D'Or, Laren [Hungary]
Updated 9/8/01

War of Angels (Synthphonia) (97)
War of Angels (Progressive) (??)
Real Nord (??)
Laren D'Or

Laren D'Or (not his real name) is basically a composer/pianist/keyboard player in the same vein as Vangelis. His music is classically influenced but played on electronic instruments (ie, sequencers, etc.). War of Angels (for those who have an open mind) is a very nicely performed symphonic album done by Laren himself. Traces of cello can be heard at times. Basically though he can produce the sound of full-fledged orchestra. A lot of his stuff can be found on MP3.com [not any more ... -Ed.]. -- Betta

Laren D'Or is one of the new wave of artists trying to find an audience and distribution channel through the Internet. His 1997 release, War of Angels (Synthphonia) was released in Hungary, but to quote the artist, "the Hungarian release of War of Angels seemed to me like a road to nowhere". This first album is very much like early Vangelis before he started using sequenced rhythms so extensively.

When D'Or composed his next set of pieces, they had more of a rock feel, with drums and a bit of guitar, though still similar texturally to his first album. He decided to release them together in electronic form, using MP3.com, besonic.com, javamusic.com, and ampcast.com. He calls his second album War of Angels (Progressive), and it contains an entirely different set of tunes. His pieces proved to be fairly popular among folks who download from the Internet, and inspired D'Or to continue to self-release his material in this way.

D'Or's latest release Real Nord (an anagram of Laren D'Or) is quite different from his previous dreamy symphonic (all right, I'll use the word ... "new-agey") releases. This one, he says, was inspired by "the kind of 'evil' in all of us artists, I wanted to also rage out in a heavier direction". He calls the style "Industrial/Progmetal", and I won't argue with that. This is a concept album about a sort of futuristic SWAT team trying (and failing) to clean out a cult known as "Inferno Child" that uses "mental energy", presumably to do bad stuff. The music is still all instrumental, so the only way you're going to get the story line is by reading it from the liner notes (or from his web site). It is much heavier, full of distorted guitars and keyboards, but still maintains the cinematic "film soundtrack" feel of his previous releases.

I would recommend all of these releases, but be aware that they are all (even Real Nord) fairly predictable and not at all challenging to listen to. If you like the symphonic works of more new-agey composers like David Arkenstone, then you should also like Laren D'Or. If you think Arkenstone is a bore, you'll probably also feel the same about D'Or. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Attila Héger (Laren D'Or)'s web site>B> Click here for Laren D'Or's MySpace page

D'Virgilio, Nick [USA]
Updated 7/24/11

NDV Solo albums:
Karma (01)
Live (04, CD and DVD versions)

With Spock's Beard:
The Light (95)
The Official Live Bootleg (96, Live)
Beware of Darkness (96)
Kindness of Strangers(97)
From the Vault (98)
The Beard Is Out There (98, Live)
Day for Night (99)
Live at the Whisky and NEARFest (99, Live)
Don't Try This at Home (00, Live)
V (00)
Don't Try This @ Home Either! (00, Live)
There And Here (01, Live 2CD)
Snow (02, 2CD)
Feel Euphoria (03)
Octane (05)
Gluttons For Punishment (05, Live)
Spock's Beard (06)
SB Live (08)
X (10)

With Others (selected):
Thud (95, EP, with Kevin Gilbert)
Calling All Stations (98, with Genesis)
Neal Morse (99, with Neal Morse)
Thud - Live at the Troubadour (00, with Kevin Gilbert)
The Shaming of the True (00, with Kevin Gilbert)
It's Not Too Late (02, with Neal Morse)
Covers Collection (02, with Lana Lane)
Coming Through (02, with Ryo Okumoto)
Dog (04, with Mike Keneally Band)
Secret World (05, with Tears for Fears)
Emotional Creatures Part 1 (05, with Steve Thorn)
Gold (06, with Tears for Fears)
Emotional Creatures Part 2 (07, with Steve Thorn)
Voice in the Light (07, with Amaran's Plight)
The Road Home (07, with Jordan Rudess)
The Difference Machine (07, with Big Big Train)
A Tribute to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (08, with Rewiring Genesis) CD1 -- CD2
The Underfall Yard (09, with Big Big Train)
Escalator (09, with Jerusalem)
Into the Ether (09, with Steve Thorn)
The Philadelphia Experiment (10, 2CD+DVD, with Frost*)
The Power of Two - Live in USA (10, Live with Karmakanic and Agents of Mercy)

Nick D'Virgilio (a.k.a. NDV)

Original entry 6/1/10:
There are plenty of keyboard and guitar artists listed in the GEPR, and even quite a few bassists. But I can count the drummers on one hand. It's unfair, but given the limitations of how many bands and artists I try to review, and the limited number of drummer-fronted bands, I suppose this is inevitable. Now it's time to add one: Nick D'Virgilio (a.k.a. NDV), probably best-known as the drummer (and, since 2002, front-man) for Spock's Beard. But did you know he also played with Genesis? Four cuts on their last album, Calling All Stations. OK, not my favorite Genesis album, but still, I'm impressed. And were you aware that he's also drummer for the famous and recently re-united pop band Tears for Fears? Whatever you might think about that, you have to admit it says something about NDV's versatility. D'Virgilio also played with the late Kevin Gilbert, and was the mastermind behind the completion and posthumous release of Gilbert's epic The Shaming of the True.

I actually haven't heard any of the post-Neal Morse Spock's Beard, and in the Morse era, I can't say I ever particularly noticed the drumming. It was adequate, but the keys, vocals and songwriting were what I noticed during that time. But recently, I heard the last couple of albums from "English Boy Wonders" Big Big Train (not so boyish these days), and it occured to me while listening that the drummer was spectacular, which I hadn't noticed on their earlier albums. I was surprised to find that this was D'Virgilio guesting as drummer for their last couple of albums. I was impressed, and it made me want to hear more recent work from NDV.

So, when I got an e-mail from the American ProgRock Records label that they were selling out their last few copies of Rewiring Genesis: A Tribute to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, a recent album I knew NDV was associated with, I decided to order it. And that's what prompted me to write this entry ... this is simply a brilliant album. I'll utter the ultimate blasphemy regarding this album ... in many ways, it's ***GASP*** better than the original! And that's high praise considering The Lamb is one of my all-time favorite albums. Though I got one of the last CD versions, it's still available for download on Mindawn (see OGG and FLAC links above). I almost listed this as a NDV solo album, though it's really a project album of producer Mark Hornsby, and there are several other excellent musicians on this album. But anyone doubting NDV's dominant role in this album need look no further than the fact that (almost) every photo on the CD liner notes and album cover are all of him.

My impressions: "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" opener is totally faithful to the original, and the real strings and brass replacing Mellotron and organ don't sound the slightest bit out of place. "Fly On a Windshield" is one of the most famous Mellotron passages ever recorded, as far as I'm concerned, so nobody should have ever messed with it. (OK, if you have to mess with it, I must say they did a credible job of re-orchestration. But it's just wrong). "Counting Out Time" with the dixieland band solo in the middle is brilliant ... one of the songs that's far better done here than on the original. I know it sounds like a bad idea. It's not, it's perfect for the lyrical content. "The Lamia"'s vocals being sung by a female chorus is wonderful. The "supersized blackbird that sure can fly" solo is accordion instead of synth. Who would have guessed that would work so well? The fast synth solo in "Riding the Scree" becomes a sax solo (or is that a clarinet?), frequently note-for-note the same as the synth solo. Excellent.

Finally, a word on the vocals. NDV sings all the main vocals. I've heard several people (especially in the GEPR's Spock's Beard entry) dissing his vocal capabilities. Well, if this is any indication, I'd say they're nuts. D'Virgilio captures many of Gabriel's vocal nuances perfectly, and in the places where he doesn't, it's clear he's just doing it his way instead of Peter's way. He's an awesome vocalist! It makes me even more curious to hear some post-Morse Spock's Beard to try to figure out what the heck people are complaining about. Because, on Rewiring Genesis, I have no complaints at all.

As of this writing, D'Virgilio has recently (2009) been on three albums as guest drummer and is currently working on a new Spock's Beard album for release later this year. He seems to have limitless energy! And ever-increasingly astonishing drum chops. I can hardly wait for the new Spock's Beard album (just released, titled X). And it's obviously not because of Neal Morse. -- Fred Trafton

[See Agents of Mercy | Amaran's Plight | Big Big Train | Frost* | Genesis | Jerusalem | Karmakanic | Lane, Lana | Morse, Neal | Rudess, Jordan | Spock's Beard]

Click here for NDV's web site
Click here for NDV's MySpace page

Dagmähr [Canada]
Updated 1/1/03

My Magnificient Instability (97)
As Far As We Get (01)
A superb Canadian quartet, more specifically from Quebec, whose repertoire combines a clear sense of melody and an intense expressiveness, over a foundation of cleverly inspired compositions and intricate rhythm signatures. Performances are very solid and energetic, without reaching an exaggerate level of aggressiveness; on the contrary, the band prefers to exercise a certain amount of constraint in order to build an adequate sense of tension. Their major influences are Red-era King Crimson, second-era Van der Graaf Generator, and Marillion (in fact, in their early days, they used to cover material from these three bands, mainly). But it's fair to note that they manage to recycle these influences in order to build a progressive style that they can properly call their own original approach.

The original line-up consisted of Mathieu Lassard (guitars and voice), Pierre Massicotte (keyboards), Phillippe Lachance (drums and percussion), and Yves Halles (bass). Their first album, My Magnificient Instability, is a perfect sample of all the musical aspects mentioned above. Tracks like "In Every Failure" and "Destiny" serve as appropriate statements of the band's progressive direction; but the highlight is the closing 16-minute suite, "Leaving For Paris". A short string section guests occasionally on a few tracks, not for symphonic purposes, but to add subtle colors that help to increase the sense of passion that is so inherent in the band's material.

Their second offering, As Far As We Get, which was released four years later, introduced Jean-Guy Mossu as the new bassist for the band. The musical ingredients are basically the same, but the overall sound and arrangements are rougher, mainly because the more obscure aspect of their music is emphasized. All in all, their inspired sense of melody remains intact. "Last Reaction" and "Perpetual Attrition" (both, 11-minute tracks), as well as "Lightly Engaged", are captivating and varied enough to catch the most demanding listener's attention. "Inside The Egg" (Part I) is an elegant and original exercise in combining diverse harmonic motives (a la VDGG's "Still Life"), while (Part 2) closes the album in a very intense way.

In conclusion, I must say that this is a highly recommendable band, that should be paid more attention to, and from whom one can expect more good things in the future. -- Cesar Mendoza

Click here for a small web site, very much "under construction"

Dall'aglio, Gianni [Italy]

Sera, Mattina (72)

He has played with Il Volo.

[See Volo, Il]

Dallio, Patricia [France]
Updated 1/17/05

Procession (92)
Champs de Mars (93)
La ronce n'est pas le pire (94)
D'où vient l'eau des puits? (96)
Barbe Bleue (97)
Que personne ne bouge (99)
L'encre des voix secrètes (03)
Dallio was the piano player in Art Zoyd. Her solo album [Procession] is strongly rooted in electronics, with african (?) poetry overlaid on several tracks. Some of the tracks are catchy and melodic, while others are ambient and pastel. Other musicians are used on a few tracks, but this is primarily a singlehanded project. Very nice stuff.
[See Art Zoyd]

Dalton [Italy]
Updated 2/13/02

Riflessioni: Idea D'Infinito (73)
Argitari (75)
Paciana Story (75)
Pretty first LP of vangard music with great flute and drums. Not too good though, the second LP.
Dalton's debut album Riflessioni: Idea D'Infinito (Vinyl Magic VMCD012) clocks in at ridiculous 28+ minutes, but every minute of it is quality time. Affinity to early UK prog is noticeable in the grimy, blues-influenced guitar riffs and leads, typically breathy and percussive flute lines, occasional stabs at (then) avant-garde electronic episodes (e.g. the jarring, metallic keyboard sounds in "Riflessioni" and the Leslie-treated feedback guitar solo in "Dimensione Lavoro") and the use of acoustic guitar/piano and vocal harmonies to provide softer contrast. However, the characteristically Italian lyricism seeps through especially in the vocal melodies and the keyboardist occasionally moves from organ and piano to buzzing synthesizer sounds. The balladic "Cara Emily" particularly pushes things in the classical-symphonic direction, adorned as it is with streaking Moog leads and a Mellotron halo. Since none of the album's six tracks goes over seven minutes, they tend to be concise and energetic packages with lots of ideas thrown around in short time, even if their development isn't fully pursued. They are also linked by a recurring instrumental segue which consists of a pretty, pastoral flute melody over a piano/bass obbligato. While Riflessioni isn't on par with the Italian heavyweights, its budding and spirited prog still has immediacy that should appeal to fans of the genre.

Dalton's second album, Argitari, came out in 1975 following a change of keyboard player, and is allegedly folkier and more conventional. That same year also saw them release a "rock opera" called Paciana Story, of which I know nothing more. -- Kai Karmanheimo

Italy's answer to Jethro Tull, Dalton released two LPs in the early 70's -- the first release being considered their best. Riflessioni: Idea d'Infinto (named after two of the songs) features some great flute work by Alex Chiesa and some Ten Years After inspired guitar work from Aronne Cereda. The first cut of the LP is a dead ringer for Stand-Up or Benefit era Jethro Tull. Only the vocal harmonies (in Italian) and heavier use of organ gives away their Italian heritage. Dalton was certainly not the most progressive of the 70's era bands, but they are worth checking out. -- Doug Hebbard

Dando Shaft [UK]
Updated 11/10/06

An Evening (70)
Reaping the Harvest (71)
Dando Shaft (71)
Lantaloon (72)
Kingdom (77)
I have Kingdom and Reaping the Harvest. They are progressive folk with a very English sound. Like Jethro Tull with none of the blues sound. -- Craig Ross

Dark [UK]

Round The Edge (71), Teenage Angst (9?, pre-Round the Edge recordings

Psych/Prog. Rare private pressing.

Dark [USA/Switzerland?]

Dark (86), Tamna Voda (88)

Not to be confused with the psych. group of the same name, this fusion/space/prog group, led by percussionist Mark Nauseef (ex-Ian Gillan Band), released two very fine and very different records on the German CMP label. Dark features a rather unusual lineup of drums/hand drums, mallet percussion/synth, bass (by Mark London Sims, who went on to record with gonzo guitarist Nels Cline) and voice. The often wordless vocals, by Catharine Guard, are very nicely done as she tends to avoid histrionics in favor of atmosphere. The music by this version of Dark is really about percussion, especially ethnic percussion, and polyrythms. Some may find it a bit sparse, but I think the approach works. Several 'heavy' fusion-ish cuts also demonstrate that they can also kick ass. The second release, Tamna Voda trades the vocalist for a guitarist (Miroslav Tadic), and David Torn and L. Shankar guest on several tracks. Although Tamna Voda, like its predecessor has a strong ethnic (Middle Eastern / South Indian) flavor, this is one HELL of a kick-ass fusion record! Nauseef is a phenomenally talented, highly original, and criminally under-recognized drummer who is right up there with Bruford, Cobham, Gurtu, Simon Phillips, Bozzio, and the rest of today's drum greats. Nauseef and Tadic later teamed up with keyboardist Joachim Kuhn and bassist Tony Newton (Tony Williams' Lifetime, Gary Moore's G-Force) to make a frighteningly intense fusion CD called Let's be Generous (1991, also on CMP). I also recommend Mark Nauseef's solo releases on CMP, Personal Note, Wun-Wun, and Sura. -- Dave Wayne

Their first album involves a lot of percussion. I haven't heard it in a while, but I remember liking it a lot (I have never seen it in a store since a friend let me borrow it). I have the second one, Tamna Voda, which has Dave Torn and L. Shankar on it. The opening track, "Trilok," is most likely a tribute to Trilok Gurtu, the amazing percussionist who has recently played with Oregon and John McLaughlin. I'm still amazed every time I hear that track. The rest of the album is pretty good, but is a let down after hearing that track.

