Hell's Kitchen (90)
Fade (96, Compilation)
Dorian Gray (Completed around 2003, but never released)
From an old article on their web site:
[Facade's music is loosely described by singer Jon Paradise as "the dividing line between rock and metal, and the balance between commercial and progressive." Influences range from "progressive" (Kansas, Saga, Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Rush) to "alternative/grunge/metal" (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica, Dokken) to "adult contemporary" (Sarah McLachlan, Toad The Wet Sprocket).]
|Hell's Kitchen was never released beyond a few demo tapes, and is of a quality considered "unreleasable" by the band, at least in its current condition. Fade is a compilation of demos recorded between 1991 & 1996. Facade appeared on a few compilation albums including E-Progeny (an album put together by the E-Prog web site and still available at M&M Music) and a Kansas tribute CD. They have a (relatively) new rock opera named Dorian Gray which is finished but unreleased at this time. Due to its length and "complications with some of the contributors", it may never be released. Facade is still around as a part-time studio recording project, and you can download and listen to a few of their songs on the web site listed below. None of their albums are in print at this time. -- Fred Trafton|
Click here for Facade's web site
Facedancers (72, re-released on CD in 2005)
Original entry 12/6/06:
Worthwhile early US prog with psych touches, with influences from early Gentle Giant and touches of Yes. [There is] an MP3 soundfile of them from the Synton site [see link below], so you can see whether you agree. This is one of the tracks that sounds like a mixture of Acquiring the Taste with something from early Yes. -- J.K. Alexandridis
|Links||There used to be a link here to the MP3 file mentioned above, but it's vanished from the net now.|
A Strange Utopia (09)
Factory of Dreams - Hugo Flores (electric/acoustic guitar, bass, synthesizers, "drum arrangements" [this
probably means "drum machine programming"], berimbau,
percussion, sitar and 12 string guitar) and Jessica Lehto (vocals)
Portugal's Factory of Dreams is just two people ... vocalist Jessica Lehto (also in the metal bands Beto Vázquez Infinity and Once There Was) and Hugo Flores (also the leader of Project Creation and Sonic Pulsar), who plays guitar, bass, keyboards, and everything else. Drums are handled, incredibly, by drum machines (or computerized drum sample players or whatever), but it's hard to tell this except that no human being could probably actually play these drums.
Just two people ... but with the sound of ... how can I describe it? An army of heavily-armored robot samurai warriors playing heavy metal axes with a choir of curvaceous silver female robots from Heavy Metal Magazine on vocals? Sounds like a group from a Guitar Hero game? Right! Very heavy prog-metal with slowish chugging chord progressions, massive overdubs (particularly in Lehto's vocals, but also on everything else), skittering note guitar solos, "drumming" that sounds like Mike Portnoy played back at double-speed and enough compression to make Todd Rundgren blush. The sound is as thick and dense as the atmosphere of Jupiter. How's that for a nerdy simile? But not as nerdy as the lyrics of the albums themselves. But wait, we'll get there soon ...
I've heard their first and (as of this writing) latest albums, Poles and Melotronical. Both albums are concept albums in the fantasy story realm. The notes for Poles introduce the story in the following way:
What does it mean? Hell if I know. But who cares? The crushing guitar work and thunderous "drumming" with Lehto's airy, operatic vocals (in English!) overdubbed to monsterous female choirs will take you away to wherever this place is and pummel you with its strange mixture of pleasure and pain until you're screaming, "YES! YES! I LOVE IT! PLEASE SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?".
Ahem. Sorry about that. This stuff does pump up my adrenaline and testosterone levels just a bit, despite the female vocals. Or maybe they contribute, I'm not sure. Ignore the the carnivorous unicorns and just enjoy it. Really.
So how can Melotronical top this? Well, it manages to. If anything, it's even thicker and more heavily overdubbed than Poles. The speed-metal aspects have been amped up, and the "double-bass" drum style sounds like a gattling gun that never lets up its barrage. Lehto's operatic vocals are joined on this album by Flores' growling style, both as lead and as part of the supporting "choir". The concept for Melotronical is no more grounded in reality than Poles. Again, quoting from the advertising blurb: "A conceptual CD, revolving around the evolution of an electronic Molecule into a living breathing Entity. This entity, experiences several stages of life ... the finale starts with 'Dimension Crusher', when all hope is lost and a new Universe is idealized through 'Reprogramming'."
Again, whatever. The music is brilliant, and the lyrics sound epic and important as long as you don't examine them too closely. It is a Factory of Dreams, after all, and you can't expect dreams to necessarily make a lot of sense, though they may still be full of emotions and symbolism. Melotronical fills the bill. Oh, and one more thing ... don't expect any Mellotrons in Melotronical. This title is a combination of "melody" and "electronic", not "mellow" and "electronic". There's nothing "mellow" about this album.
I'll just admit (again) that prog-metal isn't my favorite genre of prog, but these albums really satisfy, and without sounding even a little bit like the usual paragon of prog-metal, Dream Theater. I have heard Factory of Dreams compared to Nightwish, however, though I'm not qualified to comment on that. If it's true, maybe I need to check out Nightwish as well. I can compare them to Epica, however. Because of the strong female vocals juxtaposed against the heavy metal guitars. But for now, Poles and Melotronical will fulfill this particular area of my musical cravings. I'm certain there's a lot more to discover here on future listenings. -- Fred Trafton
[See Project Creation]
Click here for Factory of Dreams' Melotronical web site
Jak spelar dik matt (92)
Trying to obtain information on Fafner from the internet has proven to be an interesting
piece of detective work. Jak spelar dik matt was released on the Norwegian label
Colours, and some mail-order houses
such as this
one list them as a Norwegian band. However, they are not listed in the "Norwegian
GEPR" (http://www.progrock.no), but their Swedish
does list them. Our best guess is that Fafner was a Swedish band whose album
was released in Norway.
Add to this the fact that the RockDetector web site lists a Swedish Fafner as well and things start getting even clearer ... until you realize that this Fafner is a black metal band and never released an album named Jak spelar dik matt. If anyone out there knows the story of the Fafner that released Jak spelar dik matt, we would be pleased to hear about it. -- Kai Karmanheimo/Fred Trafton
[OK, I'm breaking a GEPR rule here. You'll know which one
when you get to the last paragraph. But I think
you'll agree it's worth it. -Ed.]
On the Internet I stumbled upon GEPR. And to my surprise I found an entry about Fafner. Yes. It was a Swedish band (Luleå - way up north) on a Norwegian label. They played together for many years, recorded the one album Jak spelar dik matt, played together for yet some years (in various constellations). They did record a bunch of stuff, some of it quite good. And were then filed in the archives of obliviance. I haven't heard the album for maaaany years, but if I were to review it I would say it has it's moments, and a nice sound, but it really would have needed a producer. The guy with the label Colours still has a homepage on the net. His name is Jorn R. Andersen and the site is called "Living in the Past" or something like that. [I was unable to find it. - Ed]
How do I know all this? Well I live and work as a joiner/cabinet maker in Stockholm, but I was born and raised in a little cold town up north called Luleå, and I used to be the drummer / "singer" of a little old band called Fafner. -- Johan Lindmark
From Home to Home (70)
Fairport Convention (68)
What We Did On Our Holidays (69)
Liege and Lief (69)
Full House (70)
Angel Delight (71)
Babbacombe Lee (71)
Fairport Nine (73)
Live - A Movable Feast (74)
Rising For The Moon (75)
Gottle O'Geer (76)
Live At The Troubadour (76)
Bonny Bunch Of Roses (77)
Tippler's Tales (78)
Farewell Farewell (79)
The Airing Cupboard Tapes (81)
Moat On The Ledge (82)
Live At Broughton Castle (85)
Expletive Delighted (86)
Gladys' Leap (86)
House Full (Live in L.A.) (87)
In Real Time - Live '87 (87)
Heyday - BBC Radio Sessions 1968-69 (87)
The History Of Fairport Convention (88)
Red and Gold (89)
Live Convention (90)
The Five Seasons (90)
The Woodworm Years (91, Compilation)
25th Anniversary Pack (92, Compilation)
25th Anniversary Concert (93, 2CD)
Jewel In The Crown (95)
Old New Borrowed Blue (96)
Smiddyburn - Flittin' (96, as Dave Swarbrick)
Who Knows Where The Time Goes? (97)
Encore, Encore (98)
Close To The Wind (98)
Fairport Unconventional (02, 4-CD Box Set)
Plus many other live albums, compilations and re-releases w/ bonus tracks
Fairport Convention - Winter 2002
Fairport has a sound that has pretty well established the british folk-rock scene, along with the Strawbs, Steeleye Span and others. Although not really progressive in the strict sense, they have strong personell connections to nearly every band around, including King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Strawbs, and others, and influence has been carried in both directions throughout their career, and thus they may be of interest to readers interested in exploring this area. My highest recommendations go to three of their albums, Unhalfbricking and Liege and Lief from the early period (both featuring Sandy Denny), and In Real Time, a live one from [slightly more] recent years.
|Early albums were pretty much straight ahead folk music, but as more members of Jethro Tull were added, FC's sound became more rock-oriented. Still probably classified as folk music, make no mistakes, but the more recent stuff is certainly apt to appeal more to fans of Tull and the like.|
|Buy Liege and Lief. I love it, and I hear that nothing else quite measures up to it (and nothing else that I've heard from them does). It's kind of a Celtic folk progressive album (maybe a bit weak on the progressive part, but it has some good cuts on it).|
[See Denny, Sandy |
Jethro Tull |
Click here for Fairport
Convention's web site
Fairy's Moke (75)
Fading Beauty (73), Back On My Hill (80)
Apparently this band has a slug of albums out, but Lasers Edge re-released their first, most progressive album Fading Beauty on CD. There's lots of lengthy instrumental passages, heavy Hammond organ, Mellotron and decent guitar, but overall it sounds very dated (73, but sounds more like something from the end of the 60's) and tends to ramble on endlessly and pointlessly over it's three long tracks. File under: Goes nowhere.
German progressive rock released by Laser's Edge, Fading Beauty draws comparisons to mid-period Eloy. The music can be described as full-sounding symphonic rock, and consists of two long tracks that go through a variety of moods, with enough Mellotron and guitar-drenched instrumental passages to keep the listener content.
Fading Beauty is a rather somber work from The Laser's Edge. Originally released in 1973, the title comes from the first part of the two part "Autumn Fantasia" suite, which deals with waning years of our lives. "Tharsis" is a 21 minute tale of a bird whose egg is our own earth. If the egg hatches, our earth is destroyed, but the only way to prevent the brood from hatching is by atomic explosion. An interesting story, but the music fails to carry it along very well. Plenty of organ and guitar abounds, but the music fails to get the listener involved.
[Note: The Sky-label albums, with the possible exception of Back On My Hill, are heavy-metal, so beware!.]
With Heavenly Music Corporation:
In a Garden of Eden (93)
With Spice Barons:
Unidentified Floating Ambience (94)
Future Perfect State (95)
With Melting Euphoria:
Through The Stands of Time (94)
As Spaceship Eyes:
Truth In The Eyes Of A Spaceship (98)
Of Cosmic Repercussions (00)
With Gary Parra's Trap:
Beyond the Status Quo (97)
With Spirits Burning:
New Worlds By Design (99)
Reflections In A Radio Shower (01)
Found in Nature (04)
Alien Injection (08)
Earth Born (08)
With Quiet Celebration:
Quiet Celebration (00)
Sunrise to Sunset (04)
With Weird Biscuit Teatime:
With Steve Palmer
Gothic Ships(06, Scheduled release)
Don Falcone is a keyboardist who has recorded with a number of spacey bands, including Fireclan, Spirits Burning, Trap and Quiet Celebration to name a few, and he was one of the original members of Melting Euphoria. He has also recorded several solo albums as Spaceship Eyes, sometimes with guests from the above bands. His style is usually in the broad category of space rock, though he also has played with bands in a more RIO style (i.e. Trap). For the complete list, see the discography above. For reviews of albums, see links below to individual band names. -- Fred Trafton
[See Fireclan |
Spaceship Eyes |
Spirits Burning |
Quiet Celebration |
Click here for Don Falcone's Noh Poetry Records web site
Cold Nose (75)
In this period he played in Sensation's Fix too. This album is a soundtrack.
[See Sensation's Fix]
La Famiglia Degli Ortega (73)
|The 12 players in this band were all of the same family. The sound is a mix of popular music and vanguard music.|
|Band members were a part of a true blooded family. Their self-titled album is quite uneven and contains some excellent Italian melodies of the best kind mixed with below average dated hippie-type ballads (ie, "Give Peace a chance"). The female singers are gorgeous and half of the tracks are a must hear with etheral melodies. What destroys it are the male vocals and the songs that are dominated by the male singers. Still an album worth listening to as I really like half of it quite a bit. -- Betta|
Music In A Dolls House (68), Family Entertainment (69), Anyway (70), A Song For Me (70), Old Songs New Songs (71), Fearless (71), Bandstand (72), It's Only A Movie (73), From Past Archives (80), The Peel Sessions (88), BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert (91)
Seminal folk-hard-rock-prog band fronted by Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney. Their music was instantly recognizable due to Chapman's unique and grating vocals. Musically they covered a wide range of stuff, all condensed into song format and generally accessible, but still very progressive for its time. Fearless is probably their best album, which also features a budding John Wetton on bass and backing vocals. Many people swear by A Song For Me as well, but I cant say cuz I haven't heard that one.
Family existed from early 1967 until late 1973. During this period, this UK band from Leicester were festival staples, and covered a lot of musical ground, touching on '60s psychedelia (esp. Doll's House); breezy acoustic passages; hard progressive rock (esp. Song For Me and Anyway); jazz-flavorings ; and in their final stages, a laid-back, "good-time" brand of rock and roll (It's Only a Movie). All of this was anchored by the axis of Roger Chapman (aka Chappo) on vocals, and Charlie Whitney on guitars. Chapman is thought by many to have the most unique voice in rock: alternately down-home and soothing, to outright manic and throat-wrenching. Whitney was an under-rated player being most proficient on twelve-string guitars, acoustic and electric. Family also included a couple of famous alumni, namely Ric Grech, who went on to Blind Faith; and John Wetton, future star of King Crimson, UK, Aisa and others. -- Patrick Little
Great underestimated band from late sixties, early seventies with the distinct vocals of Roger Chapman and subtle guitar playing of Charles Whitney. Most of the songs are penned by these two although other members write the odd number. First album Music in a Doll's House still very much in the vein of Sixties psychedelia and has dated somewhat over the years. Not the best introduction to the band. Second album Family Entertainment is a classic of Progressive Rock, All songs seem to be influenced by a number of styles including Carribean to up tempo boogie-woogie. The first two tracks - "Weaver's Answer" and "Observations from a Hill" are timeless in their beauty and show diversity of instruments which enhances the multi layers of melodies. After this masterpiece two key members leave the band (Rick Grech moves on to Blind Faith) causing a redefinition of song and sound structure. The first half of Anyway contains four live songs (the only official ones) and shows the band at its loudest. Not a bad album but the production leaves much to be desired. A Song For Me has some great songs but on the whole seems uninspired. Before Fearless John Wetton joins the band but his influence is neglible, I don't think he sings a lot on the albums but it does seem that the zaniness which from the earlier albums is slipping away. Fearless is nevertheless is a good album although it could do without some of the last songs. Bandstand is maybe their best album of the second phase (the original album sleeve is a beauty) the songs show a maturity with again a number of styles all mixed into the typical Family sound - no band sounds the same as them, although it seems like a number of new British bands also grab this eclectic background but of course without Chapman's rasping vocal chords. Again two members leave before It's Only a Movie, a more groovy album where the keyboards are more predominanly evident. The group is after all these years not very well known in the States and it seems that Chapman and co. give up. They'll try again in the form of a band called Streetwalkers which does sound more American AOR and therefore a lot less interesting. Luckily a live album from a BBC concert has came out in the early '90s, performed just after It's Only a Movie but with a wide variety of of their album songs. It shows the band at its best with great improvisations and exquisite keyboard and guitar duels, very highly recommended. -- Eric Hermans
[See Asia | Atoll | King Crimson | Wetton, John]
With Erik Lindgren, in between work with the Space Negros and Birdsongs of the Mesozoic.
