cocky" Akkerman plays drums). Akkerman was a guitar virtuoso with his own immediately recognizable sound, even at this early stage of his career. -- Dave Wayne
Links
[See Brainbox | Focus]

Click here for Jan Akkerman's web site


Akritas [Greece]

Akritas (73), Sentinel At The Edge Of The Universe (7?, may be same as first album)

One of the very few true Greek progressive bands, in fact, Akritas' only album (I think) is written completely in Greek, from the song titles to the band members. The music? Almost in the Italian vein as far as refinement, yet showing a great diversity of styles as in the case of Gracious! or others who mixed styles from swing jazz to Osanna-like rock fusion.


Aksak Maboul [Belgium]

Onze Danses Pour Combattre La Migraine (77), Un Peu de L'âme Des Bandits (79)

A very interesting international collective led by Belgian keyboardist Marc Hollander (Cos), Aksak Maboul is not easily pigeonholed or described due to constantly shifting personnel and musical focus. The first LP (Onze Danses pour Combattre les Migraine) is a masterpiece. The pieces range from Satie-esque to structured Zappa-inspired rock, to very loose improv-jazz, and the execution in these diverse musical areas is extremely successful. Overall, the music has a certain lightness and humorous approach that I find all too rare in most prog and jazz. The second LP has more of a "band" feel and the music is more dark-sounding and very comparable to late-period Henry Cow which makes sense because Chris Cutler and Fred Frith are on every track. Others featured are members of Univers Zero (reedist Michel Berkmanns), and John Greaves' "Parrot Fashions" band (cellist Denis van Hecke). The last recordings by Aksak Maboul which I have heard are on Made to Measure, Vol.1 on the Crepuscule label. The LP is a compilation (including bits by Tuxedomoon and Minimal Compact, among others), and Aksak Maboul takes up about 1/2 the LP. Here, the music is VERY different, and for lack of a better term I would describe it as "minimalist rock". In short, the Aksak Maboul contribution to Made to Measure Vol. 1 is not at all like their previous efforts, and is not really "prog rock," but still has merit on its own terms. -- Dave Wayne

Changed spelling to Aqsak Maboul for ...Des Bandits, which also featured Chris Cutler and Fred Frith of Henry Cow. -- Mike Taylor

[See Cos | Henry Cow | Julverne]


Aktuala [Italy/India]
Updated 12/22/02

Discography
Aktuala (73)
La Terra (74)
Tappeto Volante (76)
Reviews
Asiatican and North African popular music.
Aktuala were an excellent Italian band following in the steps of Third Ear Band and Between, creating a very unclassifiable music using myriads of instruments in a very raga like method. One of the best of the Italian's and quite mesmerizing. Another pointer would be Andre Fertier's Clivage.
Regarding La Terra:
During the early 1970s, most aspiring jazzers on the Continent were chasing the voodoo down, or running the noonward race. The (largely) Italian group Aktuala pursued a fusion of a different sort. Aside from Oregon, Aktuala was one of the first bands to craft a coherent, gimmick-free hybrid of improvisational jazz sensibilities with a pan-cultural approach to ethnic music. Led by multi-instrumentalist / composer Walter Maioli, the band (circa 1974) also included percussionist Trilok Gurtu (who went on to play with John McLaughlin, Oregon and Jan Garbarek, to name a few), saxophonist Daniele Cavallanti, guitarist Attilo Zanchi (both now well-established members of the Italian jazz scene, w/numerous recordings on the Spla(s)ch label), saxophonist Otto Corrado, guitarist Antonio Cerantola, and harpist Marjon Klok. A violinist (Maurizio Dones) and a cellist (Marino Vismara) guest on one track each. La Terra, the group's second LP, contains four extended instrumental tracks that combine Indian percussion, strains of American jazz and blues, and Mediterranean and North African ethnic musics. Like Oregon and John McLaughlin's Shakti, Aktuala works exclusively with acoustic instruments. However, Aktuala's music is much more loosely conceived than that of Oregon or Shakti - the tracks on La Terra are long and rambling, with simple melodies and lots of room for extended soloing. This music has an air of dreamy darkness and mystery that I find especially appealing.

Attilo Zanchi was also a member of the Italian progressive jazz-rock group Maad. -- Dave Wayne

Links
[See Capra, Vaccina Lino]


Alamaailman Vasarat [Finland]
Updated 6/27/07

Discography
Vasaraasia (00)
Käärmelautakunta (03)
Kinaporin Kalifaatti (05, w/ Tuomari Nurmio)
Maahan (07)
Reviews
Alamaailman Vasarat - Jarno Sarkula (soprano sax), Erno Haukkala (trombone), Miikka Huttunen (pump organ, keyboards), Marko Manninen (cello), Teemu Hänninen (drums, percussion)
Photos by Niko Luoma

Original GEPR entry, added about 2001::
Ha, ha! Beside the re-release of Gentle Giant's In a Glass House, Alamaailman Vasarat are the best event of the year 2000. Discovery of 2000, really. The name of the band is translated into "Hammers of the Underworld", so band can get my vote for the moniquer of the year 2000 also. Alamaailman Vasarat were founded by two members of best Finnish band in progressive music, namely known Höyry-Kone, Jarno Sarkula (flute, soprano sax) and Teemu Hänninen (drums). Soon they were joined by others on trombone, cello (also by member of Höyry-Kone, Marko Manninen), pump-organ. No guitars!! The sound of the band is therefore pretty on the acoustic side but it sounds hella powerful due to electrified, distorted cello and masterly produced trombone. Musically they are like mixture between early Klezmatics and darkly exalted Univers Zero (Huh!!) and tinged with other ethnic muzaks and use of didgeridoo, shenhai, etc. When less klezmerish, they remind of Nimal or early Begnagrad. As well as Höyry-Kone, Alamaailman Vasarat are not afraid to use more powerful (i.e. more metallic) stylings in sound. At such occasions I'm reminded of Waltari, Finnish semi-experimental metal band. But much more can be heard here. Rhythms are mainly associated with various dances, but in many speed variants. Hyper-speed klezmer-polkas, laidback waltzes, bossanovas and obligatory tangos in unusual tone-colors and chord progressions. On the other side more sinister pieces rise from numerous dark moors, metallic riffs appear from nowhere and return whence, while all of sudden listener stucks in ECM-ishly arranged cortex-stimulator. Without further ado I believe that this is a necessary purchase for all fans of Nimal, Univers Zero and rest of RIO family and beyond. Recommeindeed!!!!! -- Nenad Kobal

GEPR webmaster Fred Trafton having a brew with with Alamaailman Vasarat's Marko Manninen and Jarno Sarkula. Both of them spoke impeccable English, by the way. Nice for me ... my Finnish sucks.

Added 7/12/07:
I saw Alamaailman Vasarat at NEARFest 2003 and even had a chance to chat with a couple of the band members. I thought they were excellent, and a heck of a lot of fun too. But I still don't have any of their albums yet. What's up with that? I would have bought their latest at NEARFest (at the time, they had just released Käärmelautakunta), but the airline had lost their entire box of CD's on the way there, so they didn't have any to sell. Or to autograph after their show. Bummer.

At any rate, I've noticed they just released another new album this year, called Maahan. So it was time to update their discography, and I thought I'd put my little snapshot in here too just for fun. -- Fred Trafton

Links
[See Höyry-Kone]

Click here for Alamaailman Vasarat's web site


Alameda [Spain]
Updated 4/9/02

Discography
Alameda (79)
Misterioso Manatial (80)
Aire Calido de Abril (81)
Noche Andaluza (83)
Dunas (94)
Ilusiones (95)
Concierto - 20 Aniversario (99, 2CD, Live)
Reviews
Five session musicians joined forces and together became Alameda in the late 70's. Some of them had worked as support musicians in Triana's earlier albums. Probably, the commercial success that this band achieved by the time motivated the formation of Alameda. The original line-up consisted of one guitarist/vocalist, one bassist, one drummer, and two keyboardists. Since Alameda come from the Southern region of Spain, it is no wonder that the dominating flavour in their music is flamenco-oriented. The fact that two members play keyboards (pianos, synthesizers and clavinet) gives a clearly symphonically arranged sound to the flamenco melodies that fill each and every one of their tunes - in fact, unlike many other Southern Spanish bands, the sound of keyboards is more featured than the guitar. In addition to this, lots of Brazilian-like Latin-jazz touches can be heard now and then, skilfully performed over a solid rhythm section. On the other hand, the vocalist displays his beautiful voice, not harsh but crystalline, with the typical sense of passion that makes flamenco music so peculiar.

All in all, their prog style is quite melodic, soft, sometimes bordering mainstream pop - that is, it's not as rocky as Mezquita, nor as psychedelic as early Triana, nor as sophisticated as Cai. Their first two albums, the self-titled and Misterioso Manantial are the best of their career: beautiful, emotional melodies, strong performances, interesting arrangements. Afterwards, their third and fourth albums tend to be repetitive and mellow, though one can still hear some quite inspired melodies and arrangements.

The band split up in 1984, but the vocalist/guitarrist and one of the keyboardists reformed the band with a new bassist, a new drummer, plus a lead guitarrist. Their style remained basically the same, but there is more emphasis on lead and flamenco guitars, and the addition of digital keyboards helps introduce some ethnic-pop touches. -- Cesar Mendoza

There was previously a band named Alameda listed here which was allegedly a Brazilian band with one album named Alameda released in 1979. I believe this was a mistake, and was probably this band. Therefore, I have deleted the entry and replaced it with this one. -- Fred Trafton
Links
[See Triana]


Alarcen, Jean-Pierre [France]

Jean Pierre Alarcen (78), Tableau (80)

Alarcen was the guitarist in the one-shot french group Sandrose. After Sandrose he had two albums: JPA and Tableau. Tableau which is very symphonic, is basically one long piece spanning both sides of the album, vaguely comparable to stuff like The Enid, but a little more low key for the most part. Jean Pierre Alarcen is a more guitar oriented album with some fusion leanings, but not overtly so, which features excellent guitarwork and some brilliant writing. Both are available together on one CD.