Dark Aether Project [USA]
Updated 10/10/06

Dark Aether Project (98)
Feed The Silence (99)
The Gentle Art Of Firewalking (02)
Dark Aether Project (2000 lineup) - Adam Levin (Warr Guitar/Keyboards), Steev Geest (Guitar/Synth), Ray Weston (Vocals/Bass), Allen Brunelle (Percussion/Keyboards)
2002 Line-up (not pictured) is: Allen Brunelle (Drums/Background Vocals/Keyboards), Jennifer Huff (Vocals), Adam Levin (Warr 8 String Touch Guitar/Bass/Guitar/Keyboards/Loops), John McCloskey (Acoustic and Electric Guitars) and Marty Saletta (Keyboards/Stick)

Dark Aether Project is frequently compared to Discipline-era King Crimson. This isn't a bad starting point, but if you're expecting a clone or tribute band, think again. Chapman Stick / Warr Guitar player Adam Levin is the mastermind behind Dark Aether, and he's more ambitious than simply being a clone. However, being a student of Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft school, he can hardly help but be influenced by Fripp's style and philosophy. And it shows, to the band's benefit.

The band's style varies quite a bit from song to song. Many cuts do sound like 80's Crimson, with Tony Levin-like Stick playing and hypnotic human-sequencer counterpoint. Other songs, like "Dark Aether" are very spacey and sound more like Fripp and Eno's No Pussyfooting. Still others have a guitar sound that gives you that "fingernails on a chalk board" shiver, like Fripp's Exposure. You'll note these all have Frippian influences, which to my mind isn't a bad thing. But none of them sound exactly like Fripp, he's just the closest point of reference.

I've only heard Dark Aether Project's first two CD's, Dark Aether Project and Feed The Silence. Both have their moments, but overall I like the first one better. The performances are looser and less polished on the first CD, maybe even with a bit of "garage band" sound. But they are very energetic and experimental, and have a lot of appeal for that reason. The second album, while arguably tighter and cleaner than the first, just seems to have a "thin" sound. I'm not sure what I'm wanting when I listen to this CD. More overdubs? More notes, or harmonies or counterpoint? I dunno. It just feels like it drags, like the music should be played faster, with more energy. It's certainly technically well-executed, it just lacks ... something.

Evidently, the band felt the same. After the release of the second CD, members Yaman Aksu and Brian Griffin departed, and two new members, Steev Geest and Allen Brunelle (Iluvatar), joined Adam Levin and Ray Weston (of Echolyn) to form a new Dark Aether Project line-up. This line-up did some recording, specifically a song entitled "Trust" which was on their web site for awhile but has now vanished (an excellent tune!). However, they did not complete an album together. Levin and Brunelle then joined forces with vocalist Jennifer Huff and guitarist John McCloskey. This band recorded a cut for the What's New in Baltimore? compilation, a re-make ("millenium version") of "Feed the Silence". You can hear this piece in its entirety on their web site.

After this, they added keyboardist/stick player Marty Saletta (of Chaos Code) and have now released a third album, The Gentle Art of Firewalking. I've only heard the two cuts from this album available for download from their site, but this line-up has taken the band in a fuller sound direction, and Huff's vocals on half the songs really adds a lot. Assuming the rest of this album is on par with these two cuts ("The Gentle Art of Firewalking" and "Sparks Fly") then this should be their best release yet. -- Fred Trafton

After reading Fred's review of this band, I had to listen to the samples from their current CD The Gentle Art of Firewalking. I'm sure glad I did, cause these guys can play. [I'd say it's] correct to loosely compare them to Mr. Fripp and some of the tracks are Disciplinian, but the album takes a heavier turn eventually, leading us into darker waters. DAP nicely blend a classic progressive sensibility with a contemporary sound, like King Crimson meets a more raw, less pristine Rush sans Geddy Lee's helium vocals, reminding us of the best days of heavy prog (Colosseum II, Saga). Another band worth adding to your collection before they disappear. -- David Marshall
[See Chaos Code | Echolyn | Iluvatar]

Click here for Dark Aether Project web site

Darkstar [USA]
Updated 4/18/01

Marching Into Oblivion (95)
Heart of Darkness (99)
Darkstar is a project of Psychotic Waltz guitarist Dan Rock. Said to be more atmospheric maybe even ambiental progressive metal album. -- Nenad Kobal
[See Aslan | Psychotic Waltz]

Click here for a "posthumous" Official Psychotic Waltz web site (also Darkstar info)

Dark Sun [Finland]
Updated 2/9/05

Feed Your Mind (97)
Ice Ritual (00)
... several demos and tracks on compilations
Dark Sun - (not in photo order, and I don't know who the 7th person is) - Illy Asoma (guitars, visions), DarkSanttu (bass, astral navigation), Yell'o Gizmo (vocals, poetry), Mike Ronik (synths, ambience), Yur Zappa (guitars, improvisation) and Mike Camaro (drums, spiritual hallucinations)

Founded in 1991, Dark Sun are a Finnish seven-piece whose musical credo is directly inspired by psychedelic space-rock as defined by Hawkwind. Against this background, their short-lived debut album Feed Your Mind (Metamorphos Meta-010CD) was a surprisingly multifaceted and enjoyable work. Its only overtly Hawkwindian track is "Astral Magic", which certainly uses all the clichés: drums go bang-bang-bang, guitars go chack-chack-chack, bass goes thump-thump-thump, synths go whiIiIIiirl, the vocalist chants the title and someone is even trying to imitate Robert Calvert's poetry reading. The other stumble is "Black Spires", a hard-rock track with trippy synths and almost grunge-style performance from the vocalist. Much better are tracks like "Tiny the Man" and the title track, which wrap some quite catchy melodies around crunchy but not overtly heavy guitar riffs and expansive synthesizer textures (a nice combination of analog bleeping and digital sheen). The mini-epic "Abduction Files" and the instrumental closer "The Next Step" expand the sound further with marvellous atmospherics, Floydian guitar solo, acoustic textures and almost Tangerine Dream-like cosmic synthesizer sounds. Lyrically the album is a catalogue of space-rock paraphernalia: alien abduction, sentient space probes, technological dystopia etc. Good, contemporary production and inspired performances - with only limited technical complexity required by the style - make this a good choice for fans of modern space-rock (e.g. DarXtar, Hidria Spacefolk), and a prospective one even for those who don't normally care for the style.

Dark Sun's contribution to the Metazoon sampler disc, the 9-minute "TimeSpace Continuum", showed they were clearly evolving towards a more electronic and interesting sound. It had fascinating melodic snippets, rich synthesizer arrangements and good use of sequencers overlaying the basic space-rock framework. Unfortunately, the dissolution of Metamorphos and general indifferent response seemed to have sidetracked the band.

Their only other official album release so far (January 2005) is Ice Ritual (Burnt Hippie Records BHR-004), a live-recording of a set of Hawkwind performed with the ex-Hawkwinder Nik Turner during his visit to Finland. The execution is brisk (and at times rather punky), but with Hawkwind already having reworked and recycled all these songs exhaustively with all their exploitative, scraping-the-barrel live releases, the redundancy factor is even higher than with most tribute albums. The bonus track, the Dark Sun original "Dream Circuit" taken from an earlier demo, is not reason enough to buy this, though it is more interesting than most of the live material. -- Kai Karmanheimo

Click here for Dark Sun's web site

Darling, Hal [USA]
Updated 10/2/03

Darling (96)
D2R (03)
Hal Darling in a pensive mood

I'm going to do something unusual for one of my reviews ... talking about Hal Darling's latest release, D2R, first since it's the first album I heard, and then going on to comment on his first album Darling. Darling likes to play with the words in his write-ups and liner notes. Interesting, since he doesn't use them in his compositions at all (this is instrumental music). Still, D2R is in itself a play on words, either standing for "Darling's Second Recording" or pronounced as "Detour", which is a good description of this CD's path with respect to your standard "prog rock" release.

D2R is a tour-de-force of percussion at its finest. Darling is primarily a percussionist, so it might come as no surprise that this album is heavy on the use of drums. But don't expect any boring, interminable drum solos here ... what might not seem as obvious is that Pianos, Hammond Organs (using the percussive capabilities of course) and pizzicato violins (from a digital synth or sampler no doubt) may also be seen as percussion instruments. Darling handles these with the same relentless ease as his drumming, and creates machine-gun counterpoints of notes and drum hits with a frenzied anarchy that hasn't been heard since the most hyperactive musings of Frank Zappa. Full of Zappa style "gnat notes" and unexpected eruptions of triplets, the music forges ahead with the force of a runaway locomotive. And all that's just the first cut, "Clown on Fire"!

The high-energy tunes dominate on this album, but there are some cuts that slow down and aren't percussive at all, like the modern-classical sounding "Where Seraphs Despair", making the most of the orchestral timbres in his keyboard arsenal. Other times, he uses his Hammond (or sound-alike?) to create Emerson-like solos on amphetemines or uses his sampler to generate orchestral storms of Wagnerian sturm und drang. All of this has an avant-jazz or even RIO feel going on at the same time, and makes for one of the most refreshing releases I've heard in quite a while. No predictable neo-prog mannerisms are to be found here ... fasten your seatbelt and prepare for a sonic roller coaster ride!

Darling primarily records alone because he can't find anybody willing or able to give his compositions a try. Well, the guy does live in Nebraska, so I guess that shouldn't come as a surprise. It seems impossible that all this frenzy could actually be scored predictably enough to allow one person to perform this as overdubs. It's all extremely intricate, yet sounds as if it's being performed by a band of "free jazz" musicians who all know each other so well that they can perform together as a unit. There is absolutely no hint of "I did it all myself" sameness or any sense of "click track" metronomic monotony. If you haven't guessed yet, I loved this album!

So, now the reason I reviewed Darling's second album first. I happened to hear D2R first, then put on Darling's 1996 release, simply titled Darling. I realized that, if I had only heard this album, I would have written almost exactly the same review as I did D2R. It contains all the same elements ... spectacular drumming, Zappa-like fast-note oddly-placed-beat melodies, and several modern classical style compositions. Reading some of the reviews of Darling, I must agree with the reviewers that it's a fantastic album. Still, after hearing D2R, I realize that Darling was merely a dress rehearsal for the far more mature version of the same vision presented in D2R. Darling is more uneven, though at its peaks it is as good as D2R. I also hear more of the artifacts of doing everything by himself in the studio on Darling.

My bottom line recommendation: every fan of experimental, RIO-flavored avant-prog needs to have D2R in their collection. This is an essential release. If you get this album and like it, then get Darling too. Although not quite as full-bodied as D2R, it's still an excellent release in its own right. One thing's for sure: I'll be hoping for more from Mr. Darling. I just hope he comes up with a more imaginative name than D3R. I'm sure he will. -- Fred Trafton

From Omaha, NE, Darling plays a quirky, energetic, and always challenging blend of symphonic progressive and RIO. Darling is the work of Hal Darling on drums, keyboards, and sequencing, with brother Bryce helping out on percussion, keyboards, and composition .

According to the promo pack Hal is first and foremost a drummer. Indeed, attentive listening reveals that while this is a serious electronic effort, the percussion contributes a full half of what makes up each track. On the one side there are the keys handling all the melodies, but on the other there is this frantic, busy drumming that often contrasts sharply with what the keyboards are doing, and frequently dictates the mood of the pieces. The effect is very interesting and highly enjoyable.

While I cringe at comparisons when discussing this kind of music I'll say that at various times I was reminded of Cartoon and Industrial Soup. I should also mention that there is plenty here for those who generally require more instrumentation than keyboards . Darling's keys at various times superbly fill in for sax and guitar.

However, this disc really succeeds due to the strong composition and structure of the tunes. Among my favorite tracks: "The Writhen Plain" is a heavy symphonic piece that from the beginning seems to be building toward some peak that never comes. The listener is kept on seat's edge throughout. "Walking With Don" and "Ether Frolic" are intense pieces that feature some wild percussion work. Walking With Don features a cool sax sound and "Ether Frolic" seems to have a full blown horn section. "End Of The Beginning" is an ELP sounding tune that features some great piano work. "Snick-A-Snee", "God's Lunch Box", and "Forever Again" are the tunes that manage to emulate a guitar sound.

It's not often that I pay a lot of attention to percussion, but the drumming was a large part of the experience for me in this music. Darling excels at playing percussion and keyboard parts that seem to be competing wildly with one another, yet never lack cohesion. This is complex music that sometimes borders on the avant garde. Recommended. -- Jerry Kranitz (Gibraltar Newsletter V7 #40, 22 December 1997)

Click here for Hal Darling's web site

Darwin's Radio [UK]
Updated 4/22/11

Pictures (03, EP)
Eyes of the World (06)
Template for a Generation (09)
Darwin's Radio - Mark Westworth (keyboards), Sean Spear (bass), Tim Churchman (drums) and Dec Burke (guitar, vocals)

Original Entry 12/14/09:
I haven't heard any of Darwin's Radio's albums, just their samples on their MySpace page. These are enjoyable songs in the neo-prog vein.

Keyboardist Mark Westworth and bassist Sean Spear were formerly members of Grey Lady Down. Westworth played keyboards for IQ for about three years. Dec Burke went on to join Frost* and also put out a solo album, Destroy All Monsters. Tim Churchman played drums in the reformation of arK. -- Fred Trafton

[See arK | Burke, Declan | Frost* | Grey Lady Down | IQ]

Click here for Darwin's Radio's web site
Click here for Darwin's Radio's MySpace page

DarXtar [Sweden]
Updated 7/19/07

DarXtar (91)
Darker (93)
Daybreak (94)
Starlog 1990-1994 (95, 50 copy limited run)
SJU (96)
Hawxtar (97, Live CDR w/ Nik Turner, 100 copies made)
Tombola (01)
We Came Too Late (05)
Space Rock. Sounds like a meek version of Hawkwind. Their first and second album are not of studio quality, but their third album is good. -- Gunnar Creutz
Entry added 4/29/03:
DarXtar started around 1989 as a one-man project by K. Sören Bengtsson "in an attempt to relive early 1970's style space/psych/acid-rock". He did some home recording and was putting together a CD's worth of material when he was joined by Juha Nurmenniemi with whom he finished this recording. This was to become DarXtar, released in '91. Darker was recorded with this duo as well, and is supposed to be even more experimental, but not very well produced.

Daybreak marks the band's first release as a "proper" band, though two members left after its release and were replaced by Marcus Pehrsson (Last Laugh) on bass. The band varied in size up to six members, and they recorded the concept album SJU. This was one of their larger releases up to this time, yet still only about 2000 copies have been made. DarXtar were also the backup band for a Nik Turner (Hawkwind) concert, billing the team as HawXtar.

Tombola is their latest release, and the only album I've heard. Many reviewers have panned DarXtar as being a "cheap Hawkwind clone" band. But for Tombola, the band made a conscious effort to reduce their similarities to Hawkwind, and to my mind have done an excellent job. While certain similarities to Hawkwind still endure, there is at least as much Pink Floyd, or maybe Porcupine Tree in their sound, and even an occasional glimpse of early Gong in some sections. There's more than a litle of other '70's bands, though not the ones you might expect. There are parts that remind of The Allman Brothers, The Doors, and even some early "heavy metal" band sounds (Iron Butterfly? Deep Purple?). This is excellent stuff for all of us '70's drug scene escapees, and it even has the requisite incomprehensible story to go with it (see The Story of Tombola on their web site). An excellent album, well recorded and played.

After the release of Tombola, DarXtar decided to strip down to a three-piece band. The current line-up consists of K. Sören Bengtsson (vocals, guitar), Patric Danielsson (drums, vocals) and Marcus Pehrsson (vocals, bass). They intend to invite guest musicians as required for concerts and recording. They are currently at work on their next album, which is theoretically coming out "soon", whatever that means. In the meantime, give Tombola a try ... I liked it a lot, and you might too. -- Fred Trafton

[See Last Laugh]

Click here for DarXtar's official web site
Click here to order DarXtar or Tombola from Record Heaven
Click here to order We Came Too Late from Nasoni Records
Click here for a YouTube video of DarXtar live in 1995 w/ Nik Turner
Click here for DarXtar's MySpace page

Datura [France]

Mr. UNTEL (82)

Very good French symphonic band close to Marillion in style yet less commercial and earlier chronologically.

