Earth & Fire (69)
Song of the Marching Children (71)
To the World of the Future (75)
Gate to Infinity (77)
Reality Fills Fantasy (79)
Andromeda Girl (81)
In a State of Flux (82)
Storm and Thunder (99, Recorded Live At Zur Grille, Minden, Germany on March 21, 1974)
... many compilations ...
Earth and Fire in 1970: (Foreground) Jerney Kaagman (vocals); (Behind her) Hans Zeich (bass), Chris Koerts (guitar),
Ton van der Kleij (drums), and Gerard Koerts (guitar, keyboards)
Song of the Marching Children is a good King Crimson-influenced Dutch progressive with a big Mellotron sound. Led by the Koerts brothers: Chris (guitars) and Gerard (keyboard) and fronted by singer Jerney Kaagman, who vocally resembles Annie Haslam as an alto. Only more powerful -- I gather Bjork from The Sugarcubes must have at least heard one Earth And Fire record in her time. :) Some of the shorter songs are pop-prog not unlike Kayak did in their later days, like the (apparently) big European hit "Memories" which leads off the album. The B-side features the 17-minute title track, with some really grand dynamics. The last section (in 5/4) "borrows" from King Crimson's "The Devil's Triangle." My favourite tune: "Storm And Thunder," which starts off with cathedral-like organ, then gradually builds to a lush Mellotron climax. To The World Of The Future finds the pop stuff ever poppier, but the progressive stuff getting undescribably weird. The eleven-and-a-half minute title song features seemingly random synth noises, a chanting choir a la Atom Heart Mother, and a delicious Chris Koerts guitar solo. "Voice from yonder" features a voice recorded at a seance within some of the instrumental sections. But this album is very accessible beyond all this gimmicry, "Circus" features powerful Kaagman vocals, and "The Last Seagull" is a pleasant instrumental. The first half of Gate To Infinity is apparently some kind of suite, having something to do with ancient Egypt. "A Princess In Egypt" has more of the chanted vocals that recall "To The World ..." "The Joyous Untruth" is a bouncy, guitar-propelled instrumental which sounds not unlike Focus. "Infinity" is a spacy instrumental with an electronically distorted speaking voice near the beginning and a tape-collage/freakout at the end; again reminding of something from To The World.... The side is bookended by the same song with different titles and lyrics. Kaagman's voice is becoming slicker, more pop-soul orientated. The B-side is mostly bland, ABBA-influenced pop music. Unfortunately, that's the direction they would take for subsequent albums. -- Mike Ohman
|I think To the World of the Future is the best Earth and Fire album with extensive use of ARP synthesizers besides Hohner clavinet and Fender Rhodes; impressive guitar solo's against massive organ and Mellotron walls; the voice of Jerney Kaagman, but not only hers ... -- R. Ton|
|One of the great Dutch bands that created a very lush progressive in the early seventies with a very distinctive and facsinating female vocalist. All have been just released on Japanese CD and albums like Atlantis show why these guys were ahead of their field. Compare to Sandrose, Analogy or Edge.|
|Their female vocalist, Jerny Kaagman, has a husky tenor that I just love. The band started out more in the psych vein with progressive overtones, but later came a more developed symphonic style derivative of no one. Organ, Mellotron, and guitar are used along with Kaagman's haunting voice to create an atmospheric style of symphonic progressive. One of the essential listens from the Netherlands.|
|Earth and Fire from Holland have another record [previously omitted from the GEPR discography - Ed.] from 1977 [en]title[d] Gate to Infinity which is similar in style to Atlantis and To the World of the Future. Some beautiful symphonic based on guitars and keyboards and some more "pop" oriented songs. Compared to the others albums mentioned the songs are shorter being the longest one around the five and half minutes. While nothing too complex or wild is certainly a good album to listen. -- Julio Lopez|
By the time of the release of Phoenix, the Koerts brothers had both left the band.
Keyboard duties were shared by Ton Scherpenzeel of
Kayak and Jons Pistoor on electric piano. The Koerts
brothers went on to release a couple of new-age albums (Frames in 1988 and Escape in
1995) under the name Earth and Fire Orchestra, but these do not include Jerney Kaagman's
Earth and Fire were very popular in their native Netherlands ... like some other bands from the old prog days, they frequently had songs that hit the top-40's charts on the same album with side-long Mellotron-drenched prog epics. A copy of the U.K. LP release of the Earth and Fire album featuring a Roger Dean cover was recently sold on Ebay for more than $1000. -- Fred Trafton
[See Kayak |
Click here for the Earth and Fire web site (in English)
Has been compared to early Roxy Music with Kevin Ayers on vocals!
Earthrise in 1977 - A very '70's picture
Every album has a story behind it. This little-known progressive epic has one too. I just happen to know the story behind this one, so I'll share it with you before I get around to actually discussing the music.
Around 1975, three guys named Kenn Pierog (Bass), Bill Drobile (Keys) and Greg DiDonato (Drums) got together to form Earthrise. This was an Emerson, Lake and Palmer-style band, with heavy Hammond organ and synths taking the lead roles. In 1977, they recorded an album in a small studio. The studio was using a Tascam 8-track recorder, but the band played mostly live with just a few overdubs on some songs. This was the studio's first "big project", so they hadn't had much experience with recording, and it shows in the "thin" sound of the album, and the questionable drum miking (even for 1977).
The band had a total of 400 albums pressed. They were disappointed with the sound quality of the album, but were happy to have a pressing of their own original music. They ended up selling a few, and giving away many of them to friends and local fans. They continued to play together until 1979, then broke up without releasing another recording.
As time went on, word spread among some in the progressive rock community that this was a pretty good band ... but their only album was very rare. This, of course, put the album in the category of "collectable", and has fetched prices of $800-$1000 in auctions. Much of this went on without the band members being aware of it, until they started to get calls from people who wanted to know if they had any more of the albums floating around.
After a hiatus of over 20 years, the band decided to re-form and begin working on a new album of the same music, recorded with more modern equipment. This turned out to be a bigger project than they had anticipated, and people were still asking for copies of the album. With the master tapes for the original album gone, they had no choice but to remaster the recording from a clean vinyl copy. In July of 2000, they began to offer copies of this remaster on CDR from their web site. (This is the version I heard, since $800 is a bit out of my price range this month.) Sales are doing well enough that they are considering a standard CD run in the near future.
As for Earthrise: Day Two, the new recording, this project is on hold for the time being, but the band members are still working on rebuilding their studio to complete this project. Maybe in 2001? That would be a good year to release a new version of this album ...
Now, for a review of the music. The bottom line is: this is a pretty good album. Not worth $800-$1000 for the vinyl version, but well worth the $12.50 (including shipping & handling) they're asking for the CDR version. The sound, as I mentioned, is a bit on the thin side, primarily because the drums sound flat, and the keyboards are very stark and cold in their recording (I imagine they were jacked right into the mixer). These problems are probably due to insufficient experience on the part of the studio tech, especially setting up the drum mics. The tech obviously realized something sounded wrong and attempted to compensate by adding reverb. Unfortunately, this didn't fix anything ... it just added reverb. This is a common mistake made by neophyte recordists.
Technical problems aside, just concentrating on the music itself, this is really good stuff! Earthrise contains 4 long pieces; "Eden's Child" and "Arcturus" include vocals while "Earthrise" and "New Clear Dawn" are instrumental. "New Clear Dawn" has a "bonus track" added, not on the original pressing. Retitled "Prelude: Before the Dawn", it immediately preceeds the old cut and flows into it. [Aside: "New Clear Dawn" is a lyric from ELP's Brain Salad Surgery (1973), "Guardians of a new clear dawn, Let the maps of war be drawn". "New Clear" is pronounced "Nuclear". I don't know if the tribute is intentional or unintentional ... the music is not particularly reminiscent of "Karn Evil 9".]
The keyboards are slightly reminiscent of Keith Emerson (I guess any Hammond organ playing complex rock is to some extent), but overall this band probably sounds more like Schicke, Führs and Fröhling's Symphonic Pictures, though without the guitar and Mellotron of that album, or maybe earlier Le Orme, though without that "Italian" sound. Lots of changes and hard-driving prog keyboard work on both Hammond and synth playing against the backdrop of high-powered drums and bass make this CD an enjoyable listen. I'll bet these guys were a blast to hear play live.
Nowadays, you can only hear them live at "WOODbineSTOCK", an annual picnic at the Pierog's house (on Woodbine Avenue, of course). They also have other local bands playing there for this all-day shindig. But unless you live in the Pierog's neighborhood, you're not likely to see Earthrise play live (photos available on the Earthrise web site). Too bad ... maybe they'll make a recording "Live at WOODbineSTOCK" one day so the rest of us can hear it too. In the meantime, I hope they get their studio rebuilt so we can hear more output from this talented trio. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Earthrise's web site|
Salterbarty Tales (78)
French Skyline (79)
Atomkraft? Nein, Danke! (81)
For Humans Only (81)
Earthstar is a multi-national space-music ensemble masterminded by
American multi-keyboardist Craig Wuest. Wuest's vision propels these two
albums, his desire apparently is to create music that doesn't necessarily
suggest a particular instrument, rather creates a new texture. Therefore,
though there are credits for flute, guitar, bass, violin, viola, french
horn, sitar and vocals, it's pretty hard to distinguish any of these from
the ubiquitous synthesizers. (I managed to pick out guitars and sitar,
but that's about it.) Thus, Wuest is successful in this endeavour.
The two long tracks on French Skyline ("Latin Sirens Face The Wall" and "French Skylines Suite") explore slowly shifting, but discrete, passages. "Latin Sirens ..." opens with fiery choir-keyboard and guitar sounds which give way to a sequenced rhythm with energetic synth-soloing on top and ending in a swirl of synthesizer sounds. Produced by Klaus Schulze, who's an obvious influence on this album.
Atomkraft... is an album of ecologically-themed programme-music. Wuest surrounds himself with nine guest players on piano, electric guitar, strings, piano, electronics and tuned percussion. The ten tracks vary from light and airy, like the piano-and-bells-heavy "Golden Rendezvous," to slightly symphonic like "Sonntagspaziergang" or "Wind Mills," which include violin and cello in the instrumentation, to creepy electronic dreamscapes like "Solar Mirrors" and the pulsing "Cafe Sequence." A very different, but equally enjoyable album.
Also issued in 1981 was a final album entitled For Humans Only. -- Author Unknown
Although Craig Wuest was indeed the founder and driving force behind Earthstar, he is not German but instead hails from the small city of Utica, New York. Wuest was among the first musicians in the Utica area to own a synthesizer, and he was strongly influenced by the German electronic music scene of the late 1970s, in particular Klaus Schulze, with whom he struck up a correspondence. With Schulze's encouragement, Wuest moved to Germany, where he spent the next several years. Earthstar was essentially Wuest plus whomever he asked to participate in his projects.
The first Earthstar LP, Salterbarty Tales, was released by the Nashville-based Moontower Records prior to Wuest's departure for Germany and is nearly impossible to find. The first Earthstar release on the German Sky label, French Skyline, was recorded partly in Utica, partly in a number of German studios, and featured a mixed crew of American and European musicians. After its release, a number of Wuest's former collaborators in Utica joined him in Germany for the recording of Atomkraft? Nein Danke! A fourth Earthstar LP, For Humans Only, was basically the result of a partnership between Wuest and Utica guitarist/songwriter Dan Hapanowicz. The group dissolved soon after, though Wuest later created an unreleased Earthstar recording titled Axiom.
In the 1980's Sky Records released two compilation CDs, Schwingungen and Schwingungen II, which feature cuts by Earthstar; this marks the first appearance on CD by the group. An unauthorized CD version of French Skyline was eventually released by a German label but is now out of print. -- Dennis Rea (a former member of Earthstar)
Click here for
Earthstar's Wikipedia entry
|Opening with a mechanized drum roll is not the way to win my heart. The all too steady drum beat is my biggest complaint about, Seed, an album that is otherwise kind of different and unique. But I'm ahead of myself. Earthstone is the work of Chris Phillips and Chris Bond. Phillips does most of the instrumental work and vocals, but Bond contributes some keyboards and co-wrote most of the songs. Mark Richards plays guitar on one track ("Whitlingham Lane"), but otherwise guitar, bass, keyboards, programming and vocals are handled by Phillips and Bond. One third of the nine songs are instrumental. Earthstone are self-described techno-pagans, using digital technology to create music that is, they say, influenced primarily by nature. Their love of earth is evidenced by their support of environmental pressure activities of Greenpeace and Earth First. Their influences range from King Crimson through Atomic Rooster, Rain Tree Crow and the Art of Noise to Ozric Tentacles. I can pick out some Ozric influences, as well as Rain Tree Crow, but I never did pick up on much of a Crimson influence. Phillips' voice sounds a good deal like Peter Gabriel and much of the music (e.g., "Seed," "Unicorn Home" and "The Splintered Sky") sounded to me like a more electrified version of Peter Gabriel's solo work. Keyboards dominate a bit more than guitar. Though digital, Phillips and Bond made good use of the programming tools to create searing, sawtooth tambres that are fat and chunky. "Breathy" pads are rarely heard. "Llid the God" is a brooding, atmospheric work that thankfully leaves the drum machine turned off. "Whitlingham Lane" is another atmospheric mix of acoustic and electric guitar sans drum machine. Again, Earthstone's love of nature is evident throughout the lyrics, but is summed up in the final line from "E.L.F.": Life needs no reason so set it free. In all, Earthstone have created a unique mix of sounds that draws from the '70s as well as the '80s and '90s. The steady beat would work in a techno club of acid ravers, while the changing meters will satisfy many fans of Progressive Rock. -- Mike Taylor|
|While Mike Taylor is sensitive to drum programming I didn't really notice it that much - I thought the absence of a live drummer didn't overly detract from the overall performance (obviously there is a certain lack of energy and so on...live drummers are definitely preferrable). Musically this is a great album with excellent composition and thematic development. The only distraction for me on Seed is the vocals. I didn't particulary feel like the vocals added to the otherwise strong performance. I may simply be biased towards instrumental (like Ken Watson, Ozric Tentacles, Univers Zero, etc) music, but I would have actually preferred this to be an all instrumental recording (the background chanting is fine and adds to the mood) instead of layering the Hillage style singing on top. In some places it appears to me that the vocals seem to have been an afterthought and don't fit well with the rest of the music. Overall I'd say this is a great album - the instrumentation is dark and brooding at times, and highly textured throughout. It is readily apparent that the two member of Earthstone have loads of musical talent and original ideas - they are influenced by many other groups, but are striving with a high degree of success to be more than a clone of those other bands. I'd like to see them either move towards more instrumentals or spend a little more time developing their lyrics and vocal styles. Obviously that is a personal preference, and many of you out there may really enjoy the vocals as they are. Overall I think this is an excellent album, well produced and performed. -- Jim Watts|
[See Stealing the Fire]
Earthstone used to be available from Kinesis, but it no longer seems to be in their catalog.