[See Sandrose]


Alas [Argentina]
Updated 9/7/01

Discography
Alas (76)
Pinta Tu Aldea (??)
Reviews
Rare Argentinian band in a very jazz influenced progressive rock vein. Not too original but excels in parts.
Alas is much better than second. -- Tom (AshRaTemp)
Argentinian trio formed in 1974. [Alas blends] highly complex segments, sound/noise experimentation, and "ethnic" influences, they don't really stick in your mind, but when you do listen to the record you can't help but to be impressed. Mostly instrumental, but there are some average folky vocals, and a great variety of instruments - mostly keyboards of all sorts (being a trio they'd have problems doing this live ...). Still it's pleasant enough to listen to (not jarringly experimental), and then you don't go and buy this album unless you're into prog rock, do you. Their only official full-length album features two side-length songs in 6 and 7 parts respectively, and the CD version includes two earlier songs. The bonus tracks aren't very progressive, but nice and quiet pop/rock songs. Actually they are a bit better as far as songwriting goes. The original second song begins with a very mellow folky bit featuring electric piano and harmonized vocals - very beautiful! Unfortunately it also sports a below par drumsolo to fill up some space. But really what they do well is to incorporate jazzrock, so if you don't like your prog mixed with too big a dosage of jazz, this probably isn't for you. Personally I think they do a very good job at it, and I would recommend this album. -- Daniel


Alaska [USA]
Updated 3/19/04

Discography
Alaska (98)
Reviews
Alaska - Al Lewis (vocals, drums, acoustic guitar) and John O'Hara (keyboards)

Alaska is the 2-man band consisting of Al Lewis, who sings, drums and plays acoustic guitar, and John O'Hara who plays keyboards. Their sound is epic, majestic and extremely symphonic.

I wonder if they would be offended if I said, "This is the album Jon Anderson was never able to make"? Alaska's self-titled album has everything you might want in a Jon Anderson album ... huge symphonic, epic music, uplifting and vaguely spiritual lyrics, and of course Jon's vocals overdubbed and harmonizing with himself. OK, it's not really Jon, it's Al, but the difference is nearly unnoticable. If Jon sang with them live, they would be able to do harmonies that sound exactly like the CD's overdubs.

Only Jon hasn't been able to pull off an album as good as this one since Olias Of Sunhillow. Alaska has done it, and with better drums and keyboards too! I'm sure Al Lewis is tired of hearing that he sounds just like Jon Anderson. But it is true, and it's so true that it's obviously intentional, especially in the overdubbed chorus parts. But this sounds like what Anderson might have done if he had paired with Eddie Jobson for a solo album. Except they would have needed a separate drummer too, whereas Alaska's Lewis fills this need with excellence. O'Hara is a one-man symphony orchestra, sounding a bit like Jobson during his UK years or The Green Album, or maybe a bit like Rick Wakeman during his original stint with Yes, only not quite as flashy.

Jobson/Anderson is a reasonable comparison for some tunes, but others have echos of Jethro Tull (on "Wells Bridge" because of the synth "flute" and folky feel of the song), or occasional flashbacks to The Moody Blues. As a sympho-prog fan, this is right up my alley. I just wanna kick back, light one up, and ... oh, I forgot, I don't do that any more. Oh well, I don't need to ... this CD flashes me back right to that space without the lung damage. -- Fred Trafton

News (3/19/04): Al Lewis is currently working on a new album with Starcastle. Now they'll really sound like Yes! -- Fred Trafton
Links
[See Starcastle]

Click here for Alaska's web site
Click here for photos from Alaska's 1999 NEARfest performance.


Albatros [Italy]
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
None, see text below
Reviews
A pop group who only ever released one single, "Volo" in 1976. It was a San Remo hit, with little progressive content. -- Kai Karmanheimo


Albatros [Germany]
Updated 1/31/05

Discography
Garden of Eden (78)
Reviews
While judging things and people by their external appearance is one of the less endearing human qualities, it yields a surprisingly accurate results with Garden of Eden (CD Garden of Delights CD 043): Black block letters against a white background spell out the name Albatros and the title of the band's only album. Supposedly this cover replaced the intended cover painting that disappeared without a trace before the sleeves went to press. High ambitions led to unflattering end results, both in this septet's career full of high praise and little commercial impact and in the album that they left behind.

Early Wallenstein is recalled on the opening cut "A Man Like Me", as a still acid-raw guitar wails a triumphant melody against Genesis-like piano and the swirl of the string machine. The vocalist may also evoke comparisons to the big boys of their native Hagen, Grobschnitt, for he combines ripping tone and dramatic delivery in a way somewhat reminiscent of Herr Wildschwein (though Wildschwein never quite performed such a ridiculous set of wounded-male-pride-upon-departure lyrics). Later in the 19-minute composition they move closer to early Pink Floyd-like spacerock with a pumping bass groove and heavy drumming overlayed with a repetitive wah-guitar lick and all kinds of "cosmic" effects from guitar, organ and synthesizer.

"Sundriver" (lyrically another one of "Major Tom"'s bastard children) duplicates the pattern with more emphasis on rhythm and greater melodic variety. The pronounced percussive element, especially on the consistently high-quality piano, seems to be their trademark. The Weltschmertzy title track is a more typical, minor-mode German symphonic dirge, the spoken nightclub vocals during the closing elegy notwithstanding.

Albatros certainly pack a lot of energy and a wealth of ideas, some more derivative than others. Unfortunately, their themes often lack impact, or when they do (as in "A Man Like Me"), they tend to be overdrawn or drowned in the undynamic clamour of the group's own enthusiasm. The song arrangements were actually tightened to fit the LP format, which may have also contributed to the haphazardness of some of the compositions: too many ideas are crammed in them regardless of whether they fit in with the core song. Albatros gave it their best shot, but unfortunately they ended up with a rather undefined lump of mediocre progressive rock, comparable to Lightshine's Feeling and Troya's Point of Eruption, two other Garden of Delight's similarly fallen bands among countless other barely-identified corpses crowding the trenches in the bands' war of survival. At least the sound quality is decent for a vinyl transfer. -- Kai Karmanheimo


Albatross [USA]

Albatross (76)

Albatross are yet another American band influenced by Yes and, to some extent, Genesis and Keith Emerson. Their playing is filled with heart and desire but not an abundance of originality. The usual battery of analog synths, including Hammond organ, ARP synth and Mellotron dominate the mix, punctuated by electric guitar. The opening track, the 14 minute "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse," is very reminsicent of another American band, Lift. Three songs are in the 3-5 minute range, and a fifth comes in at more than eight minutes. To give them credit, the band move through a variety of moods in the long songs, from relaxed, light piano passages to energetic synth/guitar duels. Mark Dahlgren, the keyboardists, also displays a willingness to experiment with his synths, using unusual sounds in unexpected places, which helps lend some degree of originality. Other times, though, he pulls out some classic Emerson or Wakeman licks. The eight minute "Devil's Strumpet" is a perfect ELP / Yes hybrid with some refrains lifted almost directly from "Close to the Edge." The shorter songs are somehwat more accessible and natural less varied, making them less interesting to my ears. Overall, they're decent (and the LP is ultra-rare) but hardly essential. -- Mike Taylor

Seventies indie sympho-prog, not to be confused with guitar-psych band (on Reprise) of the same name. -- Mike Ohman


Albero Motore [Italy]

Il Grande Gioco (74)

A good rock band. I don't know anything else.


Albion [Poland]
Updated 5/19/00

Survival Games (94), Albion (95)

Albion started in the late '80s when two teenage boys, pupils of the secondary school, started to play progressive rock. In 1993, they recorded their first song, "Scarecrow." It was a big hit on Radio Krakow. The next year, the Art Rock label released Survival Games on cassette (and released on CD in '95 by Mellow Records). Survival Games consists of nice neo-progressive songs, with English lyrics, good female vocals, and guitar parts very comparable to Steve Rothery's (Marillion) work. The production was rather poor, however, so next year Albion again recorded nearly all of the material from their debut album, plus three new tracks with Polish vocals. Albion is nearly one hour of high quality neo-progressive rock, in the vein of Marillion, but with their own style. Some short melodic songs and some longer atmospheric tracks like the ten minute "Golgotha." A very good album. -- Janusz Groth


Alcatraz [Germany]

Vampire State Building (71)

[See Faust]


Aleacion [Mexico]
Updated 9/11/00

Discography
Aleacion (86)
Leyenda (90)
Reviews
With a foundation of Mexican folk music, they have infused it with Jazz and world music, and come up with something pretty unique. The sound at times may remind of of a more folky answer to Paul Winter, but without all the excessive percussion and pseudo-cosmic self indulgence. The music is basically acoustic and instrumental, using violin, prehispanic flutes and percussion, ocarina, guitar, Sta huapanguera, bass, alto sax, drums and voices, with strong melodies drawn from mexican and pre-hispanic folk themes, with the jazz influence hitting strongest in the rhythm section, and a faint hint of RIO. Two albums exist, their self titled first from 86, and the more overtly melodic Leyenda from 90. Noisy LP pressings, though.
I have their eponymously titled CD and ‘tis pretty uneven stuff. Because of presence of violin they’re often compared to Zao. By my opinion, this is light-jazz tinged mexican/latin folk with a notable Canterbury influence on some tracks, and besides being very good, these are the best band has to offer. Maybe Hatfield and the North would sound like that if they’d be poured into mexican/latin folk juice, though this is even more mellow than Hatfields ever were. The CD counter will announce 40+ minutes of length and 17 tracks. The last 9 tracks were added for CD rerelease and vary from 22" to 1'54" in length. These "miniatures" have very raw sound and one can quickly recognize that these are only blueprints of songs never accomplished or maybe they appear in more complete form on band’s second, Leyenda. Some of these "numbers" are actually more like blueprints for the blueprints. Few tracks are really good. If I’d hear only the first one, 1'19" long "Caifan", I’d be sure that this band is RIO or avant prog like Area. Soon after that things appease and quiet, and eruptions of energy are rather exceptions. Album also offers some good harmony uni-sono playing of violin and flute, which is not really common in progspheres. The production is awful, contrasts between mellow and less mellow are not emphasized (much of these sounds really flat) and as on the surface everything is much undisturbed, one has to go deeper, in search for undercurrents. As said earlier, everything heard is quite uneven, but maybe after 27th "durchlauf" one could find this really appealing. Well, if you are into folky-light-jazz amalgams with some dissonances thrown in it as well, this one’s for you. For uncoverers of "out-of-touch-ness" in music this ground may prove far too exhausting and unrewarding. -- Nenad Kobal