Dauner, Wolfgang [Germany]

Output (70), Rischkas Soul (72), others

Experimental free-form jazz on the Brain label featuring bassist/cellist Eberhard Weber. Drummer Fred Braceful was in another jazzy band, Exmagma. Keyboardist Dauner has many, many more albums than this. -- Mike Ohman

A skillful German jazz and jazz fusion pianist and keyboardist who is best known for his work with the United Jazz + Rock Orchestra (with Jon Hiseman, Charlie Mariano, Eberhard Weber, Barbara Thompson, and others). One of his compositions, "Yin," appeared on the first album by Larry Coryell's Eleventh House. To my knowledge, none of Dauner's recordings as a leader were ever issued in the US. Output is a very strange, adventurous, avant-garde date on ECM (number1006, for those of you who are keeping track) with Eberhard Weber on bass and Fred Braceful (of Exmagma) on drums. Loaded with strange, distorted sounds (electric keyboards and amplified acoustic bass) and off-kilter drumming, Output still sounds fresh today, and if you are into avant jazz-noise, you should seek it out. For Rischka's Soul (on the Brain label), guitarist Sigi Schwab and a second drummer, Roland Wittich, were added. Unlike Output, Rischka's Soul isn't all that great. It's very dated-sounding, and the group tries to play in a variety of styles, from funk-jazz a la Eddie Harris to avant-garde noodling. In the late '70s through the mid-80s, Dauner's group, The United Jazz + Rock Orchestra, recorded a string of very polished, somewhat restrained, but very enjoyable jazz-fusion records which are really worth checking out. -- Dave Wayne

[See Exmagma]

Davey, Alan [UK]
Updated 7/7/01

The Elf EP (87, EP)
Captured Rotation (96)
Bedouin (97)
Chaos Delight (00)
The Final Call (01)
As most Hawkwind fans will know, Alan Davey was their bass player from 1984 to 1997. The Elf EP is a very rare EP in double 7" format, recorded in 1987. A good taste of some of Alan's early work which he recorded at home during breaks in Hawkwind, quite embryonic, but good nonetheless. Collectors may be interested to note that this gem has now been re-released along with other Hawkwind and related material on the album The Elf and the Hawk on Black Widow records.

Captured Rotation was recorded just before Alan Davey left Hawkwind, and not suprisingly carries on firmly in the space rock direction of that band. Being highly instrumental it could be best compared with albums such as Electric Tepee or It is the Business of the Future to be Dangerous. If you can overlook the drum programming (which isn't really offensive anyway) this is a brilliant progressive/space rock album, every bit as good as the best of the 90's Hawkwind material, with a nice mix of heavy space rock tracks led by Davey's thundering bass with Brock-like guitar and synth bubbles aplenty, to ambient synth excursions into inner space. The track "Ancient Light" features some of the most powerful bass work I have ever heard, and although it is a very different kind of "heaviness", IMO this track makes most heavy metal sound lightweight. Accompanied by guest vocalist Ron Tree on three tracks, Davey shows his talents here, not only as a monster bass player but as a synth wizard too, in the tradition of Harvey Bainbridge and Tim Blake. A very fine album by a much underrated musician.

Bedouin, the first post-Hawkwind solo album (and not to be confused with Davey's new band by the same name with ex-Hawkwind drummer Danny Thompson) is in a similar vein, although perhaps with more emphasis on the space rock, rather than the ambient side, being closer to Hawkwind's Alien 4 album. The highlights are "Full Moon Circles", which features Danny Thompson as guest percussionist, an excellent mystical sounding instrumental, and the 7 min + "Eyes in the Dark", which combines the synth sounds of Ozric Tentacles with the heaviness of Hawkwind. "Al hadan" is an interesting and unique combination of Arabic sounds and trademark Alan Davey synthscapes.

Chaos Delight is the latest offering, I believe mostly made up of unreleased material from 1998. It is totally instrumental, and a little more straightforward than previous works, but still a great space rock album. There is a definite sci fi theme to this album, especially in the track "Theme from UFO", which sounds like a parody of a 60's space adventure, but manages to incorporate an amazingly cosmic interlude with some rampaging bass work. Other tracks such as "Vulcan Ritual" or "Holosuite Program", although seemingly a little repetitive, entrap the listener in a mesmerising web of synthesizers and percussion.

If you like heavy space rock driven by killer bass and laden with synthesizers, you will want to check out Alan Davey. I would recommend starting with Captured Rotation and working your way through chronologically. The Final Call is due for release very soon on the Centaur label. -- Daniel Briggs

[See Hawkwind]

Davis, Anthony [USA]

Episteme (81), I've Known Rivers (82), Hemispheres (83), Undine (87)

Pianist and composer whose work encompasses the jazz, free improvisation, and contemporary classical realms, Davis' two recordings with his 'Episteme' ensemble (Episteme and Hemispheres) may appeal to those whose tastes include the work of Univers Zero, Art Zoyd, and Julverne, although Davis comes from a very different direction. As one might expect, given Davis' background in jazz, improvisation plays a major role in this music, but the compositions on both Episteme albums are stunningly rich, complex, dissonant, dense and polyrythmic. Undine is similar, but less percussive and more 'classical' sounding, ...Rivers is chamber jazz at its best: flute, piano and 'cello trios. Not really progressive rock, and certainly not for everyone, but potentially very rewarding. -- Dave Wayne

Davis, Miles [USA]
Updated 4/29/03

Davis' complete discography is too lengthy to reprint here. A complete discography is available here

Of interest:
Miles in the Sky (68)
Nefertiti (67)
Filles De Kilimanjaro (68)
In a Silent Way (68)
Bitches Brew (69)
Miles Davis at Fillmore: Live at the Fillmore East (70, Live)
Jack Johnson (70)
Black Beauty: Miles Davis Live at Fillmore West (70, Live)
Live-Evil (71, 2LP, one Live, one Studio)
On the Corner (72)
In Concert: Live at Philharmonic Hall (72)
Dark Magus (74, Live)
Agharta (75, Live)
Pangaea (75, Live)

Miles Davis (Photo by Jeff Sedlik)

Almost singlehandedly, Miles Davis employed the musicians who would go on to form nearly every important band in the first wave of jazz-rock in the early '70s. The members of the Tony Williams Lifetime, Weather Report, Return to Forever, the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Herbie Hancock's Headhunters band were all Miles Davis' sidemen in the late '60s and early '70s. Davis late '60s albums In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew are arguably the first jazz-rock albums of any consequence, and are necessary listening for anyone interested in the genre. Davis' influence on jazz, fusion, and popular music in general is enormous and has been the topic of several books and countless magazine articles. If you are not into fusion, but are interested in checking out some of Miles' music, here is a very brief rundown of what may (or may not) appeal. Fans of Canterbury, RIO, Krautrock, Eno, etc. may well appreciate some of the earlier electric albums (In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and the still-controversial On the Corner) which are very 'textural', spacey and trance-like. In a Silent Way is almost minimalistic in its sparseness. All the subsequent live albums (Live-Evil, Live at the Fillmore, Black Beauty, In Concert) from the early '70s, however, are very electric, very intense, and very spotaneous. Personal favorite (albeit critically maligned) albums such as Jack Johnson, Agartha, Pangaea, and Dark Magus (all early '70s) are replete with primitive electronics, intensely distorted guitar sounds and strong rythms. 1975's Get Up With It is similar, but much more spacy and loose. Several compilations (Big Fun, Directions, Circle in the Round) also contain lots of worthwhile music. Circle in the Round contains a stunning, near-ambient version of CSN&Y's "Guinivere." In the mid-'70s, Miles went into semi-retirement from which he emerged in 1981. Most of Miles' work in the 1980s and 1990s was in the jazz-funk vein, although Star People has some wonderfully intense moments. -- Dave Wayne

For now, I'll only add the following to the above: Probably the best place for a prog fan to get into Miles is through Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way. Give them time to gel. Then, work your way backwards through Filles and Nefertiti, then forward through Agharta and Pangaea. What this allows is for you to hear how the fusion genre developed, and where it went. -- Mike Taylor
[See Gong, Pierre Moerlen's | Mahavishnu Orchestra | Return to Forever | Weather Report]

Click here for Miles Davis' web site

Dawn [Switzerland]
Updated 12/17/08

Loneliness (07)
Dawn - Best "band photo" I could find ... these three are Julien Vuataz (bass, left), Nicolas Gerber (keys, top right) and René Degoumois (vocals, guitars, bottom right). Also on Loneliness was Patrick Dufresne (drums, not pictured). The latest line-up does not include Patrick, but does include Manu Linder (drums) and Jean-Georges Linsig (guitar), neither pictured.

Sometimes I don't understand why some bands get a lot of "buzz" and others don't. I had never heard of Dawn or their debut album Loneliness until bassist Julien Vuataz contacted me about a possible GEPR entry. Every review I looked at since then says that Dawn is great, and after listening to Loneliness, I must agree. How can such a great album have escaped my attention for more than a year (it was released in November of 2007) while other, way lesser albums have been congesting my CD player instead? Well, no matter. I've heard it now, and if you've been in the dark like me, I suggest you turn on the lights and give this album a listen.

Overall, this album reminds the most of Genesis circa The Lamb because of the synth sound and Hackett-like long-sustain guitar work. But the Mellotron and vocals sound like Lizard-era King Crimson while the Hammond organ keeps reminding me of Uomo Di Pezza-period Le Orme. Note these are all Brits and Italians, not Germans or Swiss that they remind me of. And the sound is all vintage '70's prog. They also throw in some atonal sound effects (one longish sequence in particular sounds like dragging metal lawn furniture across a concrete patio) for good measure. But the sound quality isn't murky, hissy '70's at all ... the recording is very clear and clean, almost to the point that I wouldn't always call it symphonic ... much like the afore-mentioned The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which is sometimes chillingly sparse just to make a good contrast when the Mellotrons and Hammonds kick in. But don't worry too much about being "derivative". In spite of reminding me of the above-mentioned bands, Dawn has found a sound of their own, and a very nice sound it is.

Loneliness is a really nice debut album from a band that continues to gather kudos at their festival appearances, including Prog Sud 2008 in France. I do hope they have a follow-up album in the works. I'll report it if/when I find out more. In the meantime, though the Lonelines CD has sold out of its limited 800-copy run, you can download it at Mindawn (click OGG or FLAC links above). I recommend you try them out if you haven't already done so! (The CD insert artwork is also available at the Dawn web site, click below). -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Dawn's web site
Click here for Dawn's MySpace page

Dawn Dialogue [Russia]

I Put the Spell On Fire (87), ?? (??), Dialogue 3 (8?), Cry of the Hawk (94)

The full name of the band is "Dawn Dialogue Between Two Worlds." This is an excellent progressive band from the USSR, some very nice stuff here, with some classical, jazz and rock influences, very colorful and melodic, and unique enough, to the point that it's difficult to draw any paralells or cite any specific influences. Their only album was I Put The Spell On The Fire which was a 1987 release culled from tapes recorded in the early 80's in a hotel room under "difficult conditions" at a time when rock music was strictly forbidden. Hence the recording quality is not the best, but the music more than makes up for it. Vocals are in Russian.

Dawnlights [France]
Updated 6/19/06

The Fourth Dimension (05)
Techno-ambient Euro pap with a singer that will cause uncontrollable laughter. The CD back cover reads "Please don't copy this CD. You will give us the opportunity to make other CDs." I don't think pirating of this record is gonna be a big problem, fellas. -- David Marshall
Click here to order The Fourth Dimension from Musea Records

Day of Phoenix [Denmark]
Updated 12/20/05

Wide Open N-Way (70)
The Neighbour's Son (72)
Another great Danish psych/rock band in the vein of Culpeper's Orchard. Though some folk elements are still evident, they are less prominent than in Culpeper's Orchard. Guitars are the primary instrument, with only a smattering of piano (played by Kenneth Knudsen of Coronarias Dans and Secret Oyster) here and there. They also get more of a progressive feel in places, with even some brief passages of Hillage-style guitar, and perhaps a little heavier than Culpeper's Orchard, overall. Though not released on CD, the album is well worth tracking down.
Firstly, Day of Phoenix's stuff has now seen release on CD - I've got Wide Open N-Way which was put out by Repertoire (country of issue unknown). Also, I have it on good authority that both records have been put out in a 2-for-1 CD packaging, though I haven't come across it personally yet. To paint with as broad a brush as possible, Day of Phoenix is more of a psych than prog band, and seem to be Denmark's version of the Grateful Dead. I say this for two reasons: the guitar player sounds a LOT like Jerry Garcia in a lot of places, and the songs on this CD have that same "flowing" feel to them that records like Anthem of the Sun did, where different ideas would just sort of melt into each other - this band's improvisational feel is quite remarkable. A closer examination reveals as many differences in style as similarities, but this thought struck me fairly quickly. The 15-second instrumental intro to the title cut sounds just like The Dead, though that gets nipped in the bud rather quickly by a pretty lame vocal section which thankfully was the worst thing about the disc.

Prog fans in general may not like this record much, especially the symphonic crowd. If you're a Dead fan, though, I think it's certainly worth a listen - it won't blow your socks off, but there are more than enough interesting things happening here in my opinion.

One last note, in comparison with some of their Danish brethren - I haven't yet heard Culpeper's Orchard or Secret Oyster so can't comment about that; Burnin Red Ivanhoe are more of a rock 'n roll band, and Coronarias Dans are more jazz/fusion but still with much less of an improvisational feel. -- Alex Davis

[See Coronarias Dans | Secret Oyster]

Daymoon [Portugal]
Updated 7/28/11

Tales from Earth (98, Unreleased, but possibly available direct from the Daymoon web site)
Orion (00, Unreleased, but possibly available direct from the Daymoon web site)
Chronicles (02, Unreleased, but possibly available direct from the Daymoon web site)
All Tomorrows (11, Released as Bandcamp digital download [see link below], to be released on CD soon)
Fabric of Space Divine (11, soon to be released)
Daymoon's Fred Lessing

All Tomorrows is sort of a solo album by Portugese prog rocker Fred Lessing (he likes to call it "regressive rock"). He originally recorded most of the album in his home studio until it came to the attention of Andy Tillison (Parallel or Ninety Degrees, The Tangent). According to Lessing, Tillison liked the music but not the production, so he agreed to produce the album, and Lessing assembled a band of musicians to both help him with the re-recording and play the songs live. In this way, Daymoon the band was formed. In Lessing's words, "half-way through [the project, it] turned into a band project, comprising an unwieldy mixture of files exchanged via the Internet, tracks recorded at my own studio, acoustic drums recorded at a proper studio, and all sorts of what-nots, then much of it redone by my new band, and all of it tamed and skillfully auralised by Andy Tillison, except for: "Sorry", the full credits for which go to Mats Johansson and Thomas Olsson of Swedish prog gods Isildur's Bane." In addition, Hugo Flores (Project Creation, Factory of Dreams) and his wife Inês help him out on vocals.

Lessing's wife Inês has been diagnosed with colon cancer (I think she's currently doing well despite this, according to Lessing's blog), and he has described All Tomorrows as "an album of love songs for her". Don't be put off by this, though. Musically these aren't your conventional love songs, and lyrically you would hardly know it either unless you were told first. Even on the song "The Sum" (which features a photo of the Lessings embracing in the Bandcamp MP3 file download), you have to know something about the Lessings's situation before you can attach the rather philosophical lyrics to events in their lives.

Musically, it's hard to describe in a "sounds like ________" sort of way ... Lessing has borrowed lots of musical mannerisms from all over the place and added his own ideas for a fresh take on what "symphonic prog" is supposed to sound like. At turns strange and twisty or mellow, acoustic and ballady, it never degenerates into chaos or dissonance, nor does it ever get easy-listening enough to be anything but prog. I will say that even with Tillison's production, there are some sections that sound a bit ragged in the tuning or ensemble departments, but not so much that it prevents you from enjoying the album. I liked it a lot, and I'm looking forward to hearing the next release Fabric of Space Divine, due to be released later this year (actually, the original was chronologically recorded before All Tomorrows, but the reworking is taking longer, so the release will be later).

Despite being his first release for public consumption, All Tomorrows is actually Daymoon's fifth album. The fourth, as I just mentioned, was Fabric of Space Divine, to be released soon. Of his three previous, unreleased albums, Lessing says, "let know if you want one of them for free - they're utter crap though, believe me". Check out his web site for further info. However, he's a very modest guy ... for example, he worked for a couple of years with Hugo Flores' Project Creation. He claims to have done "very little" on Dawn on Pyther, but it was enough that Flores included his picture in the "band photo" (see Project Creation entry. Fred's in the lower right corner of the photo). Maybe we shouldn't believe him when he says the earlier albums are crap. Let's urge him to upload them to his Bandcamp page for free download, and let people judge for themselves, shall we?