Játékok (81, aka Blue Paradise)
Hüség (82, aka Faith)
Rések A Falon (83)
Az Aldozat (Szodoma) (84, aka The Victim (Sodom))
A Szerelem Sivataga (88)
Taking the Wheel (92)
Radio Babel (94)
Két Arc (95, Live)
|Excellent Hungarian progressive band, similar to Solaris yet far more prolific. Best known for their stunning masterpiece and second album Hüség, East would go on to make a few more, and all of them very inconsistent. Basically the better the album, the harder to find. Huseg is a very lush symphonic fusion album that hints of Marillion (but never that simple) or Camel or even Eloy in their symphonic period. Symphomaniacs will love this! Now out on Japanese CD.|
|Formed around 1979, East got rather poppy later on. Their early stuff is better with excellent vocals on the first 2 albums. Sodom is instrumental.|
|East were a band from Hungary who released a handful of albums, but Hüség stands out as a masterpiece of the genre. The music is very symphonic, built on a strong foundation of keyboards and guitar, and comes off as music with the melodic style of mid-period Genesis, but with a more aggressive edge in terms of guitar and keyboard lead passages that clearly showcase the technical proficiency of the musicians. Non-English vocals are present at times, but they do not intrude and fit very well into the context of the music.|
|Many people speak of Hüseg as a progressive "classic" and a must-buy. If you love the symphonic style, maybe, but otherwise I don't agree. While East offers the technical profiency and style that I appreciate, the writing leaves me a bit thirsty. It's that old "You play rhythm while I solo then I'll play rhythm while you solo" approach that turns me off. The musicians have a fair amount of talent but the arrangements are simple enough for amateur songwriters to pull off. OK, maybe I'm being a little harsh but that's how I feel. If you like the symphonic style you'll probably like Hüseg. If you're looking for something new, look somewhere else.|
|Játekók is poppy and boring. I was very disappointed with it. Not really prog at all, more like '70s easy listening music with spacy keyboards. Hüseg is much improved. Far more progressive, it has a typical "high-tech" aspect that will appeal to fans of other East Euro bands such as Exodus, SBB, Autograph and the like. -- Mike Ohman|
Mercator Projected (69)
The World Of East of Eden (71)
New Leaf (71)
Another Eden (75)
Kalipse (96, Reunion album)
|Mercator " ... is East Of Eden's first LP (sic) called Mercator Projected. Take one electric violin which blows rock and Bartok, add one flute from the East, mix in Sumerian saxophones, bass, drums, guitar and liquid word-pictures - mark East Of Eden." That is the claim on the liner notes that accompany this release from 1969. The music is very much in the early seventies UK progressive rock camp, organ/guitar dominated rock, with melodic ballads interspersed with more aggressive passages, using a variety of instruments. The music is similar in spirit to Gryphon, and, perhaps, groups such as Cressida, early Rare Bird, Fields, and the like.|
|About Mercator Projected: this is one of the best early prog albums, it’s quite good for times, when bands were swaying around, not actually know how to play or sound like. Perhaps the sound is not prog yet, but approach is. Tracks on Mercator are reminiscent of KC, Colosseum, the obligatory Moody Blues, etc. The track "Communion" is progrock remake of one Bartok’s theme and sounds very good even today. There are also some weird electronics in the begining of that Bartokian track. The track "Isadora" is also very good with very fine flute and sax alternated and unisono playing. "Northern Hemisphere" and few others has cool violin playing. One minus point is the "pleasant" reading (in Chinese or Japanese — I understand everything there) in the inlay of Deram CD, it seems that Euro-version does not exist. For the beginning, it was very successful and almost as good as In the Court of Crimson King. I didn’t hear other albums, but overall this is very decent album. -- Nenad Kobal|
|Pioneering British band whose music encompassed jazz, blues and folk influences (they had a minor hit with the Celtic-influenced instrumental "Jig-a-Jig"), and featured then-exotic instruments such as violin and flute (both played by Dave Arbus) and saxophones (played by Ron Caines). Mercator Projected and Snafu were their most adventurous albums. To me, the music on these sounds, at various times, a little like early Jethro Tull, or perhaps a tiny bit like Soft Machine (circa Third). East of Eden were more weird and jazzy than Tull ever was, though (... and not quite as weird and jazzy as the Softs, for that matter). Keyboards are pretty much absent, and there are quite a few instrumental stretches with lots of violin, flute and sax solos, (which is fortunate because the vocals are on the weak side). There were lots of personnel changes, and their later releases (especially New Leaf and Another Eden) were much more conventional. New Leaf is essentially a straight-ahead hard-rock LP, with some vaguely folky and progressive trappings around the edges. Think Uriah Heep with taste and chops. Both Snafu and Mercator Projected are fine albums of eclectic early British progressive rock. Dave Arbus played the violin solos on the Who's Who's Next album. -- Dave Wayne|
|Links||Click here to order Kalipse or Armadillo from HTD Records|
East Wind Pot (06)
Another Side (06, CDR)
East Wind Pot is a new type of far-eastern marijuana. No it's not. At least as far as I know.
In this case, I'm talking about a new Japanese jazz/rock fusion band. Dopey name ... great band!
Others have compared them to Weather Report or
Return to Forever, which I can certainly understand.
But to me, East Wind Pot sounds a lot more like a Grand Wazoo-era
Frank Zappa due to the mallet percussion. Woops! That's
keyboardist Yuko Tsuchiya; it only sounds like mallet percussion. But then she
switches to Hammond organ (or perhaps one of the
electronic clones) and it sounds for a time like a jazzy version of Tarkus, but trading
licks with sax. Woodwind player Daisuka Yamasaki smokes on his solos, whether he plays sax
or clarinet, and bassist Yoshiyuki Sakmurai could hold his own alongside Jeff Berlin
or Jaco Pastorius with his snakey fretless bass moves. And drummer Eiichi Tsuchiya
manages to keep up with all of them (I don't know if he's related to keyboardist Yuko).
The bottom line is that this is an excellent debut for a band of talented musicians I had never heard before, though fans of Theta will recognize Yuko Tsuchiya's name. But expect no Renaissance stylings in this band. First of all, EWP is all instrumental, and secondly they don't even have a guitarist. But believe me, you won't miss the guitars. High-energy but very refined fusion is offered in this Japanese hot pot, and you should check them out if you're a fan of this style. A second helping is also available in the form of Another Side, a CDR release with what I assume is more of the same. I haven't heard this one, and I can't tell you how to order it either. But if you read Japanese, you can probably find out from their web site, below. In the meantime, Musea Records is second-sourcing the original Japanese Poseidon release of their self-titled debut release so the rest of the world can hear these master musicians. Get it while it's hot! -- Fred Trafton
Easter Island (79, only 300 LP's made)
Now and Then (79, CD re-release of Easter Island w/ bonus tracks)
Easter Island (2003) - Mark Miceli (Guitars, Synthesis, Vocals), Alfred
Collinsworth (Bass, Guitars, Vocals), Richard Streander (Guitars, Vocals),
Bob Chapman (Electronic Drums & Percussion)
Easter Island is another US band whose only LP now commands vast amounts of currency from maniac collectors. For the rest of us, ZNR Records in Kentucky has re-issued this classic on CD, taken from the master tapes. As with the band Cathedral described earlier, Easter Island's music embodies the sound of the mid-seventies, with a slightly more aggressive approach. However, for lovers of that genre, there are enough keyboard/Mellotron and guitar leads, and variant time signatures to satisfy.
|I was fortunate enough to catch them in concert many years ago, opening for UK, and at one time owned a copy of their LP. (And I could kick myself for not keeping it; I understand it's quite the collector's item these days!) Shades of ELP and some of the more cosmic Yes stuff, if I recall. The live performance was very precise. Good stuff all the way around, and uncharacteristic of an American prog rock band, it was easy for me to overlook their pretentiousness.|
|Easter Island was a one-shot American progressive band who released Now and Then. Easter Island was easily one of the best US prog bands to have recorded during the 1970's. The music places emphasis on excellent mini-moog and Mellotron work as well as guitar, like most prog bands from the mid-'70s seemed to do. At first, you may be reminded of Yes and there are indeed some Wakeman and Howe influences at work. As the album progresses the music becomes more original, alternating intense moog work outs with spacey sections complete with drum marches on the deep tom-toms, each musician playing with his own unique style. The vocals are nothing particularly outstanding but they aren't a detraction either. If you like Mirthrandir and Cathedral, two other excellent American bands, you'd do well to check out Easter Island.|
|Easter Island was an obscure American progressive band in the late 70s relying heavily on that mainstay of progressive rock, the Mellotron. They recorded Now and Then in 1977 and 1978 with the title track in 1991. Easter Island's two vocalists Rick Bartlett and Mark Miceli share the spotlight with one of them emulating Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad. His jarring voice detracted from the listening experience but thankfully vocals are secondary to Easter Island's music. On several songs Bartlett's and Miceli's vocal styling brings to mind Yes on their landmark album Close to the Edge. Strongly influenced by 70s Italian progressive bands such as Le Orme and Premiata Forneria Marconi, Easter Island created beautiful melodies and mood changes without resorting to the progressive keyboard and guitar pyrotechnics so evident in today's neo-progressive bands. If nothing else, you should buy this CD just for the Mellotron work. The classically inspired "The Alchemist's Suite" and "Winds of Time" are alone worth the price. Support domestic progressive band reissues, Easter Island will not disappoint.|
When I listen to MotherSun, Easter Island's follow up to their self-titled
'80 debut, I find it incredible to think that the 1st few times I heard this album,
I didn't care much for it. I think perhaps I had some preconceived notions of how it
should sound based on my having a copy of Now & Then. (Now & Then is
basically their self-titled LP with a few extra tracks-one of them newer.) After a few
listens though, this CD quickly became one of my favorite things to come out in recent
The lineup has changed completely with only Mark Miceli remaining as the bands primary composer. He also is the only vocalist on MotherSun, unlike the first album in which he only sang a little. Mark also expanded his role by taking over keyboard duties, making this newer lineup a trio rather than a 5 piece band. Richard Streander joins and adds his unique lead guitar to the lineup, whereas Mark was the only guitar player on the debut. Richard also contributes some additional lead vocals and sings backup throughout. Perhaps this is why the music on MotherSun often consists of layers of rich guitar textures while keyboards often take a backseat. (At least in comparison to the debut album). The band utilizes a lot of modern electronics in their sound as well and the production is top notch-very crisp and clean. Drummer Bob Chapman is nothing short of incredible and never dull to listen to. His drumming stays complex throughout the CD and never stagnates into simple timekeeping. It's hard to describe the music on this CD (versus the debut which is comparatively easy) because nobody else really sounds like this. Suffice it to say that the music is very deep and atmospheric with incredible musicianship throughout.
If your tired of bands that have too much of a style or have too many songs that sound similar, Easter Island's MotherSun is a great break! NO two songs sound alike on this CD. There are also some very interesting and diverse instrumentals, from the synthy ambient "Cosmosis" to the hard rocking "Tetrahedral Blues". The lyrics are very intelligent and add their own mood to the music. Standout tracks to me personally are: "Show the Way" for its depth and beautifully dreamy keyboard solo; "MotherSun" for its depth and sheer beauty; "DrawDown" for its relentless intensity & strangeness; "Everywhere I Go" for its dreamy spaciness and deep lyrics; ditto "Life Goes On". This is also an album in which everytime I hear it, I notice something new...a sure sign that a lot of thought was put into this release. My highest recommendation-just remember that its a challenging album and may take a few plays to get into it. (Of note: former Pre member Alfred Collinsworth has since joined the band on bass! Mark & Richard shared bass duties on MotherSun ... should make the next album interesting!)
Click here for Easter Island's web site
Future force (82)
Journey to Utopia (Live!) (83)
Attack of the Martians (04)
|Still relatively unknown, this four-piece from Massachusetts are making some of the best synth-oriented prog on the planet. Consisting of leader and rockin' bassist Bill Noland, his wife Madeleine on wind-controlled synthesizer, Mark Cella on drums and Derek Roebuck on keys, they have single handedly redefined the American prog-rock voice and turned out a first CD that encompasses all the drama, musicianship, humor and kitchie science fiction themes that make an album like Tarkus so great. Their self-produced offering, Attack of the Martians (that's right), is a high-energy circus of syn-phonics that makes no appologies for its' fondness of both classical, ELP type jams and the sci-fi films of the 1950's. An absolute pleasure from beginning to end, Attack of the Martians is an instant classic of "technostalgia" and presents a still obscure band that surely will live someday in the hearts of all proggies. Check 'em out at their web site (link below). The drummer also runs a good progressive CD site called M&M Music (link below). -- David Marshall|
A few pieces of additional info ...
Bill and Madeleine Noland both played on the Gentle Giant tribute albums Giant Tracks and Mellow Records' Giant for a Life on the songs "In a Glass House" and "Just the Same." Keyboardist Derek Roebuck left the band due to other commitments and has been replaced by Ed Broms. Broms, among other things, also plays with the Blue Man Group and is music director and organist for a church in Holliston, MA. At this point, he is very busy with his other projects, but Bill Noland hopes his time will free up soon so that the band can begin work on a new album. In addition to running M&M Music, Mark Cella has also played on other progressive rock albums including The Gathering of the Krums by Pye Fyte and Between Cages by A Triggering Myth, as well as a track on Prog in the USA. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See A Triggering Myth]|
|Ian Eccles-Smith may not even call himself a "progressive" artist. I stumbled over his web site while doing some random surfing. His entire album Apsilene is downloadable in relatively high-quality MP3's from his site ... which is what I did. This is very odd music. I could easily see a hardened prog snob turning his nose up at it due to the soft, movie-soundtrack style of the music. But the arrangements are so strange, yet beautiful, that I would have to classify this album as prog. It's difficult to describe the music. It seems to be more about playing up and down harmonics in a rhythmic way than about melody. You could almost hear these "melodies" as being produced by tuned wind chimes, though the timbres are mostly organ, acoustic guitar and bass. Drums are used too, usually to create a rhythm that's a counterpoint to the rhythms being made by the tonal instruments. It's hard to describe, but easy to listen to; hypnotic and relaxing without being at all new-agey. The "melodies" might almost be randomly generated, except that there are places where some of the sequences are reprised or harmonized or counterpointed, meaning these strange sequences were composed rather than "found". Download ... listen ... give it a couple of spins before you make a call on it. It didn't really sink in with me immediately, but now I really like it. Very nice stuff, and not mainstream. -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||Click here for Ian Eccles-Smith's web site|
Suffocating The Bloom (93)
...And Every Blossom (93, EP)
as the world (95)
When the Sweet Turns Sour (96)
Cowboy Poems Free (00)
Progfest '94: The Official Bootleg (02, 2CD Live)
A Little Nonsense: Now and Then (02, 3CD Live)
as the world (05, Reissue with bonus CD)
The End is Beautiful (05)
Echolyn at NEARFest 2008 - Chris Buzby (above, keyboards), Ray Weston (vocals, bass, below),
Tom Hyatt (bass), Brett Kull (guitar) and Paul Ramsey (drums). Photo by Fred Trafton
I just saw Echolyn at NEARFest 2008 and they were great. It led me to realize that their GEPR entry was woefully stale, and so in some e-mail exchanges with guitarist Brett Kull, I promised to update their entry before the release of their next album, which is currently in the works. Plus, it gives me an excuse to publish a pretty cool photo I took of them at NEARFest. (The photo's been modified a bit just to bring the band members closer together ... their floor monitors were really about twice as wide as they look on the photo ... could you tell?). This entry will bring you up to date on the band's history after the breakup. Their story up 'til then is maintained below, mostly from the original GEPR before I took it over in 2000.