Alef [Japan]
Updated 12/23/02

Discography
Hajime! (87)
Reviews
Yet another inscrutable Japanese band! Alef is a quartet (Sadato - saxes / synth / compositions; Gunn - guitars; Kato - bass / synth; Ishida - drums / percussion) that casts a very wide stylistic net in a determinedly Dadaistic fashion. The ten tracks that comprise Hajime! range from punk funk to arty weirdness, through modern / free jazz, weird electronics, Japanese ceremonial music, and metalloid guitar shredding - often within the space of five minutes or so. Most of the tracks have vocals (mostly in Japanese - it's a bit of a shock when they start speaking in slightly accented English!), and these are typically screamed, spoken, sped-up, slowed down, or otherwise messed-with to provide a creepily humorous counterpoint to whatever else is going on. The musicians - identified only by their first names - are first rate. The guitarist sounds suspiciously like Kazumi Watanabe, but it probably isn't him. At any rate, each of these guys seems to have a very strong grounding in jazz and avant-garde classical music. Though the music is relentlessly weird, it projects an engaging sense of ritual and earnestness that is unmistakably Japanese. Fans of RIO, Knitting Factory - type stuff, the weirder strains of Krautrock (e.g., early Guru Guru, Wolfgang Dauner, Exmagma, etc.), and Zappa will very likely dig this. -- Dave Wayne


Alembic Virtual [Italy]

Musikaall (94)

Alembic Virtual combine metal and progressive influences. While not playing with the dexterous virtuosity of Dream Theater, Musikaall should find wide appeal among fans of the progressive metal genre. Alembic Virtual are a quartet: Tony Giuffrida (guitar), Peppe Capodieci (bass), Toti Valente (drums), Ega (vocals, keyboards). The music is dominated by Giuffrida's metaloid guitar work, laden with power chords, heavy riffs and speedy solos. Ega's keyboard work is typified mainly by chordal backdrops and brief fills. She is more important as the vocalist, belting out the English lyrics without trace of an accent. She's a good but not great singer. She's certainly not a screecher. Her voice is a tad hard when she's cranking out, while the softer moments just seem to lack in musicality. The production has tended to wet down her voice with noticeable reverb, perhaps to cover up some of these perceived flaws. Her voice is of little consequence, though, because it is the driving rhythm and metal guitar style that will attract head-bangin' proggers. Each of the six songs tend to follow the same pattern: build-ups of phased or flanged picking, breaking into lightning fast solos or power chords. The hard-rockin' rhythm section constantly pushes the band forward through many different meter and tempo changes. There is little to differentiate the songs from one another, other than the opening and closing tunes happen at a much faster pace than the middle cuts. I found this a little monotonous, but have to admit that I'm not a big fan of this style anyway. Those of you into Dream Theater, Magellan, Gerard and so forth will probably want to check these guys out. -- Mike Taylor


Aleph [Australia]

Surface Tension (77)

Delightful symphonic prog starring the classically-influenced dual keyboards of Mary-Jane Carpenter and Mary Hansen and the dulcet tenor voice of Joe Walmsley. Excellent Yes-influenced prog, highly recommended. -- Mike Ohman


Alex [Germany]
Updated 5/24/00

Alex (74), That's A Deal (76), Alex Oriental Experience Live (80)


Algaravia [Brazil]

Breve e interminavel (96)

This Brazilian band features double-guitars, bass, drums and percussions. Occasional keyboards and vocals (in Portuguese) are also heard. The compositions, all written by the guitarists, serve as themes from which developments are often improvised. The important work of the electric guitars show Robert Fripp influences and rhythms are rock as well as jazz inspired. The few acoustic and vocal moments have a more folk flavour. In fact, the band often end up developing a high level of intensity where the heavy sound electric guitars dominates. A quality production with a structure that favours solid instrumental performances. -- Paul Charbonneau


Älgarnas Trädgård [Sweden]
Updated 11/14/03

Discography
Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden (72)
Delayed (01, recorded 1973/74)
Reviews
For all the ink that was spilled gushing over German psychedelic bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s (i.e., Krautrock), you'd think someone would write a sentence or two about the arguably weirder and more wonderful world of Scandinavian psychedelic music. Älgarnas Trädgård hails from Gothenburg, Sweden. This band's name, loosely translated, means "Elk's Tree Garden". The title of this, their first and only album (until the recent discovery of tapes recorded for a second, unreleased LP - both now available on CD), is "The Future is a Hovering Ship Anchored in the Past". This, and the glorious cover art - by band member Jan Ternald (who also did the cover for Bo Hansson's Magician's Hat LP) - which depicts Father Yod-like figures in a gully contemplating crystal balls while large blocks of what looks like Jarlsberg cheese float over head, might give you an idea where these guys are coming from!

In the liner notes to the CD reissue of Framtiden..., band member Dan Soderqvist lists influences as diverse as "Perotinus heavenly choirs from the 13th century, Messaien's heavy works for orchestra, Beefheart's Safe as Milk, King Crimson's endless string of chords, the beautiful acoustic Third Ear Band, Terry Riley's minimalism and above all the psychedelic music of early Pink Floyd." I would add that, like most of the really innovative Scandinavian bands of the early 70s, traditional folk / ethnic music figures heavily in the mix. The 6-member band (others include Andreas Brandt, Mikael Johansson, Dennis Lundh, and Sebastian Oberg - plus Margaretha Soderbergh, who sings on one track) plays a diverse and interesting array of instruments. Amongst the usual electric guitars, violins, piano, organ, cello and flute are low-budget electronics (Putney and Moog synthesizers), tape loops, found sounds, and an array of traditional folk instruments (jews-harp, rebec, zither, tablas, harmonium, etc.).

According to Soderqvist, the music on Framtiden... was largely improvised. Their coherent and atmospheric instant composing belies the fact that the group had been working together for about 5 years at the time of the recording. Side 1, which contains 2 extended, largely instrumental tracks, opens with church bells that fade into synthesized chirps and underwater guitar floating on a bed of increasingly dissonant harmonium chords. These give way to a dirge-like 'cello / guitar duet over a heavy rock rhythm which grows in intensity and fades into a macabre-sounding folk melody played on fuzzed electric guitar, violin and bass (with drums rumbling underneath). This, too, grows in intensity, and then gives way to a bizarre wash of found sounds and noisy cheap electronics. There's a lot more, so it will have to suffice to say that every twist and turn the band makes is surprising and inspired. Side 2 starts with 3 short folk-influenced pieces (with vocals) that range from earnest, to Medieval, to completely creepy. The last 2 tracks are longer and more-or-less similar to the stuff on Side 1.

Framtiden... is nothing less than a masterpiece of early 70s psychedelic space rock. Really, it's one of those recordings that inspires faith in the entire genre! It never lapses into drugged-out silliness, aimless noodling or overblown grandeur. There's also an undercurrent of whimsy at work here as well. Totally essential for psych fans, Framtiden... is a disc that many prog rockers will like as well, particularly those inclined to appreciate Pink Floyd (circa Ummagumma), early Can, early Tangerine Dream, etc. (though Älgarnas Trädgård is not in any way a knockoff of those influential bands!). Totally essential. I have not heard Delayed, but it is supposedly similar to Framtiden... and just about as great. -- Dave Wayne

Whoa dude, that's it, dude. This is the single marvelous kraut-rock essentiality not coming out of Germany. With a mile and a half long title, whose meaning my unknowledge of Sweden forbade me to understand or even penetrate into [Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden], no band could fail to mark the blissful countenance of Universal Master (would any band proceed the way AT did). Music is spectacular blend of slow-smoking hallucinogenic psych, vernacular Swedish folk styles (Viking chanting included), minimalistic schemes, all-out-Middle Eastern mantric procedures and of course progressive developments. Sometimes it erupts in a Univers Zero-ish manner. Endlessly mystic, somewhat elusive and never thoroughly palpable, it prepares listener for glimpses of Upper Realms. The most suitable prog album for meditation and contemplation, which at same time evokes extreme comparisons. Detection of many instruments deployed is impossible, for music tempts (successfully) to lead off-(above-)road in scaling of great heights, both physical and metaphysical. No additional oxygene needed, though. Highly recommended!!! -- Nenad Kobal
Älgarnas Trädgård (Garden of the Elks), like their Silence label mates Kebnekajse and International Harvester, excelled in mixing melodic material from their own folk tradition with then-contemporary psychedelic rock sounds. Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden (Silence SRSCD 3611) finds the six-strong band coaxing a wealth of earthy and unearthly sounds out of violins, sitars, acoustic and electric guitars, synthesizers and various percussion instruments, all wrapped in the amnion armour of typically spacey studio effects. It never works better than on the long opening track with an even longer title, "Two Hours Over Two Blue Mountains with a Cuckoo on Each Side, of the Hours ... That Is", which falls effortlessly like its rain of synthesizer glissandi from a hazy organ sky into an ominous, lumbering psychedelic jam where menacing vocalise, violin, guitar and drums uneasily build a modal theme into a rumbling drone, sort of like a hillbilly string quartet negotiating a raga, accompanied by an amateur chorus of trolls. Obvious references include a calmer version of early Amon Düül II or Pink Floyd and the lysergic cosmos occasionally dreamed up by the likes of Annexus Quam, but distinguished by the indigenous cultural elements amid the obligatory Orientalist touches. "Children of Possibilities" features a female voice singing a melody right out of Swedish folk heritage but with a trippy accompaniment right out of mind. Heavy on acoustic tones and floating smokiness, the album only kicks out the jams in "Rings of Saturn", where electric guitars and violin are allowed a typically modal but still rather fastidious freak-out duel. All this makes for a pretty strong and idiosyncratic psych album that sounds far fresher than most of its contemporaries after all these years. The Yeti watchers of German Nepal at least should get their Sandozes out of the rain long enough to check out what Swedish Elks have to offer. The CD comes with two live bonus tracks, the foot-tapping mantra "5/4" and the foggy "The Mirrors of Gabriel", which are both of good quality.