Thanks to this Bandcamp widget, you can preview the songs on All Tomorrows for yourself right here. Or click the link below to download the whole album. He's using this electronic release to try to raise enough money to do a CD pressing of All Tomorrows. Presuming this works, eventually you should be able to order it on CD. Order it, the price (€1 or about $1.43) is more than fair!

-- Fred Trafton

[See Factory of Dreams | Isildur's Bane | Parallel or Ninety Degrees | Project Creation | Tangent, The]

Click here for Daymoon's web site
Click here to download All Tomorrows from Bandcamp
Click here for photos of the Daymoon performing band

Days Between Stations [USA]
Updated 1/18/11

Days Between Stations (07)
Days Between Stations - Sepand Samzadeh and Oscar Fuentes

Days Between Stations is a collaboration between guitarist Sepand Samzadeh and keyboardist Oscar Fuentes, and their eponymously-titled 2007 album is their debut. The album was released to a widespread enthusiastic reception by the progressive rock community. Review after review fairly glows with praise for this album. I got it as a promo when it was released, and I haven't got around to reviewing it until now because I just thought I really must be missing something. I thought a few more listenings might wake me up to what's so special about it. Prog is like that sometimes, after all. But I've listened to it several times over the years, trying to figure out what's so special about it. I clearly just don't get it.

Oh, not that Days Between Stations is a terrible album. I'd say the sound is a cross between Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream with some more modern alt-rock sensibility thrown in. The recording quality is very good. I like Floyd and TD, so I like Days Between Stations. But I don't love it. It's not all that special. I've heard many other albums that use this musical style as a launching point and have achieved albums that turn me on far more than Days Between Stations. I certainly don't see why it merits the gushing praise I hear about it on other web sites. When I'm in the mood for this kind of music, this won't be the first album I reach for to listen to.

And, it's got one of the most butt-ugly album covers I've ever seen (right). Well, doesn't it?

But never mind. If you think you would like a more modern-sounding mixture of Floyd and TD, then this might be your next favorite album. Maybe it already is. But for me it's only so-so. Rumor is they're working on a follow-up. I'm interested enough that I'd like to hear it. But I'm also not holding my breath in anticipation. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Days Between Stations' web site
Click here for Days Between Stations' MySpace page

De De Lind [Italy]
Updated 8/24/03

Io Non So Da Dove Vengo E Non So Dove Mai Andro'. Uomo E' Il Nome Che Mi Han Dato (73)
Yet another in the stream of solid Italian bands. Nothing new, but still rather enjoyable. Their only album may have one of the longest titles in progressive history.
The album is a mix of hard-rock and acoustic music, but the lyrics aren't so good.
The monstrously-titled Io Non So Da Dove Veno E Non So Dove Mai Andro'. Uomo E' Il Nome Che Mi Han Dato (Mercury 846 414-2) is a lofty attempt at an album-length progressive rock piece that doesn't quite make it. The first movement, "Fuga e Morte", reveals the basic ingredients of the album: First, blues-based heavy guitar rock with foursquare beats, riffs and leads harmonised and traded by overdriven guitars and breathy flutes that will prompt the inevitable Jethro Tull comparison. Second, delicately-picked acoustic guitars and dulcet flute melodies replete with rustic Italian romanticism. This is the stylistic division typical of Italian progressive rock - and for the rest of the album, they keep shuffling and tinkering this basic formula, e.g. a perky flute melody is given a sabre-waltz reprise by guitar and drums, while the powerchord-heavy opening motif reappears later in acoustic trappings. Themes are reprised, rephrased, developed and chopped up to create contrasts and complexity. A competent vocalist pitches in frequently with contributions suitably lyrical or raucous for any given situation.

The main reason the album falls short of great is the sparsity of instrumentation. The band milk the acoustic/electric, solo/band dynamic for all it is worth, but that doesn't sustain them all the way home, especially with the dry, unadorned production typical of the time which allows little elan for the acoustic instruments and absolutely no other tone but flat-out grungy for the electric guitars. Organ, prepared piano and even some massed wordless voices appear in a couple of junctures to elevate the proceedings, but their appearances are all too few. Furthermore, as good as the players are with their instruments and thematic manipulations, their syntax is a bit too conventionally riff-based in comparison to many of the top Italian names. No, it's not a bad album at all, especially if heavy progressive is your poison, but for an album-length suite of guitar-heavy Italian prog, I suggest you seek out Campo Di Marte's album instead. -- Kai Karmanheimo

Dead Can Dance [UK]
Updated 12/31/02

Dead Can Dance (84)
The Garden of Arcane Pleasures (84, EP)
Spleen and Ideal (85)
Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (87)
The Serpent's Egg (88)
Aion (90)
A Passage in Time (91, Compilation)
Into the Labyrinth (93)
Toward the Within (94, Live CD and also a film)
Spiritchaser (96)
1981 - 1998 (01, 3 CD box + Toward the Within DVD)
Dead Can Dance's Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard

There has been some debate about the definition of progressive and where this group fits into that definition. Their eponymous 1984 debut aside, DCD broke new ground with almost every album. Old world religious and secular music, tribal music, goth rock and modern electronics were often fused to such a degree that it was impossible to tell where one influence ended and the other began. Their 1984 EP The Garden of Arcane Delights, usually coupled with their first album on CD, gave the first hints of the grandeur to come. It was here that the group started to break away from its post-punk leanings towards a fuller sound.

Spleen and Ideal (1985) introduced a much richer instrumental palette including horns and accordion in addition to string instruments. Even at this stage it was possible to tell the different approaches used by main members Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. Gerrard's pieces tended towards a very chant-based sound fleshed out with fanfare like music, whereas Perry's were still more rooted in moody goth rock. The song "Mesmerism" was the first of many displays of Lisa Gerrard's versatility on the yang-ch'in (a Chinese dulcimer). Even more impressive is "Avatar" which attains the status of a mini-epic and proves to be the most lively track on the album.

For the remainder of the 80s, DCD continued to build and improve on the blueprint laid down on Spleen and Ideal. Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (1987) is considered by many to be their pinnacle of creation. This album absolutely drips with overwhelming beauty, especially the 2nd half which focuses more on Lisa Gerrard's ability as a vocalist. This is not to say that the first part is less important: "Anywhere Out of the World" and "Xavier" are probably the best songs to feature Brendan Perry as vocalist and lyricist. Without a doubt, some of the best catharsis-inducing music ever committed to disc is present on the last two tracks, "Summoning of the Muse" and "Persephone (The Gathering of Flowers)". Using largely chromatic percussion and string instruments these tracks are both ritualistic and ethereal and they complement one another perfectly. The Serpent's Egg (1988) is a perfect follow-up to ... Realm ... and sounds very similar in its musical approach, both instrumentally and vocally. A more cohesive feeling is generated by the fact that the album is not split into Brendan / Lisa halves.

Their 1990 effort Aion marks a slight shift in musical direction. The previous three albums had shown that DCD was very influenced by music of the past. Here they actually perform some the pieces of those times: "Saltarello" is a 14th century Italian dance (one of the few secular pieces of music to have been preserved from then actually), whereas "Song of the Sibyl" is chant piece from 16th century Spain. Many of the songs here are short but nonetheless very evocative. Lisa Gerrard's vocals are more layered than ever on tracks like "Wilderness" and "The Promised Womb".

The albums Into the Labyrinth (1993) and Toward the Within (1994) mark another shift in direction. This time they ventured closer to the realm of pop music. Overall, this makes both albums sound much more ordinary than they should. The majority of the tracks composed (and sung) by Brendan Perry are not up to the standard of any previous album: most of them sound like goth-ballads. Standouts however include "The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove" and "How Fortunate the Man With None" from Labyrinth. Toward the Within is a live album and is probably much more interesting in its film form. About half the album seems like filler and some of the rest had been done on previous DCD albums or would be done again on Lisa Gerrard's first solo album, The Mirror Pool (1995). There are still a number of awesome songs though, the opener "Rakim" is one of the best percussive songs DCD have ever done and the version of "Cantara" presented here is in some respects much better than the one on Realm. [As an interesting aside, anyone interested in the art of remixing should check out the track "Persian Love Song" and then check out how it was incorporated into the song "Forgotten Worlds" on Delerium's Karma (1997). The source material is so well incorporated and rearranged that it's hard to tell that it even comes from the same recording.]

As a swan song the album Spiritchaser (1996) leaves me with mixed feelings. It's turn away from the pop aspects of the previous two albums towards a more tribal sound. Using instruments as old as time itself (the bullroarer or spirit chaser) but processed through modern technology it exudes a strong air of techno-primitivism, but not in the sense of the average Deep Forest let's-mix-African-pigmy-chants-with-dance-beats approach. Musically it borrows from aboriginal and North American native sound textures. The lyrics complement the music well, especially "Song of the Dispossessed" which focuses on the destruction of indigenous societies. Overall though, a definite feeling of sameness is present as the album plays on and as I mentioned previously it doesn't really put a good end to the group's output. Spiritchaser was not intended as a final album, but sessions in 1998 ended rather suddenly after Lisa Gerrard quit the group following a fight with her backing musicians.

As far as DCD completists are concerned though there are a number of notable titles outside their regular discography. The compilations A Passage in Time (1991) and 1981-1998 (2001) are good overviews of their career. The 1991 release was made unnecessary by the release of the 81-98 box set, which includes 3 discs plus the DVD version of Toward the Within. All the rare tracks which were previously only available on A Passage in Time and the 4AD compilation Lonely is an Eyesore (1987) as well as radio sessions and their only completed song from the 1998 sessions are included here. -- Markus Derrer

Very middle-eastern sounding band featuring both male and female vocalists. Will not be everyone's cup of tea. However if you are willing to take a chance it can and will grow on you.
There seems to be a raging debate as to whether this band is progressive or alternative or what. Whatever it is, the sound is very odd, like some folk themes from the dark ages with modern pop overtones. Two vocalists (male and female) and medieval instruments, with some modern instruments in the mix too, make this a very unique sound - I've never heard anyone else that comes close. The compilation A Passage In Time is a good starting point.
Very mellow music with a medieval feel to it, with lush synths and vocals. The female singer sounds great, almost gives me goosebumps. Other than the rich harmonies and vocals theres not much else, the music can get very simplistic and boring at times.
The music draws on styles and instruments from many cultures and many times, from 15th Century Italian dances to eastern European polyphonic chants. The timelessness of their sources, coupled with heavy use of atmospheric synth sounds and lots of reverb, generates an overwhelming sense of scale in both space and time. The lyrics, when they're not in Gaelic or some other mysterious tongue, are grand, tragic, and sung with deep confidence. If you liked Anne Rice's "Interview With a Vampire," this music may appeal to you. It also shares some elements with the Cocteau Twins, especially the enchanting female vocalist's talent for glossolalia.
One of the most original bands of the past ten years, if not of all time. From their 1984 post-punk Joy Division-esque first album to their highly-acclaimed 1990 Aion, this Irish band has voyaged on uncharted waters no one else could even conceive of (let alone creatively execute). Ethereal and transcendental beyond belief, DCD's music transports the listener not to other worlds, the way Floyd and Tangerine Dream do, but to the ancient times of *this world* - Ancient Greece, Spain during the 14th or 15th century, even the land of Galilee. The music is potently religious (in a pagan rather than orthodox fashion) and very very vocal, though it is supplemented by highly varied (although almost exclusively acoustic) instrumentation: church bells, bagpipes, small string ensembles, and an assortment of percussion from every corner of the earth (all channeled through harmonic modes retrieved from the Middle Ages and Renaissance). The two singers, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, trade off lead vocals, but in addition Lisa often multi-tracks a forest of backup vocals. Brendan usually sings in English, but Lisa prefers anything but (Latin, Italian, wordless keening, you name it); some songs resemble a liturgical mass or Gregorian chant. Many people despise Brendan's at times pretentious-sounding vocals (he has been compared unfavorably with Sinatra), but if you like Morrissey at all you shouldn't have a problem. Only the very first album contained rock-rhythm-section-driven tracks, so listeners preferring the comfort of bass and drums will be disappointed. This music is *very* serious, rarely joyous, and never humorous (though they draw the line at angst). Not for the faint at heart. Although they have released six or seven albums, many of which are on CD (though mostly as imports on the 4AD label), the following three CDs are arguably the highmarks of their catalog: Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (heavily orchestrated, dark and moody, lean on percussion, Joy Division/Mahler/Wagner- influenced, superbly produced); Aion (representing the band's style finally coming to full maturity, a near-perfect integration of all the elements honed on their preceding albums); and the Ryko compilation Passage in Time (probably the best CD for newcomers).
The Dead Can Dance (DCD) are a difficult band to characterize. Their first two albums not withstanding, the DCD sound depends greatly on who wrote or arranged the particular piece. The DCD consists of Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard, plus other studio musicians. In general, I would say that the sound has an ancient feel to it. Lisa is attracted to chants, Reniassance, and Mediterranean music; she sings in many tongues (even when it's English :-). Brendan has a flair for the darker side of life; "doom and gloom" as a friend of mine has said. Compositionally he uses a lot of deep resonant drums/percussion; lyrically, his themes that reflect personal as well as social fears and traumas. In "Anywhere out of the World," in Spleen and Ideal, we hear: "And maybe it's easier to withdraw from life/ with all of its misery and wretched lies/ away from harm" as the chorus; the final verse warns: "In our vain pursuit/ of life for one's own end/ will this crooked path/ ever cease to end?" This is typical of his work. Their first, self-titled album is a dark and foreboding trip through a netherworld. This mood is matched in the (purposefully) muddy and distorted sound quality. For example, both Brendan's and Lisa's vocals are heavily augmented, not unlike those of the Cocteau Twins' Elizabeth Fraser. The second album, which is an EP that is now reproduced on the CD version of the first album, is very similar to the first album -- nothing particularly unique. I just recently bought Spleen and Ideal, so I can't faithfully review its content. Suffice to say that this album begins to lighten up compared to the first two. Lisa's vocals have been greatly lifted out of the quagmire of the swirling sound effects of Dead Can Dance (or The Garden...). One can also begin to hear and recognize the ancient and third world influences and melodic modalities that became increasingly important in their later albums. As I have not heard Within the Realm of a Dying Sun, I will not comment on this one. The Serpent's Egg is their best effort in my opinion. Brendan's poetry is both refined and deep: (last verse) "Indifference/ the plague that moves throughout this land/ Omen signs/ in the shapes of things to come.." These lines from the song "Severance" talks of our lack of concern for the Earth, the global community, and our own well-being. He is right on the mark! Lisa's vocals continue to improve; both her range/tonality and style(s) expand with each album. Aion is a joyous album. It would surprise me if there is anyone who could listen to "Saltarello" and not want to get up and dance. This album continues the rich vein that DCD has tapped into in the last three albums. Brendan and Lisa have a marvelous nack for exploring and expounding on ancient genres. "Saltarello" is an Italian 14th century piece and "The Song of the Sibyl" is 16th century Catalan. The brillance they bring to these pieces, and others inspired by ancient works, is breathe-taking. A Passage in Time is a collection album produced (for RYKO) for the American market. Oddly enough (or maybe not so odd), it only covers the "ancient sounds" albums. There are two new songs on this album. Both are remarkable and optimistic; Brendan has finally choosen to write a positive poem. This album is a very good introduction to the Dead Can Dance -- it is also the only non-import album they have released.
I have Aion and it is a rather unique album. While not Progressive in the traditional sense, this album may be of interest to some of you who just like things a bit out of the ordinary. Dead Can Dance are essentially two musicians (male and female) with a couple of guests on a few tracks. Aion shows *very* strong Celtic tendencies but with a bit of rock sensibility. Both musicians contribute to the vocals that is very rich and full. Aion is very well produced with wonderful sonics which makes it a very pleasurable listen. Nicely done and highly recommended for something out of the ordinary.
I've got most of the Dead Can Dance albums. The style varies considerably from album to album. The core musicians remain the same: Lisa Gerard and Brendan Perry, who share singing duties. Gerard is superb IMHO, with a dextrous Indian-like voice. Perry is a bit variable, sometimes rich and menacing, but sometimes not so good. Dead Can Dance has a fairly standard UK "alternative" sound, with poorer singing from Perry. My least favourite but hints of what comes later. Spleen and Ideal was the first really DIFFERENT album. Slow and grand textures, with eastern influences, with wind instruments and strings replacing a lot of the ususal "rock" instruments. Quite good, but some of the album is still kind of "standard alternative". Within The Realms of A Dying Sun is my second favourite. Lush strings make dreamy textures for some great vocals. Even Perry sounds quite good on this album. He sings for the first half, and Lisa Gerard on the second half, which is more Eastern; in fact Dead Can Dance are always more Eastern and otherworldly when Gerard is singing. The Serpent's Egg was the most "Eastern" sounding of all DCD, fused with a lot of percussion. However, I find this album less satisfying than Within The Realms of A Dying Sun because it seems a bit lifeless and lacking in energy. Aion my favourite. A (one-off) change of direction, with a very medieval sound, yet otherworldy. I think it sounds like Middle Earth music, containing all the elements of that world: battle, sorrow, yearning, celebration etc. Both singers are excellent here. The a capella vocal tracks are especially haunting. Into The Labyrinth Most recent. A step backward to a more contemporary sound has resulted in a poorer, duller album IMHO. -- I. H. Cornwell
[See Gerrard, Lisa]