The band's experience with Sony Records, with whom they signed for as the world, was not a pleasant one for them. In various interviews (and also a discussion I had with bassist Tom Hyatt a couple of years back), they've said that the pressure was too high, the label wanted too much control over the music and the album's sound, and the whole attitude had changed from being a bunch of friends doing something they loved into something that seemed too much like work. The band split up after the release of as the world, with most of the members going on to other projects, including Always Almost, Finneus Gauge and Grey Eye Glances.
After a few years had gone by, most of the members got together again (without Tom Hyatt) to put out Cowboy Poems Free. Ramsey played bass on this album while drums were taken over by newcomer Jordan Perlson, who also played in Chris Buzby's brother Jonn's prog band Land of Chocolate. I haven't heard Cowboy Poems Free, but I remember at the time it was being sold on an ugly, poorly designed web site known only to prog web literati. It was both acclaimed by those who were wishing for more Echolyn and panned by some who thought it too different from previous efforts. There's a negative comment about the album in the GEPR's Finneus Gauge entry, by another reviewer. Cowboy Poems Free has been out of print for a while, but the band has recently remastered it and will be reissuing it soon. If and when I get a chance to hear it, I'll add my own thoughts.
Encouraged by the popularity of Cowboy Poems Free, the band undertook a major new project, this time without Perlson (except as an "additional musician" playing percussion). Ray Weston took over bass duties in addition to vocals, so the band was down to a four-piece at this time. Their epic Mei is a (nearly) 50-minute long single piece and includes a small orchestra. I must admit I didn't take a liking to this album on the first listen. I was a huge fan of as the world with its multi-part vocal harmonies that sounded like Gentle Giant, and my first take on Mei was that it sounded like lounge music. To be sure, a really long piece of lounge music, but it just sounded -- as a friend of mine used to put it -- "straight". But after seeing Echolyn at NEARFest 2008 and being totally amazed, I've given Mei several more spins. While it's true that this album doesn't have a lot of "in yer face" weirdness going on, repeated listenings reveal that there's a lot of subtle intricacy to this album. I think that "mature" is the right word ... none of that brash, rebellious, anti-establishment type prog, just quietly brilliant, melodious, unobnoxious complexity that really grows on you after repeated listenings. Perhaps Mei is to as the world as Tull's A Passion Play was to Thick as a Brick. A lot of people didn't like A Passion Play at first either, but in retrospect it's one of Tull's masterworks. I think Mei may be Echolyn's "subtle masterwork".
If I had to say something bad about Mei, it's that it's obviously a concept album of some sort, and I haven't got a clue what the concept is. There's a beautiful insert full of an odd array of sepia-toned photos with one-line lyrical excerpts, but I don't have any context for them. Are they dust bowl photos? Burned-out industrial steel towns? Depression breadlines? All of the above? I know I may not be the most historically literate person in the world, but I just don't get it. Still, from a purely musical point of view, Mei is great and can be enjoyed even without a firm grasp of what the concept is.
The End is Beautiful is the latest studio album as of this writing, and it's about 3 years old. This album sees the return of bassist Tom Hyatt to complete the Echolyn reunion. An album of songs rather than a long suite like Mei, The End ... is easier to "get" on the first listening. It seems to have as much influence from The Beatles (particularly "Lovesick Morning") or Toto ("The End is Beautiful", which also contains a recognizable musical motif from Stravinsky's The Firebird Suite, initially sung as, "How do I tell her the end is beautiful?" and then reprised in variations on guitar and synth) as it does from any prog band you could name. Not to worry, though ... there's plenty of jerky tempo changes, odd meters, 4- or 5-part vocal harmonies and instrumental breaks to make this album utterly unacceptable to most listeners who aren't well-versed in the prog repertoire. At this point (and I think on Mei as well), Echolyn is recording in guitarist Brett Kull's studio, and so there's nobody telling them what they're supposed to sound like, and also nobody pushing them to finish the recording on a schedule. That may lead to many years between albums, but at least the albums are very good once they're complete. And also completely personal. It's darn hard to complete the sentence, "Echolyn sounds like ..."
The End is Beautiful is very good, but also very different from the other two albums I'm familiar with, Mei and as the world. I guess this is a good thing, but it will make each new album a tough listen with not many references to their former (or later) sound. I can't say there's much of an "Echolyn sound", though I also think I would recognize a new Echolyn song just because of Weston's vocals, the vocal harmonies and the style of the orchestration that backs them up.
I do consider myself something of an Echolyn fan, particularly after seeing them at NEARFest 2008 where they played many songs from the albums that were completely recognizable, note-for-note copies and yet somehow also didn't sound much like the albums at all. How do they do that? Any of the three albums I discussed here are great and well worth checking out if you haven't heard them yet. -- Fred Trafton
Echolyn (Cowboy Poems Free Line-Up - Ray Weston (vocals), Chris Buzby (keyboards),
Jordan Perlson (drums), Paul Ramsey (bass), and Brett Kull (guitar). Photo by Mike Monti
Old reviews, last updated 9/12/05:
Echolyn represents the lighter side of progressive music: the
influence, catchy tunes, repetitive choruses, mainstream
style ... the list goes on. But I cannot deny that they are good
musicians, the writing is solid, and that I like them. They take the
style of Kansas (group voicings, power chords,
overlaid keyboards) and make progressive rock out of it. Throw in some counterpoint,
a busy rhythm section, and thoughtful, introspective lyrics, and you've got
Echolyn. The band strides the fine line between
neo-prog and progressive
and somehow manages to capture the best of both worlds. While completely
accessible to the average listener, and to anyone who isn't into
progressive rock, they have enough going on to keep the attention of
people like myself who need a little dissonance and/or complexity to
Prediction time: Echolyn is going to be big. Real big. They have all the tools to blow this brand of lite-progressive into the mainstream. But are they representative of the strongest aspects of the genre? Over time, they will achieve popularity, but only expose a small corner of what progressive music is and can be. Any attention brought to the genre will be lost on bands like Xaal, Deux ex Machina, and others that equal if not eclipse Echolyn in potential.
|Suffocating The Bloom contains a lot of variation, but it is well contructed, like a really good concept album. I don't particularly like the singer's tone of voice, but it's OK, and he more than makes up for it with his convincing delivery of some good lyrics. There are plently great sections of music in this CD. This contains my favourite drummer of these 5: his drums have been tuned to make maximum excitement in fills, and he uses his china cymbal really well. One thing I don't like, especially on first listen, is the start of the album, in which the guitar player sounds very amateurish, although he later proves he's not. Mind you, it's amateurish in the same way that I think Steve Howe sounds amateurish in some bits of Asia! Overall, a very good album, although I can't listen to it lots of times in a row.|
|Compared to the previous albums, as the world is a much better recording. With as the world, they build upon the sound they established on their earlier albums where the music is characterized by a complex interplay of each instrument, then overlayed with thick vocal harmonies. Their composition does not follow the classic jazz format where one instrument breaks off for a solo before returning to the theme, but rather they adhere to the philosophy that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Each instrument does something different and plays an integral role in producing the finished sound. They have strong progressive tendencies as evidenced by the rapid time signature changes, which bring to mind parts of Gentle Giant and Happy the Man, however I would not classify them as neo-progressive since they sound nothing like Marillion, IQ, or that genre. They have jazz overtones, a tiny bit of folk, and some classical moments. The vocal harmonies, which are one of the strengths of Echolyn, remind me of Steely Dan, especially in the types of chords used. Their lyrics are thoughtful, but not really deep. However, they're not cryptic either, which I find a plus. Overall, as the world is a very mature effort containing a good balance of songs: some with pretty melodies, some with discord, and most with comlex and shifting rythms. As such it may appeal to a variety of listeners, but by the same token there will probably be parts that each listener may not particularly like. My experience is that the album gets better with every listen as I hear new things and gain greater appreciation for where the music is headed. Because of this Echolyn has become one of my favorite bands. Unfortunately, the latest news is that they've broken up. It looks like another talented band falls by the wayside. -- Doug Hobbs|
|These five American musicians present the usual lineup with vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. Flutes and strings are used in some of the acoustic parts. The compositions on Suffocating the Bloom and As the World are based on introspective lyrics but never neglect the instrumental aspect of the music. The clever interaction between the voices and the other instruments introduces elements of complexity to this otherwise very accessible music. They actually pull-off an excellent fusion of the best elements from numerous influences. -- Paul Charbonneau|
[See Always Almost |
Finneus Gauge |
Grey Eye Glances]
Click here for the Official Echolyn web site
Eclat De Vers (91)
Eclat II (92)
Volumes Un & Deux (92?, Contains Eclat De Vers and II)
Volume Trois (97)
En Concert (98)
|I knew that I was in for a treat from the moment I saw the magic square on Eclat's new CD II. This Musea release contains 9 songs dealing with the Nornes, alchemy, the Celts, rhythmic cycles, Led Zeppelin, numerology, the magic square, the Grim Reaper, and the circus. A vast amount of territory to cover in 40 minutes! The lyrics and booklet are in French but the subject matter is so fascinating that I had to translate them to get a better understanding. Manipulation of numbers and letters is a key aspect of Eclat's songs. The second song Vitriol (the alchemist term for sulphuric acid) discusses the inner workings of man on his journey to wisdom. Each of the three verses contains seven lines, the first letter of each line reading down spelling Vitriol. Opera Magique uses the magic square as the basis for the song and for constructing its lyrics. The three verses consisting of six lines of six words each use the letters in the magic square as the first letter of each word. A very intriguing and mathematical approach to music! Eclat is a contemporary French progressive band of accomplished musicians: Alain Chiarazzo (guitars and chants), Fabrice Di-Mondo (drums, percussion, and vocals), Laurent Thomann (bass), and Pascal Versini (piano and keyboards). Eclat plays a varied music. Beautiful bucolic and acoustic melodies and lyrics alternate with jazzy progressive fireworks. This band really cooks! One high point (as if each of the nine songs isn't) is Page Orientale, a tribute to Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and traditional Indian music. Chiarazzo's acoustic guitar work is outstanding and sounds like Alain Markusfeld's classic Le Desert Noir. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!|
|Eden was a french canadian band who released only one very obscure album, in 1978. They were a quartet of bass/guitar/drums/keyboards. Their music was a nice mixture of Quebecois-styled prog/folk a la Harmonium, Cano or Le Temps mixed up with a few classical references, they even tackle Faure's "Pavane", complete with some nice vocal arrangements that gives the song a bit of their own personality. Whatever happened [to them] after the album was released remains a mystery. -- Alain Mallette|
French duo evidently sounding like SFF or Bo Hansson.
|Huge band with very complex style and long tracks, lots of folk and classical references. Erwartung is supposed to be the best.|
On The Way To Eden (70)
Rudimentary in both sound quality and instrumentation (guitar, organ/piano, bass, drums), On
the Way to Eden (LP Katema KA 33.507; CD Musea FGBG 4404.AR) is an obscure but enjoyable
collection of eight instrumental tracks covering many of the bases of early progressive rock.
The title track is a beautifully melodious, rollicking rock number with a mellifluous
guitar / twin-keyboard interplay and tight rhythmic accents that is a distant forebear to
the mature symphonic rock style of the seventies. "Sad Dream", on the other hand, goes beyond
the whiter shade of pale, as guitarist Jean-Pierre Alarcen melodises in blue against
keyboardist/composer Henry Garella's Bach-cum-Percy Sledge organ figures.
The short quote from "Frère Jacob" at the beginning of the track serves to remind that
for these progressive musicians the concepts "eclecticism" and "fusion" often still meant
flinging whatever was at hand at the wall and seeing what would stick.
The rest of the songs are basically blues-based rock jams with jazzy flavour and many Hammond solos, obviously influenced by Vanilla Fudge, Traffic and even early Deep Purple. Drummer Michel Jullien at least shows his debt to Ian Paice, especially in his mandatory solo on "Reinyet Number". The style is very dated, but the playing is vigorous and melodic writing on the better numbers (e.g. the slickly mellow sixties-style melodising juxtaposed with wailing guitar solo in "Walking in the Sea" that compares favourably to early Camel) lively in the way that makes this engaging even to those of us who don't much care for the style. In any case, the album nicely encapsulates the essence of certain early-progressive musical approaches, even as they were about to be superseded by the more ambitious styles. [Contrary to] what some sources claim, this CD re-release does not include the band's only B-side "Under the Sun" as a bonus.
After Eden Rose wilted, Alarcen planted another, more progressive specimen, the much better known Sandrose. Though the other three Eden Rose members eventually would join the group, its songs and approach came from Alarcen and reflect much more the new decade's progressive style, rather than the old one's. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Click here to order Eden Rose from Musea Records
Celtic Worship (95)
Celtic Psalms (96)
Celtic Praise (97)
Celtic Christmas (97)
Celtic Worship 2 (98)
Celtic Reflections on Hymns (98)
Celtic Lullabies (98)
All in a Life (99)
Isle of Tides (02)
In a Little Room (03, Live)
New Celtic Worship (05)
This is a wonderful Christian-Celtic-folk-Prog band, in the same style of groups like Clannad or Loreena McKennitt, and with ties to Iona ... their drummer was the drummer for Iona's first 5 records and Troy Donockley from Iona plays as a guest on several records.
They're based in Yorkshire, England, and were formed by siblings Richard and Sarah Lacy, David Bird, Jon Large and Terl Bryant. Richard is a recording engineer, who owned his own studio and this is where the band recorded all their records. All the others members have professional careers and families, so music has to be divided in time with these other activities.
The music in the first records is original praise and worship with a few covers by other Christian artists in each album with arrangements by the main composers being Richard, Sarah and David. The music is calm, with soft guitar, keys and drums almost ambient on some parts and more rock in others, creating a very relaxing mood where melody and nice arrangements are the focus point, these are well trained and skillful musicians and they try to work as a whole in benefit of the music than trying to impress with complexity or impressive solos, with the beautiful voice of Sarah Lacy who reminds me of Loreena McKennitt.
Celtic Lullabies is mix of original material and arrangements of classic lullabies songs intended for children in a contemporary-celtic-prog form.
By the album All in a Life they set aside the praise and worship lyrics and they concentrate in more of a everyday-life matters but always with a deep spiritual roots, the music becomes a bit more complex and elaborate.