The band kept up their live playing and even recorded an album's worth of new material in 1973 and 1974, but it was only in 2001 that the material was mixed and released as Delayed (Silence SRSCD 3626). Here the band present a more solid and progressive sound that makes heavier use of drum kit and guitar. The much worshipped Mellotron also appears to loan a bronzed patina on the martial opener "Takeoff", which grabs bits from Holst's "Planets" suite (you just can't get away from "Mars" in prog, can you?) and marches through a King Crimson-like musical maelstrom under violin and guitar's modal banner. The follow-up "Interstellar Cruise" grows from reflective floating in a bog of synthesizer effects and Mellotron pastoralism to an extended flurry of guitar-driven space rampage which coasts and then burns with ever-increasing intensity, goaded by the Mellotron and synthesizer. After this staggering start the band ease off and continue exploring the same avenues as on the first album, from Indian motifs ("Almond Raga") to shimmery electric excursions ("The Arrival of Autumn"), yet with more rock-oriented arrangements. The only vocals appear on the haunting closing track "My Childhood Trees", as a male voice sings in dreamy falsetto a lyric based on a poem by the Finnish poet Edith Södergran against a sparse but highly effective background of reverb-soaked flute and zithers, perfectly illustrating the lyric's dichotomy of whimsical nostalgia and existentialist menace. The resulting album is a marvellously atmospheric and creative mixture of psychedelic and progressive rock, certainly one rarity that richly deserved its release. -- Kai Karmanheimo


Algebra [Italy]
Updated 1/21/11

Discography
Storia di un Iceberg (94)
JL (09)

Algebra also appears on several tribute albums:
  The River Of Constant Change - A Tribute To Genesis (95, includes Algebra's "Dusk")
  Harbour Of Joy - Camel Tribute (96, includes Algebra's "Song Within A Song")
  Giant For A Life - Gentle Giant Tribute (97, includes Algebra's "Funny Ways")
  Zarathustra's Revenge - A Tribute To 70's Italian Progressive Rock (97, includes Algebra's "Felona e Sorona")
  Fanfare For The Pirates - A Tribute To ELP (98, includes Algebra's "Take A Pebble")
  To Canterbury And Beyond - A Tribute To Canterbury Music (99, includes Algebra's "De-constructing Wyatt")
  Songs For Jethro - Jethro Tull Tribute (00, includes Algebra's "Up To Me")
  Higher and Higher - A Tribute to the Moody Blues (06, includes Algebra's "Dear Diary")
  Mas Che Never - Tributo ufficiale a Luis Miguel (06, includes Algebra's "Que Hacer")
  Recital For A Season's End - A Tribute To Marillion (10, includes Algebra's "This Train Is My Life")
Reviews
Algebra 1999 - Mario Giammetti, Maria Giammetti, Roberto Polcino, Franco Ciani, Rino Pastore

Original entry 11/21/01:
Algebra formed in Benevento, Italy, in the early 80's, but after a single that never saw much airplay, they split up again without releasing an album. Then in 1993, Algebra re-united with most of their original line-up and also some new members. This reunited line-up recorded Storia di un Iceberg for Mellow Records.

Storia is an uneven album, with some really nice compositions but also some sorta boring ones, and the recording quality ranges from "OK" through "not the best" and right on into "abysmal". The songs also range in style from really progressive (the title track and the 12:55 "Russian Suite" being the best) to light but nice instrumentals ("Prologue" and "Epilogue"), plus a couple that I have to wonder what they were thinking to put on this album at all. There's also a 9:22 Genesis tribute containing a medley of "Afterglow", "Firth of Fifth" and "The Musical Box", which isn't badly played, but is recorded in a very muddy fashion. I also can't get used to the Italian accent on these songs (especially "The Musical Box" substituting for Peter Gabriel). But it is an indication of how good the players are that they can pull this off at all.

Normally I would not include single cuts from tribute albums in a band's discography, but Algebra seems to have made a career of doing tribute albums. To tell the truth, their work on these albums is far superior to the songs on their own album, so it seems unfair not to mention these.

In 1995 Mellow released "The River Of Constant Change - A Tribute To Genesis", which was produced by Mario Giammetti of Algebra, and they contributed a cover of "Dusk" for this CD (The Genesis tribute album had a small tour in the North of Italy; Algebra were part of it). After this, Algebra recorded songs for five other Mellow tribute albums: "Song Within A Song" for the Camel tribute, "Funny Ways" for the Gentle Giant tribute, Le Orme's "Felona e Sorona" for the Italian Prog tribute, "Take A Pebble" for the ELP tribute and Robert Wyatt’s "Old Rottenhat Medley" for the Canterbury tribute. They also contributed a massively reworked version of Jethro Tull's "Up To Me" for Il Popolo del Blues' Tull tribute. All of these are very well done; not just not-for-note covers, but using a lot of imagination and definitely adding their own flavor to these pieces. My favorites are "Up to Me" and also "Take a Pebble", though "Felona e Sonora" is also excellent.

Algebra are currently recording new material for a second album entitled Il Gabbiano Jonathan Livingston. They say it will be released soon. -- Fred Trafton


Algebra 2010

Update begun 9/29/10, completed 1/21/10:
"Soon" is a relative term in the world of Prog. This isn't the first band I've heard say they're recording and will be releasing a new album "soon", then have many years go by until I've forgotten all about the promise, only to have it suddenly show up. In these modern times, life (and day jobs) do get in the way of art. Such is the case with Algebra's 2009 release of JL, clearly the final title for what they had been calling Il Gabbiano Jonathan Livingston. Yeah, either way, it's Richard Bach's 1970 seagull story set to music.

JL is a pretty big step up in quality from Storia di un Iceberg, in recording quality and musical composition both. It's mostly because of the vocals, I guess, but it recalls more than anything else for me Le Orme, circa Uomo Di Pezza. It's got everything ... Hammond organ, flutes, saxes, synthesizers and guitars, and of course Italian lyrics. It's pretty clear these folks really like '70's Italian prog, and this album is nicely done the style. Just enough recording quirkiness to not sound too "slick", yet also not too amateurish (a frequent problem on Storia di un Iceberg). Some just-slightly out of tune guitars drive me nuts on a couple of songs, particularly "I gabbiani non volano al buio", but as I've said elsewhere, I think I'm particularly sensitive to this ... probably you won't even notice.

Bottom line is that JL is a pretty good album, and if you're a fan of '70's Italian prog at all, you should check out this modern recapturing of that feeling. Quite nice. I imagine if I understood the vocals, it would add another dimension to the album ... note for those Italian speakers out there! You can buy JL (or Storia di un Iceberg) via the BTF web site, see link below.

I should also mention that Algebra has continued to make contributions to tribute albums. Their most recent were their covers of "Dear Diary" for the 2006 Moody Blues tribute album Higher and Higher, "Que Hacer" for the 2006 Luis Miguel tribute album Mas Che Never, and "This Train Is My Life" for the 2010 Marillion tribute album Recital for a Season's End. -- Fred Trafton

Links
Click here for the Algebra web site
Click here to purchase Storia di un Iceberg or JL from the BTF web site
Click here for the Prog Archives Algebra entry, shamelessly plagiarized from the GEPR's original entry without permission


Algernon [USA]
Updated 5/27/10

Discography
Charlie Changed His Mind (04)
Familiar Espionage (07)
Ghost Surveillance (10)
Reviews
Algernon 2010 - (not in photo order) Dave Miller (guitar), Toby Summerfield (guitar), Katie Wiegman (vibraphone), Cory Healey (drums) and Tom "Dr. Pants" Perona (bass)

Algernon's mastermind is guitarist Dave Miller. Bassist Tom "Dr. Pants" Perona is the only other member to have been with Dave through all incarnations of the band. The photo is their 2010 line-up for their new album Ghost Surveillance on the Cuneiform label. Actually, Algernon seems a bit "tame" for the Cuneiform label ... this is only slightly odd-sounding jazz rock. It sounds great, frequently reminding me of Frank Zappa's jazzier albums (Hot Rats/The Grand Wazoo), largely because of the extensive use of vibes , but also due to some of the guitar work and instrument interplay. Other reviewers like to compare Algernon to fellow Chicagoans Tortoise, which I can't since I'm unfamiliar with Tortoise. But I thought I'd mention it.

My personal assessment is that these folks are outstanding musicians, the recording quality of the only album I've heard (Ghost Surveillance) is excellent, and the all-instrumental songs are well composed, which I typically prefer to straight improvisation. But in spite of all that, I can't say that Algernon particularly moves me. That's just one man's opinion of course, but I've put this album on several times now and find myself not listening to it. It's not that it's bad, it just doesn't really grab my attention. I'd probably feel differently seeing them live, but for listening on a CD, I'm just not engaged by it. Oh well. -- Fred Trafton

Links
Click here for Algernon's MySpace page (their web site also redirects here)
Click here to order Ghost Surveillance from Cuneiform Records


Alias Eye [Germany]
Updated 11/12/03

Discography
Field of Names (01)
Reviews
Alias Eye - Frank Fischer (bass), Philip Griffiths (vocals), Ludwig Benedek (drums), Vytas Lemke (keyboards) and Matthias Richter (guitars)

Field of Names is the debut Alias Eye album, but in terms of quality, I can compare this album to Pallas' Beat the Drum (1998), which was created by musicians who have been working together since the beginning of the 1980s. Call it Neo Prog-Metal or Classic Progressive Hard-Rock, Field of Names is a very good album, full of bright and very tasteful themes, not too complex yet really interesting arrangements, wonderful and diverse vocal parts. Sure, if Field of Names had been released in the middle of the 1980s, Alias Eye would have attained the same respected status as the bands like The Mission, Magnum, and even Pallas had at the time, that were all great bands, based on major labels. -- Vitaly Menshikov

Links
[See Poor Genetic Material]

Click here for the Alias Eye web site
Click here to read Vitaly Menshikov's complete review on his ProgressoR web site
Click here for DVS records web site


Alice [Italy]
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
La Mia Poca Grande Etá (75, as Alice Visconti)
Cosa Resta ... Un Fiore (78, as Alice Visconti)
Mi chiamo Alice (79)
Capo Nord (80)
Alice (81)
Azimut (82)
Falsi Allarmi (83)
Gloielli Rubati (85)
Park Hotel (86)
Elisir (87, Compilation)
Melodie Passeggere (88)
Il Solle Nella Pioggia (89)
Mezzogiorno Sulle Alpi (92)
Il Vento Caldo dell'Estate (94, Compilation)
Viaggiatrice Solitaria (95, Compilation)
Charade (95)
Alice Canta Battiato (98, Compilation)
Exit (98)
God Is My D.J. (99)
Personal Juke Box (00, Compilation)
Viaggio in Italia (03)
... several more compilations
Reviews
Previous GEPR revisions had confused two different bands named Alice (see Alice (France)), which is why the first few entries here sound the way they do. -- Fred Trafton
... Alice is an ITALIAN female singer playing basically Battiato's songs, not a French group! -- Enrico Vezzaro
I took a look at the Alice (pronounced Ah-lee-ché) listing in astonishment. I never knew she would be in the progressive Encyclopedia anyway! I have some of her albums, Capo Nord, Giolielli Rubati and Mezzogiorno sulle alpi. They are I.M.H.O. great and they all are very introvertive and her singing of (e.g.) "Blue Melody" from Tim Buckley, is breath-taking.