Click here for Dead can Dance's web site

Dead Flowers [UK]
Updated 1/17/05

Smell the Fragrance (91)
Moontan (93)
Altered State Circus (94)
Smell the Fragrance is the Dead Flowers' first album released in 1991. The psychedelic cover art is all paisley and solarized photos harkening back to those golden years of flower power. Dead Flowers music is a combination of aggressive punk and psychedelia. Ten of the eleven songs are original Dead Flowers tunes full of monotonous bass ostinatos that probably work well with drug induced trances. The non-Dead Flowers song is an excellent cover version of Jimi Hendrix' "Manic Depression". Smell the Fragrance is a decent debut album but only hints at what the Dead Flowers can do. "Can't Understand" just begins to suggest the Pink Floyd / Hawkwind cosmic jams that appear on Moontan. My favorite song other than "Manic Depression" is the quasi-industrial "Third Eye Shades". These Dead Flowers have blossomed over the past two years and Smell the Fragrance is a good bench mark to use to chart their progress.
Light your sandalwood incense, take a deep breath, and exhale slowly. The Dead Flowers have released their second CD Moontan. Moontan opens with the powerful instrumental rock of "Chocolate Staircase" inviting comparisons to a hyper version of Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun." These guys really cook! They then slow things down a bit with "Spiral Eye", a slow space rock jam in the tradition of Ash Ra and Hawkwind. Just when you begin to float among the pollen grains, Dead Flowers shatters the illusion and brings you crashing into the nineties with "Filling in Time" and its post punk shouting backed by sizzling guitars, bass, and drums. The Dead Flowers then sets their "way back" machine for a nine minute trip through "Thought World," a slow bluesy ballad that caused me to lose touch with time and space. I thought I was back in 1968 sitting in a smoke filled coffee house complete with black lights and strobes. Following on its heels is "Gaia's Love Hole," another slow contemplative trip filled with echoing flutes, guitars, electronics, birds, children at play, and strands of Beethoven. Suddenly, after a young child recites "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," the Dead Flowers make another mid-course correction slamming you back into the nineties with "Hammer Rash," a melding of Killing Joke and psychedelia. While your head is still ringing, "Slowburn" (not to be confused by the Peter Gabriel song) starts to heat things up with its fantastic guitar work and vocals. Somehow it reminds me of The Doors. Closing out the album is "Feed It" sounding as if the Dead Flowers mated Hawkwind's "In Search of Space" with Joy Division's "Closer." A curious and inventive one minute ditty of echoed and layered gibberish chanting follows "Feed It" but does not appear on the liner notes. Moontan is an exceptional and varied release by one fine new band. Buy this CD, and you won't be disappointed.

Deadwood Forest [USA]
Updated 5/19/03

Deadwood Forest (97, never officially released)
Mellodramatic (00)
Deadwood Forest - (in no particular order) Ryan Guidry (vocals, guitar), Andy McWilliams (drums), Kurt Coburn (bass), Mitch Mignano (keyboards)

Mellodramatic was recorded in 1999, and originally released on the Shroom Productions label. It was mixed by Mattias Olsson, drummer for Änglagård and White Willow. The band evidently had their disagreements with this label, and has now remastered their album and reissued it on their own label, Deadwood Forest Music. I happen to have ordered one from Shroom and received one from the band, and personally I can't tell the difference, though the band says the original mix was accidently done "in 80% mono" and the insert was messed up as well. Both of mine looked and sounded the same, so I suspect that Shroom has run out of their original pressings and are now reselling the Deadwood Forest Music version. But if I were you, I'd order directly from the band ... see their web site below.

I would call this album "retro '70's prog" even though I'm hard pressed to find a '70's band to compare them to. They just have the attitude and sound of a '70's band. Spacey drug-induced music dripping in Mellotron ("Mellodramatic" indeed!) ... some bits are a bit Pink Floydish, but it's not really derivative of anything. Excellent progressive "tricks" like a song which ends with the same phrase being repeated over and over, but dropping one beat from the end each time through so that the time signature changes with each iteration. I love that kind of stuff. In fact, I love this whole album ... easily among the best of the new millenium thus far. I only regret not having said so before their ProgWest appearance, which all reports said was excellent. Another fun trick is unpronouncable song titles ... track 2 is called [White Bar] and track 8 is [Blue Bar]. You gotta love it.

The band has now scattered across the country (I assume this is because they have all graduated from college), so they do not get together frequently any more, nor play out much. I do hope they manage to get together frequently enough to create a few more albums like this one! Great stuff, and I want more!

News (5/19/03): Deadwood Forest is currently inactive, but 3/4 of the band are currently members of Scattered Pages. They are not prog, but are influenced by the Beatles, Flaming Lips, Neil Young, The Smiths, Tom Waits, The Who, and Belle And Sebastian. However, Ryan Guidry assures me they still use plenty of Mellotron. Deadwood Forest may regroup for a project in the future, but there are no plans to do so at this time. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Deadwood Forest's web site
Click here for pictures of Deadwood Forest in concert at ProgWest 2001. Photos 23 thru 27.
Click here for Scattered Pages' web site, where you can download their entire debut album (as low quality MP3's) or order it.

Dean, Elton [UK]

Elton Dean (71), Oh For the Edge (76), They All Be On This Old Road (76), Happy Daze (77), El Skid (77), Boundaries (80), The Bologna Tape (85), Unlimited Saxophone Company (89), All the Tradition (90, w/ Howard Riley), others.

Dean was the sax player in Soft Machine circa Volume Two, Third, 4 etc. Ninesense was his big-band project started after he left the Softs in '75, and naturally the sound is very jazz oriented. Features Dean, along with other Soft Machine alumni Alan Skidmore, Harold Beckett, Marc Charig, Nick Evans, and others.

British saxophonist who played with Soft Machine (Third through Fifth). His eponymously-titled first record (on British CBS) featured most of Soft Machine (including Mike Ratledge) and sounded a great deal like like Soft Machine (circa Fourth). The rest of Elton Dean's solo recordings are largely acoustic modern jazz, often tottering stylistically on the edge of the avant-garde. All are excellent and display a high degree of musical integrity. El Skid is relatively conservative, high-energy, all-acoustic modern jazz with saxophonist Alan Skidmore, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer John Marshall. Both Boundaries, which features Keith Tippett (King Crimson, Centipede, Mujician, etc.) on piano, and The Bologna Tape, are a bit more "out there". Unlimited Saxophone Company is a sax quartet plus bass and drums. All the Tradition features free interpretations of 4 jazz standards by a quartet of sax, bass, piano and drums. Dean has also appeared on recordings by Hugh Hopper, Soft Heap, the Anglo-Italian Quintet, Keith Tippett's Mujician, Phil Miller's In Cahoots, and US jazz/new music trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez. Pretty much all of this stuff, except for Dean's first solo record, the first Soft Heap record, and In Cahoots, is in the jazz/avant-garde style, and will only serve to irritate or perplex most mainstream progressive rock fans. -- Dave Wayne

While Dean has played in numerous progressive/fusion bands (Soft Machine, Soft Heap, Phil Miller's In Cahoots, Pip Pyle's Equipe Out, various groups with Hugh Hopper), all of the records under his own name are definitely jazz records, often pretty loose and raucous affairs. For example, Unlimited Saxophone Company, which features four saxophonists with acoustic bass and drums, is only recommended to those who like lots of long, fire-breathing saxophone solos. The record of most interest to progressive rock fans would probably be his first, recorded while he was still with Soft Machine, with Mike Ratledge guesting on a couple tracks. I have always had a liking for Happy Daze, the second of the two records with his 9-piece group called Ninesense. It has a great version of my favorite Dean tune, "Seven for Lee." -- Dan Kurdilla

[See In Cahoots | Soft Machine]

Death [USA]
Updated 1/16/05

Scream, Bloody Gore (87)
Leprosy (88)
Spiritual Healing (90)
Human (91)
Individual Thought Patterns (93)
Fate (93, Compilation)
Symbolic (95)
The Sound of Perseverance (98) Live in L.A. (99, Live)
Live in Eindhoven (01, Live)
Death (Human line-up) - Sean Reinert, Skott Carino, Chuck Schuldiner and Paul Masvidal

Death was originally a death metal band, that made a twist in their musical career and began to sound more interesting from a progressive point of view. Basically Death is Chuck Schuldiner, who composed all the music (except some songs in their early career), played the guitars and made all the vocal parts of the band; the rest of the band changed with every sucessive release, with each line-up having different characteristics; that however didn´t affect to much the overall sound of the band. In the extreme metal circles Death (Chuck) is considered one of the pioneers of Death Metal, with a very significant influence on the original sound of the genre and subsequent variations, so naturally Death is one of the most respected and important bands of metal.

Death began in 1983 and ended circa 1999, because Chuck got a brain tumor, that kept him in the hospitals and finally ended his life in Dec of 2001. The history of Death can be divided in two main periods, the straight-forward death metal from 1983 to 1990, and the highly technical and somehow progressive era from 1990 to 1998. Since this is the GEPR, the first part should not interest any reader, so I focus in the second part.

1991 Human is the first release of this era, and opposite to many reviewers I don´t think this is the main Death prog release. It is a very fast and heavy album, here Chuck and his band use different textures, different patterns of rythm, a more dynamic bass-drum combo with a little of a jazzy edge and a more melodic approach, but Human still much more death metal than prog. Highlights include the first "Flattening of Emotions", with contains a very nice intermediate part, Together as one, with its overall complex rythm, and the atmospheric cosmic sea, an instrumental song, with another mood and great soloing from Masvidal & Chuck. There are others highlights like "Suicide Machine" and "Lack Of Comprehension", that however are more straight tech-death.

1993 Individual Thought Patterns, contains much more development in the prog sense, with the same death metal sensibility. The bass by Steve diGiorgo will remind of Chris Squire's work on Yes. The thick basslines with a clear fusion influence, along with Gene Hoglan great and busy drumming mades a great rythm section; which is very complex with a lot of changes in the time signature and in the overall sound. Sometimes a total blast, sometimes a wall of sound, sometimes very fluid and fresh. It's really an unique musical experience. This album is even more melodic that it's predecesor, which is a plus in this case because melody becomes a central part in the Death sound. The guitar work is also a bit more varied and the production is impecable. This is definitively more prog disc than Human in the traditional sense of the word, and I would recommend it before Human. Highlights include "Jealousy", "Trapped in a Corner" (great soloing part), "Nothing is Everything", and "The Philosopher", although every song is great.

1995 Symbolic is more heavy metal oriented and not so varied like it's predecesors. This album is usually hailed by fans as Death's Magnum Opus, and it's not hard to see why. The lyrical part here is better than before, and the music is very technical, tight and concise. It's more melodic than anything before and has a very clean and powerful sound overall. However this album doesn't shine too much on the prog side. It's not recommended for first Death album to the GEPR readers. Highlights include "Symbolic", "Zero Tolerance" (a really unique and weird song), "Empty Words", and "Crystal Mountain".

Finally Chuck made the final line-of Death, and created another classic. (1998) Sound of Perseverance is the ultimate Death disc of the second era. It contains elements of all previus albums, tweaking a lot the technical aspect of every player and including new fresh ideas. This is a unique death metal album, with a lot of talent in it. Richard Christy is a Monster of the drums, and the guitar work is incredible fast, precise, and killer. The voice of Chuck here is less bassy, more dry and agressive and crude (sound more like a black metal vocalist), and the lyrical content is also more direct and crude. Anything you would expect from Death is here: complex timing, great technique, clean and direct sound, great soloing, great riffing and excelent musical ideas. The production and the overall sound is like "Symbolic" and "Individual Thought Patterns" were blended. The first three songs are a must listen ("Scavenger of Human Sorrow", "Bite the Pain", "Spirit Crusher"), "Story to Tell" follows up nicely, "The Flesh and the Power it Holds" is a 8 minute tour in the Death sound (a must listen too), "Voice of The Soul" is a outstanding instrumental song, with acoustic guitar backing some killer solos. The last two songs are also great; "To Forgive is to Suffer" being a very melodic song, and "Moment of Clarity", in which Chuck songwriting shines, as well as his inventive riffs. Finally a Judas Priest Painkiller cover is included, with different solos. This is definitively a legendary death metal release, and is recommended as a first listen to Death for GEPR readers.

In 1999 while working on Control Denied (a side project of Death, although it was a rumor that the Death name would not be used again) Chuck felt a very acute neck-shoulder pain, [which turned out to be] a rare brain tumor that ended his life 2 years after. During his illness time Live in L.A (1999), and Live in Eindhoven (open air festival) (2001), were released. These are not great live albums, serve more like a official document of Death, and [were] intended to help Chuck's family with the illness' related bills.

In conclusion, I would recommend any one of these four albums to any open minded prog ear that doesn't mind death metal, and that is willing to listen to this expression of progressive rock. I would recommend as first listen Indivudual Thought Patterns or The Sound of Perseverance, and anything from there. Early albums of Death are also recommended, but if you are into prog, you would like to listen to those albums after the later ones. -- Juan Borrero

Death, or better said Chuck Schuldiner on guitar with different co-operators on almost each album, were/was one of the first death metal bands, but as Chuck has always shown constant progress, (t)he(y) soon come to truly progressive sound and proper knowledge for handling the instrument (Chuck is very good guitarist and is doing most of solos) in more demanding subgenre which also he created. Not for prog-purists as vocals are brand-new cutlass-sharp and gruesome. First three albums may not be of interest to GEPR readers, although on the Spiritual Healing plenty of cyclone-like solos both from Schuldiner and another "guitar hero" James Murphy can be heard. First album which any progster should check out, is Human. Human is one of the finest sharp, "extreme-fusion" albums (in this progsubgenre only few albums could be put, as only few albums were recorded, due to the reason of these bands having rather traditionally directed fans; and for progrockers all (would) proved too heavy). On this album world could have witnessed for the first time the high qualities of Cynic members, Paul Masvidal (guitar) and Sean Reinert (drums). Both had given the recording strong touch. Also appearing is monster bass player Steve Di Giorgio from Sadus. As chords are structured half melodically, half dissonantly, sound and production give the whole recording rather dissonant and frighteningly strange feel until one got used to it (it takes certain time to get used to). Masvidal really knows how to mix (dis)sonances, especially in his otherworldly solos (on "Secret Face", See Through Dreams", "Vacant Planets", etc.), and chord progressions could be inspired by contemporary classical, while drumming by Reinert is so jazzy complex, fast and accurate, with enormousness of rhythm-changes and contrarhythms, that one actually can not hear everything if do not listen patiently (the best double basses ever and tornado cymbals). Strange "melodies" have thus appropriate rhythm base. Concerning odd chord-structures, I surmise that Gentle Giant (minus power, intensity and distortion) could sound similar if tinged dissos with minor-key stylings, or in other words, be reflected in the "firepool", (Duh!), and counterpoint is also used, as by GG. Of course, I surmise also, that Human may not be inspired by "Giants", group only tried and successfully tackled different chord-structures in different sound cloth. Album is undeniably atmospheric, though under higher pressure,)), what can be esp. heard on "Cosmic Sea".

