Auf der Bahn zum Uranus (74)
Alraunes Alptraum (98, Recorded in 1975 & 1984-87)
|Auf der Bahn zum Uranus (On the Road to Uranus) was the only album put out by this German quintet. As suggested by the title, GÄA create a very trippy psychedelic (is that redundant?) style of music with lots of swirling organ and long, acid-drenched guitar leads. All five members sing so the lyrical passages tend to have lots of vocal harmonies and sound somewhat like the '67 West Coast psychedelic scene but the instrumental sections are pure "krautrock." They are quite a bit bluesier than most other German bands of this ilk and certainly not as out there as Ash Ra Tempel or Agitation Free. Maybe that's why they only made it to Uranus! There is a fair amount of acoustic guitar, piano, organ and also some flute and congas but generally the music is identified by the electric guitar solos typical of the German undergound scene of the early '70s. If you are a fan of this scene, you'll want this album as part of your collection. If not, then you won't.|
In the GEPR says GÄA produced only one album (Auf der Bahn zum Uranus) , I have another one, the name of the album is Alraunes Alptraum, this second album was recorded in Michael Leistenschneider's Leico Studio in the town of Schmelz in early 1975 , this album however was not finished that year. In order not to let the unreleased GÄA recording sink into oblivion, the band decided to release this material on CD. The heart and mayor part of this CD is the unfinished Leico LP, the first three songs [recorded in 1975]: "Autobahn" (6:28), "Heilende Sonne" (3:55) and "Morgendammerung" (9:52), are probably the best GÄA has ever made and show how mature and full of ideas the band was at that time. The rest of the CD is filled up with with later recordings from 1984 through 1987.
GÄA, named after the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth, was a band from the German state of Saarland, founded in 1973. The founding members Helmut Heisel (02/26/1953) on guitar, Peter "Bello" Bell (05/20/1954) on bass and Stefan Dorr (11/04/1952) on drums knew each other from school, the other musicians of the band were Günter Lackes (07/06/1949) on keyboards, Werner Frey (02/28/1951) (who had a predilection for folk music) on guitar and vocals, as well as Werner Jungman (11/22/1952) on congas. Helmut Heisel left the band after only a short time, and so they went on playing with five members, confining themselves to songs of their own composition with German lyrics. On one of their first gigs, they attracted the attention of Alfred Kersten whose Kerston label was already quite successful at that time, and invited them to his studio in the village of Forst near Stuttgart for recording sessions. In the summer of 1973 the band set out for that place, with tents in their luggage for lack of money. On arrival. however, they were told to come back the next day because another band was recording , the following day, there was again another band they had to let go ahead because Fred Kersten's initial enthusiasm for GÄA had seemingly waned a bit. He could not send them back, though. So he did the recordings in great haste and in a pretty uninspired mood. The band was, accordingly, dissatisfied with the result. Nevertheless in 1974, the songs came out on the LP Auf der Bahn zum Uranus. The cover artwork was done by Bello's brother Eduard and shows GÄA, or Gaia, the goddess of the Earth who gives birth to all life. -- Agustin Oviedo
Angel Dust (75), Another Trip To Earth (77)
A midwestern band that had some progressive moments, but was generally too mainstream oriented to capture my full enthusiasm. Both albums had really trippy covers, the second was pressed on see-thru blue vinyl.
I bought Another Trip To Earth because I was heavily into "collector"s mode" at the time, and it was pressed on colored vinyl. Awful stuff. I'm embarrassed to admit that I even walked into in a store that stocked it.
From Genesis to Revelation (69)
Nursery Cryme (72)
Selling England by the Pound (73)
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (74)
As Solo Artist:
As Guest Vocalist (selection):
Peter Gabriel has been around for awhile (B. February 13, 1950); some of us near-50 types see him as one of the icons of progressive rock famous for his reverse mohawk (see photo under Genesis entry) and theatrical makeup, while thirtysomethings remember him as one of the prime movers of the "World Music" movement or as a pop video star with his mid-'80's MTV video hits of "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time" from So. Say what you want about Mr. Gabriel ... call him a Prog Titan, World Music Guru or Pop sellout, it's hard to even discuss progressive rock without Gabriel's name coming up over and over. It's high time he gets his own entry in the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock.