She is from Italy (not France, you shouldn't believe the AMG regarding European artists!) and she's no "band" either. Her real name is Carla Bissi, she had a hit record with the single "Per Elisa", and won the San Remo songfestival in 1981. Not a feat that most proggies can muster, can they? But she's really a proggie in her own way, working with Franco Battiato and Richard Barbieri (ex-Japan) on Mezzogiorno sulle alpi among others. -- Gerhard Barnier

This singer-songwriter is really progressive only by association, but she has far greater appeal to at least this progressive rock fan than you would expect from someone who came to prominence through the San Remo festival and has a strong mainstream following in her native country. Often unsympathetically labelled as crooner, she in fact possesses an elegant and rich voice whose tessitura ranges from a deep whisper to high, clear singing, a voice capable of great emotion but also expertly controlled. It is the kind of voice that can lend lustre to even the most banal tune.

And banal is not the word I would use with Alice's music - the trio of singles she made in the early seventies under her real name, Carla Bissi, notwithstanding. Her post-1990 releases have tended towards introspective, atmospheric adult pop (Charade; Mezzogiorno sulle Alpi) or renditions of classical and religious songs (God Is My D.J.; Viaggio in Italia), but especially her early-1980s albums have many lively and finely-crafted pop songs whose arrangements often veer into progressive direction in the same way as the "symphonic pop" of the Alan Parsons Project or the first Mike & The Mechanics album. There are symphonic-style keyboard tones and mood shifts on "Il Vento Caldo dell'Estate" (Capo Nord) and "Luci Lontane" (Park Hotel), sprightly chamber orchestrations on "Laura Degli Specchi" (Azimut) and interesting textural interplay between synthesizers, guitars and occasional wind instruments throughout Alice and Azimut, all still wrapped around standard rock rhythms and simple but not simple-minded song structures. Those who break out in hives from eighties production values can try her first two, "Alice Visconti" albums for a more "vintage" instrumentation to alleviate the shock.

Her choice of collaborators has also been most revealing. On Gioielli Rubati, for example, she sings the songs of Franco Battiato. Of course, this is the 1980s Franco Battiato, the masterful pop songsmith rather than the avant-garde daredevil, and the music is synthesized pop - but the choice of timbres is all that songs like "Prospettiva Nevski" have in common with the mindless Italodisco or maudlin ballads streaming out of Italy during the 1980s. Battiato and Alice even performed a duet on "I Treni di Tozeur", Italy's 1985 entry to the Eurovision Song Contest (and much better than most of the rubbish paraded there year after year)! A more important duet was done with Peter Hammill on the Hammill-penned "Now and Forever" (Il Sole Nella Pioggia), an atmospheric ballad that comes across like a picket boat for the flotilla of Fireships launched a couple of years later. And her backing band on Park Hotel includes Jerry Marotta, Tony Levin and Phil Manzanera, while Il Sole Nella Pioggia is rife with Richard Barbieri's synthesizer colourings. Finally, she covers both Popol Vuh's "Kyrie" and King Crimson's "Islands" on her latter albums.

None of which makes her music what I would call "progressive", but progressive rock lovers open-minded enough not to sprout fangs and spray venom all around at the mention of the words "pop" or "accessible" might want to try some of her albums. They may even like what they hear. -- Kai Karmanheimo

Links
[See Battiato, Franco | Hammill, Peter | Levin, Tony]


Alice [France]
a.k.a. All Ice (incorrectly)
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
Alice (70)
Arrêtez La Monde (72)
All Ice (72, Arrêtez La Monde w/ English lyrics)
Reviews
After many e-mails from helpful fans, I finally set the record straight regarding Alice. There are TWO bands named Alice, one French and one Italian (see Alice (Italy)). Alice Visconti never had anything to do with the French Alice, and only the two albums listed above were part of the French band's discography. The previous entry here declared that "French group members from the first two albums [were] replaced with Italians", which isn't true. These were always two different bands. -- Fred Trafton
This little-known French group were among the first real, indigenous rock bands in France to take the more experimental path. I have only heard parts of their eponymous debut album (the only one available on CD at the time), but its vocal-oriented, melodically catchy music seemed to have most in common with the blues-based early music of Family and Jethro Tull, though perhaps with a more psychedelic and French melodic touch. Arrêtez Le Monde is rumoured to be more progressive, but that is only a rumour. All Ice is the same album with English lyrics and only slightly less rare than the dodo. Thus the band that is sometimes listed as All Ice is actually this very same Alice. They released no more albums and they never had anything to do with the Italian solo artist Alice. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Links
[See Couer Magique | Magma | Suzan, Alain]


Alien Planetscapes [USA]
Updated 2/2/07

Discography
Many self-released cassettes, CDR's and CD's ... see web site
Reviews
Alien Planetscapes live at Wheeler's Bar, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, NY 1997. Douglass Walker is the 2nd from the left, playing synthesizer.

Alien Planetscapes was a New York based space rock band which existed with many different line-ups between 1981 and 2006. Basically, Alien Planetscapes was keyboardist Douglas Walker and whoever he was playing with at the time. They were about as "independent" as they could get, with elements of free jazz, Berlin School electronic music and improvisational rock. They never really got a recording contract, but that didn't stop Walker from releasing huge amounts of music on cassette and CDR.

Walker died unexpectedly of a heart attack in April of 2006. His friends have put together a web site (see link below) where you can look at lots of Alien Planetscapes memorabilia and download hours of MP3's of live concerts and music from the independent releases.

Former Alien Planetscapes member Richard Orlando has released two albums as Ethereal. -- Fred Trafton

Links
[See Ethereal]

Click here for Alien Planetscapes' web site.
Click here to order a CD from Michael T. Jackson


Allen, Daevid [UK/Spain/France/Australia]
Updated 2/26/03

Discography
Magick Brother (69)
Banana Moon (71)
Good Morning (76, w/ Euterpe)
Now Is The Happiest Time of Your Life (77)
N'Existe Pas! (79)
The Divided Alien Playbox 80 (80)
Alien in New York (83, EP)
Death of Rock and Other Entrances (84)
Don't Stop (84)
Stroking the Tail of the Bird (90, w/ Gilli Smyth & Harry Williamson)
Australia Aquaria (90)
The Australian Years (90)
Seven Drones (91)
She (91)
Banana (92)
Who's Afraid? (w/ Kramer)(92)
Live 1963 (94)
Hit Men (w/ Kramer)(95)
Dreamin' a Dream (95)
Jewel In The Lotus (96)
Divided Alien Clockwork Band (97)
Eat Me Baby I'm a Jellybean (99)
Money Doesn't Make It (99, w/ University of Errors)
Sacred Geometry (00)
e2x10=tenure (00, w/ University of Errors)
Reviews
Daevid Allen 1972

Daevid Allen, the inspiration behind Gong, has released a few solo works, involving musicians who participated with him on some Gong releases. Bananamoon is a compilation of Daevid Allen's works in his pre-Gong days, during which he teamed up with the folks who later went on to the first incarnation of Soft Machine. The featured musicians on this release include (in addition to Allen) Robert Wyatt, Maggie Bell, Archie Legget, and Gary Wright*, and Hugh Hopper helped pen a couple of the tracks. The music is a loose blend of some bluesy influences with the almost avant-garde approach of the first few Soft Machine releases. The insert contains the story of Daevid Allen, written, in his inimitable tongue-in-cheek style, by John Platt.

Now Is The Happiest Time Of Your Life was released in 1976, and features Daevid Allen with a variety of backup musicians, including guitarist Juan Biblioni who contributes high-speed Spanish-flavoured guitar passages, and a violinist. The music on this release is surprisingly accessible and sober, and is probably one of Allen's most "musical" releases. Victor Peraino (of Kingdom Come) plays keyboards, lending a polished sound to this work. The closest comparison would probably be to some of the later-period Kevin Ayers material, though the rear sleeve contains explanations and notes that would be at home on any Gong release, prefaced with "Greetings Gong chums and magick brothers and mystic sisters ...."