If Human is chordally uneven and hard to put down, the next album, Individual Thought Patterns is pretty on the melodic side, but still quite complex, eg. "Overactive Imagination", "Trapped in a Corner", "Nothing is Everything", title number, "The Philosopher", and so on. Dissonances are still present albeit to smaller extent, and strange feeling thus remains. Schuldiner recorded it with King Diamond axeman Andy La Rocque, which could be called Master of Harmonies, his solos really shine, i.e. heard on "In Human Form", etc., "Sadude" Steve (his whining bass glissandos and low fizzing often surface) and animal drummer Gene Hoglan. This recording is again very good one. The next, Symbolic, with half unknown line-up, is kinda mixture between both described albums, maybe it leans more on Individual. It does not sound strange, is a bit less complex, rhythmically more fluent and the deep, cosmic dimension has crystalized itself (the high point being "Crystal Mountain"). The recent album (The Sound ...) is more riff orientated (although this is synonymous for metallic music) and doesn't really parry the previous three. About words: Chuck is writing lyrics which deal with philosophy, religion and psychology, very intelligent and sharp, too. As said, all real progsters should give a listen at least to Human, although they could be satisfied even more with the next three. Recommended!!! -- Nenad Kobal

[See Aghora | Cynic | Portal | Sadus]

Click here for the official Death / Control Denied / Chuck Schuldiner web site

deathORGAN [Sweden]
Updated 9/22/00

9 to 5 (95)
Universal Stripsearch (97)
Released on Ad Inferno, a branch of the Swedish Ad Perpetuam Memoriam label. deathORGAN blend the organ-driven energy of ELP, Atomic Rooster and Deep Purple with the metal energy of current bands like Faith No More, Young Gods and Entombed. deathORGAN is Per Wiberg on Hammond organ, Klas Hägglund on bass and Taurus pedals, Marcus Källström on drums and percussion, and Patrick Schultz and Joachim Sjöström on vocals. Wiberg's incredibly intense organ drives the band with fury, fueled by a Leslie amplifier and wah-wah pedal, as well as the powerhouse rhythm of Hägglund and Källström. Schultz's and Sjöström's death-metal vocals growl with howling anger above it all. The first six songs are in the 4-7 minute range, and all are massive doses of furious energy that definitely remind me of Faith No More. But slap a big, hairy mustache on Wiberg and we're talking Jon Lord all the way! The seventh and final cut, "Miles Away," is a nine minute instrumental dedicated to Miles Davis, although the song is still a hard rock/psych organ workout rather than anything particularly influenced by the former jazz giant. While deathORGAN's style isn't generally my gig, after spending long listening sessions with last issue's electronic music, I was ready for a slab of hard rocking grooves and deathORGAN delivered in spades. Follow up with Sailor Free! -- Mike Taylor
Click here for Ad Perpetuam Memoriam's site, containing a band interview and ordering info

Debile Menthol [Switzerland]

Emile au Jardin Patrologique (82), Battre Campagne (85)

Excellent, Henry Cow-influenced RIO band from Neuchatel, Switzerland who recorded two worthwhile albums and then disbanded. The first (Emile...) is the more jazzy and "out" of the two, and the large size (nine members) and diverse instrumentation (saxes, clarinets, violin, keyboards, bass, guitars, drums, percussions, and voice) add to the spontaneity and flexibilty of the music. Vocals are more prominent and the horns are de-emphasized for a less-jazzy sound on Battre.... Both albums are 'must-haves' for fans of the RIO/Canterbury style. Several members of Debile Menthol went on to play with other interesting bands. Guitarist Jean M. Rossel formed the more folk-influenced Nimal with 'cellist Tom Cora (Skeleton Crew, Curlew, et al.), drummer Pippin Barnett (Orthotonics, Curlew), and others. Other members of Debile Menthol went on to form a group called L'Ensemble Raye. -- Dave Wayne

[See Ensemble Raye, L' | Nimal]

Decadence [Russia]
Updated 4/30/03

Nekton's Dreams (99)
Decadence - (from left to right): Vasily Mariev, Julia Vikman, Roman Korelsky, Sergey Kozhin and Mikhail Nikonov

Now I am glad to present a Russian Progressive Rock Band from Arkangelsk - the Unofficial Capital of the Russian North. [Nekton's Dreams is an] exceptionally original album, incredibly virtuostic performance. Mind-blowing, fantastically composed arrangements, excellent and unique lyrics - these are the main characteristics of this masterpiece from Russia. In spite of lots of quite heavy electric guitar, the endless guitar arrangements and solos, this is not an album of Progressive Metal. Guitar builds a unique structure, and trying to describe the stylistics of Nekton's Dreams, I cannot find anything special, except "the guitar based Classic Symphonic Art Rock with some elements of pure Progressive Metal". Obviously, I should add here: a masterpiece. -- Vitaly Menshikov

Click here for Decadence's web site (in Russian and English)
Click here for Vitaly's full review in ProgressoR.
Click here to order Nekton's Dreams from Musea Records

Decamps, Christian (et fils) [France]
"et fils" means "and son"
Updated 1/17/05

Le Mal d'Adam (79)
Juste une Ligne Bleue (90)
Merline et les Dragons (92)
Nu (94)
Vesoul (95)
3éme l'Etoile á Gauche (97)
Poémes de la Noiseraie (98)
Murmures (04)
Leader/vocalist of Ange's solo efforts? As near as I can make out from the Ange web site, most of these albums were made by Decamps in a transitional period between two Ange line-ups, but Murmures was just released in 2004, so I'm not sure what this means. Any English-speaking Ange fans out there want to explain it to me? -- Fred Trafton
[See Ange]

Decamps, Francis [France]
Updated 1/19/05

Histoire de Fou (79)
Vie En Positif (90)
Epicier Marchand d'Rock (93)
To You My Travellers (95)
Hommage a Roger Comte (97)
Keyboard player uses lots of Mellotron creating lush symphonic prog.
[See Ange]

Decennium [Netherlands]

Song of the Sad Times (74)

Dutch Prog.

Decibel [Mexico]
Updated 7/1/06

Contranatura (80, a.k.a. El Poeta Del Ruido)
Mensaje Desde Fomalhault (96)
Fortuna Virilis (98?)
Very odd, low-fi, RIO-influenced quartet from Mexico. Their first, and only, record covers a very wide musical field. [This is regarding El Poeta Del Ruido - Ed.] This is due, in part, to the fact that each of the players are multi-instrumentalists. About half of El Poeta... is highly-structured, keyboard-dominated instrumental music which reminds me more of RIO- and/or Canterbury-influenced bands like Dedalus, Hellebore and Picchio del Pozzo than, say, Soft Machine or Henry Cow. The rest is very spacey, improvised (?), free-form music dominated by voice, keyboards and hand-percussion, which would have made a stunning movie soundtrack. I really enjoy this record. Although it sounds a bit dated, it has a lot of charm. Violinist/clarinetist/keyboardist Alejandro Sanchez later formed an equally wonderful, Univers Zero-inspired band called Nazca. -- Dave Wayne
Of Fortuna Virilis: Wow! Again an album which manages to make RIO musicians sound like real rockers. In year 2000 Decibel celebrated 25 years of existence, although Fortuna Virilis is their first after long hiatus starting after the release of El Poeta del Rudio, and is definitely a feather in their cap. Although put on CD not so long ago, Contranatura and Mensaje Desde Fomalhault were released, but they're not proper albums. Listening to Fortuna, both proved to be thin end of the wedges.

Fortuna is somewhat similar to Shub Niggurath's C'Etaient, but it grows in wider environment of musical bases than avantzeuhl monsterpiece. With this album Decibel successfully strayed from prime topic of Mexican RIO-inspired bands. Music of Fortuna is genuine not only because band managed to overcome its dependency on Univers Zero, but also due to the fact that they decided to explore Sound and its possibilities. Usual song structure is here quite unimportant. Much care is put on vibrato of particular instruments or processed sounds in distinct improvisational environment. Imagine how bass clarinet is stalking around, how something one could mistake for a melody looms in the distance, imagine synthesizers which often threat with jarring and charnel chords, but rarely do so. After a listen, uninitiated would probably retain no distinct impression save multitude of sounds arranged in otherworldly chaos, and indeed I can often imagine like I'm hovering above one of Jupiterian moons, say, Ganymede or Callisto, or above Neptune and Uranus when winds start to blow ;).

Yet the first song "El Club de los Incomparables" announces what one can expect. Spasmodic, spectral vortex of squealing and squeaking (in unnaturally high pitch) bassoon sonorities (Juan Carlos Ruiz, once a Decibel-member, guests on this track), violent Chopinic scherzoid pianisms, nervous violin screeching, deviously appeasing percussions and so on. The question rises: What is free? The second track, entitled "La Charamusca", is even more unusual. Here bass clarinet vibrato is merging, or better said putting together with whining samples (loops), processed synthesizer sounds and rum percussions which "smell" very old and are probably taken from Mayan or Aztec source. Album continues in similar manner of different instrumental combinations. For example in the next track, "Kame Hame Hop", xylophone and bass enter the first plan. I think there's also soprano sax. "Zeliscar y Zetulba" sounds almost like Godflesh in their best times, what bespeaks of Decibel's affinity for industrial rock. Of course, hypnosis can not be achieved with rhythms, which are completely decomposed. Album culminates with 10+ minutes long "Del Asesinato Considerado", which is sort of a descent into Tartaros. Synths are amazing and I think that violinist here plays his "violectra baritono", whatever type of viola that is. The closing number bears no title but it is one of those CD-player-teasers which start with a minute to ten minutes of silence and last for half that time maximally. This one starts with 49" of silence and last for a minute, but, interesting enough, includes a melody ;).

Overall, smaller portions of Univers Zero feel are still present, although, while not so sinister, Fortuna isn't that innocent, either. I've read of comparisons with 60's improv band AMM, but as I didn't check 'em out yet, can't say anything more. Despite its difficulties, mysteriousness and abounding pecularities, Fortuna often provides me with a joyful, pleasantly eerie listening. Awestruck (by music and beautiful, aesthetic booklet cover), I'm lying in wait for further marvellous recordings to occur from Decibel camp. Incredible!!! -- Nenad Kobal

[See Culto Sin Nombre | Nazca]

Dedalus [Italy]
Updated 1/5/01

Dedalus (73)
Materiale Per Tre Esecutori E Nastro Magnetico (74)
The first LP has a jazz-rock sound and reminds one of Soft Machine. The second one has a more electronic sound.
Dedalus were a four-piece Italian band. Their self-titled album also features Rene Mantegna from Aktuala on African percussion. Instruments consists of violin, Fender Rhodes, guitar, sax, bass and drums. Synthesizer makes an appearance on one song. The five songs range from four to fourteen minutes in length. Dedalus play a very spacey form of fusion and jazzy prog that is probably best compared to Soft Machine. The saxophone and violin feature prominently. The African Percussion adds a bit of "other worldliness" to the spacious mix. There is a hint of free-form experimentalism but it's not reduced to pure improvisation; there is control and some general direction to the music. Dedalus is a generally undernoticed album, undeservedly so in my opinion. The 14 minute "CT 6" is an excellent balance of fusion ala Arti E Mestieri and spacey fusion ala Soft Machine. I think many fans of middle period Soft Machine (circa 5) would quite enjoy this spacey fusion. I sure do. Check it out and see if it is worth your while.
Materiale per Tre Escuton e Nastro Magnetico (Materials for Three Performers & Tape) is far more experimental than the first album, with a lot of musique concrete/found sound added in for some highly complex avant garde music in a contemporary classical vein a la John Cage or Edgar Varese. The five pieces are a collage of unusual and varied sounds, from an angry cat to some opera singing to white noise to a few parts that are like the more spacy sections of the first album. The CD of this adds another LP's worth of unreleased tracks that are also very good. Enjoyable for those who like more challenging music. -- Rolf Semprebon

Deep Purple [UK]
Updated 4/6/11

Deep Purple's discography is long and convoluted. There used to be a detailed discography across all the various incarnations on their web site, but it's now gone. Your best bet for a complete discography is this Wikipedia page.
Although best known as hard rocking early proto-metal pioneers, their organist Jon Lord (as well as other members of the band) were trained musicians capable of much greater things. Of interest to progressives: their 1970 "Concerto for Group and Orchestra," penned and orchestrated by Lord, showed a very different side of the band.
Updated 7/31/00
Live at the Royal Albert Hall is a 30th anniversary performance (1999) of the above Concerto, performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and many guest artists. Also contains extra tracks. Also available on Video and DVD! -- Fred Trafton
Updated 4/6/11
Former Dixie Dregs guitar virtuoso Steve Morse has fronted Deep Purple for many years now, so it's hard to say they're not of interest to prog rockers. Depends on your tastes, I guess. -- Fred Trafton
[See Black Country Communion | Captain Beyond | Dixie Dregs | Morse, Steve | Warhorse]

Click here for Deep Purple's official web site

Deep Thought [Switzerland]
Updated 9/17/03

Take One (96, Cassette)
Take One - II. Edition (97, Cassette)
Morphios (98, in two versions, mostly re-recordings of Take One material)
Shadows of the Past (00, EP)
Somewhere in the Dark (02)
Deep Thought in 1999 - Marcel Oehler (guitar), Martin Altenbach (drums), Patrick Merz (vocals), Dominik Rudmann (bass) and Dominik Pfleghaar (keyboards)

In 2002, Deep Thought released their new full-length CD, Somewhere in the Dark. Before that, they had released some cassettes, an EP (Shadows of the Past), and some re-recordings of the cassette material but only the EP was still available. For fans of symphonic modern prog, this is a really nice release. It's a well-recorded "neo-prog" album (I suppose you could call it that, though I don't really care much for the term "neo-prog"), with some nice time signature shifts, smooth symphonic keyboards, interesting and well-performed vocals (in English) and excellent guitar work. It also has that hallmark of neo-prog: sounding a bit like a simplified version of Genesis in orchestration and texture. However, don't take this as a negative ... the music isn't really that much like Genesis, it's just a point of reference.

Somewhere in the Dark is definitely song-oriented, though there may be some sort of concept going on here ... if so, the concept eludes me. But that doesn't prevent the vocals from being interesting and well-executed. There's nary a hint of a German (or Italian) accent in these vocals. The compositions are also song-oriented, with definite verses and choruses. As long as you're not expecting ultra-complex academic music with no repeats, it's not objectionable. But don't expect Tales from Topographic Oceans or anything.

Deep Thought performed at ProgSol 2002 to an appreciative audience.

Click here for Deep Thought's web site
Click here to order Somewhere in the Dark from Galileo Records

Degrassi, Alex [USA]
Updated 7/1/06

Turning: Turning Back (78)
Slow Circle (79)
Clockwork (81)
Southern Exposure (84)
Deep at Night (91)
The World's Getting Loud (93)
Beyond The Night Sky: Lullabies for Guitar (96)
The Water Garden (98)
Bolivian Blues Bar (99)
Shortwave Postcard (01)
Now and Then: Folk Songs for the 21st Century (03)

Note: The GEPR formerly listed Altiplano (??). Anybody ever heard of this album?

Alex Degrassi is an acoustic guitarist, whose playing style has its roots in classical guitar and is a lot like that of Michael Hedges, only not quite as manic. His earlier albums (Turning, Exposure) are entirely solo guitar (the better stuff IMHO), but later he starts to include synthesizer, electric bass, clarinet, doumbek and tabla percussion, and even vocals in his arrangements, sometimes with pleasant effect, but often a little bit cheesy and "New Age." If you like Enya, you'll probably love all of his stuff. If you like Michael Hedges, or classical guitar, you'll probably prefer his earlier albums.
Click here for Alex DiGrassi's web site

Deja Vu [Japan]

Baroque in the Future (88)

This ELP influenced trio is led by keyboardist Motoi Sakuraba, who also has a solo album to his credit. Deja Vu's only album is titled Baroque in the Future, a fairly impressive mix of mostly vocal and some instrumental tracks.

[See Pazzo Fanfano di Musica | King's Boards | Sakuraba, Motoi]

Delaunay, Eric [France]

Antagonisme (80)

Pre-Tiemko album by drummer Delaunay. Antagonisme also features keyboardist bassist Robert Klemper who was with Asia Minor at the time. Said to be very original, in the classical vein of Art Zoyd and Univers Zero. Keyboard-dominated with complex themes.