On the album Isle of Tides they create a masterpiece with all the above ingredients, celtic-folk-prog, in a perfect mix , sometimes soft and delicate, and sometimes more powerful and rocking with a big array of instruments (a common thing in all their records) with over 64 minutes of music that never gets boring or dull, it's has interesting changes of rhythms and where lyrics and music flows seamless perfect, and while I enjoy every album of this group this is the one I highly recommended.
The New Worship album is a return to their roots an is again worship music with the same style of music, and it where it seems to have a change of members for the first time, where Richard and Sarah are the only original members.
Click here for Eden's Bridge's (currently
sparse) web site
Click here for Eden's Bridge's MySpace page
Click here for the Northern Lights MySpace page, Eden's Bridge's acoustic side-project
The Fruit Fallen (08)
Edensong (The Fruit Fallen line-up) - TD Towers (bass), Arthur Sugden (piano, organ),
Rachel Kiel (flute), Mike Drucker (violin), Matt Cozin (drums, percussion), James Byron
Schoen (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars)
Edensong's debut release, The Fruit Fallen, is a very diverse, melodic prog album. Diverse because the acoustic guitar and flute parts get equal time (more time, actually) with the grungy prog-metal guitars. The acoustic parts remind one of Tull or Camel (both, I suppose, because of the flute, but also because of extensive use of acoustic guitars), while other parts have more metallic, powerful guitars setting the mood. There's also some parts that seem to have a Celtic music influence, due to the acoustic violin and hand drums. The nice thing is how seamlessly these styles blend to create a very satisfying album. In fact, this is among my favorite releases for 2008, and I've heard a lot of great albums in 2008!
Band leader James Byron Schoen (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars) has suffered through quite a bit of turnover in band personnel. The folks shown in the photo are the core players on The Fruit Fallen, but the line-up has almost completely changed since then. James told me he would be announcing the new line-up shortly, but went on to say, "I want to make sure it sticks first, but so far, so good."
One word of advice: don't turn off the CD player when the last song seems to be over. If you wait through about 3 minutes of silence, the song picks up again, and some of the best parts of the song are in this "secret" section. A bonus for those with a bit of patience!
I can only conclude by saying this is a great album from an up-and-coming band. It will be interesting to hear how the line-up changes affect the music, but I get the impression this band is mostly Schoen's "baby", so I would expect follow-ups to be along the same lines as The Fruit Fallen. Schoen also mentioned that the new line-up has "started working on some new material and are preparing to play some shows in '09 (hopefully by early in the year)". I'll be looking forward to it!
Edensong will be playing at the Three Rivers Progressive Rock Festival in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburg), August 8-9, 2009.
Click here for Edensong's web site
Click here for Edensong's MySpace page
Click here to order The Fruit Fallen from CD Baby
Generazioni (Storia De Sempre) (74)
|One shot Italian band with the rare album Storia Di Sempre Very good and solid melodic Italian progressive.|
|E.A. Poe's sole release, Generazioni (Storia di Sempre), is from around 1974. It's really grabbed my ears. While it's not quite up to the standards of PFM's Per Un Amico, it's at least equal to their Storia di un Minuto. Like most Italian symphonic, it's very melodic and refined and the vocals are nearly as tasteful (i.e., not harsh) as PFM. There's no musician credits given on the CD booklet, but it sounds like a quartet of drums, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and keys (piano, organ and synth). The main focus is the interplay between guitar and keyboards. The guitar solos are somewhat blues-inflected in places. The music covers a variety of moods from rockin' to mellow and laid back. Nicely done and well worth a listen.|
E.A. Poe is another italian group that tried to surf the progressive rock tide
storming Italy in the mid 70's. E.A. Poe issued a single LP release named Generazioni
(Storie di sempre) in 1974, being re-issued on CD in 1991. The CD leaflet does not
provide any information on the group which seems to be a four piece ensemble made of
drum, guitar, keyboard and bass. Wind instruments are surfacing on some song. The record
fails on musical consistency and coherence, aimless pointing to different musical genres
without settling on a specific mood. Some of their songs may effortlessly be mistaken as
belonging to one of the first Banco del
Mutuo Soccorso's record.
Others have a more Floydesque psychedelic vein or spot a symphonic mood as PFM Storia di un Minuto. There is some political background appearing in the text of their songs, especially in the "Intro" song declaration. The male voice is weak and cannot modulate decently. E.A. Poe should be considered a minor italian group who produced non-seminal music. However, it's still worth the purchase if you like to make your italian prog rock collection complete. -- Ludovico Vecchione.
|The identities of E.A. Poe members have been revealed! See link below for this and other interesting information. -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||Click here for E.A. Poe's entry on the Italian Prog web site|
Suction 8 (86), Sarcastic Fringeheads (90)
Purportedly Earth and Fire-ish 80's English neo-prog
Very different from the standard UK so-called "progressive" fare; it's clear that Edge have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack, yet their music is still very accessible. Vocalist Frances Pearless fronts the sound, her voice having many of the same qualities as Tracy Hitchings in her adventures with Quasar, but without being as unyielding to the music; Pealess' voice is more subtle and generally works better in the band context. The flute plays an important lead position in many of the musical passages, conjuring up memories of Focus, Horslips and Tull. The band has no trouble shifting gears, moods and styles, and borrow and refine some of their better ideas from the jazz school. There are few shocks in their music: the signature, tempo and dynamic changes are well thought out and seem to have a purpose in support of the writing and the lyrics. This band has a level of sophistication rarely found in their neo-prog contemporaries. Highly Recommended.
Kick Off Your Muddy Boots (75)
Paradise Ballroom (77)
|Moody Blues drummer. Solo albums are good, but not progressive.|
Oriental Christmas (85)
Still Dream (88)
Astro Logical (91)
Angel's Promise (97)
The Bursting (00, recorded '81)
|One of the more simpler new symphonic French bands, with beautiful melodies and great guitar, yet they have a drummer who doesn't know the difference between a fast and a slow song. Very Genesis like and good for new prog lovers, but if you like great drummers, ignore.|
|80's progressive band from France who play instrumental rock similar to the new Djam Karet. Technically pretty proficient, their two releases are titled Oriental Christmas and Still Dream.|
|A French instrumental group on the Musea label. Their first album Oriental Christmas compares to Defector/Spectral Mornings era Hackett. Their second effort Still Dream is in the same vein, but with more of unique sound. Astro Logical their third effort has more of a new agey feel to it. Either of the first two are a good place to start. They also appear on the Musea Compilation CD (Enchantment).|
|Four piece instrumental band from southern France, featuring Marc Ceccotti (lead guitar,guitar synth,keyboards), Jean-Louis Suzzoni (rhythm guitar, keyboards), Noel Damon (keyboards), Jacky Rosati (Drums,percussion,keyboards). Their sound seems to be in an ongoing state of positive development, although the common thread is Ceccotti's Frippoid guitar and the emphasis on the top- end of the sound, while leaving the rhythm section (w/ pedal bass) powerful but merely functional. The first album had two facets: one was an electronic driven sound, typified by the title track, "Spring Road" and "Souvenirs"; the other was a more straightforward progressive rock sounding not far from Steve Hackett circa Defector, albeit with a stronger Fripp influence - in tracks like "Agatha," "Tepid Wind," "FD Smile" and "Absynthe." The album's best tracks seem to be those that straddle these two poles: "Ca...Li...Vi...Sco" and "Imaginary Dance" are probably the album's two most powerfut tracks. The weakness of Oriental Christmas is that, while the writing is quite good, the songs seem somewhat structurally underdeveloped, a problem which was taken care of on the second album. Still Dream moves forward with the band's basic sound intact, but with a more arty feel and sonic experimentation, with less emphasis on rock power and more on art-content, all in a very uniquely french way. Tracks like "October Dawns," "Butterflychild" and the title track illustrate this shift well. There are also more solo oriented tracks ("Gael and Selena," "Fee D'Hiver," "Twine"), and the CD bonus cut "Heart Door" is a dark and moody powerhouse that is among the album's finest. Overall this is probably their best album, and definitely the best starting point. Astro Logical is by far the most compositionally advanced of the three, but it relies more on synth and complexity than on the power and simplicity of the earlier stuff. It churns for a solid hour through a dense jungle of constantly changing soundscape of odd rhythms, unusual signatures, disjointed melodies, all twisting and turning and never settling down. few of the twelve songs have any recurring theme that the listener can take away from it. It's good, but not for beginners. Start with Still Dream.|
|Edhels are one of the bands to which many other bands are compared. Edhels are a four-piece progressive rock band from France, whose music combines very well the melodic sensibilities of progressive rock and the jazz inflections of fusion. Led by the able fretwork of Marc Ceccotti, this is progressive rock with the guitar at the forefront, unlike most bands, which tend to be keyboard-heavy. In some sense they could be regarded as a more accessible version of Djam Karet. Oriental Christmas was their first release, and one of the first releases to put the Musea label on the map. Their equally good, second and third works, Still Dream, and Astrological, respectively, are also available.|
|Similar to Djam Karet, but not as good, IMO.|
|Edhels, by way of some rave reviews, seem to have stolen some of the thunder from their Musea compatriots. I don't know why, they're pretty mediocre to be honest. On the plus side, Oriental Christmas has some nice guitarwork and pleasant melodies. On the other hand, the compositions seem half-finished, the musical complexity is very much on the amateur level, the keyboardist seems to have modeled himself after post-Duke Tony Banks, and the drummer comes from the Alan White school of bang-thudding. Still Dream shows signs of improvement. The band has learned to complete the songs they begin to write, and they have also learned ways to cover up their less-than-adequate drummer's playing--a neat trick. Unfortunately, one of the disguises they use is a lighter, almost new-agey tone, so most of Still Dream is pretty boring. The one exception is the seven-minute "Heart Door," a fine track which far exceeds anything else the band has ever done. I haven't heard the band's third album, Astro Logical, but I wouldn't expect the band to suddenly put out a classic release, so I'm not anxiously awaiting the chance to hear it. If you get an opportunity to hear "Heart Door," I'd say go for it. Otherwise, you can entirely pass Edhels by without feeling you're missing an essential chapter in the history of progressive music, because you aren't.|
On The Bursting (1981):
Entirely instrumental, like the first three Edhels albums released officially, the band's real debut album The Bursting compositionally is on par at least with the band's first official work Oriental Christmas. However, I haven't heard on the band's following albums such a mind-blowing, virtuosic and tasteful playing of the acoustic guitar that Marc did on "Russian Puzzle" (why have you stopped doing so in the future, Marc?). Believe it or not, but I think that even the two Mighty Steves (Hackett & Howe) were always proud of themselves when they demonstrated such guitar acrobatics. All the three tracks with the hints to Classical Music in their titles really contain the motives of European Symphonism in their structures and Edhels ("Symphony No. 1") is especially filled with them.
On Angel's Promise:
Click here to read
Vitaly's reviews in their entirety on the ProgressoR web site
A Space Between Ever And Never (90), Ice (91)
Italian neo-prog band, they actually have a unique sound pretty much defined by the stylized guitar of Antonio Moschetto and the vocals of Mario Gulisano, which overall could draw comparisons to the first album by Galadriel, or based on the vocals - to Nick Barrett of Pendragon. The first album was a little thin, although it did have some powerful moments evidenced throughout, but no more so than on the intro to "Be Yourself," where Moschetto, keyboardist Fiorentino and drummer Bisignani prepare a blisteringly complex polyrhythmic attack leading ever-so-smoothly into Gulisano's vocals. The CD has an annoying bonus track that's recorded at about half the volume of the other six tracks. The second album Ice is far more cohesive overall, but gets a little poppy towards the end.
Ice is the second release by Italy's Edith. A band firmly entrenched in the neo-progressive mold, Edith offers a more conservative approach than classic Italian bands of the seventies. One of the reasons I tend not to appreciate the neo-progressive bands is that many of them sound way too much like Marillion. Some lack any originality altogether. While Edith does sound primarily influenced by Marillion, their music does have its own style, albiet highly derivative. The new-agey cover is representative of the feel of the music - Rothery styled guitar riffs backed with keyboard washes. The rhythm section seems capable of doing a lot more than the snare-bass plodding and occasional fills that it does. Sung in English, the vocals sound vaguely like Fish or Peter Gabriel and tend to fit the music well. While not un-talented, the band seems to avoid making their music overly complex. Some listeners will appreciate this approach, but I fall into the camp that grows bored with straight-forward, lyrical writing. After the fifth or sixth song I have trouble listening to the rest of the album, because there is little change or variation. After several listenings Ice hasn't grown on me, though I find some of the songs catchy. Catchiness in music tends to lead to a short shelf life. There is nothing unpleasant about this band but I still can not recommend them to anybody but the neo-prog fans. Ice isn't a bad album, but when compared to the progressive classics of the past and their contemporaries, it still falls short. Even compared their fellow countrymen, Nuova Era, Ezra Winston, or Eris Pluvia, they don't stack up. Edith seems capable of much more as a band, and I hope they achieve their potential some day.
Allee des Tilleuls (76)
Horizon Digital (78)
|French fusion/prog band featuring a sublimely talented female keyboardist (Ann Ballester) and a fine John McLaughlin-influenced guitarist (Marius "Mimi" Lorenzini). The quartet is completed by the nimble rhythm section of Josquin Turenne des Pres on bass and Alain Gouillard on drums. The music often resembles the Canterbury fusion of Hatfield and The North or middle-period Soft Machine. Lorenzini's deftly rendered guitar runs, alternately electric and acoustic, are just what the doctor ordered. Ballester uses an amazingly clear and ringing tone on her ARP synthesizers ... I'd be hard pressed to find someone else with a tone so rich. She is also a fine pianist. In composition, the songs are almost equally divided amongst Ballester, Turenne and Lorenzini, with Turenne writing the English lyrics to two songs. The songs themselves house some intricate time-signature shifts which make the songs consistently interesting. The track "La Fille du Ruisseau" is an especially interesting composition: the first half alternates between consonant bossa-nova styled verses and slightly dissonant synth interjections, the second half being a tasty synth/guitar solo duet. I'd highly recommend this one to fans of Isotope, Soft Machine, Gong, etc.|
About a year ago now, I received Allée des Tilleuls from Musea Records for review. I was not that impressed. I wrote the following review:
This album does have some personnel turnover since the previous album. Josquin Turenne des Pres (bass) left to join Magma for a while after the release of Aliquante, and was replaced for Digital Horizon by François Grillot, whose influences include Stanley Clarke and Jaco Pastorius. In addition, Gong's Mireille Bauer joins ES for this album, her next band after leaving Gong post-Expresso II (1978).
In addition to the original songs from Horizon Digital, this CD re-release also contains five bonus tracks which were demos for a planned fourth album that never saw the light of day. The line-up had again changed for these recordings, but the sound is similar to the rest of this CD. Perhaps I would change the influence percentages to 20% Zappa, 60% Weather Report with 10% '70's easy listening jazz and another 10% blues. But these five titles certainly coexist well with the third album material on this CD from a stylistic standpoint. The recordings, particularly of the drums, are better sounding too, though they're overall a bit more austere given their "demo" production level. But very good recordings nonetheless. In fact, these may be my favorite songs on the re-release.