[See Birdsongs of the Mesozoic | Space Negros]
Weak Waving (89)
King's Journey (92)
The Sheltering Sea (94)
|Italian neo-prog band.|
|Gack! Italian neo-prog band on Musea. Of their first album Weak Waving, it has to be one of the worst things musea has ever put out. Weak is right !!! The vocals are insipid and the music is wannabee neo derivative but not quite up to it. Awful!|
|Fancyfluid are an Italian band, and King's Journey is their second release, on Musea. Their sound has matured well in comparison with their debut, Weak Waving, and the result is a presentation of symphonic progressive rock along the lines of Galadriel, Nuova Era, etc., with conceptual pieces composed around a lush base of keyboards and guitar. The vocal and guitar work is somewhat influenced by early Marillion, and is very well executed. Comparisons may also be drawn with Italian counterparts Arcansiel. If you enjoy the work of the bands mentioned, and wish for something along those lines, this release should be a worthwhile investment.|
Click here to order Fancyfluid titles
from Musea Records
Music From The Blackboard Jungle (80)
Some Brighter Stars (82)
The Wolf At The Ruins (89)
World Diary (92)
The Blind Messenger (97)
Aquarium EP (99, EP, as Spirit Oscillator)
|Forrest Fang creates a sort of ambient music using predominantly acoustic instruments, all played by himself (Piano, Mandola, Bandurria, Violin, Synthesizers). His earliest releases are more ambient in nature. Of his third Migration: This music just gradually flows from one track to the next, exploring various dreamlike and meditative soundscapes in the process, with enough variety from one track to the next to keep it interesting, and regular dynamic and texture changes to hold the album together well. Interesting use is made of the absence of sound: there are a couple spaces between tracks that exceed 20 seconds or more, but fit well with the nature of the music. Of his later releases Wolf At The Ruins and World Diary: the music tends to be more melodic and far-eastern influenced than the early stuff, the "side-long" "New China" suite on World Diary being a good example. All are great. Start with either of the last two. [When this article was written, "the last two" were The Wolf At The Ruins and World Diary. -Ed.]|
Click here for
Forrest Fang's web site
Symphonic prog private-release rarity.
Roine Stolt/Fantasia (80), Fantasia (82)
Roine Stolt's first project after leaving Kaipa. Fantasia is described by Roine Stolt as a "more commercial sounding album."
[See Flower Kings, The | Kaipa | Stolt, Roine]
Paint a Picture (73)
Beyond the Beyond (92, recorded in 1974)
Vivariatum (94, recorded in the '70's)
|Another early British band in the vein of Beggars Opera, Cressida, Cirkus, and Spring.|
|Said to be highly regarded. Much Mellotron.|
|The band Fantasy are one of the most impressive "lost" bands of the early seventies. Based In England, the band, originally called FireQueen, suffered a terrible set back with the death of an early member. Core members Paul Lawrence (vocals, guitar), David Metcalfe (keyboards), and Dave Read (Bass) comprised the nucleus of the band who signed to Polydor and recorded their first album Paint A Picture (reissued on Si Wan). This album, as debuts go, has much to offer. Primarily song based, (all 4-7 min), its an interesting melange of prevailing musical styles. There is a lot of folk-prog guitar, reminiscent of Mellow Candle and even Trespass-era Genesis. The track "Widow" contains some beautiful rippling piano work, cello & acoustic guitar. In contrast there is some great Hammon organ and heavier electric guitar on "Circus". Also Andrew Pryce Jackson, an ex-member of Chris Squire's pysch band The Syn, does some orchestration. Overall though, a mellow acoustic vibe prevails. Superb harmony singing, lush Mellotron backing, warm full organ tones. All the hallmarks of a band finding their style and improving instantly on it can be found on Paint A Picture. But their second LP, Beyond The Beyond, proved straight away that Fantasy had something really special. This 1974 LP had, unbelievably, remained unreleased until 1992 (by Audio Archives). An absolute crime in my mind!! From the baroque opening bars of cathedral organ its obvious the potential evident in the first LP has been greatly surpassed. Beyond the Beyond is really a lost gem!! (an over used phrase I know but relevant here). The title track is incredibly catchy, reminiscent of the great Hammond and Mellotron of Greenslade. "Reality" is another great 3 minute acoustic ballad that Fantasy definitely had a knack for. But the nine-minute mini-epic "Alandarie" provides the highlight. A brooding, mystical, multi movement piece, it sees Fantasy delving into something more "definitively" progressive. Choral and string Mellotrons dominate the piece and Paul Lawrence proves himself a worthy singer, impressively stretching his range. "Church Clock" the closing track is one of the most pastoral sounding prog tracks I've heard, with a stange Syd Barret vibe. Its a pity Fantasy were never given a chance at a side-long epic. The English prog scene of the early seventies that never got a chance; Spring, Gracious!, Titus Groan. And yet I would unhesitatingly recommend Fantasy first and foremost above all these. -- David Abel|
Paint a Picture (Polydor/Edison ERC-29229) is a typical specimen of the soft-end British
early-prog in the vein of Moody Blues and
Cirkus (in contrast to the more strident sounds of
Gracious! or Raw Material).
Chiming acoustic guitar strums are omnipresent, as is the air of
melancholy that can get pretty dark at times, but mainly in the resigned-and-anguished rather
than razor-blades-through-the-arteries way. To balance this is the strong and steady axis of
electric guitar and alternatively cathedral and lavatorial organ, while a quasi-orchestral
sound is provided by that totem of progressive rock, the Mellotron. The arrangements are
strictly song-oriented, wrapping themselves around the lead vocalist's confident, often
multi-tracked voice and keeping rhythmically well within the four square box, but allow enough
ornamentation and experimentation to rise above the run-off-the-mill rock mannerisms; the most
memorable examples are the dexterous organ/guitar interplay on "Circus" and the gorgeous
vocalise/acoustic guitar/Mellotron episode near the end of "Gnome's Song". In terms of melodic
sensibilities, Fantasy are among the best of the early-prog crowd, and their approach is
compact and punchy in a way that the often dawdling Moodies'
is not. For those unfamiliar with the scene, this could be an excellent place to start.
The band recorded a follow-up, but their contract was terminated before its release and subsequently they terminated their own activities. Beyond the Beyond only saw release in 1992 (Audio Archives AACD 001). Many consider it an improvement on Paint a Picture, but I have to disagree. The highlights are the nine-minute "Alanderie", notable for its expansive chorus melody and the extended middle section that is their most obviously progressive moment on record, and the catchy rocker "Worried Man", propelled along by its infectious, folk-tinged guitar hook. The rest of the songs, however, offer little improvement on the first album and many actually sound diluted in comparison. The regular album ends rather limply with the maudlin "Church Clock", whose sentimentality is as overbearing as its music is scant (though the clock-like percussion ticking is a nice touch), but there are five more bonus tracks, three of them harder rocking tunes in the Deep Purple mold, not the kind of material to endear this album to me. The fans of the first album should still enjoy this.
A more thorough sweep at the bottom of the archives dredged up enough material for another album, hence the release of Vivariatum (Audio Archives AACD 004) in 1994. I have not had the opportunity to hear this one, but apparently it contains four tracks recorded by the band's early line-up in 1970 and six more from a 1976 reunion. The latter are said to be poppier than the prime material, while the former resemble Uriah Heep - which would be an excellent reason for not going anywhere near this album. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Far Corner (04)
Intermission (09, Free Download, CD version coming soon)
Far Corner - Craig Walkner (drums), Dan Maske (piano, organ), Angela Schmidt (cello,
flute), William Kopecky (bass)
Original Entry, Last Updated 11/23/07:
Bassist William Kopecky is also a member of Kopecky, a prog-metal band with his two brothers, and is also the bassist for Pär Lindh Project. His bass work here in Far Corner is excellent ... I personally like the fretless work better than the "fretful" (his joke, not mine) sounds, but both are great. The songs are mostly composed by keyboardist Dan Maske, who disdains synths and other fancy stuff for piano and organ only, and with compositions this interesting and playing so skillful, you won't miss the glitzy sounds a bit. A great album.
Far Corner's second album Endangered has a very different sound. Far more into the "modern classical" regions, it still rocks from time to time but is further into Univers Zero or Present territory than the first album. However, the uptempo sections here have more of a jazzy feel and a less rock feel than Univers Zero or Present, largely I think due to Kopecky's snakey fretless bass work. There's also a bit of cinematic "movie soundtrack" feel. Dan Maske expands his instrumental palette to include trumpet and melodica while Angela Schmidt also plays violin. Endangered is a very fine album in its own right, showing a band that isn't interested in staying with a single, static sound from one album to the next while maintaining a definite sense of musical identity. A neat trick.
Both albums are available from Cuneiform Records. -- Fred Trafton
News 11/11/09: Far Corner has recently released an "album" of previously unreleased tunes, recorded both live and in the studio entitled Intermission. So far, it's not available in full quality on CD (though they say it will be soon), but you can download what appears to be the entire album as MP3 files for free from their web site. A nice gift from Far Corner. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Haiku Funeral | Kopecky | Lindh, Pär]|
Cave Down to Earth (75)
Parallel World (76)
|Japanese prog/space band with Kitaro in it.|
|I have their Parallel Worlds album and it's a *fantastic* space album, if you're into that genre. Upon first listen, I thought to myself, "Ash Ra Tempel on keyboards!" More specifically, it sounds like Rick Wright, of Pink Floyd fame, in a space jam with Klaus Schulze. Speaking of, though Schulze doesn't play, he produced this album and his wizardry is evident throughout. Kitaro is also said to play on this album but the line-up isn't given. If you are into the long space jams ala Ash Ra Tempel, except with keyboards, you'd love this album. The drummer is Schulze-inspired and he's all over this place. Often, it's the drummer and bass carrying the tune while the keyboard provide an astoundingly mesmerizing backdrop. If you're a space traveler, get this 60+ minute CD, of which half is the 30+ minute title track.|
|This Japanese band has unleashed many a new-age synthesist on the unsuspecting world: Kitaro, Fumio Miyashta, Akira Ito... Their first album was issued under the band name Far Out, and is these days a rare collectors' item. The first proper FEFB album, The Cave Down To Earth, did not appear until 1975. It attracted the attention of Klaus Schulze, who collaborated with the band on the first European release. That album, Nipponjin--Join Our Mental Phase Sound, consisted of re-recorded selections of the two aforementioned albums. Schulze collaborated with the band again on the 1976 album Parallel World. Tenkujin, the band's lone U.S. release, finds the band a trio of Miyashta (vocals, synths, guitars, bamboo flute), Hirohito Fukushima (e-guitar, koto, vocals) and Yujin Harada (drums, percussion) plus a guest bassist. The sound is wonderfully spacy, heavy on the synthesizers, and featuring some clear-toned Hillage-influenced guitar. Vocals, alternately in Japanese and English, are subtle and not unpleasant, reminding one of Camel. Pink Floyd is another obvious influence, but there are definitely Japanese themes running throughout the album, from the koto and bamboo flute on "From Far East" to the cuckoo/waterfall/heartbeat sounds at the beginning of "Nagare." A very good album which really grows on you.|
|I've seen Nipponjin not only spelled Nepporjin and Nihonnjin, but also have seen the latter variant attributed to Far Out in a mail order catalog. However, two books list it as a FEFB album. I've also seen Tenkujin spelled Tenkeyin. If you know the definitive history of this band, please contact me.|
[See Far Out]
Attraction of Fire (99)
I love and appreciate practically equally all the three 'Whales' Progressive
Rock stands on - Art (Symphonic) Rock, Prog Metal, and Jazz-Fusion. But,
unfortunately, representatives of the Prog Metal genre aren't frequent visitors
at ProgressoR. Frankly, waiting for the first promo package with two CDs from
from the French "Brennus" label (the 'metallic' division of Musea yet with
its own separate economy) I didn't expect to hear such high-quality music as
Since this band was formed about a decade ago its members had time enough to develop their music, to make it solid and mature already on the debut album. As I've heard too little contemporary bands of the genre for the two and a half years of my work on ProgressoR (so I don't have too many examples to compare Far'n'High with), this review doesn't look, maybe, as precise as the others, so I am sorry in advance.
Well, listening to Far'n'High I find their instrumental structures original
and very interesting. While the album as a whole demonstrates the united
stylistics, the songs, taken separately, show quite a traditional way (the
majority of melodic - not like
It's hard to imagine some aggressive bombastic heavy track with a title like
"Our Love". This is a nice ballad with some touches of Progressive, but in my
view, there should not be place on such a wonderful album for such a banality.
Another point that "ate" a star from the album's overall rating together with
the previous one, is the fact that Damien (just) sometimes (but obvious) copies
the method of the singing of Geoff Tate of Queensryche. In particular, I hear
these similarities almost in all harmony vocal parts, whereas when Damien
sings alone, without over-dubs of his own, as I guess, voice, I like his
vocals very much.
Well, this is just the band's debut on a Prog-Metal scene, and this debut is
excellent. I sincerely want to believe in the bright future of this talented
French band because Far'n'High potentially has it. But in my view, all the
interesting French Prog-Metal bands need at least a good promotion throughout
the world. And the "Brennus" label itself - in company with a few of its best
"performing examples", though - needs a kind of self-advertising in such a
strong magazine as Progression (the Journal of the Genre). It's a usual yet
highly effective (and inexpensive) way, by the way. -- Vitaly Menshikov
It's hard to imagine some aggressive bombastic heavy track with a title like "Our Love". This is a nice ballad with some touches of Progressive, but in my view, there should not be place on such a wonderful album for such a banality. Another point that "ate" a star from the album's overall rating together with the previous one, is the fact that Damien (just) sometimes (but obvious) copies the method of the singing of Geoff Tate of Queensryche. In particular, I hear these similarities almost in all harmony vocal parts, whereas when Damien sings alone, without over-dubs of his own, as I guess, voice, I like his vocals very much.
Well, this is just the band's debut on a Prog-Metal scene, and this debut is excellent. I sincerely want to believe in the bright future of this talented French band because Far'n'High potentially has it. But in my view, all the interesting French Prog-Metal bands need at least a good promotion throughout the world. And the "Brennus" label itself - in company with a few of its best "performing examples", though - needs a kind of self-advertising in such a strong magazine as Progression (the Journal of the Genre). It's a usual yet highly effective (and inexpensive) way, by the way. -- Vitaly Menshikov
here for Far 'n' High's page on the Brennus web site (in French)
Click here for an interview with Far 'n' High
Far Out (72)
Far Out were the Far East Family Band in an early incarnation. Some say that Nihonnjin is a Far East Family Band album that contains one Far Out song and one FEFB tune. This was released on CD as a Far Out album though so I'll submit it under that band. Nihonnjin does indeed contain two songs, the 18 minute "Too Many People" and the 20 minute title track. "Too Many People" starts with spacy electronics that lead into electric guitar. Soon vocals, in English begin to sing and the guitar has mutated into a "sitar" type of sound. Other than the opening, keyboards are rarely at the fore again. Instead, the guitar and drums are important to creating the atmosphere which is somewhat akin to Pink Floyd circa Saucerful of Secrets. As a matter of fact, the ending of "Too Many People" is pretty similar to the ending of the song "Saucerful of Secrets" with the chorused "oohs." The next song, "Nihonnjin," continues in the same style of "Too Many People." This time the ending is the melody played on Japanese wood flutes for several minutes. To me, the two songs sound very related and not as if one came from Far Out and the other came from Far East Family Band. Right now, the only FEFB I've heard is the very spacy, Klaus Schulze produced Parallel Worlds which is dominated by spacious synths. Perhaps earlier FEFB is different. Either way, Far Out is a classic of the early spacy, Japanese psych scene and definitely worth an audition for fans of early Pink Floyd.
[See Far East Family Band]
Seasonal Man (75)
Prog-folk. Has been compared to Mellow Candle.
Rock Fantasia (83)
First Light (02)
From Dreaming to Dreaming (04)
Cold Star Quiet Star (08)
Farpoint 2006 - Dean Hallal (vocals), Frank Tyson (bass), Mike Avins (guitar),
Jennifer Meeks (vocals, flute), Rick Walker (drums) and Kevin Jarvis (keys, guitars, vocals)
Farpoint's debut release, First Light, has a light, accessable sound; almost the sort of thing you might expect to hear at a Renaissance festival, with lots of acoustic guitar (especially 12-string) and medieval flavors. There are two vocalists who can hardly be more different from each other; Dana Oxendine's clear soprano versus Clark Boone's husky whisky-voice (his voice reminds me of Ritchie Havens' vocals on "How Can I?" and "Icarus Ascending" from Steve Hackett's Please Don't Touch). On First Light, I sometimes find this to be a strength of the band and sometimes the two styles seem to be struggling to work together.
Farpoint seems to draw a lot of inspiration from early, pastoral Yes material; in fact, there's an acoustic guitar section on First Light that encourages me to begin singing "A man conceived a moment's answers to the dream ... staying the flowers daily, sensing all the themes" ("And You and I"), which fits right in with it for awhile before it goes off into its own territory. But there are other influences here as well, including the previously mentioned medieval feel on many songs, with acoustic instruments and flute to the bluesy folk rock of the lengthy, heartfelt but somewhat predictable "To the River", sung by Boone with Oxendine providing backup "ooh's and aah's".
Grace is Farpoint's second CD, and is a wonderful example of how far a band can come in a year. The Yes influences are still there, but muted to the point where there's nothing that really sounds derivative. There's still plenty of acoustic orchestration using pianos and acoustic guitar, but no more medieval flavors. Dana and Clark have really figured out how to sing together without sounding strained - Dana is more relaxed, and Clark has removed some of the "huskiness" from his vocals, making the two blend together much more evenly. The compositions are overall much stronger on Grace ... more progressive and at the same time less self-conscious about "trying to be progressive". In many ways, this is more like a '70's rock album with lots of prog touches than a "Progressive Rock" (note capitals) album. The recording quality and execution in the instrumentals is also noticably better than on First Light. Grace is a far more mature and enjoyable album in every way. One of my highest recommendations for this album is that I've listened to it about five times now, and I like it better each time I hear it. That's the hallmark of good prog rock.