* I wrote to the "Dream Weaver" Gary Wright to ask if this was him. He said it wasn't. This is either some other Gary Wright or the "Dream Weaver" Wright was too stoned at the time to remember participating. Personally, I believe it's some other Gary Wright. -- Fred Trafton

Could give you lot of details, since he already since 1961 played with other Canterburians. First album was Magic Brother in 1969 (with help of Gong members), and Bananamoon is from 1970 or 71, and reissued in 1975. They are very avant-garde. Obsolete is from 1971. Some records came out in the 80s, but I have not heard these. I found him uninteresting already in the 70's, though he is cult person with lots of influence on avant garde poetry and music. He left Gong in 1975.
Gong-leader during that band's fertile period. His first solo LP, Bananamoon, is pretty blues-orientated and not really worth bothering with except perhaps for the track "Memories," a Hugh Hopper composition featuring Robert Wyatt on vocals and guitar. Soft Machine fans take note. Now Is The Happiest Time is a good deal better, perhaps his best solo work. It covers a wide area of prog ground, and features the dual flamenco guitars of Juan Biblioni and Pepe Milan. No drums per se, just congas and other percussion by Sam Gopal. Best tracks: "Why Do We Treat Ourselves Like We Do?" and "I Am", the latter being a dreamy glissando guitar piece. "N'existe Pas" is supposed to be another great one. I've only heard part of it, with layer upon layer of glissando guitar. Worth further investigation. The only other one I have is Divided Alien Playbax 80, a discordant, experimental album of layered tape-looping serving as backdrop for Allen's sung/spoken poetry and guitar solos. Supposedly made during a difficult period in his life, and it shows. A powerful musical statement, but not for the faint of heart. I've heard a more recent album, can't recall the title offhand but it was released around 1993 sometime. I'd say this was another good one, though weird in some parts, repetitious in others. -- Mike Ohman
Magick Brother (aka Magick Brother, Magick Sister) is usually considered the first Gong album, but was originally released as an Allen solo effort.
Links
[See Ame Son | Cipher | Gong | Here and Now | Smyth, Gilli]

Click here for Daevid Allen bio on Gong web site.
Click here for complete Daevid Allen discography (including all band work) on Gong web site.


Alliance [USA]

Alliance (91)

Instrumental progressive band based in Las Vegas, NV with sleight fusion leanings.


Allesandroni, Allesandro [????]

Light and Heavy Industry (??)


Alluminogeni, Gli [Italy]
Updated 5/9/02

Discography
Four 7" singles released before LP (70-71)
Scolopendra (72)
Geni Mutanti (93)
Green Grapes (94)
Reviews
Patrizio Alluminio was the keyboard player for the trio Alluminogeni. Their brand of Italian classical rock was in the same vein as the other similar trios - Le Orme, The Trip etc and is recommended to fans of this genre.
Early 70's Italian organ based trio. Of their album Sclopendra: This stuff sounds VERY old, very proto-prog, and the keyboardist reminds me of the old Hammond style typical of people like Lee Michaels in the sixties. Still not bad though, there's some very heavy jams and other interesting stuff.
After the four commercial 7," the album was really good and the sound is near to the electronic music. This LP was printed in very few copies so now is difficult to find it, and if you found it, it's really expensive.


Alma Da Terra [Brazil]

Alma Da Terra (83)

Hard Progressive with frenetic fuzzed-out lead guitar.


Almqvist, Thomas [Sweden]

Nyanser (79), The Journey (80), Shen Men (84), Unknown Tracks (86)

Almqvist is a swedish jazz-rock guitarist. His first two albums are Nyanser and The Journey, from 79 and 80 respectively. These two are fairly low key, mostly quiet acoustic stuff. With 1984's Shen Men, he turned the energy level up and came up with an album that sounds very much in the melodic ECM vein, a-la Metheny or Dimeola, with a slight classical touch. His last album (to my knowledge) was in 86, Unknown Tracks featured the best two tracks from Shen Men (same versions - not re-recorded) and six new tracks; the 13 minute "The Blue Suite" is an acoustic killer. This last set was also released domestically (USA) on CD on the short lived Breakthru label.


Aloha [USA]
Updated 11/26/07

Discography
The Nonbelievers (99, EP)
That's Your Fire (00)
Sugar (02)
Here Comes Everyone (04)
Some Echoes (06)
Light Works (07)
Reviews
Aloha - (not in photo order) Tony Cavallario, Matthew Gengler, Cale Parks and T.J. Lipple

There are so few progressive pop bands -- separate from neo-prog and its' high tech flirtations -- that the appearance of a reasonably good one is cause for a little bit of attention. Aloha's 2004 release Here Comes Everyone is a melodic and interestingly arranged collection of catchy songs that have some good use of classical motifs, instrumentation, and a cerebral approach not usually seen in commercial music. As well, the positive attention the band has received is undeniable and they are indeed a quality unit. But the album seems a little muddled and unsure whether or not to emphasize a straight forward, indie-rock song structure or a more creative approach. Of course, that's from a progressive stand point. From an indie/pop perspective it's rather good, though I fear like a local band with plenty of talent but not enough distinction to really make it, Aloha may fade away into the miasma of independent rock. -- David Marshall

Links
Click here for Aloha's MySpace page
Click here for Aloha's page on the Polyvinyl Records web site


Alpha III [Brazil]
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
Mar de Cristal (84)
Sombras (85)
Agartha (86)
Ruínas Circulares (86)
Temple of Delphos (87)
The Aleph (89)
The Seven Spheres (90)
Voyage to Ixtlan (93)
The Edge (95)
Cosmic Meditation (98)
Spectro (02, recorded in 74)
several more sideprojects with involvement by Cantusio, not Alpha III albums as such
Reviews
One of the most boring prog "bands" I have ever heard is Amir Cantusio Jr's Alpha 3. Cantusio has about seven albums out under the Alpha 3 name, and shows no sign of progress in any sense of the word. Music mostly electronic, without the aid of polyphonic synths, (a fact that hurts the music severely) Cantusio is a fine keyboard player but an average songwriter, and most of his albums are just this - average. If I had to pick my favorites, I would say Sombras or Agartha. I do think, however, that with some different equipment, at least the sound would improve. Mention must also go to the album Ruinas Circulares for its fantastic cover, and the debut Mar De Cristal for being one of the worst "progressive" albums I have ever heard.
Alpha III is in essence Brazilian Keyboardist Amir Cantusio, who's released a long string of excellent albums from 1984 to present. His work in general owes quite a bit to Genesis although there are many other influences present as well. Agartha (his 3rd) is clearly the most unique, and also the least traditionally progressive of the bunch; others include Ruinas Circulares, Temple of Delphos, Aleph, Seven Spheres and a mess of others that are more euro-prog influenced. Most are nuthin' special, save your money.
Links
Many Alpha III releases are available from Mellow Records


Alpha Centauri [France]
Updated 5/19/00

Alpha Centauri (76)

Alpha Centauri is yet another rarity dug up and released by Mellow. Their approach differs in some respects to the aforementioned French symphonic artists, but contains much of the same atmosphere. The band is driven by jazzy drumming and blues guitar, underneath which a keyboardist holds chords and a bassist plays some interesting lines. Their slow, minor-key approach reminds me vaguely of other French artists, in particular Asia Minor, though Alpha Centauri's overall feel is that of 70's prog. The vocals are choral at times and very low-key. Using the word 'depressing' to describe them would be inaccurate, but that may give you an idea as to what they sound like. Overall, I find this a good, but not great release. One of the complaints I have about this disc is its brevity. Only 29 minutes? Surely there are some unreleased or live tracks somewhere to append? -- Mike Borella

Available from Mellow Records.


Alpha Du Centaure [France/UK]
Updated 12/24/02

Discography
Contact (79)
Reviews
Hard jazz rock.
Alpha du Centaure is an accomplished instrumental jazz-rock trio, based in Paris, and comprised of Jonathan Dickinson (drums), Olivier Koechlin (acoustic bass) and Jean-Pierre Richard (electric guitars). Supposedly, there is some sort of connection between these fellows and the far stranger French arty jazz-rock group Pataphonie, but I do not know what it is. Contact is their only LP, as far as I know, and it is a privately-issued, low-budget affair with humorously lame cover art. Richard is a pretty fine guitarist - he plays long jazzy solos, and uses fuzzboxes, phase shifters, and other effects in an interesting way. He's perhaps a bit like Bill Connors in that he likes to combine Hendrix-like distortion with bebop-like phrasing. The bassist and drummer are good enough - perhaps a bit timid, though - and the music never really takes off into the realms of psychy free jazz or Mahavishnu-oid slugfest like you might think it would. Strangely, three of the four long tracks are taken in the same meter, a moderate to uptempo 6/8. The pieces are, for the most part, long, loose and jammy (minor keys predominate!) - this is much closer to jazz, in spirit, than progressive rock, though most prog / fusion fans would find something to like on this LP. Fans of ECM-type stuff will really dig this one, despite its low-budget production values. -- Dave Wayne
Links
[See Komintern | Pataphonie | Red Noise]


Alpha Ralpha [France]
Updated 5/19/00

Alpha Ralpha (77)

An offshoot of the band Tai Phong.

Jazz/rock through symphonic rock.

[See Tai Phong]


Alphataurus [Italy]
Updated 7/2/11

Discography
Alphataurus (73)
Dietro L'uragano (92, recorded 73)
Reviews
Alphataurus '70's - Pietro Pellegrini (keyboards), Michele Bavaro (lead vocals), Guido Wassermann (guitar), Giorgio Santandrea (drums) and Alfonso Oliva (bass)

A really original LP with some songs that remember the ELP sound with voice and keyboard in good evidence.