[See Gong |
Lorenzini, Mimi |
Click here to order all remastered
albums from Musea Records
Eela Craig (71)
One Niter (76)
Hats of Glass (77)
Missa Universalis (78)
Virgin Oiland (80)
|Initial band featuring Bognermayr/Zuschrader. They were a very synphonic progressive rock group. Their music was very lush and majestic, build on a foundation of keyboard sounds. They released five albums, none of which are available on CD, which are now collectors items of some value, commanding upto $30 for the last four and upto $500 (!) for the first self-titled one.|
|Austrians Eela Craig have released a handful of progressive albums in the symphonic vein. One-Niter is an excellent release and is vaguely similar to late 70's symphonic German bands like Eloy.|
|Eela Craig were perhaps the best-known progressive band from Austria, and one of the few bands I can think of with three (!) keyboardists. (Utopia and Savage Rose are the only other two such bands I can think of.) Their first album was released around 1974-75 only in Austria on the ProDisc label, and is today very rare and expensive. (Does anyone know when it will ever be reissued?) The second album, One Nighter arrived in 1976 with much wider distribution and to much acclaim in proggressive circles, although I haven't heard this one either. :-( Hats of Glass was the band's third album. Although I'm usually wary of albums that start off with cover versions, Chris deBurgh's "A Spaceman Came Travelling" seems an inspired and unexpected choice, and one that lends itself well to the triple keyboard attack. Hubert Bognermayr, Harald Zuschrader and Hubert Schnauer are all creative synthesists, and their piano and organ tones are rich and full sounding. The interplay between the three keyboards is well illustrated on the fine "Holstenwall Fair," my favourite song on the whole album. Guitarist Fritz Riedelberger (who sings on most of the songs on this album) gets a chance to show off his Dave Gilmour-influenced playing on the ten-minute title-track, while on the whimsically-titled instrumental "(Remove another hat of glass and you could easily find assorted kinds of) Cheese," his guitar rebounds quite well off of Bognermayr/Zuschraders' synths and Schnauer's electric piano. The other songs aren't quite as notable, with the possible exception of "Caught on the Air," a nice ballad with great vocal harmonies strongly suggestive of Yes. The band's 1978 album, Missa Universalis was conceived as a "rock mass," an idea I thought had died with the psychedelic sixties. Given the concept, not to mention liner notes like ."..for young people, modern religious music provides a bridge to God," it doesn't seem very encouraging. Surprisingly, Missa Universalis went above and beyond the call of duty. Again the two longest tracks form a centrepiece for the album. It starts off with the amazing "Kyrie," percolating with triple synthesizers twisting around each other and building to an electric climax into a majestic rock finale with soloing guitar. Brilliant! The "Sanctus" (this album's only song to feature guitarist Riedelberger on lead vocals) is really a two-parter; Part One based on a Bruckner mass, Part Two is a rock piece with rotating keyboard solos a la "Holstenwall Fair." The one thing that makes this album so delightful is the impeccable production. Note the piano in the "Gloria," the acoustic guitars in "Agnus Dei," etc. All the instruments are imbued with a luscious sound that makes the album interesting to listen to on so many levels. The one thing that ruins both albums for me, though, is drummer Frank Hueber, who seems only to know the most skeletal rock riffs. If Eela Craig only had a better drummer, Missa Universalis would be nearly perfect. Still, this is one that begs to be reissued.|
Eela Craig were one of Austria's few multi-album progressive rock bands in 1970's. Their debut
album came out in 1971 in an edition of 1500 copies and was rated higher than Tarkus by the
critical establishment. Though I'm not a fan of that sympathetic armadillo-cum-main battle
tank, I would say that this opinion has been coloured by patriotic pride, but it remained the
accepted truth for years because until the CD re-release in 1997 (Garden of Delights CD019),
next to no one had actually heard the album. Eela Craig is essentially well-made but rather
standard psych, with four longish tracks steeped in the blues scale and unhurried, jazzy
rhythms. The focus is on Heinz Gerstmair's skilful but turgid electric guitar soloing, which
ploughs through the inevitable cliches of blues-based psych improvisations, and Wil Orthofer's
similarly inclined vocals; piano, slightly Procol Harum-ish
organ and Harald Zuscharder's
occasionally inventive flute complete the picture. Some of the jams or small instrumental ideas
take off rather nicely, but there is a general air of mundanity hanging over it all and some of
the sections sound not only dated but even amateurish ("Selfmade trip" is a good example,
especially in the lyric department). Also some of the psychedelic cliches are clumsily thrown
into the melee, such as the completely unmotivated, "Careful with That Axe, Eugene"-style
primal scream that appears one and a half minute into "New born child" and fades out with
maximum awkwardness. "New born child" does include a delicate piano section played by the
song's composer Hubert Bognermayr and featuring some truly mellifluous flute from Zuschrader
that hints at their still latent classical-symphonic tendencies. For a more rivetting
psychedelic workout from Austria, I'd recommend trying
Paternoster's only album instead of
this, though its four bonus tracks (see below) are of more interest.
The division of musical interests within the band resulted in a 50-50 split in 1972, with half the band leaving to form a more conventionally bluesy Ice Planet, while the faction of Bognermayr, Zuschrader and bassist Gerhard Englisch continued in the more progressive direction. Their first recorded appearance was on Dimensionen zwischen Pop und Klassik, a rock/classical fusion concept album composed by New Music composer and Eela Craig's initial mentor Alfred Peschek. The two short tracks from this album that appear on the CD version of Eela Craig, "Irminsul" and "Yggdrasil", seem to mainly explore the dimensions between vapid and disposable, dispensing with static percussion noodling, dated organ effects, piano minimalism and attractively spacey but ultimately too slight guitar/bass interplay that may have sounded revolutionary at the time, but now seems mostly prophetic of the ambient music vistas about to unfold over the next two decades. A more assertive Eela Craig is revealed on the final two bonus tracks, "Stories" and "Cheese", which appeared as a single in 1974, and make this CD worthwhile. "Stories" introduces a melancholy, Mellotron-assisted atmosphere and silky vocal style that evoke pathos in its positive sense and which would dominate the band's next few releases (in fact, a rewrite of "Stories" would appear on their third album Hats of Glass under the title "Grover's Mill"). "Cheese" has a slicker, rollicking instrumental opening, with the first appearance in Eela Craig's music of a typically of-the-period funky rhythm guitar part, which only serves to deepen the Mellotron melodrama of the vocal section by contrast.
In 1975 the band were finally signed up by Vertigo and the next year saw the release of One Niter, perhaps their strongest individual album. Consisting of two long medleys of segued tracks and three unaffiliated songs, the album is a smorgasbord of sumptuous symphonic sounds, a few precious, ethereal vocal sections, and surprisingly sweaty, funk-tinged electric piano and rhythm guitar licks. The album achieves lot of its power through delicious contrasts between these elements. For example, "Benedictus" and the short Bach quote "Fuge" are soaked in classical sanctity with lavish orchestral smears and baroque, harpsichord-like electric piano arpeggiation, but are immediately followed by the profane "V.A.T." whose throbbing bass and dirty guitar jamming makes one expect a shrill female chorus to blast out any minute with the cry of "SHAFT" (doesn't happen, of course). The expanded line-up with no less than three keyboard players is used for good effect, never overcrowding or overblowing the arrangements, yet creating a rich and sophisticated sound that stays generally closer to the mellow side. Despite excellent individual moments, the album has an episodic quality about it, racing from a symphonic outpouring to a funky jam without much actual long-range development, a string of exciting but ultimately isolated one-night mini-dramas. Still the band obviously got their rocks off with this One Niter, as none of their subsequent albums were quite as rocking or consistently strong as this one.
Hats of Glass cuts down on both complexity and funk to create a still symphonic but more uneven album. Among the best cuts is their wide-screen version of Chris De Burgh's originally voice-and-acoustic-guitar narrative of von Däniken-esque theology, "A Spaceman Came Travelling" (far better than the cloy sentimentality and middle-of-the-road banality of the likes of "The Lady in Red" that would eventually weigh him down), which successfully decorates the original's folksy vocal melody with bubbling, crystalline synthesizers and electric guitar that lend the song a darker, cathedral-like ambience, while heightening its emotional urgency. The title track is mainly a vehicle for Fritz Riedelberger's orgastic guitar wailing, his lavishly harmonised lines razing melodic trails across the day-glow facade of string-synths, while drummer Frank Hueber does his best to cover his lack of technique by trashing around his toms. Most of the other material is in the vein of contemporaneous German symphonic bands, replete with effusive keyboard chords and gauzy vocal harmonies, but somehow fluffy and inconsequential, lacking the melodic and emotional depth that lifts the romantic dirges of Novalis and Pell Mell from mere minor-key mire. They do pull a couple of more good moments out of the hat, like the whirling synths/guitar dogfight on "Holstenwall Fair" or the more polished, instrumental reworking of "Cheese" (inferior to the original, but quite nice just the same). The only way to find Hats of Glass on CD is to get Symphonic Rock (Erdenklang 50832), which crams both One Niter and Hats of Glass on to a single disc, but unfortunately omits one track from each album ("Venezuela" and "Caught on the Air").
Missa Universalis (Erdenklang 50822) was Eela Craig's most ambitious, though not their most successful work, a "universal" mass fusing progressive rock with Catholic church music. In practice this means that apart from appropriating a part of an Anton Bruckner mass for "Sanctus", the band turn lot of the music into programmatic background to songs of praise in Latin, French, German and English, a seemingly naff idea that yields surprisingly diverse results. The nadir is "Gloria" where the pristine, yet plodding instrumental parts are subjugated to a dull vocal melody sung in fey harmonies that turns the music into mere sonic tapestry. On the other hand, "Kyrie" has an otherworldly vocal sound of icy ecclesiasticism which, in a perfect example of progressive rock's drop-of-the-hat soft/hard pendulum swing, is replaced by an exclamatory rock snarl that briefly transforms prayer into almost profanity. Musically this album is more stately, mellow and electronic than its predecessors, rife with exquisitely polished, at times almost sterile synthesizer textures, frequently enlivened by touches of lustrous acoustic guitar, piano and flute. The music seems most tentative near the beginning, with the aforementioned "Gloria" and the first of part of "Kyrie", which relies too much on nothing more than harmonically static droning for backing tracks, before giving way to Riedelberger's extended solo. There are few enough outright solos otherwise, the main exceptions being the most traditionally symphonic "Agnus Dei", and the album's highlight, the alternatively devout and dazzling "Sanctus", which splurges with rich orchestral tones, surges with a torrent of synthesizer cavorting and builds to a rapturous, if oddly stilted climax. An unbalanced album, burdened by the demands of its unwieldy concept, Missa Universalis is still the most original of Eela Craig's albums and intriguing enough to warrant a listen.
What it undoubtably also was in 1978 was an anachronism, and Eela Craig were not immune to the change of musical season. Bognermayr left in 1979 to form the electronic label Erdenklang, and later, with Zuschrader, to continue exploring Eela Craig's pop/classical coupling in a more exclusively electronic setting. Eela Craig came up with Virgin Oiland in 1980, apparently a staler concept album about the history of Earth and the human race (not quite your average pop stuff yet). The band gradually fizzled out, but unfortunately the name Eela Craig was resurrected in 1988 by keyboardist/flautist Hubert Schnauer (onboard since the "Stories" single) for the pop album Hit or Miss, which is apparently strictly of the latter sort, and seems to have been disowned by the public and the remaining band members alike. 1995 saw the band reunite for a one-off concert, but any longer term reunion is unlikely to happen after Bognermayr committed suicide in 1999. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Bognermayr and Zuschrader | Blue Chip Orchestra]|
A Touch of Light (88)
Beyond Words (91)
Freedom Town (01)
|Former bassist with the Pat Metheny Group. Had some solo albums and the went on to form a group called Elements. His solo stuff is a good blend of light fusion and world music influences. Mosaic is a good place to start.|
|Just say no!! Blech!! Gag!! The only thing he's ever played on that I can listen to is Pat Metheny's American Garage. He has a very "soothing" bass sound that puts me into a coma.|
[See Metheny, Pat]
In The City (87)
The Killing Silence (91)
Him, the Snake and I (93)
Live at Last (00, Live)
|Very symphonic Dutch band that borders neo-prog very often. Some of their songs are good, some aren't. Depends on how much you like symphonic/neo prog. Basically this is mediocre music that is just rehashing trite ideas. Try The Killing Silence.|
|A Dutch band that compares favorably to Pendragon, although they don't necessarily sound like them. Heavy keyboards and very melodic vocals give them a somewhat haunting sound. They have two releases out, and their second The Killing Silence is definitely worthy of attention.|
|The little that I have heard by Egdon Heath has been good neo-prog rock. Nothing exceptional, but worth copying your friend's CD.|
|This dutch neo-band relies more on the standard extended pop structures of bands like IQ and Pallas, but with a sound that seems to synthesize from the likes of later Pink Floyd and others. Some of the tracks are very interesting, while some are almost mainstream. The vocalist on the first album is lame, but the new vocalist on the second album is outstanding. Despite being more poppy, I'd still reccommend TKS for starters.|
|Egdon Heath are a Dutch progressive band whose newest work, The Killing Silence is finely crafted, very melodic, progressive rock, and has influences of Genesis and UK rock bands of the seventies. The vocals are in English, which adds to that impression. The music is very much centered round keyboards, and the CD contains over 60 minutes of prime prog rock, complete with long tracks.|
|More decent neo-prog. Should appeal to fans of Castanarc, Galahad, and Magellan. At least 2 releases: In the City and The Killing Silence. Start with the second one.|
Egg - Standing, L to R: Stefan Renström (bass, flute and keyboards), Per Lindblom
(guitar), Mattias Lundeberg (vocals and acoustic guitar), Johan Wallén (keyboards
and backing vocals) and Ricard Nettermalm (drums and pyrotron). Sitting: Jenny Söderqvist
(saxophone and backing vocals).
Nothing is recorded by this Swedish band of the 90's. Their style is a mix of King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator and UK. They have toured together with Landberk. In 1993 their bass player Stefan Renström left the group to form Simon Says. Their drummer Ricard Nettermalm is a Jamie Muir like manic, and IMO one of the best drummers in Sweden. Both Renström and Nettermalm have played in The Moor. -- Gunnar Creutz
|Links||[See Moor, The | Paatos | Simon Says]|
Egg (70), Polite Force (71), Civil Surface (74), Seven is a Jolly Good Time (85)
Early Canterbury band. Polite Force was their best, yet for classical rock bands I'd try Le Orme or Trace first. Dave Stewart, of course, is on this - and this should be a reason if any to buy all three of them. They can be quite cold, though.