Although it was clear on First Light that Farpoint is a christian band, they didn't smack you around with this in their lyrics. Grace is a lot more overtly christian in its themes, from a depiction of a descent into a dark Hell to the simple statement of faith in the title song, "Grace". Yet, still, I wouldn't call the lyrics "preachy", the distinction here being that they are talking about what they believe rather than threatening me with dire consequences if I don't share their beliefs. Let's just say that they haven't crossed the line where I would find it objectionable or offensive.
From Dreaming to Dreaming, Farpoint's third CD, continues the evolution in the first two albums. The "bookend" pieces of the album (the first and last songs) are called Lux Universum, Parts I and II. Part I is light, new-agey space rock and instrumental. Part II adds Dana Oxendine's voice, sounding like a chant or prayer on top of the droney electronics. The lyrics remind me of my own christian prog band, spiritual without being preachy or even specific; "Breathe In, Breathe Out, Breathe Deep, Breathe Light, Breathe Love, Breathe Life, Universal light." Nice. And, in typical prog style, they are a reprise of the lyrics in the fourth cut, "Universal Light", which isn't space rock at all, but a pretty straight rocker, though with a nice Starcastleish guitar solo in the middle of it. Boone uses his Richie Havens voice again for Anything at All, a ballad about a "haunted man" named Syd (Barrett?). "Crying in the Rain" is probably the most typically progressive song on the album, with some nice Steve Walsh type organ work, skipped or extra beats added to some measures to create odd meters (hmm ... hope that's not my CD player), some prog metalish guitars, a pitch-bendy synth solo in the middle and nice vocal harmonies from Boone and Oxendine. The "prog factor" in many of these songs is not that high, but you can still hear prog influences everywhere in the solos, the organ playing and some of the lyrical content. Farpoint knows they're not a purely "prog" band, but are proud of their myriad influences, of which progressive rock is but one. Farpoint might be better characterized as "70's Classic Rock" than "Prog", but From Dreaming to Dreaming is still a good listen.
My guess would be that many die-hard prog fans would consider First Light to be a bit too lightweight and accessable for them, but it is a nice album of good songs that have progressive touches running throughout. Grace shows the band growing more mature and self-confident. If you like Glass Hammer, you should like Grace too, for lyrical content, spiritual orientation and musical stylings, though not as complex or blatantly "prog" as Glass Hammer. From Dreaming to Dreaming is perhaps less proggy still, but is nevertheless a well performed and recorded album with much to recommend it. -- Fred Trafton
The comparison to Glass Hammer is even more appropriate now, and since GH's new album Culture of Ascent made #1 on my "best of 2007" list this year, you might guess that I find this closer comparison to be a distinct improvement for Farpoint. You should also take note of the fact that I reviewed this release on the day I received it, which is unheard-of, and speaks to how impressed I was by it on first listening.
One other thing I need to mention -- and I hope the band takes this as the compliment it's intended to be -- though the CD rests in a holder emblazoned with the words Soli Deo Gloria, that's about the only reference to Christian beliefs you're going to hear on this album. The lyrics seem to be loosely about a trip to another star, the cold loneliness found there, and the joy experienced upon returning home. If there's a story here, it's a pretty loose one, but there's noting preachy about it at all. I imagine some of their Christan listeners might berate them for this, but as far as I'm concerned, this is great, and I hope they continue to use this philosophy of non-preachiness in future albums. But more importantly, I hope they continue to use the current musical philosophy in future albums, because I think they've finally found their sound on this album. Great stuff, and welcome back, Farpoint!
One more bit of news ... guitarist Sam Sanders, who plays "additional electric guitar" on two of the songs on Cold Star Quiet Star, has since become a full band member, and will be heard playing on future albums and for Farpoint's live dates. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Farpoint's web site
Click here for Farpoint's MySpace page
Click here to order Kindred from 10T Records
Night on Brocken (84)
The Spectre Within (85)
Awaken the Guardian (86)
No Exit (88)
Perfect Symmetry (89)
Inside Out (94)
Chasing Time (95, Compilation)
A Pleasant Shade of Grey (97)
Still Life (98, 2CD)
Disconnected (00, scheduled release date July 25, 2000)
Fates Warning - Jim Matheos (Guitars ),
Ray Alder (Vocals), Mark Zonder (Drums), Joey Vera (Bass)
Perfect Symmetry is good, lots of neat time signature changes and rythms, reminds me of a complex Queensryche sound but without keyboards. Kind of depressing sounding and mellow, no real intense, adrenaline pumping kick-butt moments. Took a little while for them to grow on me.
|Progressive metal, of course. Sort of a sister group to Dream Theater, but more metal than progressive. Shifting time signatures, pretty good lyrics, but IMHO the vocals aren't that great. This is based on Perfect Symmetry, though, that's all I've heard.|
|Fates Warning is one of the milestone bands in progressive metal music. 1996 marks the ten year anniversary of Awaken the Guardian, the band's first truly progressive album (the previous two, Night on Brocken and The Spectre Within are more traditional heavy metal and, while good, are of interest more to fans than casual listeners). Awaken the Guardian is a brilliant album, and shone like a diamond on the 1986 metal scene. Singer John Arch's penetrating vocals (love them or hate them, no in between) wailed on topics ranging from witchhunts to teen angst to Oscar Wilde's "The Selfish Giant." The album is dense and thickly layered, and takes many, MANY listens to sink in. Like King Crimson, the evolution of Fates Warning can be split into many different periods. With their next album, No Exit, FW refashioned itself as a faster, leaner, more ambitious metal band. New vocalist Ray Alder joined the band for this album, which contains a 21-minute epic called "The Ivory Gate of Dreams." This is an excellent album, but extremely heavy - a plus for some, a minus for others. Perfect Symmetry is regarded by many to be FW's best and most progressive album. Deep experimentations in syncopation and shifting time signatures abound. The album also contains "At Fates Hands," a largely instrumental piece with guest keyboards by Kevin Moore (ex-Dream Theater). After Perfect Symmetry, Fates began to become more commercial-sounding. Parallels, which also featured a guest appearance from Dream Theater (this time James LaBrie) was a satisfying if not downright pop album. After that came Inside Out, an even more mellow and radio-friendly disc. Both albums are excellent, but extremely different from the old stuff. The compilation, Chasing Time, is a great place to start. Not necessarily loved by everyone, Fates Warning has been largely responsible for the infusion of progressive thinking into heavy metal music. -- James Bickers|
[See Dream Theater]
Click here for Fates Warning web site
So Far (72)
The Faust Tapes (73)
Faust IV (73)
Outside the Dream Syndicate (73, w/ Tony Conrad)
Slapp Happy with Faust (73)
The Faust Tapes (73)
Faust IV (74)
Return of a Legend: Munich and Elsewhere (87, Compilation of unreleased material)
The Last LP (88, a.k.a. The Faust Party Album, Compilation)
Concerts Vol. 1 (92, Live Rec. 1990)
Concerts Vol. 2 (92, Live Rec. 1992)
71 Minutes of Faust (96, CD, formerly Last LP when released on vinyl, Rec 1971)
Untitled (96, comilation of live & studio material)
Peel Sessions (96)
You Know Faust (97)
Edinburgh 1997 (97, Live)
Faust wakes Nosferatu (98, in completely different CD and LP versions)
Land of Ukko & Rauni (00, Live)
Faust/Faust So Far (00, Compilation of first 2 albums)
The Wumme Years: 1970-1973 (00, Compilation)
BBC Sessions + (01, Compilation)
Freispiel (02, Remixes of Revviviando)
Derbe Respect, Adler (04, w/ Dälek)
Patchwork 1971-2002 (04, Compilation)
Inside the Dream Syndicate (05, w/ Tony Conrad)
|Wild, trippy, far-out German weirdos whose first two albums are landmarks of the German experimental scene. Just from looking at the first album, you know it's not going to be like anything you have ever heard before. Clear vinyl encased in a clear plastic sleeve with an X-ray of a fist printed on it, and even including a see-thru plastic lyric sheet with red lettering! The music is a totally original mix of electronics, tape effects, hard rock, semi-symphonic passages and light folky guitar pieces. It's impossible to predict in what direction they'll move next, they always move contrary to your expectations. Three tracks that all sort of run together. Highly recommended to the explorative. So Far way well be better and more varied than the first album. The opening track: "It's A Rainy Day, Sunshine Girl" is almost simplistic, with single-drum pounding, jagged guitar strumming, bouncy organ tooting and vocals chanting the title over and over, yet it builds to something surprisingly multilayered, with synthesizers and a good sax solo. "No Harm" starts with a passage with prominent trumpet and organ, and sounds not unlike something from Zappa's orchestral period. Then it bursts into a whirlwind of rock fury. The title song is a 7/4 vamp around guitar picks and trumpet blasts in a maelstrom of electronic swooshes which leads in to the chilling "Mamie Is Blue", with dramatic, thunderous electronic effects. Awe-inspiring stuff, and recommended even more than the first. I also heard Faust 4. Still pretty varied, but nothing quite so original as their prior stuff. In fact, they even do an extended version of "Picnic On A Frozen River" from So Far. Fanatics need only apply. -- Mike Ohman|
|German free form psychedelic/experimental band from the early 70's. What I've heard (71 Minutes and The Faust Tapes) has not impressed me very much. I'm sure I could take a bunch of LSD with my non-musical friends and we could grab some instruments we don't know how to play, and come up with something just as noisy. Somebody once told me that these two albums are just rubbish that was never intended to be released, and their first two are much better.|
|Faust were one of the seminal German bands along with groups such as Amon Düül II and the like, who incorporated the idea of structured dissonance into music. To those who enjoy the style of those early "psychedelic" groups, their first and So Far are worthwhile discs to explore.|
|I have Faust IV which is a really good Krautrock album. In fact, the first track is called "Krautrock"! The album goes from noisy jams to really nice melodies with nice keyboards. Re-released by Virgin in 1992.|
Parents Tend To Oxygen First (1985)
A New York four piece working within a pop song format, their sound falls somewhere between the electronic keyboard-driven 90's-period Saga and 80's pop bands like Tears for Fears. Lead singer Pat Walsh is first rate, and the rest of the band pulls plenty of punches, with excellent songs and some clever hooks. I get the feeling these guys had no intention of ever trying to be any sort of progressive band, but because they sound so much like Saga ...
Things are More Like They are Now Than They Ever Were Before (80)
The duo of Steven Feigenbaum (guitars, bass, percussion, tapes, electronics, etc.) and Tom Scott (reeds, keyboards, percussion, etc.) recorded one great album for the "Random Radar" label. Tom Scott was a member of the Muffins, who recorded for the "Random Radar" label, and whose drummer (Paul Sears) also appears on this recording, along with wind synth player Barney Jones (of Mars Everywhere) and several others. Things..., besides having a great title, is a great album and should be an instant hit with fans of groups like the Muffins, Curlew, Soft Machine and Henry Cow. Besides several wonderful jazzy-weird Canterbury-ish/Muffins-ish bits (e.g. the title track) there are some very fine acoustic guitar and reed duos, some noisy/spacey avant-garde stuff, an acoustic guitar quartet, a piece that sounds minimalistic, but is much more interesting than anything any minimalist ever did, some demented Dixieland stylings, and much more. As fine as this album is, Steven Feigenbaum's greatest contributions to music are his music distribution company (Wayside Music) and the "Cuneiform" label, both of which succeeded in carving out a very distinctive niche in the music world. Through Wayside and Cuneiform, hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of us were introduced to the Muffins, Curlew, Art Zoyd, Univers Zero, Nimal, Debile Menthol, and countless other strange and wonderful sound artists. Thanks, Steve! -- Dave Wayne
[See Chainsaw Jazz | Mars Everywhere | Muffins, The]
Piesen Z Hol (Song from Ridges) (76)
Dunajská Legenda (The Danubian Legend) (80)
Biela Planéta (The White Planet) (80)
Ad Libitum (84)
Smile ... (91)
Real Time (94)
A Czech* group that has released 5 LP's of instrumental prog rock. The
music tends to be a little oblique, with unusual chord progressions.
The emphasis is on piano/keyboards. The LP's are entitled Biela
Planeta ("The White Planet"), Dunajska Legenda,
Huascaran, Generation , and, Piesen Z Hol ("Songs
From Ridges"). A comparable group would be The Nice.
* Editor's Note: I suspect that when
this was written, "Czech" was intended to be simply a contraction of
"Czechoslovakian". Thanks to Rastislav Galia for pointing out that
Fermáta is a Slovakian band, not a Czech band, though they once
were a Czechoslovakian band. -- Fred Trafton
|Fermata have released at least six jazz-rock albums. Along with the ones mentioned in the upper paragraph is their debut Fermata and a symphonic styled eighties album that came later. I keep finding these guys lumped with Finch and Camel, yet they are much more in the jazz realm than any of these bands, and are basically just another fusion band with an experimental edge.|
Huascaran was supposedly inspired by the 1970 tragedy in Peru when an
earthquake-triggered avalanche from the Huascaran mountain killed nearly 80,000 people.
However, this isn't readily apparent in the music offered by the album's four long tracks,
which is essentially instrumental fusion dominated by the occasionally melodious but
generally pyrotechnic solos and exchanges between Frantisek Griglák's guitar and
Tomás Berka's electric piano and synthesizer. Here and there, however, the band
introduce more progressive elements into the mix: a stately piano/cello duet, some
vocalise on a folkish melody, a wailing, synth-harmonised guitar solo against a spacey
string-machine scenery. The fusion sound is still the dominant throughout, with Ladislav
Lucenic's funky bass and Karol Oláh's driving drumming providing smooth vamps,
over which guitar and keyboards can work through the standard and also a few slightly
exotic scales. However, unlike Iceberg whom Fermata have
sometimes been compared to, the symphonic or ethnic flavours are much less prominent on
Huascaran than on the Iceberg albums I have heard.
Fusion fans will quite probably love this, others should perhaps test waters before buying.
The fusion sound asserts itself completely in the three bonus tracks, which are all pretty
standard and non-descript jazz workouts.
Ad Libitum tries to incorporate vocals and more conventional pop elements into Fermata's symphonic-flavoured fusion recipe, but the result is a bit stale and confused. "Posledné Tango Na Vajnorskej Ulici" is probably the album's most successful amalgamation: two spacey synthesizer solos bookend an unremarkable but enjoyable rock tune with symphonic keyboard arrangements and instrumental sections somewhat reminiscent of late-1970s Genesis. For most of its duration, however, the album serves up slick but faceless fusion and half-hearted attempts at mainstream rock ballads or anthems with vaguely Jon Anderson-like vocals by Juraj Bartovic. The production doesn't help either, as there are a few too many glib guitar riffs, whiny solos and shallow synthesizer pads to lend the music additionally lustre. The rather tackily packaged Open Music CD re-release also seems to be from a vinyl source. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Collegium Musicum]
Click here for a Fermata web page evidently maintained by a japanese fan
Motivos Para Perderse (96)
Dead Tongues (96, w/ Alquimia)
Extractos (97) (ProgressoR Review)
Sol Central (00, w/ Margarita Botello) (ProgressoR review)
Dicen Que Somos Dioses Y Nos Soñamos Hombres (00)
|The hero of this review, whose full name includes another two words [actually only one - Ed.] (they do it like that - sometimes they give the full name), and who has in reality something in common with Columbus, because he with his creation does no less than discover new territories for progressive rock, put out, together with singer Margarita Botello, his second album in general and for the excellent Mexican label Luna Negra in particular. Generally, however, the music and the singing are here so independent from everything heard before, that only a person who knows our genre inside out will realize why for example an apple tree has among other apples not even a pear or a pineapple, but something totally unknown, wonderfully delicious, and the taste is completely new. Still, the "insider-out" sees that this strange fruit grows on the apple tree, he just sees it. And though the taste tells something different, even contradictory, turned upside down and dusted with powdered sugar, the "insider-out" feels that the powdered sugar, like sand in the eyes (and this to him?), clouds his sight of the apple tree, but his memory is good, thanks to God, and he trusts it not to lie to him. -- Vitaly Menshikov|
Fernández Ledesma doesn't seem to have a web site, and Luna Negra's site
appears to have gone offline.
Diario Di Viaggio Della Festa Mobile (73)
PFM sound alikes, Festa Mobile were a little heavier than their more well-known counterparts and the keyboard player happened to be more of a virtuoso than PFM's but the effect is close. Although FM's singer may be a little less melodic than PFM's, the music is just as interesting and a little bit more involving.
Italian band from the mid-70, their one self-titled album is quite good, but not an essential classic. A folkish influence driving, lots of piano, organ.