Alphatarus' debut is one of the monsters of Italian progressive with a heavy and bluesy feel similar to Il Balletto di Bronzo, QVL although quite symphonic. Dietro ... is a posthumous release of their unreleased second in a much more classical/symphonic realm. Demo sound quality but quite good.
Alphataurus is an Italian band who released a self-titled album in 1973. The music is more or less in the Italian symphonic style, closer to Banco perhaps, than PFM. The band uses lots of acoustic guitar for the rhythmic underpinning and behind the vocals, while organ and moog provide most of the melodic foundation. There is a little electric guitar here and there but it's not a dominant instrument. The organ/moog style is reminiscent of Banco, or perhaps Keith Emerson. There is a degree of "heaviness" to the music that vaguely recalls Museo Rosenbach. Occasional dashes of piano and vibraphone add a bit of spice to the mix. Five songs are on the album, ranging from a little over three minutes to around 12 minutes in length. Vocals are in Italian but not harsh or overbearing. A pretty solid album and worth checking out. -- Mike Taylor
Updated 9/10/04:
Alphataurus' self-titled album from 1973 is a monumental work from the early Italian prog scene -- every bit as important as Banco's Darwin, Le Orme's Uomo di Pezza, or Locanda delle Fate's Forse Le Luciolle. Though it only has 5 songs averaging from 3 to 12 minutes in length, this is one recording all 70's music fans should take a listen to. The lead singer Michele Bavaro has incredble chops and his voice is even more powerful than Banco's Franseco Di Giacomo or Metamorfosi's Davide Spitaleri. They have a very distinct sound in a style not unlike Museo Rosenbach, but cleaner, though they used the guitar more often. All 5 songs are great -- especially "Dopo L'uragano" (reminiscent of Black Sabbath), "Croma" (similar to Il Balletto di Bronzo's "Introduzione") and lastly their masterpiece: "La Mente Vola", which grabs you instantly the 1st time you hear it. If ever there was a "Stairway to Heaven" of the 1970s Italian scene this song was it. Their 2nd album is nowhere near as good but they kept their distinctive sound on this jam session sort of recording. It's worth listening to just for the drum work alone. -- Clayton Self
Alphataurus 2010 - Pietro Pellegrini (Hammond and synth), Giorgio Santandrea (drums), Guido Wassermann (guitars and vocals), Fabio Rigamonti (bass and vocals), Andrea Guizzetti (piano, synth and vocals), Claudio Falcone (lead vocals and hand percussions)

Updated 7/2/11:
In November of 2010, a reformed Alphataurus performed for the first time in Mezzago Italy with 3 original members and 3 new ones. They have been playing several concerts since, and even have a chance at a US festival (don't know which one at this time) towards the end of the year.

The new Alphataurus web site syas that they're working on a new studio album which will include the three originally unfinished tracks from Dietro l'Uragano (i.e. "Claudette", "Ripensando e ..." and "Valigie di terra") plus at least two new compositions. They have also decided to release a live album of the reunion show, requiring only a few mixing and mastering sessions.

Finally, a remastered version of their 1973 debut album is now available from BTF (see link below). -- Fred Trafton

Links
Click here for the Alphataurus web site
Click here to order the remastered Alphataurus from BTF Records


Alquimia [Mexico/UK]
Updated 10/25/05

Discography
Coatlicue - Goddess Of The Earth (92)
Wings of Perception (95)
Dead Tongues (96, w/ José Luis Fernández Ledesma)
A Separate Reality (98, remix released 2001 w/ bonus tracks)
Move & Resonate (00, w/ Roedelius)
Underwater (01, w/ Zinkl)
Angaelic Voices (03)
Nox Mystica (04, Live CD/DVD, w/ Mergener et amici)
To The Promised Land (05, w/ Stella Maris)
Garden of Dreams (05, w/ Rüdiger Gleisberg)
Voice Waves (05)
Reviews
Alquimia

Alquimia is from Mexico, though she now lives and records in the UK. Her music is inspired by Mexican/Central American occult and pagan influences, including Mayan religion and Carlos Castaneda. I have several of her albums, and they vary quite a bit from one to the next. Most of them have in common a "tribal" feel with lots of hand drums, rattles, wood blocks and other ancient-sounding rhythmic devices.

Coatlique is her first and her most experimental album (of those I've heard at least). There are those who might say "this isn't music at all!" This is more along the lines of sound collage, though she sings with a vocal timbre somewhere between Gilli Smyth and Enya, from ethereal and lofty to trancing chants. The tribal drums and percussion are most prevalent on this album, along with an array of synthesized groans, klangs, hissing and percussive sounds designed to elicit emotions ranging from elation to skin-crawling. This is an excellent album and should be of interest to most prog fans who don't need too much melody to satisfy them. Those who only like symphonic or neo-prog style progressive music will probably be bored.

I don't have Wings of Perception or Dead Tongues, but I have heard A Separate Reality. This album is much more "accessible" than Coatlique, but still very good. Her vocals here come across sounding like Annie Haslam (OK, I'll admit most sopranos singing rock sound like Annie to me ... what can I say?), which is to say much more melodic than Coatlique. She sings in both Spanish and English about the writings of Carlos Castaneda. The music is still heavy on the "tribal" side with chants and percussion, though this comes across sounding more like the aboriginal parts of Kate Bush's The Dreaming album than Coatlique

Move and Resonate is her next effort, this one teaming up with Hans-Joachim Roedelius of Cluster fame. So, you wouldn't be surprised to hear that this sounds like Annie Haslam singing with Cluster, right? Wrong ... this album is probably her second most experimental after Coatlique. The album consists of three long pieces. The first, "Voces de mi tierra" (Voices from my homeland) starts off innocently enough, though the vocal styling here is probably closer to Enya than Annie Haslam, and once again features Alquimia's signature tribal drums and percussion. However, this soon segués into a spoken word "reading" alternating between Rodelius speaking in English and German and Alquimia speaking Spanish and French. This happens over a percussive synthesizer ostinato ... very nice, hypnotic and trancy. The vocals then begin to sound like a Gregorian chant, changing to a huge chorale of overdubbed Alquimias singing "We Are The Music Makers". The second 20-minute+ long cut, "Olinia Mo" starts with an ethnic melody sung in Nahuatl (I think), which moves in the last 13 minutes to an ambient "sonic painting" similar in texture to the Coatlique material. Also excellent.

Underwater is the newest album [I've heard], this time teaming up with synth player Zinkl. This time, one really can make a comparison like: "sounds like Kate Bush playing with Tangerine Dream gone Techno" and not be too far off. This is a good album, but not as interesting as some of her previous efforts. This is definitely one step more accessible (and dancable). She has cut way back on the ethnic percussion for this album, leaning more heavily on synthesized Techno rhythms, though admittedly fairly complex ones. Her voice sometimes sounds more like Kate Bush than Kate Bush. I like Underwater, but would recommend any of the other three over this one.

Warning: There appears to be a "Tropical/Latin pop" band by this name as well. This Alquimia is unassociated with them. The All-Music Guide entry has both bands mixed up in the discography, though the bio is correct for this Alquimia. -- Fred Trafton

Links
[See Fernández Ledesma, José Luis | Roedelius, Hans-Joachim | Zinkl]

Click here for Alquimia's web site
Click here to order Alquimia albums from BSC Music


Alquin [Netherlands]
Updated 9/7/01

Discography
Marks (72)
The Mountain Queen (73)
Nobody Can Wait Forever (75)
Best Kept Secret (76)
Live On Tour (76)
Alquin Crash (77)
Reviews
Innovative early Dutch progressive band sounding little like contemporaries Earth and Fire or Focus, but showing elements of Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, various fusion bands. Alquin mixes many of these elements in a fascinating way and are a band that deserves to be reissued on CD... And evidently the first two are available on one CD!
The Mountain Queen is the second album by this Dutch six-piece. The line-up consists of bass, drums, saxes/vocals/percussion, saxes/flute, guitar/electric violin/piano/vocals and keyboards. The songs have very long instrumental passages with prominent lead guitar, whirling Hammond organ, dual saxophones and (on "Mr. Barnum Jnr's. magnificent and fabulous city") electric violin. I can hear bits of Caravan, Pink Floyd, Roxy Music and Curved Air running through the album, but overall it's pretty original. The one drawback to this album is the vocals, mostly by Job Tarenskeen; they're remarkably wimpy and unconfident and there's no real vocal presence. Fortunately, the vocals are very incidental. Beyond the vocals, a fine and intensely rewarding album. Issued on CD only in tandem with the first album, Marks. For Nobody can wait forever, the band added full-time vocalist Michel van Dijk, who vocally resembles Rod Stewart a bit. The album adds more straight-ahead rock songs than its predecessor, ranging from blues-rock ("Mr. Widow," "Farewell, Miss Barcelona") to hard-rock. ("Wheelchair Groupie") The rest of the album has a more pronounced Roxy Music feel, thanks to the heavy sax-work, the Ferry-esque lyrics and the droning Moog synth on "Revolution's Eve." There's some fine soloing on this album, notably from Ferdinand Bakker on guitar and Ronald Ottenhoff on flute and sax. NOTE: Job Tarenskeen and Ferdinand Bakker from this band later appeared in a punk (!) band called the Meteors.
This band started in 1970, most of the musicians were students in Leiden*, a prominent university city. Their first album was released in 1972 Marks, mainly instrumentals, a mixture of rock, jazz and classical music. The group quickly built up a following and in '73 the band went to the U.K.to perform in The Marquee and to appear on TV in the "Old Grey Whistle Test." Their second album The Mountain Queen was recorded in England and is one of the better progressive albums of the seventies. The music is similar to Marks and the album sold well. The band toured Germany and England together with Holland's top rock band, Golden Earring, and also toured France to support The Who. The band wanted to change their hippy image and add more rock 'n' roll to their music, with more emphasis on the vocals. One of Holland's best singers, Michel Van Dijk, is recruited and the third album is once again recorded in the U.K. This album, Nobody can wait forever, was also released in the States but a tour there was cancelled at the last minute. The album sold well and Alquin played lots of gigs, mainly on the European continent. In 1976, the last studio album Best Kept Secret was released, once again recorded in England. The style is similar to their third album, but with a slightly more funky sound. Another tour followed and a live album Alquin on Tour is released. In 1977 the band disbanded because of disagreements on musical style. Various members turned up in other groups, none of them progressive. Guitarist Ferdinand Bakker and drummer Job Tarenskeen formed The Meteors, a great new wave band. After the demise of Alquin the record company released Crash, a double album with some tracks from all of their albums. I can recommend this as a good overview, but their first two, Marks and The Mountain Queen will appeal most to the lover of progressive music. -- Hans Van Dongen

* Editor's Note: I have been told that Alquin were students at the University of Delft, not Leiden. Thanks to Willem Timmer from the Netherlands. -- Fred Trafton


Alsur [Chile]
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
Fusion Americana (91)
Reviews
Excellent fusion-oriented band from Chile. Playing is tight and the songs are well developed, the lineup features guitar, soprano sax, drums and bass, with guest musicians on piano and synth. The sound has a slight latin feel, based around a sound which may remind of the early Pat Metheny Group. Their album Fusion Americana is a worthwhile find.