Their first release is an old classic from the Canterbury scene, featuring the brilliant keyboard pyrotechnics of Dave Stewart (*not* the guy from the Eurythmics). Mixing progressive rock styles with the complexity of jazz, filled with unusual time signatures, and adaptations of Bach and Grieg, this is one of the masterpieces of prog rock. The Polite Force was Egg's second release, and was better developed musically from their debut, a style that was carried on to the subsequent The Civil Surface. It is quite revealing to see what kinds of complex rock music can be accomplished with a small three-piece band. Blending classical rearrangements with odd time signatures, they were one of the most adventurous groups to emerge from the Canterbury scene, prior to making way for ELP, etc.
Canterbury band that released three organ-prominent albums. The first s/t sounds very proto-prog, comparable to stuff like The Nice, but with a more jazz influence. Featured Mont Campbell and Dave Stewart, later of National Health. The second and third albums are purportedly much better.
Important early progressive trio that broke through many musical barriers no one dared to approach before. The first album features outright dissonance (as on the short-circuiting organ-solo "Blane") and askew rhythmic figures (like the 13/8 meter in the middle section of "I Will Be Absorbed") to a degree never dreamt of before. The band consists of Dave Stewart on organ, piano and "tone generator" (a very primitive, home-made synth), Mont Campbell on bass and vocals and Clive Brooks on drums. Very primitive-sounding by today's standards, and featuring some awful, hippie orientated lyrics by Campbell which date the music to a good degree. Still, this is light-years ahead of, say, the Nice as far as musical sophistication goes, although even here there are "rock" interpretations of classical pieces (Well, Bach pieces, anyway). Important more for the doors they opened for other progressive bands to explore than the actual music they produced themselves, still of historic interest as one of Dave Stewart's earliest bands, pre-Hatfield, National Health et al. The third album, The Civil Surface, was recorded much later, and is supposed to be much more Canterbury-like in sound, and as a result much less dated-sounding. -- Mike Ohman
One of the classic UK bands, Egg was Dave Stewart on organ, Clive Brooks on Drums, and Mont Campbell on bass and sometime French Horn. The music is very structured and composed, with little room for improvisation. A bit of humor is also evident throughout. It is also quite excellent. The band explored a variety of time signatures and key relationships, sometimes explored classical ideals, and even composed their own symphony. Egg is an essential part of any progressive collection. All are good, but the first one is a little raw and Civil Surface is maybe a little clinical (but it features guests Steve Hillage, Lindsay Cooper, Tim Hodgkinson and Amanda Parsons on a couple of tracks). Start with The Polite Force.
I have Civil Surface and wasn't terribly impressed even though I usually like Dave Stewart a lot. Somewhat symphonic and kind of boring.
Seven is a Jolly Good Time is a mid-'80s reissue of Egg's eponymous first album plus their first and only single ("Seven is a Jolly Good Time" b/w "We Are All Princes") on the "See- for-Miles" label. -- Dave Wayne
[See Arzachel | Campbell, Mont "Dirk" | Stewart, Dave]
Acid in Wonderland (81)
Ego on the Rocks was a project by keyboardist Detlev Schmidtchen and drummer Jürgen
Rosenthal, two Eloys who had left the group after Silent
Cries and Mighty Echoes to explore a bit more Morlockian musical avenues. Acid in
Wounderland sees them moving Eloy's space rock sound
into a more accessible territory and incorporating Tangerine
Dream-like sequencer pinging and sound collages snipped from old movies and
philosophical rants. Songs like "7 to 7 or 999 to 99 Hope" and "Erected Error" build on
surprisingly straight-forward rhythms (in view of Rosenthal's fill prolixity in
Eloy), simple enough guitar riffs that resemble lighter versions
of Frank Bornemann's axework in the 1980s, accessible melodies and a bit of spacey Solina
strings hanging rather limply in the background. Yet Schmidtchen also gives us plenty of
screaming and swooping synthesizer solos, especially on the compelling "Asylum" and
"Civilization Song 1", the album's most Eloy-like track. He is
competent on guitars as well as keyboards, but not really on vocals, which tend to be
mumbling and in need of processing to gloss them over. In this respect, the most interesting
track is the Tangerine Dream-like "Mystik +1+9+8+0" where
Rosenthal does a whispering Rimbaud recitation over suitably stark and spectral synthesizer
chords. His own lyrics, once again both sung and spoken, aim for philosophical heights, but
seem to lose a bit in translation ("... /but like a rolling stone/we will explode by going
home ...//"). It all makes for a nice album, especially if you like spacey synthesizers, a
bit of audio vérité and generally accessible German rock, but nothing to get
too excited about.
Schmidtchen and Rosenthal had originally planned Acid in Wounderland to be a first part of a trilogy with multimedia tie-ins, but the album's poor commercial performance and subsequent threat of financial ruin gave them a kick in the rocks which deflated their egos somewhat. However, the Second Battle CD re-release (SB 048) contains over 30 minutes of unreleased material which shows what their future travels to the other side of the looking glass might have entailed. These songs are mainly simpler and less inspired variations on the album tracks (including a second part of "Civilization Song"), with some excursions to drummachines-and-chirpy synth fills synth pop in "Destroy the Gun" and "Another Saturday Night". However, the 19-minute "Once in Africa 1" is a rambling but electrifying tour-de-force of synthesizer atmospherics, vocals exclamations and processed guitar, which brings to mind Cyclone-era Tangerine Dream or Manuel Gottsching's six-string soundcanvasing during New Age of Earth. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Trip in the Light of the World (91)
We are ... (96)
|Trip in the Light of the World is the debut CD by the Italian neo-progressive quartet Egoband (how pretentious!): Alessandro Accordino (voices and keyboards), Fabio Cioni (drums), Massimo Fava (guitars), and Alfonso Capasso (bass). When I first listened to Trip in the Light of the World I was a tad surprised. Egoband is a progressive band, yet the opening two minutes of music is pure "New Age electronics." Don't be fooled, when the drums roll in, the music kicks into high gear! What we have here is high energy progressive rock that almost crosses over to main stream rock (Van Halen?). This high energy alternates between rockers like "In the Air" and ballads like "The Man, the Rain, the Door." Accordino's vocals sound like Marillion, but the English lyrics make little sense. Unfortunately the CD booklet is not much help either. It is full of typos and misspellings, I guess written by someone unfamiliar with English. Musea take note, run a spell checker before the final printing. Luckily the lyrics are secondary and Accordino's voice dovetails smoothly with the music. Trip in the Light of the World is sure to please those mainstream listeners that are afraid to experiment with the more progressive bands.|
for Musea Records, where you can order the first CD
Click here for Mellow Records, where you can order the last 3 CD's.
Loud Symbols (90)
Ministry of the Interior (91)
|I had Ministry of the Interior. I say I "had" because I got rid of it. Very banal prog. Nothing specially progressive. Really for Geoff Mann's fans. -- Jean-François Cousin|
|Links||[See Catley, Marc and Geoff Mann | Mann, Geoff | Twelfth Night]|
Eider Stellaire (81), Eider Stellaire II (86), Eider Stellaire III (87)
Combines European-inspired jazz rock, Magma's influence, and those of Art Zoyd and Present. They develop dense, forceful, or ethereal themes based on energetic rhythms.
801 Live (76)
801 Live at Manchester University (77)
Listen Now (77)
|This is the band put together by Guitarist Phil Manzanera, ex-of -Roxy Music. Also featured are Brian Eno, and Francis Monkman on Keys, Simon Phillips on Drums and Lloyd Watson on Guitar. The live album is pretty hot, sort of a pop meets fusion of sorts.|
|Also know as Phil Manzanera's 801. 2 albums, I think: one live album called 801 Live and a studio album called Listen Now. The live one is a quirky work, but quite good. Brian Eno and several others notables covering tunes from Manzanera 's and Eno's solo albums, plus a couple of other covers.|
|801 Live is a great album with Phil Manzanera, Eno, Simon Phillips, etc. on it. I think it has a little more accessible sound than I would normally call progressive though.|
|801 Live is FANTASTIC STUFF!!!!!!! Their version of "Tomorrow Never Knows" is, by itself, worth the price of the disc.|
On 801 Live:
One of the first superbands (a group where play already famous musicians). Here the following well-known persons came together: Phil Manzanera (ex-Roxy Music, later solo and various projects), Brian Eno (also Roxy Music, later solo), Francis Monkman (ex-Curved Air, later Sky, solo), Simon Phillips (ex-Jack Bruce Band, later Judas Priest and many others). The only album of this project, perhaps I'm wrong and they had an album before this one, was played excellently*. Each musician explicitly showed his abilities of playing live. As for the music, it's an exquisite cross between classic progressive rock and the music that very Roxy Music. -- Vitaly Menshikov
*Actually, they did a studio album Listen Now after 801 Live, but it's forgettable. The addition of Godley and Creme to the list of musicians didn't really help much. If the line-up listed above interests you, the 801 Live album is the one to get. -- Fred Trafton
[See Curved Air |
Eno, Brian |
Godley and Creme |
Manzanera, Phil |
Monkman, Francis |
Quiet Sun |
Random Hold |
Roxy Music |
First Principles (79)
Kollaps (82), Die Zeichnungen Des Patienten O.T (83), Halber Mensch (85), Funf Auf Der Nach Oben Offenen Richterscala (87), Haus Der Luege (89), Tabula Rasa (92)
Center of what a lot of people call the German "industrial" scene and led by the prolific Blixa Bargeld, EN are not easy listening. They use a lot of strange "instruments" like plastic barrels, pebbles and chains and occasionally guitars. Tends to be very rythmic and can swing from ambient gentle soundscapes to chaotic heavy noise jams very quickly. To be honest, I really can't even attempt to describe them apart from to say the're incredible and one of my favourites. Not as uncompromising as Nurse With Wound, they do a huge range of styles but when they do the industrial noise stuff, it's really beautiful ... very cathartic. Recommend to start at Halber Mensch. Zeichnungen ... is amazing and *very* depressing ... sections of throbbing background with Blixa screaming those really freaky screams he does over the top. Guaranteed to scare/bewilder/irritate any other listeners :-) Watch out for Tabula Rasa ... it's infamous for being called "not real EN" and is considerably weaker than the rest (apart from the last track Headcleaner which is classic EN). Totally and utterly recommended as long as you don't mind a challenge (and some noise :-).
Ejwuusl Wessahqqan (75)
|A German trio who supposedly took their bizarre name from the fanstasy/horror writer Clark Ashton Smith. Some of their music would make the perfect accompaniment to his strange fiction. This was a guitar-less, instrumental trio. Though they do make use of a unique, 7 stringed instrument called a "filouphon" to create an eastern sound. Their rare, privately pressed album featured 4 tracks. The first is classically oriented, with lots of bombastic organ, crashing drums and tolling bass. The great distorted organ sound recalls some of the jams that Deep Purple's Jon Lord coaxed from "the beast" on such live favorites as "Space Truckin'". Track 2 features the filouphon and is a droning, hypnotic piece of dissonant weirdness which might have your neighbors wondering about your sanity. The third piece is the only song under ten minutes and returns to classical structures featuring piano. The final track is the longest space rock drive - with squawking, distorted organ and classical and ethnic motifs that give way to weird pulses and drones. This manages to convey a voyage through space and time, though at 16 min.+ maybe taking too much space and time to convey it. The CD reissue features 2 more tracks by Ejwuusl in a similar style as well as 2 tracks by a later incarnation as the band Koala-Bar. These last 2 are lighter and more symphonic, with updated instrumentation. The first features english vocals. A raw, but inventive instrumental krautrock obscurity. This style can get monotonous in spots. If you can live with that and you like weird krautrock they are worth investigating. -- Tharsis|
Click here to
mail-order the CD re-release from Garden of Delights
Beggar Julia's Time Trip (70)
Ekseption '78 (78)
Dance Macabre (81)
Ekseption '89 (89)
... several compilations
|Wouldn't really call Ekseption symphonic rock, but that is more a semantic issue. Anyway, what they played was jazz spiced with rock and classical music. To be honest, they were a quite mediocre band and if it hadn't been for their their remakes of classical stuff they wouldn't have got that much attention. Well, some of their stuff is enjoyable, but all of it is too much.|
|Dutch band, who were famous for arranging classical pieces for a jazz/rock-combo, but in fact they also covered material like Jethro Tull and folk songs, as well as they played their own material. Leader was keyboard player Rick van der Linden, who later formed Trace. Ekseption sported sax and trumpet, but no guitar, except on the first album. Some of their stuff is too watered down an uninteresting, particulary if you get the complete catalogue. The first album and Trinity are the ones to try in my opinion.|
|Very lame, unoriginal rock arrangements of classical pieces. ELP already covered that ground, and they did it a lot better. -- Greg Ward|
Expansion on Life (69)
When God's on the Water (75), The Further Adventures of Mr. Punch (78)
Electra Combo (74), Adaptionen (74), 3 (79), Die Sixtinische Madonna (80), Ein Tag Wie Eine Brücke (81), Augen in Der Sehnsucht (85), Tausend und Ein Gefuhl (87)
Long-lived East German prog band. Early albums essay a style strongly influenced by Jethro Tull, spotlighting the sharp flute playing of Bernd Aust and the understated vocals of Manuel von Senden. The sound is filled out by grinding organ and fuzz-toned guitar. This early material, found on the compilations Electra-Combo and Electra 3 and in many volumes of the "Hallo" series of anthologies, is often very raw, but also very good. Adaptionen is the first album of "new" material, consisting of rock interpretations of classical works. I've never heard it, but it's said to be one of their better albums. Die Sixtinische Madonna is an over- the-top symphonic album. The 26-minute title suite was recorded live with a choir. Though there are many strong, classically inspired themes, the choir is a bit too Mormon Tabernacle for my tastes. Later albums are said to be still prog, but in a more commercial vein. -- Mike Ohman
Electric Frankenstein (What Me Worry?)(75)
|Paolo Tofani's (Area) solo effort.|
Electric Light Orchestra (71, aka No Answer)
ELO II (73)
On The Third Day (73)
Face The Music (75)
Ole' ELO (76)
A New World Record (76)
Out Of The Blue (77)
ELO's Greatest Hits (79, Compilation)
Secret Messages (83)
Balance Of Power (86)
Afterglow Box Set (90)
Electric Light Orchestra, Part Two (90)
Moment of Truth (94)
Although to most this group will evoke nightmares of over-orchestrated
disco-ish 70s pop, this group's early albums are mostly Progressive Rock
and definitely worth a listen. The roots of this band extend back to the
late '60s Beatle-ish/psych/blues/rock group The Move. It was in that
semi-popular group (they had quite a few hit singles in the UK) that Roy
Wood began experimenting with strings and woodwind instruments. Pianist
Jeff Lynne joined in time for their 1970 album Looking On and
shared Roy's interest in merging classical instrumentation with Rock.
This shared interest led the two, along with The Move drummer Bev Bevan,
to embark upon a new band--one that would not be hindered by having to
make hit songs. This new band would be called ELO and The Move was to be
kept alive to finance it. What happened instead was that The Move ceased
to exist and all time was spent on ELO.