Zece Pasti (75)
Zi Cu Zi (77)
Un Joc (81)
Mi Scorri Nelle Vene/Cerchi (70, 7")
When the band was dissolved Federico Stefani went to play with L'Uovo di Colombo and Reale Accademia di Musica Henryk Topel and Piero Pavone with the Reale Accademia di Musica The song "Mi Scorri Nelle Vene" is the italian version of the song "Soldier In Our Town" by Iron Butterfly.
[See Reale Accademia Di Musica | Uovo Di Colombo, L']
Fibonacci Sequence - (not in photo order) Michael J. Butzen (guitar), Jeff Schuelke (keyboards),
Tom Ford (drums). Guest musicians: Chris Kringel and Chad Burkholz (bass), Elizabeth Grimm (strings)
No, not The Fibonaccis, this is Fibonacci Sequence from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, releasing their debut album Numerology. They play instrumental music in a style that is sometimes called "heavy prog", with flavorings of prog-metal, fusion and even some "nice" passages of AOR stylings. So, there's a little bit of Pat Metheny mixed with the Liquid Tension Experiment and From.uz. There are even excursions into real prog-metal (particularly in "Catlord" -- great song title!), though it never goes all the way into Dream Theater or Fates Warning territory (though these bands are also claimed as influences).
It would be fair to call this a "guitar-oriented" album, meaning that Michael J. Butzen's guitars are front and center on every cut, though there are some nice keyboards including piano and synths in a supporting role, and some killer bass work as well. The drumming is certainly competent, but not so flashy as to take center stage.
Nice compositions, nicely orchestrated and recorded. Especially for a debut album, this is a topnotch effort. For those who appreciate what some call "extreme fusion" (but not too extreme), it doesn't get any better than this. Recommended. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Fibonacci Sequence's web site
Click here for Fibonacci Sequence's MySpace page
Click here to download or order Numerology from CD Baby
Slow Beautiful Sex (83, EP)
Terror Vision (86, Soundtrack)
Civilization and Its' Discotheques (87)
Repressed (92, Compilation)
The Fibonaccis circa 1986 - Tom Corey, John Dentino, Magie Song, Joe Berardi
Original entry 11/2/00:
Back in the fashion obsessed 1980's (when bad hair, cheesy synth driven music and trendy superficiality were the natural order of things), four brave souls dared to challenge the cultural status quo of their native LA and beyond. Taking their name from an Italian mathematician (Leonardo Fibonacci) from the 14th Century who had a jones for number sequences, The Fibonaccis pulled together the above mentioned elements and began their conquest. The lineup was:
Flying in the face of what was critically and commercially acceptable (anything with more than 3 chords, complex rhythms and intelligent lyrics was violently disdained back then by the so called critical intelligentsia and major record companies), The Fibonaccis released their first record in 1982 on the local Index label, titled fi'-bo-na'-chez. On this, they definitely wore their influences on their sleeve, but also showed a very strong developing personality all their own. John Dentino's menacing Mellotron and piano figures provided a wonderful foil for Magie's swooping voice, Joe Berardi's percussive colors were sheer propulsive delight, Ron Stringer's piercing, angular Surf-meets-Ennio Morricone inspired guitar gave the music a cool edge as well. Plus, John is the only keyboard player I have ever heard that could make a cheesy Casio keyboard sound cool! Soon, their reputation as a live act on the LA club scene began to grow, even garnering rave notices in local music publications. It was a wonderful refreshing alternative to the synth-drenched mindless dreck of the time! Not only was their original material inspired, but they also delighted audiences with a hilarious, twisted version of "Purple Haze" and a spine-chilling reading of the theme from Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho".
In 1983, The Fibs released an EP on the Enigma label called Slow Beautiful Sex, (the title cut was a ferocious jab at Yuppie consumerism and decadence, featuring lines like "Pour me some Giacobazzi / And tell me you're a Nazi"). The back cover was a hilariously doctored version of the liner notes from an old John Coltrane album (most likely "Giant Steps") with a B&W photo from "Psycho" to boot. It was also at this point that Tom Corey came into The Fibonacci's fold wielding a bass, a mandolin, a voice, and a lot of biting humor of his own.
The Fibs undertook a number of select live appearances (mainly in the LA area) , as well as occasional festival and radio appearances. It wasn't until 1986 that anything in the way of another recording appeared (save for some appearances on compilations like "The Radio Tokyo Tapes"). By this point, changes in the band were happening. Guitarist Ron Stringer resigned, and Tom Corey assumed some guitar duties. The Fibs wound up being asked to write music for a Horror-Comedy movie called TerrorVision.
At last, they thought, this was the break they were waiting for! Alas, the movie (and soundtrack) didn't do quite the booming business that was hoped for. Undaunted, The Fibs redoubled their efforts to produce what was to be their last recording, Civilization and Its' Discotheques. in 1987. The period in its production was marked with so many flubs, false starts and difficulties with record industry people, that The Fibs mailed a box of corn flakes to a particular person to emphasize their feelings about how he was handling things. They also appeared in a movie called Valet Girls in a party scene, under the [band] name of Sex Holiday. In 1988, frustrated and weary of dealing with an unsympathetic music biz, and the grind of trying to tour and be noticed, The Fibonaccis bowed out for good.
In the 90's, Restless Records issued a fabulous compilation CD called Repressed which gave an excellent overview of what The Fibonaccis were all about. It also included never before released recordings from a radio show. It doesn't seem likely that The Fibs will reform, but there are certainly some great recordings to remember them by, and those of us who were fortunate enough to see them live will always treasure their inspired lunacy and musical adventurousness! If you see any recordings, DON'T HESITATE TO GRAB THEM!! You'll be glad you did! -- Phil McKenna
Click here for the Fibonaccis web site, with
lots of downloadable tracks for your enjoyment
Click here for the Fibonaccis' MySpace page
DNA - The Brain - The Universe (02)
|I've just checked out a band called Fiction, which includes Tony Hill of High Tide on guitars and vocals. [This] entry on the GEPR [is] for the sake of warning people that, despite Mr. Hill's background, this new band is not prog in any sense of the term. -- Robert Orme|
Click here for
Tony Hill's Fiction web site
|A somewhat obscure band which featured Graham Field (founder of Rare Bird), Andrew McCulloch (appeared in King Crimson's Lizard, and worked with Dave Greenslade, Greg Lake, etc.), and Alan Barry (guitarist with Pete and Mike Giles, of early King Crimson fame). The music is guitar/organ based rock, similar to groups of that era, such as The Nice (Keith Emerson's group before ELP). Some songs feature the Mellotron, and help round off the "prog sound."|
Progressive group formed by the combination of Graham Field (ex-Rare
Bird; organ and pianos), Andrew McCulloch (ex-The Shy Limbs,
ex-King Crimson, later of
Greenslade; drums and other percussion), and the obscure and
IMO rather talentless guitarist Alan Barry (bass,guitars,vocals). However, fully half of the
10 tracks on their sole album are rather dull standard rock numbers, not prog at all. Another
track, "Not So Good", is pleasurable with mournful organ touches, but really is pretty standard
In their best moments ("A Friend of Mine" and "Over and Over Again"), Fields sounds like a poor man's Greenslade. "The Eagle", a co-write between Barry and Field, is a fantastic instrumental. "Slow Susan", which is predominately organ and electric piano, covers a fascinating set of emotions and seems to be woven from childhood memories -- an interesting listen.
Overall, though, there's little good on the album Fields, so I would generally not call it a good buy (particularly at the heavy prices that seem to go with it). It should be of interest for serious Greenslade fans, though, both for Andrew McCulloch's membership and the startlingly Greensladish moments on it. Also might be considered a good album if you're trying to tentatively introduce a friend to progressive music.
Fields also released a single, "A Friend of Mine", which consists of two tracks from the album. -- Robert Orme
|Links||[See Greenslade | Kingdom Come | King Crimson | Rare Bird]|
The Nephilim (88)
Earth Inferno (91, Live)
Live in Concert (92, Live)
Revelations (93, Compilation)
From Here to Gehenna (01, Compilation and previously unreleased material)
Mourning Sun (05)
Note: There is a 2 CD set entitled Memoriam being offered at online auctions. As near as the band can determine, it was probably a soundboard recording of a Fields of the Nephilim show from 1990. The band has stated that, "because the seller has not manufactured the CD's himself and as long as the seller sells the remaining limited stock to private buyers only, we have decided not to take further action against the seller himself in this particular case". However, this is a bootleg album and the band earns no royalties from it.
Fields of the Nephilim (an early promo shot)
Often cited as the core "gothic" band by a lot of people, FOTN are were/are a great band which have matured considerably over the years. They sort of split up a couple of years ago with the lead singer and luminary taking the name with him. As far as I know, the rest of them became Rubicon and I've heard dire things about them. Anyway, this is quite a depressing band that plays really atmpospheric material. Not so much sound effects oriented, their power lies in their ability to write songs with a real dark, powerful feel. Dawnrazor is pretty good and shows promise from a pretty young band but The Nephilim and Elizium are fine pieces ... particularly Elizium. The Nephilim has the moody "Celebrate" consisting of mainly just vocals and bass with a few effects in the background that sounds like anything but a celebration. This album also contains "Love Under Will" which has a nice haunting guitar line. The vocals are sort of low and nearly spoken but suit the music perfectly. Elizium is just 4 long tracks and a very fine album. Highly atmospheric and really nice guitars combined with superb structure and that 200 - year - old - house - on - a - dark - stormy - Sunday - afternoon ambience. They are very Lovecraft inspired (yes another one!) and there are constant references to "Ktulu" and "Dead but Dreaming" etc. If you're going to dabble, get Elizium. Laura is, I think, some older material (at least it sounds that way) and isn't particularly good. I think it was compiled from archives ... there seem to have been a huge number of live/compilation albums after Elizium and the split.
After the breakup of FOTN, Carl McCoy went on to record another gothic/darkwave album under the simplified and re-spelled name The Nefilim. He has since put together a new version of FOTN. They have a new album in the works, though it's scheduled 2001 release has been pushed into the future. "Unforeseen forces had cursed the new album," to quote McCoy. -- Fred Trafton
The new album Mourning Sun was released in 2005. -- Fred Trafton
[See Nefilim, The]
Click here for Fields of
the Nephilim's official web site
Cauldron (68), I've Paid My Dues (70)
San Francisco hippie band that dabbled with proto-electronics and dissonance. One band member played audio oscillators only, male-female vocal harmonies. Their album Cauldron is pretty good if you ignore a couple of pop covers.
Fili D'Erba (72)
The album is half Italian and half in English. Not really a very interesting band.
Channel 8 (87, Cassette)
The Time Has Arrived (89, Cassette)
Redress the Balance (91)
Stand Up (97)
Another Moment in Time - Live in Poland (09, Live, CD or DVD versions)
Final Conflict 2007 - Brian Donkin (guitars/vocals), Steve Lipiec (keyboards),
Henry Rogers (drums), Andy Lawton (guitars/vocals) and Chris Chalk (bass)
A new entry into the world of the neo-progressive, Redress the Balance, their debut CD is best described as a cross between Saga and the UK band Galahad. The music is, as was the case with the recent Galahad CD, a case of art rock meets AOR. The music itself is very listenable, dominated by keyboards and guitars, and will appeal to those who enjoy the music by the other bands mentioned above.
Harder edged neo-prog five piece from the UK. The band is blessed with two outstanding vocalists in Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin, who are both coincidentally excellent guitarists also. The sound is rounded out with keyboards, and the competent rhythm section led by bassist Dave Bridgett. Musically their sound may remind of Marillion or Egdon Heath, lots of accent and color, with solo guitar outbursts, shifting rhythms and excellent guitar-keyboard correlations. Fans of the aforementioned should enjoy these guys a lot.
I've heard two of Final Conflict's CD's, namely Quest and Stand Up. Both are pretty good in their own way, but are quite different from each other.
Quest is a concept album about ... uhm ... would you believe crossword puzzles? I don't know if this is a true story or not (it sounds like it), but the concept is that during World War II, military secrets were allegedly being given away in a newspaper crossword puzzle. When the government investigated, they discovered that the whole thing was an incredible coincidence. Quest explores this story by drawing parallels between crossword puzzles and life ... you try to solve the puzzle, but sometimes you just don't know the words, or the answers don't make sense, etc. An interesting concept, at least. The musical style on this album is quite simple but lush, well done yet accessable. Their style reminds me a bit of Iluvatar if that helps, particularly their vocalist, but also in the melodic arrangements. The CD also features a cool piece of related cover art that is reminiscent of the style of Kim Poor's cover art for Steve Hackett's Please Don't Touch, plus an insert that is (of course) a crossword puzzle.
Stand Up is quite different. After a 5-year gap between releases, the band has retooled their style quite a bit. This album begins to venture somewhat into a "world music" style, in fact the title song "Stand Up" would not be at all out of place on a Peter Gabriel album, circa So or Us. The vocalist even sounds like Gabriel, especially on this cut. They don't use a lot of ethnic percussion, however, so don't think "world music" in that sense. There's also a definite Floydian vibe going on for the rest of the album. Overall, this is a more laid-back album than Quest, and less "proggy" in the retro-70's-prog sense. I think I also like it better than Quest in spite of that. Or maybe because of that.
I don't consider Final Conflict to be among the premier prog bands by any means, but their music is definitely enjoyable and well performed. It's just a bit derivative and unchallenging. That's not always a bad thing ... I do get tired of being challenged all the time. Sometimes I'd rather just listen to something that's not too difficult, but not simple pop either (is that what some people mean when they say "neo-prog"?). These guys are a good listen when you're in one of those moods. -- Fred Trafton
[It's been a long time since I updated Final Conflict's entry. I had Googled them several times a few years back, but they seemed to have dropped off the face of the Earth, and I gave up in around 2007. But I just got a press release from Agnieszka Kulpinska of the Polish prog rock label Metal Mind. They had such a nice write-up about the band, with news about a re-release of Stand Up that I decided to just copy it here. Be warned, this is a press release, so it's just a wee bit biased. But it's got so much info in it that I thought I'd pass it along. I'm not even going to pretend to re-write it ... though I did do some minor re-arranging and formatting to fit the GEPR style better. -- Fred Trafton]
Final Conflict was formed in 1985 by founder members Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin. The band has established their own distinctive style of music and has been recognized for this worldwide. The line up of experienced musicians features the dual guitar and vocal talents of Andy Lawton and Brian Donkin, the magical keyboard skills of Steve Lipiec, and the two newest recruits to the band - Barry "Savage" Elwood on bass guitar and the very talented Henry Rogers on drums & percussion.
The band's debut album Channel 8 was released in 1987, closely followed by The Time Has Arrived in 1989, both on the band's own Future Records label. They then signed to GAIA Records and released Redress The Balance in 1991, followed by the concept album Quest in 1992. The band then signed to Angular Records in Germany and in October 1997 the next album Stand Up, probably their most well-known album, was released. The 4th CD album Hindsight was released on the bands own Gaolhouse label at the end of 2003, and was widely reviewed as the best FC album yet.
FC then started work on the next album Simple. A celebration of 21 years making progressive music, it features completely new recordings of the highlights from the first two cassettes and CD albums, along with much new material intended for release in 2005. Simple was sadly delayed due to the unfortunate death of drummer Chris Moyden after losing a long battle with cancer. His loss was a great blow to FC both personally and musically. Simple was eventually released in December 2006 to widespread critical acclaim. During 2007 and 2008 FC gigged extensively both in the UK and abroad, and continued to generate an increasingly substantial fan base both in the live arena and on the internet. FC's success was acknowledged in 2007, when they were nominated in 5 categories at The Classic Rock Society's BOTY awards. They were voted second best band and Henry Rogers was second best drummer. In 2008, at the same awards, they were presented with the MD's award by Steve Hackett of Genesis.
February 23rd 2009 saw the release of FC's first live DVD and CD entitled Another Moment in Time, which has received huge critical acclaim and raised the profile of the band yet further on the World stage. The band are currently working hard in their own Gaolhouse Studio, writing and recording their next album entitled Return of The Artisan which is scheduled for release in 2011.
2010 will see the re-release of Stand Up, remastered and featuring 2 bonus tracks. The remastered version of Stand Up includes 2 bonus tracks: "Moment In Time", a new version of this fans' favourite track recorded in 2010, and "Losing It All" - a brand new, previously unreleased track, also recorded in 2010. The new digipak edition is limited to 2000 copies. Metal Mind Productions set the release date for January, 3rd 2011 in Europe and January, 11th 2011 in USA. -- Agnieszka Swiatnicka-Kulpinska of Metal Mind Productions
[Do not confuse with different Final Conflict (country unknown) who have a release entitled Ashes to Ashes. They are punk/hardcore.]
Click here for Final Conflict's web site
Click here for Final Conflict's MySpace page
Click here to order Final Conflict albums from Metal Mind Productions
Glory Of The Inner Force (75), Beyond Expression (76), Galleons Of Passion (77)
One of the top twenty progressive bands ever. Imagine Focus at their most kick ass, add a symphonic edge and a tendency to change beats every four to eight measures and you have the instrumental rock band Finch. All of theirs are good, but I'd look for Glory Of The Inner Force or Beyond Expression first.