[See Asia Minor | Tiemko]

Delay Tactics [USA]
Updated 7/1/06

Out-Pop Questions (82)
Any Questions? (84)
Trio with guitarist Carl Weingarten, guitarist/synthesist David Udell and keyboardist/synth guy Walter Whitney. Any Questions is an interesting, tuneful, synth-dominated record with lots of loops, electronic percussion and occasional funky bass lines to keep things moving. Fans of Frippertronics, the Fripp-Summers duets, and perhaps Group 87 will appreciate this. -- Dave Wayne
[See Weingarten, Carl]

Click here for more info

Del Monaco, Donella [Italy]
Updated 10/5/01

Allemanda (75)
Schomberg Kabarett (79)
Schomberg Kabarett 2 (89)
Canzoni Veneziane (93)
Lyrics (95)
Venexia De Oro (??)
Chansons Satie: The Best Songs of Erik Satie (??)
Berio Folk Songs (??)
Merica Merica (??)
Donella Del Monaco

Donella Del Monaco is truly a "professional singer" ... by which I don't mean a pop star, but an opera singer. She has recorded a number of albums and has diverse tastes. So she has released albums of "pure" classical opera performances as well as operatic treatments of everything from contemporary music to folk songs to ... well, obviously ... progressive rock. Her progressive rock band is usually credited as "Opus Avantra with Donella Del Monaco", but be careful, as she also uses the Opus Avantra name on her other albums as well. So you may be thinking you're buying an avant prog album, but when you unwrap it at home, it might end up being Berio Folk Songs. If so, give it a listen anyway. It's still interesting music.

Not that there's anything wrong with Ms. Del Monaco's non-prog efforts, they're just ... well ... non-prog. If you're looking for an avant garde slant on more traditional music or even avant classical (Chanson's Satie), then these are wonderful albums. But definitely not progressive rock. For Ms. Del Monaco's progressive efforts, see the separate entry under Opus Avantra. The listings here are her other albums I am aware of. In fact, some of these may also be progressive, since I've only heard the three albums listed under Opus Avantra plus Venexia De Oro, Chansons Satie, Berio Folk Songs and Merica Merica. The other titles might be almost anything, given Ms. Del Monaco's broad musical tastes.

[Note: On her newer releases, I can find no indication of release dates, so I don't know when these were released, in what order.] -- Fred Trafton

[See Opus Avantra]

Click here for Donella Del Monaco's web site (in both Italian and English)

Deleon Conspiracy [USA]

The New Breed (91)

Bay area five piece prog-metal a-la-Queensryche type band with an outstanding vocalist.

Delired Cameleon Family [France]
Updated 7/6/00

Visa de Censure n°X (74)
Sort of a supergroup that got together to record a film soundtrack. Members included Cyrille Verdeaux, Christian Boule, Joel Dugrenot, Gilbert Artmann and Tim Blake, Jean Padovani, and others. Somewhat comparable to Clearlight.
I would go further than the above review and say that Delired Cameleon Family sounds exactly like Clearlight. The recording quality is not quite as good, perhaps because the album was rushed through the recording studio in a mere six days. It is still a high-quality recording, however. The marijuana leaf on the front cover indicates the mental condition the artists assumed the consumer would be in when listening to this album. The music plays to this mental condition quite nicely (or so I'm told). Mssr. Verdeaux obviously believes this album sounds exactly like Clearlight as well, since he includes it in the "Classic Clearlight" discography on his web site. -- Fred Trafton
[See Blake, Tim | Boule, Christian | Clearlight | Dugrenot, Joel | Lard Free | Raux, Richard (and Hamsa Music) | Spacecraft | Urban Sax | Verdeaux, Cyrille | Zao]

Click here for Clearlight/Cyrille Verdeaux web site

Delirium [Italy]
Updated 7/31/00

Dolce Acqua (71)
Lo Scemo Del Villaggio (72)
Delirium III: Viaggio Degli Arcipelaghi Del Tempo (74)
A very original band who released three albums and were very difficult to classify. These are the type bands that hold the most interest for me and the range of styles on Delirium's Lo Scemo E Il Villaggio are astounding. Their first Dolce Aqua has also been reissued in Italy.
Heavily folk influenced early 70's Italian band with nice melodies and good vocalist. Their first album Dolce Aqua is nice enough, but could hardly be considered progressive IMO. A second album Lo Scemo E Il Viaggio is purportedly better, with more fusion creeping into their sound.
In the first LP the instrumental songs are near to the jazz and the other songs are a mixture between commercial and vangard music. the second one is very similar to the first. The last one has more vangard sound. When the band dissolved Ettore Vigo went on to play in the Kim and The Cadillac.
I have heard only the first album, Dolce Acqua. It is a concept album, each song being about a different feeling/state of mind (fear / egotism / doubt / pain / hypocrisy / truth / forgiveness / freedom / hope). It's rather rock than prog, but the use of flute and piano gives the album a distinctive proggy sound at moments. My preferred song is "Favola o Storia del lago di Kriss" (Freedom) as well as "Dolce aqua" (Hope). The release in CD contains a bonus track, "Jesahel", which is beatiful without being progressive. The main singer of Delirium (Ivano Fossati) went on to pursue a very successful solo career as a cantautore. His career was/is very rock oriented, his greatest hit was "La mia banda suona il rock" in 1979. -- Toni Agalliu

Delirium [Mexico]

Delirium (85)

Mid-80's Mexican progressive band, drawing influence from the 70's Italian scene as well as the 80's british progressive revival. Their sound is crisp and concise, well executed, melodic and colorful, with depth and power. Violins, synth and guitars are ably supported by a top-notch rhythm section over the album's six long tracks. I believe they only have the one self-titled album, which unfortunately has not been transferred to CD from the crappy LP pressing yet.

Deluge Grander [USA]
Updated 5/31/08

August in the Urals (06)
I get uncountable e-mails from musicians who write to me with some variant of, "Hi, I'm a prog musician and I want to send you my album". So it was no surprise to get an e-mail from another musician I'd never heard of offering to send me copies of albums from his two bands, Deluge Grander and Birds and Buildings. The artist's name was Dan Britton, and of course I politely accepted his offer -- without very high expectations. After they arrived, I put on August in the Urals and at first I didn't know what to think. The music is chaotic, but not really in an avant-garde noise sort of way ... it just sounds a little out of tune, a little loose, a little ... well, my first impression was "amateurish". But the longer I listened, the more I started to "get it", and by the end of the album I was thoroughly impressed and thinking this is one of the coolest albums I've ever heard.

[Later, I found out that Britton was keyboardist for the highly-regarded Cerberus Effect and I felt plenty stupid. But what can I say ... even I can't have heard every prog band on Earth. But now I'm more educated, and have added an entry for Cerberus Effect as well. But I digress ...]

As I was listening to August in the Urals, I first thought of Lizard-era Crimson, and later quite a bit of Van der Graaf Generator circa Pawn Hearts. But these are only vaguely like August in the Urals, which has some of the most original-sounding prog I've heard in a long time. The sound texture is very late '60's, almost psychedelic at times, with loads of reverb immersing the entire album in a thick, warm haze. It sounds like it might be a live performance in an acoustically "live" concert hall, or perhaps recorded "live in the studio", though I have no idea what the actual recording arrangements were. But the composition is far more modern and complex than most of what came out of the '60's. The songs are long in time-honored prog fashion, 7:18 for the shortest one ("The Solitude of Miranda") to 26:57 for the album opener ("Inaugral Bash"). There's not a dull moment on the whole album. This is simply excellent stuff, and highly recommended! You can order it directly from Deluge Grander on their MySpace site (see link below).

If I was to say something bad about August in the Urals, it's that Britton's eccentric vocals are undermixed to the point that I can't understand them. The lyrics aren't even printed in the CD insert, nor on their MySpace page, so I'm in the dark about what they're saying. But for those who don't mind the "vocals are just another instrument" philosophy, or who don't care about the lyrics anyway, this shouldn't pose a problem. In any case, don't let this minor complaint stop you from trying out both Deluge Grander and Birds and Buildings (see link below) ... go get a preview by listening on their MySpace pages. Really excellent stuff!

Two final notes ... drummer Patrick Gaffney also drums for the most recent incarnation of Chaos Code, and Deluge Grander is working on a new album, hopefully to be released in 2008. -- Fred Trafton

[See Birds and Buildings | Cerberus Effect | Chaos Code]

Click here for Deluge Grander's MySpace page
Click here for Deluge Grander's (rather poorly updated) web site ... the MySpace site is more up to date

Demby, Constance [USA]
Updated 1/19/05

Skies above Skies (78)
Sunborne (80)
Sacred Space Music (82)
Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate (86)
Light of this World (87, Compilation)
Set Free (89)
Aeterna (95)
... many more releases
Careful here. I've heard two albums by her: One was boring new-agey crap (title was Set Free) with all the usual self indulgent typifiers. The other one was Novus Magnificat which is one long 60 minute beautiful symphonic space opus, which I would highly recommend.
Click here for Constance Demby's web site

Demon Fuzz [UK]
Updated 6/1/08

Afreaka! (70)
One of the unsung pioneers of what could be called Afro-jazz rock/fusion, Demon Fuzz were a 7 piece Afro Brits combo displaying lots of great chops, originality and enthusiasm for their own take on the American brass-rock thing. Taking influences from all over the map; African beat, jazz, soul, psych and prog, their music never ceases to amaze and surprise. Thick organ sound, busy, funky and precise rythm section as well as sax/flute and electric guitars are all used with gusto and panache. The music can be dark and festive at the same time, simple yet complex, structured yet free enough to leave the soloists plenty of room to express their immense talent. It's unfortunate the band only released one full length album and a rare EP, both on the Progressive Dawn label and all included in the CD reissue. Most of the albums tracks are long (8-10 minutes) and feature a minumum of vocals.

I would strongly suggest this band to anyone into early 70's jazz/fusion bands such as If, Nucleus, Ben, Isotope as well as Traffic, Santana, Zzebra and Osibisa. -- Alain Mallette

Click here for a Demon Fuzz MySpace page

Demon Thor [Germany]

Anno 1972 (72), Written In The Sky (74)

Symphonic keyboard prog with mainstream rock/R&B vocal tendencies. Some parts are great, others are commercial and uninteresting. -- Mike Ohman

Denis, Daniel [Belgium]

Sirius and the Ghosts (91), Les Eaux Troubles (93)

Solo Univers Zero member who put out an excellent solo album out recently.

Percussionist for Univers Zero on his first solo effort. As with Univers Zero, the music is complexly dark, though Denis's work is more accessible than most of UZ's output. The music features a lot of nice, angular perucssion rhythms and interplay with the piano and clarinets. If you are interested in breaking into the UZ arena or RIO scene in general, Denis's album or Present is a great place to start.

[See Art Zoyd | Univers Zero]

Click here for the Daniel Denis Home Page

Denny, Sandy [UK]

Sandy Denny (70), Northstar Grassmen and the Ravens (71), Sandy (72), Like An Old Fashioned Waltz (73), Rendezvous (77)

Original vocalist of the Strawbs, later of Fairport Convention, then her own band Fotheringay, and finally solo. She did about five albums under her own name. The style of these is predominantly folk rock a-la Steeleye Span et al, sometimes pointing in jazzier directions, sometimes even country. Of interest to progressives mainly for her rich and beautiful voice, and her connections to many great bands.

Vocalist for early editions of Fairport Convention (Judy Dyble was FC's original vocalist). Some solo stuff, plus a recent boxed set. Her stuff is probably too folk-oriented for most proggers, but the later FC stuff would certainly appeal to Jethro Tull fans, since most everyone in the band has appeared on Tull albums.

Don't bother with any of her solo stuff if you're looking for progressive music. Buy Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief.

[See Fairport Convention]

Dervieux, Franck [Canada]
Updated 1/19/05

Dimension "M" (72)
'70s prog.
[See Contraction]

Desequilíbrios [Brazil]

Desequilibrios (93)

This Brazilian band shows the usual lineup including vocals (in Portuguese), keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The style is a text-based melodic/symphonic rock that evokes numerous British bands but the delivery offers pleasant surprises. The instrumental work is captivating and this is where you find various influences that reach beyond the usual style. The technique of every member is strong and the production is excellent. Desequilibrios deserves a serious listen from most fans. -- Paul Charbonneau

[See Bletzqi Zatsaz]

Deus Ex Machina [Italy]
Updated 12/6/08

Gladium Caeli (90)
Deus Ex Machina (92)
De republica (94)
Non est ars quae ad effectum casus venit (95, LP, Live)
Diacronie metronomiche (96, Live)
Equilibrismo da insofferenza (98)
Cinque (02)
Imparis (08, Studio CD + DVD)
Deus Ex Machina (not in photo order) - Claudio Trotta (drums), Alessandro Porreca (bass) Maurino Collina (guitar), Alessandro Bonetti (violin) Fabrizio Puglisi (keyboards) and Alberto Piras (vocals)

Updated 12/5/08:
OK, I'll admit it. I haven't really upgraded the entry on this incredible band since I took over the GEPR. Actually, I saw them at NEARFest 2003. To tell the truth, I wasn't sure what to make of them. A guy who sang in latin. Another patron sitting next to me telling me, "Oh, you don't know them? Man, these guys really rock". That silly statement may have actually ruined their concert for me. Oh, I don't blame this guy. They really did rock. But I was listening for the wrong thing with that expectation. So, I went away from their set sorta baffled. I knew they were good, but they didn't make the impression on me they should have. So they got back-burnered in my head. Unfairly so.

Fast-forward to today. December, 2008. Deus Ex Machina has released a new album, Imparis, this time on the Cuneiform label. Now my expectations are different. I'm expecting an RIO band if they're on Cuneiform, not a band that "rocks". But one listen to the album and I get it. Forget "rocks". Forget RIO (oh, yeah, Cuneiform does release other kinds of music too). This is simply the best prog band in existence today. OK, there's other "best" bands too. But these guys are right up there with the very best.

Great guitar work, perhaps a bit like John McLaughlin, though it rocks more and jazzes less. This is really a fusion band, but harder-rocking. Maybe a bit of Canterbury influence too. Great keyboards (especially the Fender Rhodes, though there's some fantastic if obligatory Hammond Organ too), bass and drums. And violin. Everyone is absolutely stellar on their instruments. And that vocalist, Alberto Piras. I really didn't appreciate this guy in concert. His range is awesome. He sounds like a classical, operatic vocalist who's decided to blow off the wimpy aspects of opera and risk wrecking his voice by really belting these tunes out. Italian? Latin? A bit of both I think, but either way, utterly compelling. I might wish it was English so I could understand it, but I really can't bitch about the quality of these vocals. Incredible. And let's not neglect the recording quality, which is impeccable. The last cut, "Cosmopolitismo Centimetropolitano" is a live cut, and it sounds as good as the studio work. Amazing.

I can only conclude by saying that Imparis will be near the top of my list for "Best Prog Releases of 2008". Oh, and I should also mention that the Imparis release is a 2-disc set, with one audio CD and one DVD. Either disc is worth the price by itself, and you get both of them. The DVD has songs from the Imparis CD and also a couple of cuts from most of their previous albums, so this is a great way to get an overview of the band's career. Easily one of the best acts on the planet. Highly recommended. -- Fred Trafton

From here on is the original GEPR entry:

This Italian group includes six superb musicians on vocals, guitars, keyboards, violin, bass and drums. Most tracks on De Republica are marked by the intense presence of all members. First, there is the abundance of lyrics (in Latin) sung by this very expressive singer. Guitar, keyboards and violin often join in for furious instrumental breaks. The rhythm section is also very active and aggressive. Finally, the group is fuelled by a very explosive energy that makes even more spectacular the already impressive technique of all members. A steaming mixture of rock, jazz and classic. -- Paul Charbonneau
To many people progressive is typified by a dominant keyboard sound or eclectic guitar work. But if you narrow your range to just these areas then you will overlook a number of very significant bands. One such band is Deux Es Machina. In some ways this band reminded me of early Yes, not in sound though but in style. One of the hallmarks of Yes was that each individual musician played seperate intricate parts that somehow combined to make a cohesive whole. Yet each part was just as evocative individually as they were together. The same is true here. The instrumentals are extremely tight yet are filled with layer upon layer. One can hear many influences while listening, yet they remain merely influences and not dominant themes. The music is truly original. However among the influences I detect are PFM, Focus, early Tull and even Machine Head-era Deep Purple. This is a band that when you use the term progressive rock, the emphasis is on the word rock. A final note I could not comment on this band without mention their vocals which are absolutely stellar. The singer is very much in the Robert Plant mode. I have also seen posts on the net which compare him to Demetrio Stratos of Area. However I can't really comment on this. What I can say is that the singer is capable of incredible range and expression. Going back to the Plant comparison if you think of Plant at his prime (IMHO) say the first two Zeppelin albums (and in particular "Whole Lotta Love") then you have a small inkling for the treat you are in store for.
The literal translation of "Deux Ex Machina" states "God in the Machine." In common usage however, the phrase represents something that has come out of nowhere and taken everybody by surprise. It is the latter interpretation that fits this band's music. Deux Ex Machina has come out of nowhere. An Italian band whose first album was released in 1991, they are just beginning to get any sort of distribution. And they are taking everyone by surprise as well. Could they be the band that we've all been waiting for? A band that takes the progressive philosophy of the 70's and the modern sound of the 90's and spits out a stream of killer releases? Having heard Deux Ex Machina for the first time not too long ago, they impressed me a lot. A lot. First off, they have the best vocalist to come upon the scene in a decade. Alberto Piras belts out the songs with a clear, high-pitched tone that reminds me of Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate (what he did in the mid-eighties at least), and Area's Demetrio Stratos. Piras even uses some of the weird screaming/moaning/rolling vocal gymnastics that made Stratos unique.