The debut album is as Progressive Rock as anything else out there, but is often dismissed, probably, because they don't use any electronic keyboards and few songs feature any electric guitars. The style could be somewhat compared to Gryphon because of this, although it's not as polished as that. These players are not virtuosos, but the arrangements are enough to keep plenty of interest to Prog fans. The style is acoustic and a bit minimalistic as shown by the vocal with cello accompaniment on "Look At Me Now" and the acoustic guitar, cello, and vocal of the gorgeous "Whisper In The Night." The only rocker is "10538 Overture," a sort of "I Am The Walrus" part 2, if you will. (The Beatles were a major influence on ELO.) This piece really picks up with the marching cello, drums, and bass towards the end accompanied by haunting French and Hunting Horns. Possibly the most interesting piece is "The Battle Of Marston Moor," which has no Rock about it at all, but is rather a bit avant-garde classical. Roy Wood left after this album and ELO slowly began to become more and more pop-oriented. But, they still had their Prog moments.
ELO II saw the addition of Richard Tandy on every keyboard he could get his hands on. His addition added to their Prog sound and is the main feature on this album. Especially of note are "From The Sun To The World" and "In Old England Town." This album also saw the addition of the violin as a lead instrument which is featured heavily on the incredibly peppy and thouroughly enjoyable 8:10 version of "Roll Over Beethoven." The best track on this album, and possibly the best ELO song ever is the 12-minute "Kuiama," a spacey and moody anti-war song featuring Tandy on harmonium and Moog. A stunning piece of work.
On The Third Day saw the band get a more accessible sound and they lighten up on the cellos in favor of the Moog and other keyboards. Still, the classical influence is quite apparent as is shown on their version of "In The Hall Of The Mountain King." This is also the first album where they began to experiment with a multi-song concept centered around a work called "King Of The Universe." Not all 4 sections succeed, but the effort is good. This album also saw the release of the hit "Showdown."
Their fourth and probably most adventurous album is the concept album Eldorado: A symphony by the Electric Light Orchestra. Many ELO fans will rave about this one, but while it does hame some very impressive moments, as a whole it's lacking something. It even borders on being a bit cheesy in places (nothing new to Prog fans, eh?). But, the tracks that do work, "Eldorado Overture/Can't Get It Out Of My Head," "Laredo Tornado," "Mister Kingdom," "Nobody's Child," and "Eldorado/Eldorado Finale" are beautifully composed and performed.
It's at this point that ELO really begins distancing itself from Progressive Rock. I do like their fifth album, Face The Music, but a Prog-only fan would be bored out of his mind, I'm sure. The one track that might be of interest is the curious "Fire On High" instrumental. It begins with a couple of minutes of psychedelia with tape tricks and operatic vocals and all other sorts of odd-goings-on (there's a famous backward line by Lynne here--"the music is reversible, but time is not, turn back..."). It finally all collects itself with an acoustic guitar riff that is then joined by some power-drumming. A cello and violin then compliment each other as the "vocalists." Good song.
From here on out, the group gets usually too pop-oriented for my tastes and the use of cellos lessens considerably in favor of violins. They had some good stuff like "Mission" on A New World Record and the 4-movement "Concerto For A Rainy Day" on Out Of The Blue, but something was missing. By 1981, all real strings were replaced by synthesizers, which some Prog fans might actually enjoy if it wasn't for the pop-oriented sound. A box set called Afterglow was released in 1990 and contains many previously unreleased songs from this later era. One of these, the multiple-themed "Hello My Old Friend," is actually pretty interesting and fits the Prog mold a bit. In the early '90s, a group called ELO part 2, containing many past members of ELO but not Jeff Lynne, has been touring and writing albums to mixed views from their fans. I have yet to hear it. -- Clark Ray
|Continuing on from the above article, the ELO Part Two band did make a couple of albums, Electric Light Orchestra Part Two and Moment of Truth. But nobody cared. As was mentioned, Jeff Lynne was not involved in this version. However, in 2001, Jeff Lynne put out what was really a solo album under the ELO name, called Zoom. Many have said that it actually contains some pretty good ELO-type songs, but it failed to get much attention. Certainly not among the prog community, but not among any other communities either, except perhaps die-hard ELO fans. -- Fred Trafton|
[See The Move]
Electric Sandwich (72)
|Brain label band that has been compared to Emergency. Purported to have great electric sax work.|
Elecric Sandwich were formed in late 1969, a jazz rock/fusion band from the city of
Bonn. The band initially consisted of four musicians, all of whom had already played with
other bands: bass player Klaus Lormann, had been playing with Chaotic Trust.
Lead guitarist Jorg Ohlert used to be with Slaves of Fire. Drummer Wolf
Fabian, the founder of the band, had been touring with a band called Muli and the
Misfits, and singer Jochen "Archie" Carthaus sang with The Flashbacks.
Electric Sandwich was discovered by Gunther Korber (Brain label product manager) on a nation-wide talent festival which took place in the Niedersachsenhalle in Hanover. The band had applied to take part in the competition, but did not make it into the final round. In spite of not being invited and not having rehearsed, the four musicians appeared at the festival and convinced the organiser to let them play -- the jury voted them second best band.
After the contest, they signed a contract with Brain for a trial recording session. The session caused a positive impression and in 1972 Electric Sandwich signed a contract. They went into the the Dieter Dierks Studio in Stommelm to record their debut album which was released in early 1973 -- seven songs somewhere between jazz, blues, rock and psychedelic rock.
The track "China" for example showed strong influences from German fusion bands like Xhol or Kollektiv. The lyrics deal with stories that complete a full circle from birth to death. In "Nervous Creek" for instance Electric Sandwich tell the story of a river eventually flowing into the sea. "Material Darkness" deals with the life of a city dweller.
Starting in late 1973 Electric Sandwich worked on their follow up album which unfortunately was not finished. Disputes over the future direction of the band and the desire to finish their various career studies (Klaus Lorman studied law, Jorg Ohlert, physics) led to the split-up of Elecric Sandwich. -- Agustin Oviedo
Electric Sorcery (09, Download only)
Electric Sorcery II (09, Download only)
Live in the NEK (09, Download only)
Believe In Own Best Friend (11, Download only)
Electric Sorcery - Derek Campbell (Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Theremin, Fife), Micah Carbonneau (Drums,
Vocals, Percussion), Luke Laplant a.k.a. Vanilla Rice (E.W.I., I think that stands for "Electronic Wind
Original Entry 12/16/09:
Musically, the sound is early '70's "Classic Rock", but recorded in a more modern way and with studio gimmickery enough to be a bit experimental, though certainly not "difficult". There's hints of Cream, Deep Purple and even the more melodic of the early Zappa / Mothers albums to be heard here, but not derivative of any of them. Electric Sorcery has made their own "Classic Rock" style on these albums, and though it will appeal to us old folks who liked the more popular (yet cool) bands from the '70's, there's enough newness and modern sensibilities here to appeal to a younger audience as well.
Those of you who need your prog albums to have high-speed note flurries, classical counterpoint, loads of synths and/or Mellotron or avant weirdness had best stay away. If you want to have a good time and hear some great old-fashioned guitar-oriented rock with lots of progressive touches, Electric Sorcery may be just your cup of tea. Nice stuff. -- Fred Trafton
Believe In Own Best Friend
To say this album is "Frank Zappa inspired" is perhaps not strongly worded enough. "Frank Zappa-channeled" is more like it. Not the jazzy Zappa of The Grand Wazoo nor the wannabe-classical Zappa of The Yellow Shark. No, this is the filthy Zappa ... the one that "Dinah Moe Humm" was a cleaned-up example of. This has everything a Zappa fan could want ... screwing your business partner's underage daughter, then killing him when he finds out she's pregnant. Of course, since he needed to get rid of the evidence, he made a soup and ate him. Then the daughter started looking pretty yummy too, so ... and this is just the opening "Suite". The remainder of the album covers teenage sexual angst, electronic penises, prescription drug abuse, and finally the annihilation of humankind. Zappa at his finest!
Oh, no, I forgot! Not Zappa, this is Electric Sorcery. But I already accused them of mugging Dweezil Zappa and making off with the keys to Frank's vault. They never answered me on that one. Hmmm ... can you say Dweezil soup? Too ugly to contemplate. [shudder]
Musically, this sounds like the very earliest Zappa circa We're Only In It For The Money or Uncle Meat. Recording technique and anarchy level is also similar. The growly vocals at the beginning of "Suite : Yehsu Beelzebobs" is very reminiscent of "I'm the Slime" from Overnite Sensation. The guitar playing and woodwinds are also reminiscent of earlier Zappa, not so much the Shut Up And Play Yer Guitar era, and also don't expect marimba/vibes gnat-notes. The similarities don't extend that far. But you'll have no doubt about who inspired Believe In Own Best Friend. Unlike their other albums, they want $5.00 for this download instead of "Name Your Own Price" (which many people name as $0). It's WELL worth it! Try it out at their Bandcamp site (link below). Oh, yeah, the cover art is really cool too (above left). Don't ask me what it's a picture of, but it's very cool anyway. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Electric Sorcery's MySpace page
Click here to download Electric Sorcery albums from Bandcamp
Electromagnets (75, Reissued 1998)
|Progressive fusion band from Austin, Texas that almost signed to Frank Zappa's Discreet label. Major claim to fame was that Eric Johnson was guitarist. LP now demands about $100 or so.|
|Legend has it that copies of the 1975 edition have traded hands for hundreds of dollars. It's possible. It's that good, and only 1,000 copies were printed. Thanks to Rhino, it's now out on CD, so everyone can hear Eric Johnson play music that's worth his talent. The music is fusion of a high order, furious and virtuosic, yet approachable, even fun. Although Johnson's guitar gets the most solo time, there's plenty of space for the rest of the band to shine, particularly Stephen Barber's keys. The CD includes a couple of bonus live tracks of mediocre sound quality but superb musical value; the live version of "Dry Ice" illustrates why Zappa called them "Mahavishnu with a sense of humor." The other musicians are Stephen Barber, keyboards; Kyle Brock, bass; and, Bill Maddox, drums and percussion. -- Don McClane|
Electronic Mind Waves (76)
Made In Rock (77)
(No official releases)
US band from the Bay Area. Their sound was somewhere between Happy The Man and ELP with some fusion overtones, and minimum vocals. All I have is a live tape, but it's pretty impressive.
San Francisco Bay Area late 70's progressive garage band. Mostly originals (which sounded like a cross between ELP/Gentle Giant) but also covered King Crimson's "The Talking Drum" and "One More Red Nightmare." Band consisted of 5 players: bass/percussion/backing vox, guitar/Hammond/synth/vox, sax, and 2 drummers with a large percussion rack between them. Songs were mostly 5+ minutes and 80% instrumental. If anyone reading this is familiar with this band, Please send mail to warlock@halloween.Sun.COM.
Rare ultra-heavy rock/prog.
The Psychedelic Trip of Medusa (99)
The Purple Schizoid Fly (00)
Fly Singles (00)
|Eliomis used to be a one-man project, by Cristián Núñez. Since January 2001 it is a "real" band, a quartet led by Núñez. This is a sort of electronic psychedelia (Núñez calls it "Macropsychedelia"), with lots of improvisation on guitar or keyboards over a slowly modulated layer of (more) keyboards chords. Rhythmically this is not very progressive sounding, being quite constant and hypnotic, almost everything is in 4/4. Eliomis' music brings to memory early Kraftwerk, Neu and Tangerine Dream. It is related to that German 70 electronic scene, midway between progressive, psychedelia and electronic experimentation. Curiously, Núñez himself recognizes a lot of varied influences: King Crimson, Fred Frith, Magma, Gong, Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, J. Hendrix, Frank Zappa and no less than Bela Bartok! "Being influenced by" does not necessarily mean "sound exactly like", but I have yet to find the traces of all these influences in Eliomis. Sometimes he (they) get close to electronic dance music, but never get really into that. Ten minutes of improvisation (real free improvisation, not variations of one or two main themes) on keyboards over a constant, hammering base of electronic drums and yet more keyboard chords, with no time changes, no dynamics, no recurring themes, and no sense of harmonic or melodic "development" as usual in prog, might be not exactly mainstream symphonic rock, but there's a lot of sub-genres: Using that classification, this would be close to ambient. -- Rodrigo Farías M.|
|Links||Click here for Eliomis' web site|
Sabbat (87), Indifference (90)
Super boring French neo-prog band that remind me of Ange on downers. If this doesn't make you fall asleep, nothing else will
Sabbat was one of Musea's first releases and one of their worst IMHO. Mostly straight ahead metal-rock with some proggy touches, with loud in-your-face type french vocals all over it. Save your money. There's a second album titled Indifference which I can't comment on.