This was an excellent Dutch progressive rock band that made three albums instrumental prog rock. Galleons Of Passion is probably the "best known" of the bunch. Their music has the melodic sensibility of Camel, with a harder edge.
Absolutely phenominal fusion band. Very tight. Experiment with various tempo and mood changes. Glory of the Inner Force is highly recommended.
Finch was an outstanding Dutch instrumental band who released four(?) albums between 1973 and 1977. The sound was replete with soaring melodics throughout, tight rhythm changes, flashy pyrotechnics, and enough excellent musicianship to blow away most other bands of the time. If this sounds like a description of some very hot fusion, well...that's not too far off the mark, but blend it with the color and subtle passion of Camel or Focus and you're halfway there. Beyond tends to be a little more spacy and fluid, while Glory, arguably their most powerful, has a lot more flair and a higher energy level. Galleons was their last, and most accessible, but not as challenging as the early stuff. I've not heard the first album, in fact I don't know anyone who has!
They're loud, they're fast, they're Caribbean lounge music with synths. :-) Well, that was my first impression anyway. "Paradoxical Moods" has organ, bass, drums, and guitar, playing furiously with callipso undertones. The overall sound is similar to an extended Djam Karet instrumental -- this is both good and bad -- with hints of Led Zeppelin in a mellow mood. The guitarist is quite decent. The keyboardist is quick but his solos don't have much harmonic content. The beat is strong. However, the first 2 minutes of the piece contain a total of TWO chords. You've got to be pretty damn great to keep people's interest with two chords, and Finch isn't it. As the music continues, there is a HEAVY emphasis on the tonic. If you pick a random spot on the CD and press "play," there is a good chance that the band will be playing a tonic chord. In summary: decent performers playing harmonically dead music.
Glory of the Inner Force will appeal to both fans of Steve Howe and Focus. The guitar player, Joop Van Nimwegen will remind you of a cross between Steve Howe and Jan Akkerman of Focus. The music itself is derivative of neither, though certainly closer in style to Focus than Yes. Four long songs that are sure to please fans of guitar. There's also some nice organ soloing. Highly recommended to Focus fans.
The best thing to come out of Holland since Dutch chocolate! Finch was primarily the vehicle for Akkerman/Howe influenced guitarist extraordinaire Joop Van Nimwegen, who composed nearly all of Finch's material. The other three members are awesome players as well. Cleem Determeijer is a chamaeleonic keyboardist who is able to change styles with the greatest of ease. Peter Vink is a stunningly nimble bass player, his lightning arpeggiations often give Chris Squire a run for his money. And Beer Klaasse keeps up the tempo in always interesting ways with his superb drumming. Glory Of The Inner Force is easily a classic of the Dutch scene. "Register Magister" is an incredible, relentless dynamo of progressive energy, while "A Bridge To Alice" builds beautifully to a climactic ending. The rare second album, Beyond Expression, includes just three songs, the side-long "A Passion Condensed" is another classic with non-stop energy. Considering Galleons Of Passion was recorded with a different keyboardist and drummer, it probably outlived the expectations of many, as Finch managed another excellent album. "Unspoken Is The Word", the three-part "With Love As The Motive" and the classic "Reconciling" make this well worth your time and money. Hampered only by a couple of short, undeveloped songs at the end of the A-side. Finch are one of those bands who managed to enter and exit the prog world without making one bad album over the course of their brief career. Not many bands can say that. -- Mike Ohman
[See Rainman; An Australian hard rock band called Finch released one self-titled album in 1974.]
On A Day of Crystalline Thought (74)
Folk-prog compared to Renaissance.
In Limene (96)
Höstsonaten (97, as Finisterre Project)
Live - AI Margini Della Terra Fertile (98, Live)
In Ogni Luogo (99)
Live at Progday 1997 (00, Live)
Storybook (01, Repackaged re-release of Live at Progday, Live) (Progressive World review) (ProgressoR review)
Finisterre - Fabio Zuffanti (bass, acoustic guitar, vocals), Andrea
Orlando (drums, percussion), Agostino Macor (keyboards, guitars, mandolin),
Rafaella Callea (lead vocals, flute), Sergio Caputo (violin, percussion),
Stefano Marelli (guitar, vocals)
Finisterre is an impressive debut for this group. Basic instruments include guitars, keyboards, bass, drums, flute and few vocals (in Italian) but saxophone, violin and a choir can also be heard. Faithful to their national tradition, the group blends rock, jazz and classical elements to produce a music that stays fresh through repeated listening. The compositions show originality and offer a certain variety of arrangements that transit smoothly from intense electric guitar solos to quiet piano-flute melodies. An ambitious production that's surprisingly solid for a first release.
Regarding In Limine:
[See Maschera Di Cera]
for the Finisterre official web site. Appears to have gone offline
|A very good (to me) Belgian Cantebury-and-beyond-inspired band. I've heard parts of Green, and it sounds much like Hatfields devoid sense of humour. Indeed, everything together sounds like Hatfield and the North infused with light doses of Art Zero school and experimental dark wave or neofolk art, eg. Tuxedomoon, Vidna Obmana or even Dead Can Dance. Head of Finnegans Wake, Henry Krutzen have worked with J.L. Plouvier from Univers Zero. So it's really no use wondering why these Belgians lean towards dark in music. Despite somewhat depressed outcome, I find everything heard cool and well-worth the investment. Perhaps not essential, but also not to be missed. -- Nenad Kobal|
I must admit that my first few listens to Finnegans Wake's Pictures left
me a bit cold, but this album really grew on me after half a dozen listens. It's not that
easy to listen to, I would definitely have to put this album into the
RIO category, albeit with more melodic content
than some of the other bands give that apellation.
The first cut, "Downtown", is a Henry Krutzen composition, and sounds like his solo stuff, with a neo-classical chamber orchestra playing notes that sound as if they were generated by random dice rolls than any usual melodic technique. In other words, it reminds one of Univers Zero. But then it stops and a mellow, very straitlaced drum and bass line begins, and suddenly you think you're listening to Steely Dan or Mannheim Steamroller. But just when you thought it was about to get boring, the chamber music returns juxtaposed with this easy-jazz rhythm section. The result is quite a contrast, a study in tension and release happening simultaneously. Quite interesting.
"Pictures (Suite for 5 Painters)" features more of these non-melodies, this time reminding me of Gravity-era Fred Frith, but there's also a scat singing section sung over burbling sample-and-holding synths, plus a sort of a beat poetry spoken section over a velvety synth chord. This piece clocks in at over 16 minutes and features movements written by most of the band members.
The third cut, "First Blow" is an almost Glassian exercise in trying to sound like human sequencers, with variations for each circuit thru the 14-beat sequence. Then it switches to a similar sequence, this one 10 beats long, with screeching guitar synth improvs over the top. I'm again reminded of Mr. Frith. Strange, hypnotic and compelling.
The remainder of the album is similar, save for a vocal section in the last cut which would have been quite at home on a Hatfield and the North album. In fact, I might describe this whole album as sounding like Hatfield and the North, but with a lot of RIO and modern classical influences thrown in as well. If you like this sort of music, Finnegans Wake's Pictures is a must. -- Fred Trafton
The music is mostly instrumental, though there are two short vocal cuts featuring the twisted verse of Richard Redcrossed. There isn't a piece on the 2-CD set that isn't fantastic, but standouts for me are "Mercurial", which sounds like a twisted and elaborated version of the theme from the original The Twilight Zone TV series (Krutzen tells me this was not intentional, but admits that "unconscious" tributes are always possible) and "Tapioca com Pimenta" which departs from the avant-jazz/classical sound of the rest of the album by sounding like Deep Purple ... though with an organ solo that Jon Lord can only wish to be able to play.
This album is very cleanly recorded and expertly mixed, starting in Brazil and finishing in Brussels, Belgium. It should see a lot of crossover interest from the avant-jazz crowd. At least, it will if life is at all fair. Also, they have switched labels once more, from the Gazul sub-label of Musea Records to Guy Segers' (Present, Univers Zero) Carbon-7 label, which is where Finnegans Wake really belongs. Krutzen agrees, and thinks Finnegans Wake will have no further need to switch labels, and even implied that Segers may participate in the next album ... someday. If you're a fan of the Art Zero school of music, then order 4th soon, you won't be disappointed. Highly recommended! -- Fred Trafton
As much as I liked Finnegans Wake's previous albums, I like Blue even more. FW is definitely among my favorite of the newer RIO-styled bands. I like it that they're very experimental without getting so far into noise and dissonance that I have a hard time relating to it as "music" any more. Blue seems to have a bit less of a jazzy influence than previous albums, with more rockish (and prog-rockish) parts juxtaposed against the modern classical/avant-garde sounding parts. I like this "heavier" sound ... or maybe it's just been too long since I've heard the previous albums. I'll need to have a little Finnegans Wake festival of my own and see what I think playing the albums in sequence.
Finnegans Wake's earliest recordings on the Mellow Records label (Yellow and Green) seem to no longer be available from Mellow, and the Carbon-7 web site for 4th seems to have some issue at the moment. But, it seems you can order any Finnegans Wake album, including Blue (this time on the Italian AltrOck label) from Musea Records or Syn-Phonic Music. -- Fred Trafton
[See Krutzen, Henry |
Mats and Morgan |
Click here for Henry Krutzen's
(somewhat stale) web site
More Once More (97)
One Inch of the Fall (99)
|Christopher Buzby of Echolyn fame delivers a good album with One Inch of the Fall (haven't heard the first one). I didn't care for Cowboy Poems Free at all, and I'm guessing Christopher had a big say in the writing/arranging of earlier Echolyn (which I love). The relative weakness of Always Almost supports my theory. The two problems with Finneus Gauge are 1) the muddled sound, much due to the strange chorused sound of the guitar, and 2) the vocalist Laura Martin. Never out of key, but she sings so softly and timidly you just want her to put some spunk into it. This is much more jazzrock, highly arranged fusion, complex progressive rock than most of the Echolyn releases ever was (in the good ol' days...), so I'm half hoping for another Finneus Gauge record rather than another Cowboy album. Guitarist Scott Magill does a good job impersonating Allan Holdsworth, and Christopher does his thing well. Great musicianship (bar Laura) throughout, and some excellent songs to boot. -- Daniel|
|Jonn Buzby, Christopher Buzby's brother and later keyboardist/vocalist for Land of Chocolate, was the drummer for Finneus Gauge. -- Fred Trafton|
[See Echolyn |
Land of Chocolate]
Finneus Gauge's web site no longer exists.
Lähtö Matkalle (76)
|A fine, albeit somewhat derivative, Finnish jazz-fusion group led by brothers Pekka (guitars, bass, drums) and Jussi (drums) Tegelman. Eponymously-titled first album finds the trio (w/keyboardist Jukka Rissanen) under the spell of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. This is actually a fine rookie effort, with interesting compositions and spirited playing by all. Rissanen sticks largely to the Hammond organ, using synths sparingly and to largely positive effect. Pekka Tegelman takes all the solos and has a distinctive trebly, quavery sound, and brother Jussi's drumming is crisp and sharp. The overall sound of the band on Finnforest reminds me a bit of Focus, and perhaps Arti E Mestieri. A full-time bassist (Jarmo Hiekala)and two keyboardists (Jukka Linkola and Pertti Pokki) were in the band for their second album Lähtö Matkalle, which again has a somewhat derivative sound, but on this release their inspiration seems to come from both Mahavishnu and Weather Report, circa Sweetnighter. Still, there's lots here for fusion aficionados to appreciate, including more fine guitar work from Pekka Tegelman, and some pretty memorable and distinctive compositions ("Elvin" on side 1). The keyboardists get to solo, but they're no great shakes, and one cut ("Lähtö Matkalle, part 1") begins with an overture played by a string quartet! For Demonnights, two saxophonists (Heikki Keskinen and Finnish jazz great Juhani Aaltonen) and a second guitarist (Jari Rissanen) were added, and Tuomo Helin and Jarmo Savolainen replaced the former bassist and keyboardists. Perhaps because of the horns, Demonnights has a more jazzy sound than the previous albums. However, the Weather Report influence now looms very large (especially in the Jaco-influenced bass of Tuomo Helin), and one cut ("Religions") is so derivative that Joe Zawinul could easily have won a plagiarism lawsuit. Even so, there's lots of great playing here, especially from the brothers Tegelman, and Juhani Aaltonen. Of all three records, Demonnights is the one I have listened to the most. Unlike a lot of fusion from the '70s and '80s, these records have a very under-produced, spontaneous feel which I find refreshing. -- Dave Wayne|
|In addition to their three albums, Finnforest also released two singles and one track on the compilation album Rock & Roll juhlaa 2. All these songs are available on the 2-CD compilation Love Proge 2. The gauzy, layered keyboard lullaby "Ketto" (Pellicle) is the most memorable track. The two tracks from the band's 1973 single, "Tyhjyyteen syvyyteen" ("Into the Void, into the Deep") and "Sanomaton kirkkaus" ("Unspeakable Brightness"), are notable for being vocal-based and organ-heavy art rock clearly influenced by early Wigwam, rather different from the fusion approach the band adopted on their albums. In 1977 Pekka Tegelman also provided the compositions and Finnforest the backing band for Nuoruus ("Youth"), a slightly progressive-flavoured pop album by Petri Pettersson. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Fuori Citta'/Due Bambini Nel Cortile (70, 7")
The song "Fuori Citta'" is the italian version of the song "The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack" by The Nice.
The Magic Shoemaker (69)
[See Lambert, David | Strawbs]
|Fireclan started as some "sonic soundscapes" (I read that as "jam sessions") to 4-track-tape with drummer Mychael Merrill and synthesizer player Luis Davila. After adding Don Falcone to the project's roster as well, they re-recorded everything and invited some guest artists (including Gong's Daevid Allen) to play as well. The result is a very spacey album that sounds a lot like modern Gong (Daevid's glissandoz guitar is unmistakable, though he plays on only two songs, and the bass lines sound particularly Gongish as well). Recommended for those who might like a less adventurous (and less silly) version of instrumental Gong but with some modern touches as well. -- Fred Trafton|
[See Allen, Daevid |
Falcone, Don |
Quiet Celebration |
Spaceship Eyes |
Spirits Burning |
Fire Merchants (89)
Hard rock-fusion band led by John Goodsall (during the Brand-X hiatus). Their sound is too hard for my tastes, I can only take it a song or two at a time.
Fire Merchants were a band featuring John Goodsall (Brand X), Doug Lunn (pedigree unknown), and Chester Thompson (concert drummer for famed country and western group, Phil and the JumboTrons). They released this in 1989, an all- instrumental workout, sounding like a more aggressive and electric version of Brand X, jazz fusion that meets rock, in much the same way as Ronnie Montrose, Steve Morse, and the like have been doing. The CD, which contains a track that is not on the LP release, has been out-of-print for a while, and will probably drop out of sight fairly soon.
The other side of the coin from Brand X. Where Brand X always has a jazz feel, Fire Merchants is the rock exploration vehicle for guitarist John Goodsall. Features Chester Thompson (Genesis's tour drummer) on the drum kit. Though I don't think it's as good as Brand X, it's solid rock from a solid guitar player.
Fire Merchants is the project of guitarist John Goodsall (Brand X) who is joined by Chester Thompson (drums) and D. Lunn (basses). The music remains in the jazz-rock fusion style but is a bit heavier than that of his former band. The tracks consist of electric guitar improvisations on pretty intense riffs and rhythms. The use of guitar synthesizer introduces a certain variety to a sound that is never far from distortion. An excellent production for those who enjoy electric guitar in a fairly heavy jazz-rock context. -- Paul Charbonneau
Night on Bald Mountain (75), Two Too (76)
Excellant Mellotron/Moog early 70's progressive produced by Ian McDonald of King Crimson fame. A little like Gentle Giant. Recommended: Night on Bald Mountain.
Traditional art rock. Night on Bald Mountain 1975 produced by Ian McDonald. Song credits include Mussorgsky and Debussy (arty enough for ya?). Two Too not recommended.
Here's an album that's confusing as hell. At a time when punk was on the front page of every British music magazine, and prog was deemed horrendously unfashionable, Decca Records released this very pretentious, very expensive sounding album. One wonders how this band scraped up the cash to afford the big orchestra which plays on most of the album for their first release, but the fact that they never made anything else should be a hint. This release is pompous in ways impossible to describe: ultra-serious, prophetic readings in a veddy British voice, lyrics about Nostrodamus and Catherine de Medici that sound as though they were written by a teenager with the aid of Encyclopedia Britannica, a cliched tape-collage intercutting the voices of Hitler, Churchill and FDR, etc. There are some good instrumental moments, though you're likely to be laughing too hard at the overblown stuff to notice. I'm still not sure if this is a Spinal Tap-esque parody of prog, or real progsters going way over-the-top in a reactionary answer to punk. -- Mike Ohman
[Sometimes the band name is written as First+Aid because of the Red Cross symbol between the two words.]