Altair [Spain]
Updated 12/26/01

Discography
Altair (90)
Fantasias y Danzas (99)
Reviews
A duo of keyboards and drums, the former of which is female and infatuated with Keith Emerson. While the compositions are not extremely derivative, they're not so great either. Lukewarm performances and production as well.
The current line-up of Altair is a duo consisting of the drummer Alfonso Arcusa and the keyboardist Isabel Muniente. All nine tracks of the band's second full-length album Fantasias y Danzas are original and peculiar, but apart from a sea of keyboards and drums, I don't hear anything here, even a synth-bass. Keeping in mind that all songs, except for the opener by Isabel, stem from (the drummer!) Alfonso, I could call Fantasias a very good album, but despite numerous base themes, the diversity of arrangements occurs in the constant changes of chords, and that means you won't find exceptional virtuosity here. In other words, either Alfredo himself isn't strong in arrangement or Isabel doesn't shine technically. -- Vitaly Menshikov
Links
Click here for Luna Negra Record's web site
Click here to order Fantasias y Danzas from Luna Negra
Click here to read Vitaly's complete review of Fantasias y Danzas on his ProgressoR web site


Altais [France]
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
Altais (86, EP)
Reviews
1 track on Musea's Enneade compilation, probably cassettes only other than that. [One EP, see above discog - Ed.]
Zeuhl related fusion.


Altmayer, Michel [France]
Updated 12/24/02

Discography
Troll, Vol. 2 (88)
Reviews
Altmayer was the drummer, singer (and leader) of the legendary French zeuhl band Troll, which also included Jean Pascal Boffo on guitars, and featured a strong Magma influence. Unfortunately, that edition of the band disbanded before ever recording. This one is (to my knowledge) Troll's only recording from 1987, and features Violin by Nathalie Basset, Bass by Bernard Paganotti, and Vocals by Klaus Blasquiz and Stella Vander, as well as other musicians. Altmater's Drums and Paganotti's monster Bass dominate, and tracks like "Igor" and "Breakdown" show just how brilliant these two guys are. On "Ankh - Carousel Celeste" BP demonstrates his chops on the chapman stick, and two tracks "Impressions for Tomorrow" and "Some Words about 'Trane" owe strong homage to John Coltrane. The album is split between vocal and instrumental tracks. The vocals (in English) are outstanding; this is one of the best releases Musea ever put out.
Very Magma-influenced, almost self-consciously so, though with somewhat more pronounced jazz & fusion leanings. Altmeyer, like Christian Vander, is a drummer / vocalist / keyboardist. He's quite a good drummer, but not as wonderful as Vander (natch!). Altmeyer's band on Troll, Vol. 2 includes several Magma-ites: Guy Khalifa (keys), Bernard Paganotti (bass), Stella Vander (vocals), and Klaus Blasquiz (voice) all figure prominently. Despite all the Magma cred, Troll Volume 2 is not a very successful LP. The high quality of the 2 instrumental tracks (very jazzy in a largely acoustic Return to Coltrane sort of way) made it difficult for me to wade through the rest of the LP which is dominated by French pop-fusion with lots of vocals. These tracks range from decent Magma-inspired minor key romps (which sound rather like Bernard Paganotti's solo project, Paga) to really lame romantic soft pop. Altmeyer's emotive crooning is really hard for me to stomach - it's as if he thinks he's Tom Jones or something! After listening to this a few times, I would say that Altmeyer's Troll, Vol. 2 is for Zeuhl completists only. -- Dave Wayne
Links
[See Boffo, Jean Pascal | Paga | Magma | Mandragore]


Altona [Germany]
Updated 5/24/00

Altona (74), Chickenfarm (75), Hamburg Sightseeing (75)

Brass rock.

[See Thrice Mice]


Alto Stratus [England]

MCs: Svet Ozveny (8?), Tension! (8?), Tachyon (8?), The Ritual (88?) featured on other Auricle samplers

Experimental electronic/other music by owners of Audion/Ultima Thule.


Altura [USA]
Updated 7/31/00

Discography
Mercy (96)
Reviews
Altura are an American band playing the kind of progressive heavy metal popularised by Dream Theater. The music on their album Mercy sounds very much like Dream Theater, though slightly less heavy as the keyboards are up more than with DT. Songs move between intricate, technical passages and melodic choruses, between heavy riffing and softer, sometimes a bit jazzy or spacey interludes. Well-written and executed music, lots of chops but also feel and intelligence. Progmetal is not really my cup of tea but I find this album quite satisfying to listen. I think fans of this particular subgenre would like Mercy very much. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Links
Click here for an Altura web site in the Magna Carta label web site


ALU [Germany]
Updated 10/27/05

Discography
Störfaktor I - ALU's riskantes Experiment (81, Live)
Licht (82, Live)
Autismenschen (04, Recorded in 1980)
Reviews
ALU - Johannes Vester (voice, Roland SH 09, Roland Jupiter IV) and Ludwig Papenberg (guitar, sequencer, drum box, EMS VCS 3, Korg MS 20). Sometime member, not pictured: Nadja (Vocals)

ALU was a spinoff of Sand featuring two of its three members, Johannes Vester and Ludwig Papenberg. They recorded a studio album in 1980, but only two of the songs were released on a 7" single. Their only full-length album releases at the time were two live LP's, Störfaktor I - ALU's riskantes Experiment and Licht, both recorded with a female vocalist, Nadja. But now the studio album, Autismenschen, has been released on CD by C.I.P. Records. I haven't heard the album, but here's an excerpt from the liner notes (written by Current 93's David Tibet):

"Moving savagely away from [Sand's] trippy, inner-space explorations, ALU inhabited a colder, more paranoiac country than their predecessors. Yet [with Sand] I hear the beginnings of the alienated schizophrenia that comes so intensely to the fore in the material released by ALU during their brief life, as well as on this remarkably unsettling album that was, until now, never released ... ALU possessed a sharp, cutting and motorised beat with the guttural sound of those at war with anything around them. The hallucinations of Sand had given way to something far colder, far darker. Harsh, uncomfortable, arrhythmic within its own metronomic rhythm, loveless yet full of passion, ALU were, like Sand, unjustly overlooked -- almost forgotten. Perhaps in these apocalyptic, crepuscular years their time has, at last, come."

The CD is available for a mere $8.00, click on the link below. -- Fred Trafton

Links
[See Current 93 | Sand]

Click here for ALU's web site
Click here to order from C.I.P. Records


Alusa Fallax [Italy]
Updated 9/26/00

Discography
Intorno Alla Mia Cattiva Educazione (74)
Two 7" singles from 1965 and 1969
Reviews
Intorno alla mia cattiva educazione is a charming, palatable album; very representative of the '70s-Italian progressive rock scene. The closest comparison which comes to mind is Celeste.
Quite an excellent album, with a voice similar to Locanda Delle Fate's vocalist. With flute, one of Italian's hidden gems.
Intorno All Mia Cattiva Educazione is a very beautiful and expressive album of Italian symphonics. There are fourteen songs but all flow together (except for the break between sides one and two). Instrumentation consists of vocals, flute, sax, a variety of keyboards (moog and other synths, piano, Hammond organ), acoustic and electric guitar, in addition to the usual drums and bass. The vocalist sounds quite a bit like the singer for Locanda Delle Fate, another excellent Italian band. Musically, however, the music is more similar to Celeste or Quella Vecchia Locanda. Many passages of the Alusa Fallax album are gentle, with flute and classical guitar with either voice or harpsichord, for example, a trademark of Celeste's beautiful work. As the album progresses, the music builds in intensity, getting much more heavy and intense than either Celeste or Quella Vecchia Locanda. There are many good moog synth and guitar jams with good trapwork, and some very nice flute work. Some passages have a classical feel while other sections have a jazzier vibe. Each "song" averages about three minutes so the music feels as if it is constantly developing and moving toward the climax. This album seems to sit in the shadow of Celeste and Quella Vecchia Locanda, but it is easily of the same caliber and highly recommended. -- Mike Taylor
Don't let the short duration (between 1:40 and 5:45) of the 13 pieces shadow your curiosity about this re-issue of a what I would call an Italian must have of the seventies. Alusa Fallax do pack a lot in these time frames. Unfortunately no info about the band is provided - destiny seems to make it that these guys will remain anonymous, aprt from the credits of music writing. Complexity is on the menu, paired with a strong tenor/alto sax and flute presence, hot keyboard playing (piano and organ, with occasional strings and Moog), and the addition of passionate vocals that blends very well with the music (not of the grating kind.) Oftentimes fast-paced, the music also clears up for nice, of classical inspiration, passages, typical of the Italian lyricism. This album is clearly in the same league as Celeste's, QVL's, and the first Errata Corrige album, and although packing more punch, retains a overall light approach. Sound quality is fine. -- Alain Lachapelle


Alux Nahual [Guatemala]
Updated 8/29/00

Discography
Alux Nahual (81)
Hermanos de Sentimiento (84)
Reviews
"Hermanos de Sentimento" leans toward the heavy side and has lots of instrumentation (guitars/synths/reeds/percussion). Some of the vocal passages are blah, but some tend toward Gentle Giant arrangements. The instrumental passages are quite complicated in places. Worth a listen. -- Allen Myers


Alvaro [Chile]
Updated 1/4/05

Discography
Drinking My Own Sperm (77)
Mums Milk Not Powder (78)
The Working Class (79)
Repetition Kills (82)
Is the Garment Ready? (88)
Südamerikanische Schnulzen (94)


Always Almost [USA]
a.k.a. Still
Updated 9/12/05

Discography
Always Almost (97, as Still)
God Pounds His Nails (97)
Reviews
Always Almost was a band formed by Echolyn members Brett Kull (guitar/vocals), Paul Ramsey (drums) and Ray Weston (bass/vocals) after their 1995 breakup (along with Kull and Ramsey's "folky/pop" band, Grey Eye Glances). They released two albums said to be less "prog" and more "classic rock" styled, along the lines of The Beatles or Led Zeppelin. These were both released in 1997, Always Almost under the band name Still, followed by God Pounds His Nails as Always Almost. -- Fred Trafton
Links
[See Grey Eye Glances | Echolyn]

Click here for Always Almost's web site