Guitarist Mauro Collina pulls off both blistering solos and smooth acoustics with his jerky-yet-clean style. His speed and technical prowess is remarkable, yet full of time changes and stop/start playing. His style reminds me of no one in particular, but if I had to compare him to someone it would be with Steve Hillage's playing on Arzachel or perhaps Steve Hackett's early Genesis efforts. Collina is backed up by virtuoso drummer Marco Matteuzzi, whose rhythms are non-stop action; rarely a few seconds without a fill or adding a few extra beats, and bassist Alessandro Porreca who follows Matteuzzi for the most part but goes off on his own occasionally. However, even when Porreca is following the rhythm, he's playing a fast, interesting line. Are you catching the drift yet? So far we have four exceptionally talented musicians playing non-stop classic progressive music. Now let's throw in keyboardist Luigi Ricciardello, who uses thick synth and moog backdrops, and Alessandro Bonetti on electric violin. Put together, Deux Ex Machina sounds like a lot of different bands - their influences are obvious, tasteful. I can hear hints of Area, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Tonton Macoute, Hawkwind, Crimson, and even Khan. The album is full of heady jams, fast licks, and spacy harmonies. The rhythm section is more reminiscent of Brand X (maybe not that virtuostic) than Hawkwind, though the overall feel is something like what you get from Space Ritual era Hawkwind, combined with Khan and maybe even Black Sabbath. Other influences seem to be Ossana and Area.

So is there anything disappointing about Gladium Caeli? Of course there is - no perfect 10's in my book. The keyboards and violin aren't prominent; they are usually used for chording in the background, but do have occasional leads. The guitar dominates and drowns them out, which isn't so bad since Collina is an excellent player, but one wonders why they are there at all if rhythm is their only purpose. Also, on later songs on the album, the drummer falls back on some snare-bass pounding, as opposed to his continual riffing throughout the first 30 minutes or so. These are detractions, but I'm largely impressed with the effort as a whole (though not so overwhelmed as to forgive or forget!) In one release, Deux Ex Machina has eclipsed all but a few of the new wave of progressive artists. They've blown past Italy's best (Nuova Era, Calliope, Ezra Winston, Eris Pluvia) and are now the band to beat. If there is one new band you get into this year, this should be it. And with their second release due in less than a month [back when this was written ... -Ed.], this brilliant sextet should finally have the opportunity to get the recognition they deserve.

Deus Ex Machina (Latin, pronounced "day-oose ex MAH-keen-ah") has been raved about many times in this group, and judging only from their second album, I would say it's with very good reason. I've not heard their first one, so I can't make any comparisons to it. First off, the style of the band isn't very easy to describe, but yet it is very accessible and easy to like, I've found. This album is very consistent, smooth and likeable from the first listen. Vocals are prominent (more about that later), but the band is both talented and intelligent enough to toss in a mega-dose of blazing instrumental passages as well. Stylistically, Deus Ex Machina is very unique and not without their share of quirkiness and idiosynchracies. Some moments remind me of a heavier Gentle Giant, others make me think of both Camel and Echolyn but DeM completely maintains an original sound which varies from light and wistful to more straight-ahead grandiose rock. Some may have heard this band billed as Italian heavy-prog-rock, but I wouldn't use those words. Yes, it "rocks" but no, even though there is a lot of distortion guitar, it is more grand and symphonic than it is heavy. The thing that's hardest to capture in words about this band is their sense of "quirkiness." As far as the players go, they are all fantastic. Obviously well-trained and practiced musicians with no shortage of creativity or inspiration. The drummer is light and quick, full of finesse and good taste. The violinist is also great, but not surprisingly, only comes to the fore in a few limited spots on the album. The bassist is the weakest of the sextet, playing adequately underneath whatever is going on, but usually settling for a supportive role. The guitarist is simply incredible. His acoustic work is a lot like Michael Hedges, actually, minus all the patented slapping and harmonics. His lighter electric guitar work rivals that of early Steve Howe (e.g. Close to the Edge era), and his heavier electric stuff is like, well ... sorta like ... hmmm, well very unique. And then there's the vocalist Alberto Piras. WOW! You really have to hear it to believe it. Imagine Freddie Mercury (Queen) merged with Geoff Tate (Queensrÿche) and you will have a vague notion of how Piras sounds. He's got a miraculous range, able to hit powerful high notes with full throat and chest, and hit deep and warm low notes too. He turns on and off both vibrato and tremolo with great ease and can nail some pretty wide intervals too. Most importantly, his timbre is rich and smooth and full. I can't rave about him enough, he's one of the best vocalists I've ever heard in any style of music. As far as the tunes go, 2 instrumentals: one solo (2-track) acoustic guitar, and the last track which is a bizarre variation of the opening 2 minutes of the album. 7 tunes with vocals, 5 of which are in Latin, the other 2 in Italian. "Cor Mio" is the most "commercial" tune on the album with its verse/chorus structure and that moog-like key solo loaded with enough sus2's and sus4's to give it a very neo-prog feel momentarily. The title track is very interesting, showcasing the drummer with a satisfying barrage of drum fills at the end. The strangest and most interesting tune on the album, is in my opinion "Lo Stato Delle Cose." Here, the lyrics are actually printed and sung backwards, if you can believe that! For example, the line "per tutti la nostra ..." is written and sung as "rep ittut al artson ...." I guess this is some kind of joke, but to be honest, since I don't know Italian, I can't even tell if I'm not staring at the lyrics. Anyways, the music is no joke here; very building, strong, and inspired. I played this album for some friends and they were very quick to point out what I also to believe to be the biggest problem with this album, and that is the production/mix. While the recording is obviously very clean, the drums are mixed so high and in-your-face that they drown out the guitar and keyboards in some places. Places where there simply should be more guitar and keys. Unfortuantely this means that I can only go so loud on the volume control until it becomes just too piercing and sharp. It doesn't ruin the album, but I am a bit surprised that they let it go with the drums so high in the mix ... . The artwork and packaging are first-rate, and I paid $18 for it. Money very well spent, I'm pleased to say. As I've said, this band is very easy to listen to, and easy to like, and I'm sure plenty of people out there who've never heard of this would indeed be impressed. If only for the vocals, it certainly deserves a listen.
This has all the ingredients of a great album: excellent playing, good singing, complex instrumental bits, and it is indeed pretty good, but I prefer the two above. I tend to notice the drummer because I'm a drummer and this one is excellent, (mind you, I like the Xaal drummer just as much). Doubts have been raised about the mix, saying that the drums were too high, but I don't agree (of course I'm biased), I think the mix is fine. The singing is in Latin and Italian; this doesn't spoil things, it adds charisma. Occasional Gentle Giant influences, but sounds much more modern than Änglagård; definitely a 90's sound.
Deus Ex Machina are a PHENOMENAL new Italian band with two releases to date under their belt, the outstanding debut Gladium Caeli and the follow-up Deus Ex Machina. They are a six piece band with emphasis on guitars (lots of guitar), violin and keyboards. There is also a strong vocal presence (lyrics in Latin!) featuring one of the better Progressive vocalists of recent years. Gladium Caeli, the one I suggest you get first if you can locate it, is a simply incredible debut statement. The music is vaguely comparable to the '70s Italian Prog scene in general though to no bands in particular. Generally they are fast, heavy and intense ala Semiramis or Balletto di Bronzo but also feature some quieter moments that highlight the lyricism inherent in classic Italian Prog. The music is complex, dynamic and vitalized! These guys are never standing still prefering to charge forth into barrages of such sonic intensity that you are left gaping in awe. The guitar seems to be the dominant instrument and it defines the sound. Violin and keyboard take a slightly subservient role to the guitar but are also important to the band's sound. The bassist and drummer feed off of each other and are also major contributors to the complex interplay between all instruments. Mere rhythm keepers they are not! Deus Ex Machina follows closely down the parth forged by their debut though the quieter passages seem to appear slightly more often. Overall, though, it is the same and a worthy purchase if you can't locate Gladium Caeli readily. Highly Recommended!
Click here for the Deus Ex Machina web site
Click here to order Cinque or Imparis from Cuneiform records

Deutsche Wertarbeit [Germany]
Updated 1/19/05

Deutsche Wertarbeit (81)
Solo album by synthesist Dorothea Raukes.
[See Streetmark]

Deviants, The [UK]
Updated 5/5/02

Ptooff (67)
Disposable (68)
The Deviants (69)
Also know as Mic Farren and the Social Deviants. Pre-Pink Fairies. I know that they had 3 albums, I remember seeing them in record stores years ago. I only have one [The Deviants] and its reissue on Logo records. Mic Farren did issue some single on STIFF in the late 70's and was on a few STIFF samplers.
[See Pink Fairies]

Devil Doll [Italy/Slovenia]
Updated 1/9/03

The Girl Who Was Death (88)
Eliogabalus (90)
Sacrilegium (92)
Sacriledge of Fatal Arms (92, re-make of Sacreligium)
Dies Irae (96)
Devil Doll are an Italian band who sound nothing like the archetypal Italian progressive music at all. No fusion or lush symphonics here! What they offer is a very unique blend of gothic imagery and Victorian "Jekyll and Hyde" ambience, spun over a collage of piano, tortured vocals, sinister accordion folk music interludes, choirs, violin and waltz themes. The dynamics of the music is outstanding and never clumsy ... it moves between diverse elements with skill and power. The vocals may not be to the liking of some as there is a lot of them and they are more whispered/screamed than sung, in general. They fit the music perfectly though. The Girl Who Was ... Death is a conceptual work based on the cult UK series "The Prisoner" and takes it's name from one of the episodes. It demonstrates the maturity to come and has a little more (but not much) in the way of powerful rock sections. Mr Doctor also deigns to sing normally occasionally! Lots of accordion, violin and harp. A rock opera? Both Eliogabalus and Sacreligium are excellent works of extended progressive gothic "opera," for want of a better term. Highly metaphorical story-telling is important to the band's approach ... for example, Sacreligium tells the story of a man in his grave looking back over his life, complete with the closing of the funeral as a bonus after the music has finished! Devil Doll excel at creating atmosphere with very sparse instrumentation ... Mr Doctor, the enigmatic and unidentified band leader, employs his idiosyncratic vocal style to add to this. It may sound peculiar but I can hear a Marillion influence. I know that sounds strange given the description above but Marillion hinted at this sort of style on their early albums but never pulled it off explicitly or in such a grandiose and effective manner. Don't get the wrong idea though ... Devil Doll are not what you'd call a neo-prog band at all. I'd wholeheartedly endorse the view that Devil Doll are amongst the world's finest progressive acts of the '90s.
[See Mr. Doctor; Several of the members of Devil Doll, including Mr. Doctor and the entire Devil Chorus are native to Slovenia (formerly part of Yugoslavia)]

Click here for the official Devil Doll web site
Click here for the Devil Doll unofficial web site

Devil's Slingshot [USA]
Updated 7/21/11

Clinophobia (08)
Devil's Slingshot - Billy Sheehan (bass), Virgil Donati (drums), Tony MacAlpine (guitar)

One might call Devil's Slingshot an offshoot of either Planet X or CAB simply because all three bands share drummer Virgil Donati and guitarist Tony MacAlpine. The third member of Devil's Slingshot, bassist Billy Sheehan, is an alumnus of another high-energy fusion band, Niacin (and several other bands that don't happen to have GEPR listings at the moment).

I've never heard Clinophobia, but judging by the sorts of music these folks are usually associated with, I can only imagine it's excellent. Each of them are well-known as icons of their instrumental fields. Those who have heard them are invited to contribute a few words! -- Fred Trafton

[See CAB | Niacin | Planet X]

Click here for Devil's Slingshot's MySpace page
Click here to order Clinophobia from CD Universe as CD or downloadable MP3

Deyss [Switzerland]
Updated 1/19/05

At-King (85)
Vision In The Dark (87)
Dragonfly from the Sun (00, Recorded 78-79)
The most commercial of the neo progsters. On At-King their vocalist sounds like Great White's and on Visions in the Dark the Vocalist's grasp of English is horrendous. Other than that - commercially influenced neo progster. I mean, if this is classic progressive, do we have to die and go to heaven to hear Yes?
Have only heard At-King. They are in the same boat as Aragon. (similar in sound and style to Marillion, Genesis, etc.) The music is better but the singer is worse. Their second album is supposed to be better. It has a different singer on it.
A Swiss progressive rock group, very much in the vein of Marillion and other neo-progressive bands. Their sound is centered around a massive arsenal of keyboards, used to good effect. The highlight of Vision In The Dark is the 17+ minute title track ... full of myriad solos and full-sounding arrangements. Their first CD, At-King, is slightly less polished, yet excellent listening for those "into" the eighties sound.
Very good Swiss band with heavy Marillion and IQ influences. They are very strong instrumentally, but some consider their vocals to be a little weak (Jon Anderson with an accent). They have two releases, with a third on the way. Vision in the Dark is a classic, and an absolute must for fans of the aforementioned bands.
A very bad Marillion clone. Vision in the Dark was recommended by other Marillion fans, but I can't listen to it anymore. The music is passable (not at all on a par w/Marillion), but the lyrics are terrible. I think that "Jester" (no kidding, that's what the vocalist calls himself) should have stuck to his native language, Swiss. Not recommended.
Piece of crap. Don't bother. I like Marillion and IQ but this is just garbage.
Although the band seems to want to pattern themselves after Marillion (just look at the album cover art...), they come up short for the most part. The first album At King is pathetic, with very weak vocals, and a severe lack of imagination - I'm really surprised they even pressed it into a CD. The second Vision In The Dark fares much better, partially due to improved writing, but mostly due to the addition of a lead vocalist who can sing fairly well, even though his thick accent makes some of the english lyrics barely understandable. Soundwise, the second album combines some of the better elements of bands like Yes, Marillion, Genesis, Supertramp and others, offering very little that is uniquely their own, thus overall pretty derivative. Their music contains a lot of variety within its scope, and the band's playing is fairly tight, but for every good point there's a bad one to match, and the net sum is less than remarkable. One notable exception is side three of the second album, the Vision in the dark sidelong title cut, which has some very nice moments in it.
Do you like Marillion? Do you like Gabriel-era Genesis? Do you like progressive music without originality? You're gonna love this band! What can I say - a true clone. With a vocalist named Jester (who you just keep wishing would shut up) and a couple of CDs to their "credit," one in particular Vision in the Dark has a cover very reminiscent of Mark Wilkinson, this band is sorely in need of a clue. While they do present some good moments, their keyboards are reminiscent at times of some of the best of Tony Banks. One can never quite get over the feeling of having heard it all before...and heard it done better.
Yuck. I can't emphasis enough how much I dislike this band. People will recommend them to fans of old Marillion, but these guys can't touch Fish and the boys. The vocalist ("Jester") sings in English with a heavy accent, which really intrudes on my enjoyment of the music. Might've stood a chance with me if he had sung in his native language, Swiss (I think). 2 albums I know of: At-king and Vision in the Dark.