Further Magic (03, Demo)
Aboard The Mother Ship of Cosmic Sound Creation (03, Demo)
We're Only In It For The Spacerock (05)
Impressionable Sounds of the Subsonic (06)
The Guitar Is Mightier Than The Gun (09)
First Band From Outer Space - Johan (Guitar & Vocals), Frippe (Bass Synth & Vocals), Kalle (Drums & Vocals) and Petrus (Organ Guitar Synth & Vocals)
Original Entry 11/8/05:
And FBFOS is at least partly to blame for that strange mood. No, other than the title, this album bears little resemblance to We're Only In It For the Money. This is an album of space rock, just as the title suggests. This is probably most similar to early Hawkwind (circa Space Ritual) or Pink Floyd (circa Ummagumma). They also bear resemblances to some of the more modern purveyors of the art, such as their countrymen DarXtar and The Moor. They must have a lot of good drugs in Sweden, that's all I can say.
If you like this kind of thing (all right, I'll admit it ... I love this kind of thing), FBFOS is really quite good. The recording quality is good, the guitars are sufficiently spacey, the synthesizers are plenty bleep-bleepy, and the compositions should trance out all but the most stolid of neo-conservatives. Not much melody or symphonism in the synths, mostly just spacey sounds ... this is a "heavy" space rock album with guitar/bass/drums delivering the main course of the music with the synths merely a garnish. A fair amount of improv is also evident, though it never wanders off into aimless noodling. I really enjoyed this album and can easily recommend it to space travellers from any galaxy. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for First Band From Outer
Space's MySpace page
Click here to order FBFOS albums from Transubstans Records
Unique prog fusion.
Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors (90)
Internal Exile (91)
Songs From the Mirror (93)
Toiling In The Reeperbahn (93)
Pigpen's Birthday (93, Live from 1990)
Uncle Fish & The Crypt Creepers (93, Live from 1991)
For Whom The Bells Toll (93, Live from 1991)
Sushi (94, 2CD, Live from 1993)
The Acoustic Sessions (94, Live)
Yin & Yang Radio Edits (95 Compilation, includes Marillion tunes)
Yin (95 Compilation, includes Marillion tunes)
Yang (95 Compilation, includes Marillion tunes)
Fish Head Curry (96, 2CD, Live from 1995)
Krakow (96, 2CD)
Sunsets On Empire (97, Regular & Limited edition covers)
Fortunes Of War Acoustic Set UK '94 (98, Live from 1994)
Fish Live Köln 1997 - Tales from the Big Bus (98, 2CD, Live from 1997)
Kettle of Fish (98)
Fish @ Haddington Corn Exchange 1998 (99, 2CD, Live "Official Bootleg" from 1998)
Raingods With Zippos (99)
The Complete BBC Sessions (99, 2CD, Live from 1989 and 1991)
Candlelight In Fog (00, 2CD Limited Edition, Live)
Acoustic Sessions Remaster (00, CD1 previously released in 1994, CD2 is the soundtrack from the "Krakow Acoustic Set Video", previously released August 1996)
Easy version: Song-orientated Marillion. Surprised? Still the big arrangements and personal lyrics, but this is undoubtably the pop side of what I liked about Marillion (the rock side). I do love the mid 90's Marillion as well, but this definitely has a less genuine feel to it. Vigil sounds a bit like Clutching at Straws (no surprise there either), and Songs are cover-versions of Pink Floyd, Genesis, David Bowie and so on. Nothing to get excited about. Internal Exile is the better album: a little more original, a little more (gasp) progressive. Somehow the music makes me think of latter day Pendragon. Still I'd say it's for Marillion completists only. -- Daniel
|On the off chance you didn't know, Fish's claim to progressive rock fame is that he was the vocalist in the first incarnation of Marillion and also for having a voice somewhat reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and/or Phil Collins. He later left to pursue a solo career. He has released a whole slew of albums, but most of them are live albums of various concerts. He also guest-starred on Ayreon's Into The Electric Castle as "The Highlander" among other projects. -- Fred Trafton|
[See Ayreon |
Click here for Fish's web site
Volume One (05)
Original entry 5/12/06:
When Hands' keyboardist Michael Clay approached King Crimson alumnus Ian Wallace (at the time, residing in Nashville) to produce the next Hands album, they never thought the result would be Fission Trip. But after scheduling conflicts with several Hands members delayed the recording of their new album, Clay and Wallace decided to create a new project with both of them playing on it, but keeping Wallace as producer. Clay invited Hands guitarist/vocalist Ernie Meyers to join up, and Wallace tapped his friend and King Crimson alumnus Mel Collins as well (they also play together in a King Crimson tribute/alumni band, 21st Century Schizoid Band). Together with session bassist John Billings and guest "face-melting solos" guitarist Adrian Belew from the current incarnation of King Crimson, they put together a project album of unabashed progressive rock which sounds very much like an almalgam of Hands and Lizard-era King Crimson (surprise!) with Belew's solos occasionally reminding one of more modern Crimson.
Volume One is impeccably produced and recorded, and features mostly compositions by Clay or Clay/Meyers, though Wallace penned a couple of the tunes himself and has co-writing credit on several others. This album seems to have really been a nice group effort with nobody hogging the show. The result is excellent, interesting and tasteful prog with enough variation and occasional outbursts of virtuosity and bombast to keep any symphonic prog fan happy. Fans of Hands and early King Crimson will find loads to appreciate here. I'm hoping the title Volume One is an indication that this isn't a one-shot project album, because I'd love to hear more from this group. Highly recommended! -- Fred Trafton
With the death of Ian Wallace in 2007, the likelihood of a Volume Two seems small. However, Hands have paid homage to their Fission Trip experience by dedicating their 2008 album Strangelet to Wallace. -- Fred Trafton
[See Belew, Adrian |
King Crimson |
21st Century Schizoid Band |
Wallace, Ian ]
Click here for Fission Trip's web site.
Influences of Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Bonzo Dog Band, Soft Machine, etc. In addition to Gerry Fitzgerald, album features Sam Gopal and Lemmy (of Hawkwind).
[See Hawkwind | Gopal, Sam (Sam Gopal Dream)]
|Gregory Alan is partially responsible for Snorungarnas Symphony, Mummies Manna Collectors' most melody-oriented album. His solo was a score written for project which has joined together various artists (besides musicians there were painters, dancers and actors) in order to meet each other and pull them out of anonimity. He was helped by Coste Apetrea on guitars and Hasse Bruniusson on drums both of Samla amongst others. Bildcirkus is a very decent album. At first, it didn't even move me, but grew on me within subsequent listens. Kinda mixture of swedish folk, impressionism, Samlaish chord progressions, classic prog and more. Album could be also described as "thicket-girt" 16 minutes long "Pianovariationer Över Bildcirkus Teman", if I may borrow comparison from botany. Other numbers could be paled to the insignificance by that "giant", due to their brevity. But some of them are so marvellously arranged that should not be ignored. "Futuristernas Aterkomst" has terrific dual reed arrangement, which remind me of Stackridge's second album, although it is far better. Gregory shows most of his talent of handling his synths on "Karusellen". "Bildcirkus Marschen" is lovely pompous opener. Perhaps the thriving grove proves more effective for ears and brain than unnaturally large and twisted piano solo. If I think of Bildcirkus as theatre-music, I understand why it is a bit lighter than, say, Samla stuffs. The only flaw which came to my mind is that certain tracks end too suddenly. I think it would be better, if they'd fade out slowly. Perhaps not the first-tier recording, but for my opinion also not to be missed. -- Nenad Kobal|
|Links||[See Apetrea, Coste | Samla Mammas Manna]|
Hot and Cold Frog (85, EP)
Bel Marduk and Tiamat (86)
Bar Code 7" (88, 7" EP?)
Elements (88, w/ The Motor Totemists Guild)
Hunger's Teeth (94)
Point of Views (96, Compilation from 1st 2 albums & other material)
Crisis in Clay (97)
Regarding Purgatories* (00)
* Regarding Purgatories is creditied to Dave Kerman and 5UU's, but is actually more of a Kerman solo album.
|Sister band to U Totem, Thinking Plague et al. Hunger's Teeth is superb ... a masterful avant-garde rock album up there with the best of Thinking Plague and Henry Cow.|
|Regarding Purgatories is good, but not as solid as Crisis in Clay or even Hunger's Teeth. Having said that you should still get this one because you don't get that many new RIO albums a year, so you had better savour them. Deborah Perry (of Thinking Plague fame) graces a few of the songs, but I feel she should have been more central than she is, being such a great vocalist. A lot more experimental than previous 5UU's; sometimes just sounds and noises. As atmospheric as that might be, I've been spoilt by Mr. Kerman's very strong compositional talent in the past, so this isn't as a complete an album as it could have been. This is all relatively speaking, and it's still a high ranker in 2000. -- Daniel|
|I picked-up Abandonship on the strength of one review and upon hearing it, didn't quite know what to think. But I stuck with it, it with me, and luckily I held on to this Frankenstein's monster of an album. Incredibly challenging, angular to the extreme and even grotesque at times, the music is an event of newness I can only imagine provoking the same frenzied reaction that Stravinsky or Honegger must have gotten from their troubling inspirations. Dave Kerman's music is, in essence, the music of the future. It goes well past "new" and has moments that approach those of another time, one of delirium and the inward, painful rhythm of existence. Dave, who played all the instruments except a few vocals and various noises, recorded this CD at soundman Udi Koorman's house in Tel Aviv during the winter of 2000/2001. This evidently had a stimulating and rather bellicose effect on the material. Abandonship was the result. If you're not ready don't bother, but if you like Thinking Plague or the notion of Henry Cow gone terribly wrong, dig in. There's plenty, and it is absolutely intriguing. -- David Marshall|
|Links||[See DiMuzio, Thomas | Drake, Robert | Present | Thinking Plague | U Totem]|
Variaties op een Dame (78, aka Variations on a Lady ), Gevecht Met de Engel (80, aka The Lady's Back), Flairck Live in Amsterdam (80), Circus (81), Flairck en orkest (82, aka Flairck and Orchestra), Moustaki en Flairck (82), Oost-West Express (84, comp.), Bal Masque (85), Sleight of Hand (86), Encore (86), 10 (88, aka The Emmigrant), Alive (90), De Optocht (92, aka The Parade), Kamers (93, aka Chambers), Chileense Toer (95, aka Chilean Tour), De Gouden Eeuw (96)
I often see Flairck CDs in the folk bins in record stores, and often, I've heard these guys mentioned in the same name as Gryphon. The album that I have, Gevecht met de engel is fairly folky, but I really could not compare these guys to Gryphon. There isn't really any percussion here, like on Gryphon's records, and the overt medieval/renaissance influence is not there. What you do get is some nice acoustic folk stuff, with an emphasis on strings, and fairly long tracks (including a side-long suite). Quite enjoyable, like some of Jan Akkerman's solo acoustic stuff, but richer. Howevere, with these guys being compared to the likes of Gryphon, it was a bit of a let-down.
Delightful folk-progressive with strong Celtic underpinnings. The band on Variations on a Lady (a.k.a. Variations on a Lady) consists of two acoustic guitars, flute and violin. The highlight for me is the 22-minute title piece, incorporating lengthy, virtuosic cadenzas for pan-flute and violin. Mandolin, mandola, sitar and acoustic bass guitar also add variety to their lively sound. Circus adds cello, oboe, bagpipes, all manner of percussion and a touch of band-organ. The use of percussion instruments such as marimba and tympani gives the more upbeat passages a fuller sense of kinetic energy. The band-organ passage, though it comes on the tail of a fast part, seems a tad jarring and weird. Both albums come highly recommended, they are a band that is truly trying something different. -- Mike Ohman
Kenso do a cover version of one of Flairk's songs on Music for Unknown Five Musicians.
Bridge to the Promised Land (94, EP)
Unspoken Whisper (97)
Defining the Legacy (00)
One for the Crow (01)
SI Music may be long gone, but its strain of neo-progressive
rock still thrives in the company's native country. Flamborough Head's Unspoken Whisper
(Cyclops CYCL 063) certainly is a prime example of the style: a big, digital-sampled-analog, two-keyboard
arrangements close to Pendragon's 90's offerings;
Saga-like rhythm-guitar riffs and screaming solos, with some softer
Gilmour touches blended in for the frequent atmospheric moments; the usual collection of
synthesizer and guitar licks culled from
Genesis, Camel and others,
simplified and reproduced with the accuracy of a third-generation photocopy; and the kind of vaguely
AORish vocal and melodic style linking with other Dutch bands like Egdon
Heath, Marathon and probably even Golden Earring.
Originality is thus lacking, but bands can still succeed if writing and performance are strong, as
shown by Pendragon's The Masquerade Overture a year
Unfortunately, Unspoken Whisper is a cut-price effort, and not only production-wise. While the sound may lack some depth and playing fire, it is the general lack of truly memorable melodies that cripples this album. Only "Xymphonia" (practically an advertisement for a certain progressive radio station) lays out a rather interesting theme across a network of guitar and keyboard arpeggios in the patented style. Since the vocals are barely adequate and the lyrics a farrago of stolen lines and rock clichés (the album's opening stanza: "Hey you / Standing there with your back against the wall / Hey you / The dark side and fear of a black hole/"), the band do well to include three instrumental numbers. Even here, when some synth or guitar line occasionally strikes a spark, they are let down by the stodgy rhythm section who plough through the standard 4/4 and 7/8 rhythms with all the grace and nuances of a pie-eyed yak. The end result is an impressive bulwark of sound and gestures - that is almost completely hollow inside. Neo-progressive can do better than this. Purportedly even Flamborough Head have done so on their later releases. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||Click here for Flamborough Head's web site|
Out Of The Dark (80)
8 On 6 (86)
|Band that weighed in somewhere between the UK classics from the 70's and the techno-pop bands of the early 80's, but not neo-proggy. Some tracks are great, others tend to be too poppy for this writer's tastes.|
|One listen to Supervision gives you the eerie feeling you've heard it all before. Probably because you HAVE heard it all before, done better by others. One notable "influence" is U.K., who they steal no less than three riffs from three different songs from. Check out the organ solo in the middle of "Time For A Change" for a weird sense of deja-vu. It's almost note-for-note the same as the solo at the end of "The Only Thing She Needs," complete with staccato CS80 chords intact!! Other songs resemble Camel ("Dancing Into Daylight"), Machiavel ("Supervision") and ATTW3-period Genesis ("Tragedy", which sounds remarkably like "Undertow"). If they ever had an original idea, they probably wouldn't know what to do with it. Fun for a moment's worth of quickie nostalgia, but if you're looking for originality, you sure as hell won't find it here. (I heard once that this band had two good albums: Galatea and Elements. I have yet to find any evidence as to the existence of these.). -- Mike Ohman|
|This quartet is one of the best from the early eighties European symphonic prog scene. The band could be compared to Genesis (Foxtrot to Wind and Wuthering period), with influences of ELP, Yes and Gentle Giant; however they're not a clone! The compositions are characterized by the virtuosity of the very melodic keyboards, with a very good rhythm section, complex, but never annoying in the long instrumental passages. The sound is characterized by the absence of guitars, replaced by saxophone and flutes (good integration) and by a strange timbric of the vocals (that remind a little of Pendragon's Nick Barret). They released 5 albums on Vertigo, until now (9/94) not available on CD. The first album was self-produced, the others were produced by John Acock (who co-produced most of Steve Hackett's albums). The Albums: Elements: great album, very symphonic prog, with Mellotrons, pianos, flutes, and without guitars. Out In The Dark: The best one, the most Genesis like, the only one with a guitar player. Supervision: like the first and second albums but not quite as good. A cleaner sound, with very dry drums. Travaganza: not so good. They tried to be more commercial, copying songs like "In the Air" by Phil Collins and "Turn it On Again" by Genesis and "Salsbury Hill" by Peter Gabriel. However there is one or two good songs, such as the beautiful "Lifetime". 8 On 6: not so good, either. Simplest compositions, simplest rhythmics, no feeling. This album closes in a bad way the story of a great band. -- Lele Hofmann|
[See Gipsy Love]
Tanz Der Gotter (79)
Valorene Welt (81)
Fata Morgana (96, LP private pressing)
Fata Morgana (01, CD release of above w/ extra material)
Finstere Sonne / Black Sun (05)
Flaming Bess - (not in photo order) Dieter Joswig (keyboards, percussion),
Class Reimer (keyboards, computer, drums & percussions), Achim Wierschem (guitars,
keyboards, computer, drums & percussion), Peter Figge (keyboards) and Hans Wende (bass)
Formed 1969, in Düsseldorf, with the line-up of: Hans Wende (guitar), Horst Wagner (bass), Rolf Selbach (drums) and Peter Figge (keyboards), Flaming Bess went through many changes in the 10 years before they released an album. Only after a lengthy hiatus in the mid-1970's did they really attempt to get it together and break-out beyond occasional rehearsals and local gigs.
They got their first break when featured on the music programme "Rockstudio" on WDR, and the interest generated led to them recording and self-producing their debut LP [Tanz Der Gotter]. We haven't heard that yet, but it would seem to be a concept album, notably due to the CD reissue's striking "Leda and the Swan" cover. Reputedly it's an elaborate and sophisticated progressive like a mixture of Eloy and Camel.