Peter Gabriel was in a couple of short-lived bands in 1966 known as The Spoken Word and The Garden Wall, the second of which had Tony Banks and Anthony Phillips in it. They all went to the same high school. Phillips was also in another band, The Anon, and they joined forces in 1967 for the first incarnation of Genesis (with Gabriel as the flute player, not the vocalist!) It wasn't long before he became the lead vocalist and also the main lyricist for the band. He was also the band's "front man", and brought his own sense of theater to the band's live performances. He was known to change makeup and costumes so frequently during live shows that the rest of the band actually found the pauses annoying and began to compose around Gabriel having time to change costumes ... with instrumental breaks stretched long enough to accomodate Gabriel's costume changes during shows. While many applauded Gabriel's multimedia approach, others blasted him for stage-hogging and distracting from the music with his outrageous onstage theatrics. However, the popularity of Gabriel's persona-changes is obvious when you see the number of Genesis tribute bands around who all emulate Gabriel's costumes and makeup right along with the music.
Gabriel had become so much the Genesis front man that many people assumed he was the band. Though he was the "voice" of Genesis, he never wrote any of the music, though he was responsible for the bulk of the lyrics. This became a problem during the writing and recording of Genesis' magnum opus, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, which featured a concept from Gabriel and a double-album full of some of the most literary lyrics he ever tried to write. The recording sessions had dragged on while Gabriel carefully crafted the lyrics to the piece. The rumors were that the other band members felt that Gabriel was dragging his feet in getting the lyrics done and being too perfectionistic, while Gabriel insisted on being given the artistic freedom he felt he needed to achieve his vision. Tensions between band members rose.
It was during the The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour that Gabriel decided it was time to leave Genesis, partly due to the tensions between members about the lyric writing in Lamb and partly due to Gabriel's increasing family pressures and other commitments. Gabriel was also concerned that he was overshadowing the rest of the band, and embarked on a solo career. Contrary to some reports at the time, the departure was amicable, and in fact Genesis members helped Gabriel on his first solo album, Peter Gabriel (Car) after his departure. Genesis, far from being destroyed by Gabriel's departure, went on to record several more good progressive albums, then become internationally famous pop stars.
Gabriel's solo work began with three albums that all had the same name - Peter Gabriel. To distinguish one from another, fans usually add the terms (Car), (Scratch) or (Melt) from the album cover photos to distinguish between them. The fourth album, Security, also has only Peter Gabriel on the cover, but this really had its own title (it's printed on the spine, but not the front). You will occasionally see Peter Gabriel I, II, III and IV to distinguish between albums, but these were not part of the original titles.
Peter Gabriel (Car) starts Gabriel's relationship with Tony Levin (he plays Tuba and Bass, but hasn't started using the Stick yet!) and Larry "Synergy" Fast. The album has a variety of different song styles on it, from the heavily symphonic "Here Comes the Flood", "Moribund the Burgermeister" and "Down the Dolce Vita" (the London Symphony Orchestra guests!) which are quite progressive to balladish pieces like "Solsbury Hill" and "Humdrum", rockers like "Modern Love" and "Slowburn", all the way to silliness like "Excuse Me" (a mixture of Barbershop Quartet and Vaudeville music, though it does feature a Tuba solo by Tony Levin) and the jazz/blues "Waiting for the Big One" that really aren't very progressive at all. I remember having very mixed feelings about this album at the time, but have since come to like the whole thing, regardless of the variations in style. This album is showing only the tiniest hints of Gabriel's later interest in World Music and international politics, but even the most commercial of these compositions are still tinged with progressive leanings, particularly Larry Fast's synthesizer Synergisms. Peter Gabriel (Car) is a must in any prog library.
I don't really have much to say about Peter Gabriel (Scratch) because at the time it came out, I was really put off by it ... it seemed very commercial to me, so I never listened to it much. I probably wouldn't feel the same about it now, especially after hearing his latest stuff. Still, it's not my favorite at all, and I don't even own the CD version of it.
Peter Gabriel (Melt) is an excellent album, and sees Gabriel going off into more rhythm oriented directions. This is where he really starts becoming influenced by World beats and many of the tunes on this album are certainly danceable. But if you just let the rhythm float under the music and not let it take over your perceptions, you can hear lots of excellent progressive touches on this album ... from intricate bass lines to oddball vocal harmonies and studio effects. Legend has it that the "gated reverb snare" sound so popular in the '80's was invented by Phil Collins for this album (who guests on drums for several songs) ... as a way of making the drums more interesting when Gabriel insisted that Collins play a kit with no cymbals (listen carefully ... there are only toms, snares and kick drums in the percussion). This album was a giant step in the direction he would take for Security, especially in the songs "Intruder", "Not One of Us" and the song that got radio and some MTV airplay, "Games Without Frontiers". "Games" is clearly a political song, though I must say I'm too obtuse to really get what he's talking about. (Melt) also contains the hit that would be the closing number for most of Gabriel's concert performances for many years, "Biko", frequently backed up by whatever African band he is touring with at the moment. Incidentally, there is a German version of this album, Peter Gabriel - ein deutches album, which is mixed differently enough from the English version that it's worth owning as well. The English version (at least) is a requirement for any prog conoisseur.