La Mana Perdu (83)
|Much better French band in the Ange vein, La Mana Perdu is a great album (if you can find it) and is very much in the theatrical mode like Ange or Mona Lisa. Also on the compilation Enchantement, they broke up and some members went on to found Hecenia.|
Going against the musical Zeitgeist in the early 1980s with contemporary sounds and
yesterday's musical ideas were such French bands as Step
Ahead and Elohim (not to confused with the seventies French band
Elohim, who also made just one album). After all, a symphonic rock-style
concept album about an embittered man striving to create an apocalyptic religion was
hardly what the public were thirsting for in 1983. La Mana Perdu (CD Musea FGBG
4345.AR) had actually been on the drawing board for years, and stylistically it harkens
to the dramatic tradition of Ange,
Atoll and Mona
Lisa - with a few fatal differences. The almost omnipresent vocalist hits the
same pitches as Dominique LeGuennec, for example, but with far less power and
personality. The music itself is a prime example of the faux-symphonic approach: the
keyboard player holds down spongy string pads almost constantly, while playing monophonic
arpeggios, melodies or solos with the other hand. The rest of the band keep the music
rolling smoothly, but can provide little variation or edge, even during the instrumental
breaks. Even the band's richly melodic approach gets tiresome, as the melodies are
increasingly cheery and sweet, in a disorientating contrast to the sinister subject
matter. It comes across too much like Pollyanna trying to pass off as Elizabeth
Bathory. Step Ahead's album managed a powerful
update of symphonic progressive sound; Elohim's album belongs to the same league
of second-rate French symphonic releases as Grime's only
In the meticulous Musea tradition, the CD re-release contains the band's whole recorded output, with demo-quality outtakes from the La Mana Perdu songcycle, one previously unreleased studio song and the song "Ego" from the sampler Enchantment. These show a gradual but clear move towards a more rhythmic music dominated by synthesizers and electronic drums. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Click here to order La Mana Perdu from Musea Records
Power And The Passion (75)
Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes (78)
Time To Turn (82)
Codename Wildgeese (85)
Chronicles 1 (93)
Chronicles 2 (94)
The Tides Return Forever (94)
Ocean 2 (98)
Eloy began making records in the early seventies, producing 16 studio albums to date, their latest being the 1992 release Destination. The group takes its name from a fictional peace-loving race written about by H.G.Wells in the science fiction novel "The Time Machine." The music is a mixture of heavy and space rock with classical and jazz influences. The music invokes various progressive bands of the 70's and 80's and can best be compared to the likes of Pink Floyd, Yes, Gabriel's Genesis, Kansas and Alan Parsons. Eloy's main audience is their home country Germany, although they have attracted followings in Switzerland, the U.K. and other European countries. Not so surprisingly they were never introduced in the Americas. Perhaps their publishers felt that Americans wouldn't buy records made by a foreign sounding group. The lead singer, guitarist and driving force behind Eloy, Frank Bornemann had a distinct German accent. This, in my opinion at least, lent the group character and distinguished it from the many other progressive groups of the seventies and eighties. Another contributing factor may have been that most of their songs are at least five minutes with many lasting eight to ten. Definately not Top-Ten fodder to say the least. Eloy is straight ahead rock and roll filled with political statements and unlike anything the group has done since. This is on limited edition re-issue CD from Philips and is quite expensive, so it would probably only be of interest to collectors. Overall rating: Time Waster * Inside is what many perceive to be Eloy's real "first album." The first song "Land of No Body" begins soft and slow, but soon bursts into the classic 70's progressive rock sound that characterizes the rest of the album - somewhat subdued but competent lead guitar, leslied Hammond organ dominating the melody and a strong but very elegant bass line. I find this album sounds remarkably like early Jethro Tull (without the flute) especially on the title cut and "Future City." Some songs invoke memories of the Genesis album Nursery Cryme. Overall rating: Good *** Floating sounds very similar to Inside, but doesn't break much new ground and simply isn't very interesting. "Castle in the Air" stands out as far and away the best track on this album and also contains the first (brief) appearance of the distinctive spoken poetry of Eloy. Overall Rating: OK ** Power and the Passion is a concept album that tells the story of a young man whose father is a scientist experimenting with a "time eroding" drug. The young man "somehow" takes the drug and makes a journey back to 1358. The story is developed more than the music. The album contains some spoken dialogue which may take some getting used to. The guitarist (Frank Bornemann) and the drummer have both improved technically. The group is starting to use more sophisticated and symphonic soundscapes. Somewhat interesting... Overall Rating: OK ** Dawn features a completely new lineup, with Frank Bornemann the only original band member remaining. This incarnation of Eloy is (IMHO) the most creative and talented musically and will stay together for several albums. Things have really changed musically. The sound is polished and production values are much improved. There are more instruments, most notably strings or their synth equivalents. This is a very arty concept album that demands a few listens. Lots of variety, rich tectures and some surprises. Sometimes tense, sometimes spacey. Highly recommended. Overall Rating: Good *** Ocean is a *great* concept album that tells the story of the creation and destruction of Atlantis. The music is outstanding and has a spacey feel.. I'm particularly fond of the first half, especially "Poseidon's Creation" which contains a unique fretless bass line counterpointed by weeping slide guitar - really wonderful. Perhaps the only downside is the overlong lead-in to "Atlantis' Agony...." This is one of the two or three "must have" Eloy albums. Overall Rating: Excellent **** What can you say about a live album? The quality of Live is good with minimal distortion. I enjoy the alternate renditions of the Ocean tracks and the expanded version of "The Sun Song," altho half its 8'30 length is spoken German which I can only assume is the story behind the Dawn album 'cuz I didn't understand a word... :-) Overall Rating: Good *** Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes is as close to a shameless Pink Floyd copy as I've ever heard, complete with effects that could be samples from Meddle. Frank Bornemann has refined his guitar playing in the style of Dave Gilmour and the whole album sounds so much like 70's PF it must be either a tribute or a ripoff - but the songs and themes are original and it sounds great, so go figure... Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery. Overall rating: Good *** Colours is a "must have" Eloy record and my personal favourite. It is perhaps the most accessible of all and strongly invokes the Alan Parsons and Genesis sound of the late 70's. There are metallic riffs here, but in my opinion they are tasteful and tempered by some of the best vocals, guitar and keyboard work I've heard. No doubt this is a transitional album and marks the demise of Pink Floyd emulation and the evolution into a heavier, more percussive and more original band. Hello flute! Frank Bornemann really lets the others stretch. If you're into progressive music you should get this record. Overall Rating: Excellent **** What the heck happened? Unfortunately, most of Planets and Time to Turn sounds really uninspired, as if the writers were just going through the motions. The first of a pretentious two album long concept that concludes in Time to Turn. The cuts "Point of No Return" and "Sphinx" (both from Planets) stand tall in the mediocrity. Sound is moody, dominated by synthesizer. "Through a Somber Galaxy" (from Time to Turn) is OK but musically based on a theme that was thoroughly explored on the Colours album. "Time to Turn" is a really good cut, but not good enough to redeem this, another disappointing record. Ho hum... Where's the lead guitar? Aaaaaaargh! Overall Rating for both: Time Waster * Performance is a better record. More breaks, upbeat compositions and lively performances from all quarters. Not as derivative as older albums. Feels like the band has emerged from an identity crisis, tho the sound is still dominated by lead synth... Overall Rating: OK ** On Metromania, synth still dominates but there are more lead guitar parts. The music has taken a decidely heavy metal turn. There is a definate Roger Waters/The Wall sound to this record; that is, lots of heavily pumped up martial music punctuated by a combination of shouted, spoken and sung lyrics. "All Life is One" is cool and cosmic with vocoder vocals, but this is primarily a heavy rock record. This was the last Eloy record to be a true band effort. Overall rating: Good *** After four years... Beginning with RA, Eloy is now basically a collaberation between Frank Bornemann and one Michael Gerlach on keyboards. Various session musicians and guests have taken the place of permanent band members. Yet this is a truly great record! Eloy speaks again in neat intros to songs on this concept album about immortality. The music is still heavy metal space rock, but very tastefully done and reminds me of Nektar. High production values (ADD mixing) add neat digitally sampled effects. Bornemann's refined guitar makes several appearances. Bravo! Overall Rating: Excellent **** Rarities is an interesting collection of B -sides and a couple rare, unreleased tunes from the early years. One tune, "Wings of Vision" sounds like a knockoff of contemporary (Collins/Banks) Genesis - it was so perfect I had to laugh. "Let the Sun Rise in Your Brain" is excellent. Probably of interest mainly to collectors... Overall Rating: Not applicable, but good nonetheless Eloy - Destination is another Bornemann/Gerlach collaboration. This album has definately cut back on the metal although it is still kind of heavy. An original band member, bassist Klaus Peter Matziol appears on two numbers. Many of the tunes feature Bornemann singing lead vocal in falsetto and this sounds amazingly like Jon Anderson/Yes. Overall Rating: Good ***
|Phase One of Eloy is quite raw Floydian prog-rock with a simplistic line-up of guitar, Hammond organ, bass and drums. Frank Bornemann's vocals are a dead ringer for Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, though with audible evidence of a German accent. The combination works best on Inside, with its spacy side-long piece "Land Of No Body", full of swooshing phase-shifts. It begins sounding redundant by the time Floating rolled out, so they added synthesizers, and subsequently a new dimension in their sound developed. The Power And The Passion was the first of a long series of trippy concept albums full of warbling synthesizers, Gilmourian guitar and ever more pretentious lyrics about the inner workings of the universe. They perfected the mix on their next album, Dawn, on which the band was augmented by strings on several tracks. By the time of Silent Cries however, the band's albums reached such a point of homogeneity, all of them sounding rather the same, that they resorted to outright plagiarism. Note the similarity to the female vocal on "The Vision--Burning" to the female vocal on Pink Floyd's "The Great Gig In The Sky." And they thought we wouldn't notice. :) The eighties albums feature a slightly altered lineup with one guy on keyboards AND guitar, giving the option of either dual keyboards OR dual guitars. As a result, the sound is very rich, and Planets may be their best album. Celestial synth textures abound, over which Bornemann provides inspired guitar solos, and we even see the re-introduction of orchestra to their music on a few tracks. Some of their most intricate and worthwhile music is on this album. -- Mike Ohman|
|This band from Germany is excellent instrumentally. While their vocals are not necessarilly weak they do have a very heavy German accent, and for some can take a while to get used to. They have a total of 15 albums, not counting the sountrack to Codename Wild Geese. There are several different styles to their albums. Albums like Planets or Time to Turn are mellow symphonic progressive. While albums like Colours and Metromania are quite the opposite, with a harder edged progressive sound (with energy similar to early Marillion). On the album Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes they try to sound quite a bit like Pink Floyd. Any one of the above are a good place to start. On the other hand, their first three albums tend to be a little harsher than the rest, sounding more like a cross between a heavy metal band and Jethro Tull.|
|This German band, who's debut dates back to 1971, take to the '80s on Planets, with a soft and melodic symphonic rock. The band includes keyboards, voice/guitars, guitars, bass and drums. The songs are usually text-based (in English) and the rich keyboard arrangements set the tone. The guitars and rhythm section take on a solid but supportive role. The compositions are simple but remain efficient through careful presentation. A slow but energetic symphonic rock (Pink Floyd style) with a spacy flavour. -- Paul Charbonneau|
|Someone described these guys to me as "sounding like a different group on every album." In the spirit of this, I can definitely say that Ra sounds like new Yes, Ocean like excellent Grobschnitt, Power and The Passion like Tull, Floating like Pink Floyd. Definitely German, definitely interesting, nothing by these guys has really impressed me, although I'd have to say that Ocean was probably their best.|
|Frank Bornemann and company have long been considered the masters of modern space rock, picking up where Pink Floyd left off before they turned gloom and doom depression. Eloy's sound soars skyward, propelled by heavy guitar passages, cosmic synthe excursions, treated vocals and exotic special effects. Personally I find the earliest stuff (before Silent Cries) to be repetitive and sorta boring, while the later stuff (Colours onward) contains a lot more power and hyperdrive. Start with Performance or Colours.|
|I can never get over the thickly accented vocals, and vocals usually don't bother me. Perhaps it's the sing/speak stories of Poseidon, or the unevenness of their many recordings, or a lack of identity. Later recordings are more "metal like" and try to sound like Yes.|
|One of the better known bands of the German space/symphonic scene. Early albums, including their third, Floating is said to sound a lot like Tull, but at least in Floating, I don't hear it. The Floyd comparisons are valid, though. Floating combines some nice space elements with some great jamming and is a pretty decent album. Power and the Passion becomes a bit spacier as the Pink Floyd elements become more prevalent. It's a conceptual album about a kid who travels back to the year 1358 in his father's time machine. The spacey keyboards begin to play a dominant role where before they were better balanced with the guitar. By the way, it should be noted here that Frank Bornemann, guitarist, vocalist and purveyor of all that is Eloy, sings in English but with a pretty thick accent. I don't find it a bother but some folks seem to find it on the annoying side. Power and the Passion is decent but could use a little better material. Next comes Dawn which is another conceptual album. All the members of changed with the exception of Bornemann and it shows in the music. Because Bornemann writes most of the music the overall style is the same as on Power and the Passion but it is better executed. The album alternates between spacey and jamming. This is followed by Ocean, yet another concept album about Atlantis. Continuing the down the road started by Power and the Passion and Dawn, Ocean shows many Pink Floyd elements. This influence culminated in Silent Cries and Mighty Echoes, probably their best work to that point in time and perhaps even their best work ever. Strongly Pink Floyd influenced (circa Wish You Were Here), especially in the keyboard department. If you like melodic and spacey synth Prog served up ala Pink Floyd, check out Eloy. Definitely not bad but the writing and musicianship certainly can't be thought of as astounding. For early stuff, I recommend Floating which has some pretty nice jams.|
|They are a prolific German progressive rock band, whose brand of music is based on a keyboard/guitar foundation. It tends toward the melodic, and may be compared in some ways to Focus. However, since they are relatively well-known, many other German bands tend to be compared to them! Destination is a new release from the band whose recent material is probably best described as powerful symphonic rock. The lineup on this release is the same as that on Ra, the duo of Bornemann and Gerlach plus a bevy of guest musicians, and the music is in similar vein. There are eight tracks, most of which are in the 6 - 8 minute range, giving time for each track to develop musically. Bornemann provides vocals and operates guitars, riffing and soloing in his typical style, with full-sounding, melodic guitar licks amidst a wall of Gerlach's keyboards and the rhythm section. In conclusion, Destination is a logical extension to Eloy's more recent style, and will appeal to those who enjoyed Ra, Performance, etc.|
|The only LP I'm familiar with is Floating. There these guys manage to cobble together a unique sound that's half Hawkwind, half very early Deep Purple (ca. "Hush"). There are good jams throughout, highlighted by Manfred Wieczorke's superbly spacey organ playing, and suitably loopy lyrics. This manages to straddle the border between progressive rock and hard rock very effectively, and should appeal equally to fans in both camps. Highly recommended. -- Doug Bassett|
In 1981/82, Eloy turned to space with Planets and Time to Turn, two
concept albums based on a story by Frank Bornemann of the mythical planet, Salta. The
band Bornemann put together for Colours (which remained essentially the same
through to 1984), had quite a different sound from the "classic" line-up which produced
Dawn, Ocean and Silent Cries ..., perhaps not as complex musically,
but with a more lush, almost symphonic feel that was every bit as enjoyable, and with
Bornemann at the helm, distinctly Eloy.
Hallmarks of the sound on both these albums are layers of synthesizers, which provide the spacey backdrop for Bornemann's clean tone guitar, and vocals, held down by Klaus Peter Matziol's smooth bass lines and clavinet which punctuates the rhythm here and there. Hannes Folberth makes liberal use of the Mini-moog for lead parts, often with multiple overdubs, which are intertwined to create a rich wall of analog sound. "Introduction", the excellent 2 minute synth piece opening Planets, almost in the vein of Tim Blake or Tangerine Dream, sets the scene perfectly for a very cosmic album. Generally both Planets and Time to Turn are more song oriented, but feature some longer pieces, such as the fantastic "Mysterious Monolith" from Planets, or the epic "End of an Odyssey" from Time to Turn. Though the two albums complement each other well in sound, I feel Planets is the stronger of the pair musically, with Time to Turn let down a little by a couple of weaker cuts, (mainly the title track, which IMO is very poor.) I would recommend checking out Planets first, then Time to Turn.
Ocean II marks something of a return to form for Eloy, after some rather mediocre albums from the mid 80's through to the 90's. It features Frank Bornemann together with Klaus Peter Matziol, keyboardist Michael Gerlach (with whom Bornemann had collaborated since 1988's Ra) and new drummer Bodo Schopf. Despite its title, this album bears little resemblance to 1977's Ocean, although it is easily the best album since Planets or Time to Turn, and could be best compared with this era Eloy. Bornemann and Klaus Peter Matziol are in fine form, Gerlach's use of classic ARP and Moog synths lends this album something of a 70's feel, and Bodo Schopf, although not Jurgen Rosenthal, is probably the next best thing for Eloy. There are some long tracks to be found, most notably the excellent 13 min "Reflections from the Spheres Beyond" whose music well and truly lives up to the title. IMO the only real disappointment is the closing 11 min track, "The Answer" which is a less than satisfying conclusion to an otherwise great album. -- Daniel Briggs
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