Their second album Verlorene Welt, is quite different, as it presented a unique style that involved heavy rock numbers, with dramatic and operatic elements, a wealth of keyboards, and strongly featured guest female vocalist Marlene Krükel. Instrumentally they were superb, if a bit heavy in the song/lyric department. Peter Figge, Hans Wende and Achim Wierschem continued with the band Key after this, as the record industry forced them to change the band name. In the 90's they reformed Flaming Bess together with Claas Reimer and Dieter Joswig. Independently from any industry they released two different versions of the Fata Morgana album, and the latest Fantasy Concept Album Finstere Sonne / Black Sun, a double album containing a German as well as an English version of a brand new Fantasy Story around the Goddess of light in 2005. -- Alan Freeman, from his revised Crack In The Cosmic Egg CD-Rom (reprinted with permission)
Click here for Flaming Bess' web site
Ark 2 (69)
Known for two things: 1) Phil Collin's first band, and 2) being a piece of crap. Early psych.
In The Can (72)
Out of Our Hands (73)
Psychosynch (97, Live)
Flash - Ray Bennett (bass, vocals, keyboards), Mike Hough (drums, percussion),
Colin Carter (lead vocals), Peter Banks (guitars, banjo, uke, keyboards)
Flash was formed by guitarist Peter Banks after recording two albums with Yes. They released three albums, of which In The Can is possibly their most "progressive." With three of the five tracks longer than 10 minutes, and with Banks' somewhat bluesy influence, the music is quite reminiscent of Audience (I wonder if anyone remembers them!) and other bands of that persuasion. The music revolves around Banks' guitars and ARP keyboard, and should appeal to those who enjoy the "UK progressive" sound made popular by bands such as Fields, Colosseum, Man even, in the early seventies, with a more guitar-dominant sound. As an additional data point... this release made the Billboard charts as well.
Flash, in my opinion, was one of the progressive rock genre's most unique and sadly
The first recorded effort; simply entitled Flash was released in 1972. What came out of the grooves was wonderful to say the least! Instrumentally, you had Peter [Banks]' unpredictable, twisty guitar ... in the forefront, combined with a rhythm section that was a bit heavier and rockier than Yes at the time, plus very tasteful, understated keyboards (mostly Hammond organ) from Tony Kaye. (Tony Kaye was bought in to do the first album, though he was never an official member of Flash). Vocally, there was Colin Carter's thick, almost Roger Daltrey-esque style (and appearance), combined with gorgeous harmony from Ray Bennett and occasionally Peter. The songs were lengthier [than Peter's songs with Yes], and yet, had a definite flow to them, like the sections belonged together, not just cut-and-paste. The album gets off to a great start with "Small Beginnings" (which actually was a minor hit on the Billboard charts in the U.S.), and definitely captures the essence of Flash beautifully in one song! It swings, it rocks, it peels paint, and it takes one on quite a flight! From there, it gets even better. A folky romp like "Morning Haze" (with Ray doing a gorgeous lead vocal), gives way to "Children of the Universe", on which the band again pulls out all the stops. Check out how Peter uses the melody of "Eleanor Rigby" as a launching point for his solo. The ending of the song is quite comical. Just when you've caught your wind, you get bowled over by the raging, anarchic introduction to "Dreams of Heaven". After a mournful classical guitar interlude from Pete, the band kicks in full tilt, and takes the listener on a wild ride through plaintive rock, a warp speed be-bop section, some tricky odd-meter vocalizing and a ferocious ending. The album concludes on a somber, reflective note in "The Time It Takes", a beautifully written ballad in which the protagonist stops and reflects on life's complexity and interconnectedness. I like how Tony Kaye punctuated the mood of the song with some high, lonesome sounding organ. Close your eyes and you darn near feel that you're sitting on a beach somewhere at sunset sharing the thoughts of the singer.
From this point on, Peter supplied whatever keyboard sounds were needed for the songs on record. In Ray Bennet's words "-So we stayed keyboardless always. I think now it was a mistake, but at the time, we were wild and loved the challenge." In 1973, they unleashed In the Can which saw their sound become more developed and more guitar centered than ever. They continued in fine form with lengthier songs like "Black and White" with it's myriad of changes and shifts, and very memorable choruses ("Come look at the Golden Land -----"). There's a short drum/percussion piece called "Stop That Banging!" from Mike Hough. "There No More" is definitely good, just not my favorite cut on the album in comparison to the others. To my ears, it sounds a bit forced and awkward, and in a rare instance, falls into the cut-and-paste syndrome. "Lifetime" however is quite a tour de force! "Monday Morning Eyes" provides a strong ending, in a more reflective vein.
Then in 1974 came a change, their last album Out of Our Hands featured shorter, breezier songs (in the 4-5 minute range typically), and a story line to boot! In short, it's the saga of a young man from another planet who comes to earth and winds up committed to a psychiatric hospital, and his eventual escape. Here, Peter can be heard not only on guitar, but also banjo and uke! Ray Bennett also throws in some Mellotron and other keyboards to spice things up. For the most part, the songs were very strong and benefited from the shorter lengths. Eventually, management problems and the resultant tension within the band bought things to a close for Flash.
Colin and Mike went on to a couple different bands afterwards (Storm, Fast Bucks), while Ray eventually moved to New York and is still active as a musician to this day. Pete however, formed another band called Empire, which tried for a more commercial version of what Yes and Flash did, right down to having a knockout female lead singer in Sydney Foxx. However, their 3 albums sunk like a rock.
There is also a live Flash album called Psychosynch that is highly recommended, and features liner notes and comments from Peter Banks as well, well worth having for just that alone!!! -- Phil McKenna
[See Banks, Peter |
Harmony in Diversity |
Cercando La Vita (70), Hydra (71), Pensando (72), Flashmen (73), Sempre E Solo Lei (74), I Flashmen (74)
Not a good band, all commercial songs. Only Pensando is good and has a progressive sound.
Flasket Brinner (71), Festen Pa Gardet (71), Flasket (72)
Swedish Rock/Avante Garde Jazz.
The Waves (05)
Flat 122 - Satoshi Hirata (electric guitar), Takao Kawasaki (piano) and Kiyotaka Tanabe (drums). No bassist!
Absolutely marvelous piano-based, progressive rock-fusion trio doing what most would label as avant garde but really outshining that category. Flat 122 seem to have rediscovered real RIO and tapped into a vein of very angular and intriguing progressive music that moves into the most delightful areas without losing its integrity as rock. These guys [keys/drums/guitar] reflect 20th century classical greats such as Honegger and Prokofiev but also remind a lot of such luminaries as Zappa , Roger Trigaux, and Cartoon in their facility and clear vision of what the music is capable of. Along with bands like Interpose+, Flat 122 do the Japanese prog scene proud. The sun rises again over the chrysanthemum. -- David Marshall
Click here for Flat 122's web site
Click here to order The Waves from Musea Records
Topi O Uomini (72)
A Goblin offshoot. They only had one release Topoi O Uomini, a great album in which the intensity is never dulled.
A good band with some good players. The LP is progressive rock where the only problem is the lyrics. After this album they changed their name to Etna. Elio Volopini (Vocals, Bass, Sax) played in L'Uovo Di Colombo too.
One of the canards of the usually fertile Italian progressive scene, Flea's one album, Topi o Uomini, contained a total of one progressive track, the all too brief "Sono un pesce." It's a light piece with wistful vocalizing and a free-jazz freakout at the end as per King Crimson. Quite mediocre when compared to the great things accomplished by more daring fellow countrymen (Area, P.F.M., Il Balletto Di Bronzo, etc.), but is absolute nirvana when compared to what's on the rest of the album: grungy, psych-tinged guitar-laden hard rock. It sounds mostly like Grand Funk Railroad stretched out to Iron Butterfly length, only with Italian vocals. Over the shorter tracks, it's merely boring, but on the twenty-minute title song, it's complete agony. Don't bother. (The band featured future Goblin drummer Agostino Marangolo. After he left, the band changed its name to Etna, and reportedly changed its style as well.)
[See Etna | Goblin | Uovo Di Colombo, L']
Flea On The Honey (71)
All the songs are in english but they are not interesting.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (90)
Flight of the Cosmic Hippo (91)
Ufo Tofu (92)
Live Art (96)
Little Worlds (03, 3CD)
|Bela Fleck grew up in New York City, played banjo for a while in Newgrass Revival, then electrified his banjo and formed an instrumental quartet with Howard Levy on keys, harp, and pennywhistle and the Wooten brothers on bass and drums (drums are/is actually synth-axe-drumitar).|
|I was never really had much appreciation for jazz until I heard this group, which combines jazz, bluegrass, folk, country and progressive styles of music in a very complex and original way. Theres a banjo player, keyboard/harmonica player, bass player and synth-axe player (uses it to control sampled percussion sounds) all of which are extremely talented. The best phrase to describe this would be maybe "space bluegrass/jazz" or something, it does have a slight cosmic feel at times. Highly recommended.|
|Decent bluegrass/fusion effort, not progressive in the generic sense. I saw them live on TV and bought them out of the bargain bin. They were better live; the tape was pretty lame, although the Bela's banjo playing can be amusing. Look for them in the bargain bin. They'll be there.|
min tid skal komme (95)
Last-minute Lies (99, Mini-CD)
Department of Apocalyptic Affairs (00)
Fleurety - Alexander Nordgarden (guitar), Svein Egil Hatlevik (drums, synth, vocals)
Fleurety are part of a Norwegian musical scene known as "Black Metal". Though there are surely some metallic tendencies to Fleurety's Department of Apocalyptic Affairs, in both the guitars and the occasional demonically growled vocal parts, I would have a hard time calling this album a Metal album, or even Prog-Metal in the way it's usually used (i.e. it doesn't resemble Dream Theater or Fates Warning in the slightest). This is strange prog rock with some metallic features, and also with avant-garde leanings. Vocals switch from growling curses to high-pitched warbling falsettos (or is that really a female guest vocalist? who knows?) between verse and chorus, and the guitars likewise shift from crunchy electric sound to a clean bell-like electric at unexpected times. The lyrical content is fairly incomprehensible (even though it is in English), but does seem to permeate the songs with a feeling of dire warnings, threats and general unease.
Helping out the main members of Fleurety (Nordgarden and Hatlevik) on this album are many guest musicians from bands in Norway's Black Metal scene (Mayhem, Eibon, Arcturus, Aura Noir, Dodheimsgard, Beyond Dawn and Tritonus to name a few). The CD liner notes come with extensive papers stolen from government agencies ... oh, never mind, they're just the song lyrics. This album is interesting to say the least. I would recommend it to fans of the more avant-garde regions of progressive rock. -- Fred Trafton
Dr. Siegel's Fried Egg Shooting Machine (72), Goodbye (72)
The trio that called themselves Flied Egg were part of the early Japanese psych scene along with bands like Fromage, Foodbrain, Chronicle and Flower Travellin' Band. I have Dr. Seigel's Fried Egg Shooting Machine which is a quite fun album though nothing outstanding musically. Ranging from the Beatle-influenced title track (these guys obviously have a sense of humor) to the Deep Purplish "Rolling Down the Broadway" to the love-sick ballad "I Love You" (where he sings, "Girl, I rearry love you") to the surprisingly proggish and ELP influenced "Oke-Kus," these guys cover the gamut of psychedelia that existed in the early 1970s. The main influences at work, though, would be the Beatles and Deep Purple. Flied Egg are a guitar and organ heavy dose of humorous psychedelia! Big fun if you're into that sort of thing.
The Flock (69)
Dinosaur Swamps (71)
Inside Out (75)
The Flock Rock: Best of The Flock (93, Compilation)
A rock/jazz/blues band from Chicago, they sounded like the band Chicago might have been had
the latter had any ideas. Their primary claim to fame was roadie-turned-violinist
Jerry Goodman, who subsequently played in
Mahavishnu Orchestra I and (much later) the
reconstituted Dixie Dregs. Besides
Goodman, the band featured guitarist/singer Fred
Glickstein, two saxes and a trumpet, plus the usual bass and drums. The first album is a
ragged affair. Some of the songs are effectively arranged and played, but others go on far
too long and Glickstein's attempts to sing the blues are painful. There are many good
moments, generally when they remember that they are a rock band, but, despite John
Mayall's seal of approval, the album is mainly of historical interest.
Their second, Dinosaur Swamps, is much more tightly arranged, more polished, less bluesy and more progessive. The emphasis is generally on the instumental playing, but without the formlessness of the first album. This is the one to listen to. The band reformed in the mid 1970's with a different fiddler and with keyboards replacing the brass. The album resulting, Inside Out, has its fans and isn't bad, but there's nothing memorable on it. -- Don McClane
|Links||[See Dixie Dregs, The | Goodman, Jerry | Mahavishnu Orchestra]|
Fliessbandbabys Beat-Show (70), Rockoper Profitgeier (71), others
An early seventies German political rock band that sound very close to a German socialist Mothers Of Invention. Most of you will probably never hear these guys since all of their LPs are worth at least $70 a piece, but if a friend has one, ask him to play one because they are worth a hearty laugh. Musical references of course are Zappa, but I also hear some Ventures and a lot of late sixties psych bands.
Their music is mainly based on political cabaret (Dieter Sueverkrup) and Singer/Songwriter style. The (musically) best albums are Fliessbandbabys Beat-Show and the 2LP-Set Lucky Streik, but musically they are definitely NOT recommended. If you don't understand the lyrics and you're not in the history of German business and commerce, you won't get the point. Along with their fellow polit-rockers Witthueser and Westrupp, their albums are the cheapest albums on the progressive 'Ohr' label - they sell for $15-30 here in Germany. -- Rames El Desouki
Rock (73), Disamore (75)
The Flower King (94, actually a Roine Stolt solo album)
Back In The World Of Adventures (95)
Stardust We Are (97, 2CD)
Édition Limitée Québec (98, Compilation?)
Scanning the Greenhouse (98)
Édition Limitée Québec 1998 (98)
Flower Power (99)
Alive on Planet Earth (00)
Fan Club 2000 (00, Compilation)
Space Revolver (00)
The Rainmaker (01)
Fan Club 2002 (02, Compilation)
Live in New York - Official Bootleg (02, Live)
Unfold The Future (02)
Meet The FlowerKings (03, Live, 2CD)
Adam and Eve (04)
Paradox Hotel (06, 2CD)
Instant Delivery (06, Live, 2DVD or 2CD+2DVD versions)
Road Back Home (07, 2CD)
Sum of No Evil (07, in 1CD or 2CD "Special Edition")
The Flower Kings - 2000 (Space Revolver) Lineup
After just releasing the excellent Retropolis album last year, The Flower Kings are back with a brand new 2CD set [Stardust We Are]. Some mail order catalog have mistakenly labeled this a live set, but that is incorrect. If you are unfamiliar them, the FK's fall into the "modern symphonic" camp. Led by Roine Stolt on guitars and vocals, the band also includes Tomas Bodin on keys, Michael Stolt on bass, Jaime Salazar on drums, Hans Bruniusson on percussion, with guests on sax, sitar, and additional vocals. They use a combination of old and new sounds; lots of Hammond and Mellotron sit alongside a modern clean production. A variety of influences are drawn upon. Various passages will remind you of Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Camel, ELP, and even Pat Metheny. Their strength is in a highly professional level of compositions, arrangements, and production. Within the complex compositions are many memorable melodies. Stolt is one of the most expressive guitar players this side of Andy Latimer, and is adept at a number of styles. Bodin pulls out a variety of keyboard sounds, and Salazar propels everything along nicely.
As with most 2CD sets, I can rarely listen to it all at once. So I prefer to think of this as two new albums for a little more than the price of one. As with any multiple disc sets, there are bound to be a couple of tunes that don't measure up, but there is a surprising amount of good stuff here. The way their albums flow is to have the "main" songs, followed by a short instrumental interlude or soundscape. Most of the songs have some vocals, and all have lengthy instrumental workouts.
The first disc is pretty solid all the way through. It begins with a jazzy ELP workout with "In the Eyes of the World", which contains some real crunchy organ. Stolt has a very good voice, and sounds very similar to John Wetton. I love the intro to the third song, "Just this Once". It's fairly obnoxious. Some tunes rock harder, while others have a more melancholy atmosphere. "The Man Who Walked With Kings" starts off with some soft pipe organ, and evolves into a soaring Camel-like melodic guitar instrumental. The highlight of disc one is the 12 minute instrumental "Circus Brimstone". It has a beginning section with some slow building Mellotron chords, then bursting into an aggressive Anglagard-like section. The middle section gets kind of goofy with some backwards vocal samples. Not everything is so serious here. Interestingly, the last piece on the disc "Compassion", is listed at a time of 4:48, it is actually about twice that long, the second half going off into a Tangerine Dream like electronic space piece.