Security is easily my favorite of Gabriel's solo works. Some prog people express dislike for this album because it's "not progressive enough". I have no idea what they're talking about. This album is one of the most innovative albums ever committed to recording media, and the only thing I wonder is why "common" people were able to get into the songs that got heavy radio airplay, particularly "Shock the Monkey" and to a lesser extent "The Rhythm of the Heat" and "San Jacinto". This album merges precise polyrhythms played on traditional percussion (both standard kits without cymbals and ethnic hand drums) and Larry Fast's incredible synthesized percussion sequences with "World" harmonies, strange voice and synthetic sounds that become part of the percussion, Tony Levin's contrapunctal Stick playing and Gabriel's ideosyncratic lyrics and vocals to create a surreal landscape of sounds ranging from breathtaking beauty to bone-chilling angst. This album is easily in my top-10 all-time albums, and if you haven't gotten into it yet, you should try it again! Essential!
The next studio album, So, was the turning point for Peter Gabriel's popularity. This album saw two mega-hits, "Sledgehammer" and "Big Time" converted to innovative videos for MTV. "In Your Eyes" also hit the Top-30. Gabriel also sings a duet "Don't Give Up" with Kate Bush, which was also made into a video, though not as high-profile. After many repeated listenings, I find that I do like this album, though it is unquestionably more commercially oriented than any of his previous work. It still contains good (but simple) songwriting, strong lyrics and excellent studio work. I wouldn't call this an essential album for a general prog fan, but it is essential for any Gabriel fan.
Several years passed without a new solo studio album from Gabriel, and I was in withdrawals. I was skeptical about the movie soundtrack he did for Martin Scorsese's film "The Last Temptation of Christ". Gabriel's soundtrack is named Passion. But, I wanted more Gabriel, so I picked it up. I was both pleasantly surprised and diappointed. Pleasantly surprised to find Gabriel going into more experimental territory again, with very ethnic-sounding middle eastern harmonies and rhythms, wood flutes and dark drones. Disappointed, however, that Gabriel (basically) doesn't sing on this album. There is some chanting that is obviously Gabriel, but no real lyrics. Passion is probably the furthest Gabriel delved into world beat, and it won the Grammy Award in 1989 for "Best New Age Performance". Interestingly, I can hear record "pops" on the CD ... evidently the CD was mastered from a vinyl pressing, and not a terribly clean one either. I can't imagine why! I'll do a flip-flop on my So recommendation and say that this one will probably appeal to prog music fans, but only the most completist of Gabriel fans need to listen to this.
Finally, in 1992, a new studio album came out, Us. I rushed out to buy it, and was a bit disappointed. It's not a bad album, but seems to rehash So territory pretty badly. It felt like Gabriel was having a crisis of originality ... he wanted to do a new album, but really had no new musical ideas. I later found out that Gabriel went through a number of personal upheavals during the recording of Us, including a divorce. Those tensions made Us a much more sombre album than So. Us spawned only one minor hit, "Steam", which was remarkably similar to "Sledgehammer", and was once again lifted to Top-40 status by the popularity of its MTV video version. Us is OK, but it has never been one of my favorites.
After the relative disinterest in Us, Gabriel spent the rest of the '90's working on multimedia projects for his company, Real World, including a CD-ROM named Xplora. He also built a studio and records a number of artists there who might otherwise have difficulty finding a voice in the modern recording industry.
An interesting side note: in Asia, their respect for western copyright law is limited, so it is possible to buy interesting albums there that wouldn't be legal in the USA. While on a business trip to Japan, I found a Peter Gabriel CD in a bin at a train station titled Live in Rotterdam, Holland April 27/28, 1993 for only 500 yen (about five bucks). Obviously, that would make this the Us tour. It's an Italian pressing, but I'm sure most European or American dealers wouldn't go near this bootleg with a ten-foot pole. The quality of the recording varies quite a bit, but it's not bad for a bootleg. If you're a Gabriel fan, it's an interesting footnote. Secret World Live is the official release from same tour, recorded in November of 1993 in Italy. It contains most of the same songs and is a far better recording. You're not missing much if you haven't heard the Rotterdam CD.