There's a whole other disc to go. Highlights of disc two include the Yes-like rocker "The Merrygoround", and "Don of the Universe", which is a laid back instrumental featuring the sax and sitar players. If there is a weak point to the album, a couple mediocre songs from disc two could have been left out. "Different People" is more of a commercial track that I would just rate as "OK". "Ghost of the Red Cloud" could probably have been axed too, with it's reggae feel. However, if you make it to the end, you get to the 'magnum opus' of the disc, the 25 minute title track. It starts off with a more laid back feel and vocals by Roine, gradually building up to a high emotional point with vocals by Hans Froberg, who has a higher voice. Themes are repeated throughout the song, so it flows along well.
I've talked about the music, but I think it worth a few sentences to talk about the lyrics as well. For some bands lyrics are just an afterthought, and for others they have more meaning. The FK's definitely fall into the latter category. Their lyrics and albums cover art and symbols all have a spiritual and religious tone, often with Christian themes. It is all quite uplifting and positive however, nothing "preachy", so I wouldn't classify it as "religious prog". The lyrics just seem to reflect the personal philosophies and ideas of Mr. Stolt. You can gather your own meaning, but it worth it to actually listen to the lyrics or read over the lyric sheet in my opinion.
Bottom line: if you like previous FK's releases, you will like this one as well. It is on an equal par with Retropolis, and is their most diverse release ever. Newcomers may want to start with a single disc, but this album still comes highly recommended if you like this particular style of prog. -- Alan J. Mallery
I'm not sure what possessed me to buy this CD [Alive on Planet Earth];
some vague feeling that I
should be supporting more contemporary progressive artists, I suppose -- and of
course the fact that it was on sale. Bad move: this is, for the most part,
mediocre neo-prog. Like most neo-prog bands, The Flower Kings desperately want
to be Genesis, and seem to have two ways of
achieving this: pleasant instrumental interludes that are well executed
and guaranteed to offend no one, and schmaltzy, corporate-pop ballads.
Unlike Genesis' better albums, where the drippy ballads were either
short or non-existent, about half of the songs on Live on Planet Earth
qualify, and many of them drag endlessly on -- 6, 8, 10 minutes.
Of the 11 tracks on this double CD, perhaps five or six are listenable. Apart from the awful ballads there are a few attempts at "arena rock" stylings, which for some reason aroused a frenzied response from the live audience -- but make me cringe and reach for the remote. Probably the best track is the reverent, somewhat over-long cover of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" -- I guess anyone can do a decent job given good material. The Flower Kings would probably be a fine Genesis cover band. -- Greg Ward
The Flower Kings are one of the contemporary progressive rock bands with the
potential to make a commercial breakthrough. In other words, hard core
progressive rock fans may find them too derivative, too poppy, lacking
originality, etc. While these criticisms are not without merit, they are an
excellent, hard working band that can serve as a non-fan's introduction to
prog. Fronted by veteran Swedish guitarist Roine
Stolt, who cut his teeth as a teenager in the underappreciated symphonic
band Kaipa, The Flower Kings literally started out
a solo project. With each passing album, keyboardist
Tomas Bodin has increased his involvement,
as has singer and guitarist Hasse Froberg, who joined during the recording
of Stardust We Are. The addition of Jonas Reingold on bass before
Space Revolver added another dimension to the band as well, since
Roine Stolt actually played most of the bass
parts for the studio albums. (Although his younger brother Michael received
credit for playing bass, he was pretty much just a tour bassist.)
So what do they sound like? Roine Stolt is heavily influenced by Steve Hackett. As with the Genesis great, Stolt explores many different styles of playing. Elements of Latin, reggae, electronica, country, and jazz are all present. Hell, they even experiment with a little opera at times. Other influences include Camel, Zappa, Weather Report (Reingold is a huge Jaco Pastorius fan) and most of the big name progressive bands. Pretty much all of their songs center around positive, and at times almost religious, themes. If you want depressing, doom-laden dark music, then are plenty of other bands out there for you - this is family oriented prog. Your best bet would be to start with Stardust We Are. Yes, it is a full length double, but the album flows really well and is pretty reasonably priced. If the prospect of a double CD scares you, start with Space Revolver, Retropolis or Back in the World of Adventures. Flower Power, which features the 60 minute "Garden of Dreams", is a decent album but could have been condensed to a single CD. Save that one for later. Happy listening! -- Jeff Oaster
The Flower Kings newest studio release is titled Unfold the Future, a
2 CD Set of new material. This CD marks the departure of long time
percussionist Jaime Salazar and introduces new member Zoltan Csorsz.
Jonas Reingold continues on on bass, after replacing Roine's brother
Michael on TFK's Space Revolver. Without question Reingold brings a
high caliber set of bass "chops" to TFK. While an excellent bassist
indeed - technically - his musical approach has sounded a bit unnatural
and sometimes irrelevant in context of TFK music. Sort of like using a
pair of channel locks for a job when what is really needed is a set of
surgical tweezers. On Unfold the Future it appears that he's
developed the type of instinct and musical "sixth sense" needed to blend
with TFK sound very effectively. In addition, a noticeable change in
the direction and nature of TFK music emerges, resulting from the
effects of his influence - a musical version of the Heisenberg
Uncertainty Principle. The result is a masterful recording with plenty
of jaw-dropping sonic moments.
Considered in its entirety, this 2 CD set generously provides plenty of everything one comes to expect in a new TFK release, not the least of which is excellent musicianship. It carefully retains the established TFK hallmark sound while exploring new terroritories. An overall theme is maintained through various mixes of musical interludes, ballads and extended intrumentals. A couple of the ventures take you though some quasi-space/jazz arrangements, which have a distinctly new sound to them. A consistent element in the music is the positive and hopeful perspective on life. There is the challenge to the status quo, the quest for growth and understanding, and the hope and belief in truth and love as the key to enlightment, salvation and fullfillment. This message is successfully accomplished without relying on the use of irrelevant religious symbolism or dogma. Rather it relies on the strength, conviction and care in one's own purpose, which is readily apparent through the great care that was given to the ideas, composition and production of the music. -- Larry Cross
[See Agents of Mercy |
Bodin, Tomas |
Endless Sporadic, An |
Samla Mammas Manna |
Stolt, Roine |
Click here for The Flower Kings official web site
Anywhere (70), Satori (71), Made In Japan (72), Make Up (73)
Flower Travellin' Band were part of the early Japanese psych scene from the early '70s. Other bands in this vein include Speed, Glue and Shinki, Flied Egg, Foodbrain, Chronicle and so forth. They released one album in 1969 as the Flowers, then four others under this name. The only Flower Travellin' Band album I've heard is their last, Make Up from 1973. A 2LP set, it contained a mix of studio and live material. The music is generally heavy psych with long guitar solos and swirling Hammond organ. One of the songs, "Hiroshima," is a 24 minute psych jam that shows the band pulling out all stops. The closest comparison here would be to the extended tracks from Tangle Edge. Other songs get very bluesy and feature some excellent blues playing from guitarist Hideki Ishima. The live material also includes a fun cover of Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes." I really enjoy this album, to the point that it surprises me how much I do. If you enjoy early '70s psych, these guys are a must.
Flowers, or more properly Yuya Uchida and the Flowers, were the percurser band to the Flower Travellin' Band. The Flowers, however, were more basic, straight- forward psych and blues-rock. Composed of six guys and a gal, Challenge! is almost entirely covers of songs by Janis Joplin ("Summertime," "Piece of My Heart"), Jimi Hendrix ("Hey Joe," "Stone Free"), Cream ("White Room," "I'm So Glad") and Jefferson Airplane "Greasy Heart"). Obviously, the young lady does the Joplin and Slick schtick. She does a credible Joplin imitation, sounding like a miniaturized version. Different guys do the vocals for the other tracks. There is one original track, or it's a cover of a Japanese psych tune, but it's actually a decent psych instrument, loaded with guitar. It serves as an indicator of the future Travellin' Band sound. Hardly essential but kinda fun(ny) for a few listens. -- Mike Taylor
[See Flower Travellin' Band]
Heavy repetitive electronics, w/Richard Pinhas.
[See Heldon | Ose | Pinhas, Richard]
|This is said to be Mexico's symphonic classic from the time when sympho-bands of developed countries mainly sailed the seas of cheese. Keyboardist is said to be superb. -- Nenad Kobal|
Progressive History X (01, Compilation)
This is one of those bands in the GEPR that is listed not because they are prog,
but by way of warning. The fact that I enjoyed Fluke's
Zion rave music from Matrix:Revolutions and the album title of their compilation
Progressive History X having the word "Progressive" in it led me to
believe that they might be a prog band. My belief was incorrect. Fluke is
not a prog band, but a dance band.
Evidently, there is a style of music known among its afficionados as "Progressive House" music (click here for "Progressive Sounds", a web site dedicated to the genre ... you won't find a single "prog" band on their pages). To my ears, it's the usual house remix stuff, made by gathering samples of songs, noises and spoken phrases, then making a very dancable drum and bass backbone against which to play them. The rhythm is unrelenting and unchanging, making it suitable for tripping on Ecstasy and dancing 'til you drop. I don't really know what's "progressive" about it, but they certainly don't mean the same thing that GEPR readers think of when they hear the term. Be warned! -- Fred Trafton
|I just came across your entry for the band called Fluke. You asked about the word progressive in dance music. I myself was at one point confused until I learned that in a dance track the word "progressive" means that the arrangement of the song changes over the course of the song as opposed to remaining static as it would in a track that would be labeled "Ambient". Ambient also means that there is less emphasis on the rhythm than there is on the melody. And yes it also means that there are a lot of washy sounds present. In dance music "less emphasis on rhythm" usually means that it cannot be danced to. Ambient drum and bass often has very complex drum programming that can often be in odd time signatures. This is about as close to our meaning of progressive as "dance" music gets. An excellent resource on the various genres of electronic music can be found at www.electronicscene.com/music.cfm. They do a good job of explaining what is what in electronic music. Unfortunately as of recently you have to be a member to download the music. -- Matthew Gibbons|
Lunar Escape Velocity (01)
Me, The Enemy (05, EP)
Perishable Goods - Part 1 of the End of Privacy Suite (05, contains all of Me, The Enemy)
Fluxury 2005 - Eric Verbruggen (guitar), Jos Witsenburg (bass, vocals),
Marjolein van Tongeren (lead vocals), Jan Kuipers (keyboards, vocals), Stelios Kalis (drums)
I've had Fluxury's last two releases in my review queue for way too long. It's time to remedy that situation. Fluxury suffers from, or is blessed by, a lot of turnover of band members. The line-up and compositions in Lunar Escape Velocity (described in next article) have undergone major shifts between then and their latest recordings. Of these, Me The Enemy is an EP, and all the songs on that release reappear on the full-length Perishable Goods, so I'm going to focus on only the full-length album. For those interested, the line-up is still in flux (yeah, I said that on purpose), and the photo at left shows the 2005 line-up of the band, a stripped-down version (or maybe "the core members") of the band appearing on the album.
Perishable Goods drove me nuts for awhile. I could tell on first listen that I really liked the songs. The melodic hooks burned into my brain on that first listen and still haunt me for half an hour every time I think about the album. But I found the recording to be really odd-sounding, and not necessarily in a good way. The drum mic'ing and playing didn't seem that great-sounding, the vocals felt like they lacked presence or sometimes sounded as if the singer (in spite of singing in a perfectly-pitched trained voice) was about to doze off. And those digital keyboard strings! Yecch! For the first dozen listens, I wanted to adjust the EQ or something. No, more than that ... I wanted to get my hands on the mixing board and change the EQ and relative volumes of everything. I wanted to substitute the synth strings for a Mellotron or a Hammond organ. I wanted more drum beats, it seemed to be too sparse. More vibrato in the vocals. It just seemed like it all needed to be rearranged. But I kept listening to it again and again because the music was so compelling.
But then something strange happened. I stopped listening to it as an album that was supposed to be prog rock. I just listened to it on its own merits. And suddenly everything changed. I realized that I was expecting it to sound like familiar references ... like Yes or Genesis. Like Thinking Plague. Or even like Devo or Abba (see next article). I kept trying to make the keyboards or drums or vocals sound "proggy" to my preconceptions. Or to just sound like something that I had heard before. It's not like it's really avant-garde or difficult in an RIO way. I could have handled that! The trouble is, they don't really sound like anyone else I'm familiar with. With some rearranging, they could. And that's what I was trying to do in my head. But no, Fluxury just sounds like Fluxury, and once I understood that, I was able to get on with simply enjoying it.
From that point on, I really did enjoy Perishable Goods. It's progressive both musically and politically. The album is subtitled Part 1 of the End of Privacy suite. Lyrically, the themes are about change (hence Fluxury?), and not necessarily good ones, as seen by the band. A clip from their web site: "Agencies scanning private mail; terahertz scanners at airports; DNA smartcards at supermarkets, what's next: quantum mindreaders? More & more 'safety' measures to hunt down the enemy inside us are placed upon us and we hardly seem to question that. Are we lulled to sleep? Are critical voices outshined by this mindblowing 21st century anti-terrorist propaganda? Or is this some unite-us-all religious need at work? Maybe we just give in to Big Brother for convenience? These worries of the modern earthling, plus privacy according to Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter inspired us to some songs." I'm in deep sympathy with these ideas personally, plus the notion that America and Americans are leading the charge to make the whole world like this. But it may piss some of you off. I suggest you learn something from it instead. This is a great album full of fantastic musical and political (yes! political!) ideas that deserves to be listened to by everyone, especially those of us in the USA. Have no doubts ... when they talk about greed, overbearing expressions of faith and "messing with my mind", they're talking to Americans. Maybe we should be listening.
Yeah, great album. No, beyond great. Essential. But you still might hate it. Sometimes we all have a problem with things that go against our preconceptions, musically and politically. Fluxury seems determined to be challenging on both counts, and I welcome it. I can't wait for Part 2! -- Fred Trafton
Fluxury - (not in photo order) Jan Kuipers (keyboards, vocals), Jos Witsenburg (bass,
vocals), John Reker (guitars, vocals), Stelios Kalis (drums) and Mattijs de
Jong (guitars). Before the release of Lunar Escape Velocity, Fluxury's
female lead singer left the band. The three vocalists in the photo are guests (in
photo order) Femme van Leeuwen, Carolien Kraaijkamp and Ronald van Gerner.
Back in May of 2002, I wrote the following after downloading some MP3 samples of Lunar Escape Velocity from Fluxury's web site:
Even in the weird realms of progressive rock, Fluxury is a pretty weird band. If I had to sum up their sound in one sentence, I'd say they're a mixed-gender Devo playing Genesis tunes and singing like Abba on acid. They're reminiscent of (early) Devo for their visceral non-musical synthesizer sounds and mechanical drumming, yet the music as a whole sounds more like a (rather sparse) Genesis. The mixture of male and female voices recalls Abba, though I hesitate to make that comparison because these vocal harmonies are nowhere near as sweet and predictable as that band's. The voices are definitely the main instrument in this band, taking the lead role; even though they have guitar, bass and keyboards in their line-up, these are usually in the background compared to the harmonizing voices. No wonder they used three vocalists (see photo above) to help them out when their lead singer left the band. Their lyrics are, by the way, in English.
I haven't heard all of their debut release Lunar Escape Velocity, but their web site does contain six MP3's which have 25 minutes of music from the album. The production quality leaves something to be desired, but I would consider this to be high-quality demo type material. Check these out yourself if you're curious. I don't know how to categorize this band ... too thin to be symphonic, too melodious to be RIO, but too out-there to be neo-prog. All I know is that they're progressive in the true sense of not sounding like anything you've heard before. Check 'em out on their web site listed below. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Fluxury's web site
Dawn Dancer (79)
A Netherlands-based seven-piece with three Belgian members, Flyte put out a single
album in 1979 which got a good reception but disappeared along with the label that
released it - a habitual pitfall for many bright-hopes-never-heard-of-again progressive
groups, it seems. There are no mini-epics here, just eight 4-6-minute songs of
richly melodic symphonic rock with references to Camel
(mainly the guitar and some of the melodic ideas, "Grace" particularly),
Yes and Genesis
(keyboards, melodies, some guitar and bass) and perhaps Kayak
(some of the eccentric pop ideas, especially in the vocalist's delivery). On side one, the music
fluctuates well between the vocalist's breathy dramatics and the busy and expansive sound created
by the keyboardists with pianos, synthesizers, organ and
Mellotron. The canvas may be small, but the band
manage to cram it full of colour and detail, condensing the symphonic rock formula into a
compact form while maintaining much of its power. This and the overall wide mixture of influences
give the music a familiar yet fresh feel. With lyrics the most charitable thing to do is to
believe in massive losses in translation into English.
On the more uneven side two, "Your Breath Enjoyer" adds starker, Crimson-influenced guitar lines and angular rhythm bends behind its burlesque vocal performance, successfully generating tension and delaying the inevitable release back into symphonic recapitulation. The slow and stately "King of Clouds" is another strong one, mainly on the strength of its floating keyboard arrangements. Like many symphonic albums of its time, Dawn Dancer is a shorter and sweeter take on what had been done before, but also solid and occasionally even inspired. The CD version (Musea FGBG 4096.AR) was apparently remixed slightly for better sound quality, but this isn't suppose to be as radical as with Neuschwanstein's Battlement. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||Click here to order Dawn Dancer from Musea Records|