Then came 2000 and OVO. I was very disappointed by this one. It's a concept album, a story about technology taking over nature. I'm immediately put off by the first song on the album, "The Story of OVO", a synopsis of the concept presented as a rap song with aboriginal percussion in the background. The rhythm is interesting, but I just detest rap which ruins it for me completely. For the second song, "Low Light", I think I'm listening to one of those ethno-new age albums they sell in health food stores. By the third song, "Time of the Turning" sung by Richie Havens, I realize that I still haven't heard Gabriel's voice except as a background vocalist. The other songs are all guest vocalists as well. I could go on, but it never gets any better. Later in the album, they branch out from African and New Zealand rhythms and into Celtic music. More health food store fare. We do finally get to hear Gabriel's voice about midway through the album, is it "Father, Son"? I don't care. I'm not impressed. I can't listen any more. I'm turning it off now ...
A couple more years went by, and in 2002 Gabriel surprised the music community (well, he surprised me at least) by releasing two albums. The first is The Long Walk Home. It's not a regular album, but another soundtrack, this time to the movie "Rabbit Proof Fences". I haven't heard this one, but as much as I liked Passion, I certainly intend to give it a try eventually.
Gabriel's other 2002 release is another album of what I think of as "Peter Gabriel Music". Up is very much in the same vein as So or Us (hence the 2-letter album title?), but is perhaps a little more experimental. Up features the same ethnic flavor, full of hand percussion and Gabriel's trademark of spotless perfection in studio technique, but also adds some unexpected twists and turns. The first cut, "Darkness", is reminiscent of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man" for its distorted and anguished vocals, but it later evolves into very beautiful sounds and harmonies, really helping to tell the story of a man who has come to terms with his anguish and fears. There's also a very interesting section where the distorted instrumentals play behind undistorted vocals, but turned down to a whisper ... this is a really chilling effect. Another of my favorite cuts on this album is "The Barry Williams Show" which pokes fun at those disgusting talk shows that pit the people being interviewed against each other in on-screen fist fights. Of course, "Barry Williams" is really Jerry Springer. For those who like Gabriel's concert acoustic/piano versions of "Here Comes the Flood", you'll also like the album's closer, "The Drop". Up isn't as progressive as Security by any means, but if you were OK with So, you should also enjoy Up. This album is so far ahead of OVO I can almost forget about how awful that album was. -- Fred Trafton
|Just to nitpick: only the original American editions were issued with the "Security" print in the spine. In Europe it was still known only as Peter Gabriel (4), even if it is now more often referred to as Security. On Gabriel's compilation album Shaking the Tree it's always referred to as the Fourth Album. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
[See Anderson, Laurie |
Bush, Kate |
Fripp, Robert |
Levin, Tony |
Click here for
Peter Gabriel's official web site (opens a new window, this site doesn't work well captured
in a frame)
Premier Fevier (93), Debout...Le Coeur Ouvert! (95), Vae Victis (96)
Galaad is another group in the new wave of French neo-progressive bands recording and mixing their debut CD Premier Fevrier between July and September 1992. Galaad is the quintet of: Pierre-Yves Theurillat (lyrics and vocals), Gianni Giardiello (synthesizers and piano), Sebastien Froidevaux (electric and acoustic guitars), Gerard Zuber (bass), and Laurent Petermann (drums and percussion). I think that Premier Fevrier is a concept album since their CD booklet contains a 7 page story and lyrics, but I can not read French. Galaad composes and plays intricate melodies employing some enticing techniques. The opening song "Janus" starts with the sounds of birds and someone walking down a busy street eventually leading to a heavy pounding beat and progressive fireworks. "Blasphemes" initially sounds like a scratchy 78 rpm "Galaad" recording and then kicks in to full blown chord changes and drums. Theurillat's lyrics dominate the songs rarely allowing an instrumental break. His dynamic and emotional vocals have the same quality as Peter Hammill. I don't think you could say he is singing a melody in the "classic" sense. Theurillat is telling a story, as in opera, conveying the message through the emotive quality of his voice. Giardiello's keyboards and Froidevaux's guitars supply the elaborate melodic content. It is not until you hear Votre Mere and Sabliere (the two eleven minute songs) that Galaad cuts loose and your speakers sizzle with electricity! These two songs offer the broadest range of emotions on the CD full of shifting moods, angry and savage singing, complex rhythms, soaring guitar solos, fantastic Moog synth lead lines, and beautiful pastoral flute and piano duets. Galaad is a band with a unique yet a definite French approach to neo-progressive music. They are a band to watch!
[Debout...Le Coeur Ouvert! is available only through the band's fan club.]
[See Cosmic Jokers, The]
Muttered Promises From An Ageless Pond (88)
Chasing The Dragonfly (92)
Galadriel (recent, probably about 2000) - Tommy ? (drums), Jesús Filardi (vocals,
keyboards) and José Bautista (Warr guitar, bass, keyboards & backing vocals)
Very similar in sound to Yes, yet adding something different as a whole. The first cut on Muttered Promises... does sound like an outtake from Fragile with pseudo Wakeman moog riffs and a guitarist who sounds like a 50/50 combo of Howe and Hackett, yet after this, they tend to start developing an identity of their own, although quite derivative.
|Many people compare this band to Yes, however they seem to this listener to have the feel of Marillion and Twelfth Night (Geoff Mann version). However unlike either of those two bands nothing tends to really jump out at you.|
|Galadriel's sound is a rich blend of the dramatic complex melodic progressive, containing many subtleties and submodals, along with symphonic tendencies and a strong folk influence; Vocalist Jesus Filardi may elicit comparison to Yes' Jon Anderson, but there are few similarities between the two bands beyond that. Their music is more in the vein of the classic italian progressive sound (like Early PFM, for example). Their second album shows the band branching out into some new directions, taking influence from Jazz, world music and other areas. Start with the second album Chasing The Dragonfly.|
|Chasing The Dragonfly is the second release by the Spanish progressive rock band, whose brand of mellow progressive rock is very much reminiscent of the pleasant, unhurried, melodic style of Italian prog bands from the mid seventies, such as PFM. Galadriel have a strong guitarist, and the acoustic and electric guitar is more prominent than on most releases of the genre. The vocalist also has a high edge to his voice that recalls Jon Anderson at times. The combination, in the context of lush keyboards (there are three keyboardists in the band) and with contributions from a violinist works very well in generating high quality, melodic progressive rock. There seem to be an unusual number of releases in the progressive rock arena in which the last track is the lengthiest, and this one is no exception, with a 6-part suite that just falls short of 19 minutes.|
|While supposedly light years better than their first album, Muttered Promises..., Chasing the Dragonfly, the 2nd album from this Spanish band, combines ethnic flavors with a very mundane neo-prog style for an overall sound that is unique, but not much else. The vocalist has a high pitched voice similar to Jon Anderson, but his lyrics and vocal stylings are totally laced with Fish-isms. While his voice is clear, his range is narrow and he lacks any real emotion or passion. The rest of the band perform adequately, but when the music dictates a difficult line or solo, the band has to call in some "extra" musicians. It's actually quite funny that none of the best solos on this album are played by any one of the 5 core members. As far as song writing goes, this is totally Cut and Paste style prog. Just a bunch of short tidbits completely strung together with no overal focus or objective. While the recording and production are remarkably well done, Galadriel is basically Prog-Lite. Those looking for some powerful and grandiose music should look elsewhere. The last long track takes literally half of a day to get going. The best songs on this album are the 2 instrumentals because they are short enough to have some coherence and they also contain the strongest melodies from the album. Better than a lot of neo-prog, but this is still a mediocre release at best. (It *is* possible, imho, to release a neo-prog album that *is* outstanding, but very few of the neo bands can do it).|
|Muttered Promises from an Ageless Pond is, umm, very strongly inspired by Yes. The singer sounds a bit like a depressed Jon Anderson. The rest of the band ranges from sounding like Howe/Wakeman to Hackett/Banks. The music is very boring. There are no dynamics and no energy. They honestly sound like they'd rather be sleeping. After listening to this, I *am* sleeping. Chasing The Dragonfly is said to be much better and more original. I hope so-it can't get much worse.|
|The current line-up of Galadriel (as of December 2002), after many personnel changes during the years, is down to only Jesús Filardi (vocals and keyboards) and José Bautista (Warr guitar, bass, keyboards and backing vocals). They were working on a fourth album as of September 2000, but so far no word on it. -- Fred Trafton|
Click here for Galadriel's web site
Click here to order Galadriel titles from Musea Records
One Night at Mr. C's (87, Cassette)
A Moment of Madness (89, Cassette)
Nothing is Written (91)
Other Crimes and Misdemeanours (92)
In A Moment Of Complete Madness (93, CD re-release of A Moment of Madness plus 3 new tracks)
Not All There (95, as Galahad Acoustic Quintet)
Classic Rock Live (96, Live)
Other Crimes and Misdemeanours II (97, General release, released in 1995 for Fan club only)
Decade (97, Compilation)
Following Ghosts (98)
De-Constructing Ghosts (99, as Galahad Electric Company)
Other Crimes and Misdemeanours III (01)
Year Zero (02)
Galahad 2002 - Pete Wallbridge (bass), Spencer Luckman (drums, percussion), Stuart
Nicholson (vocals), Roy Keyworth (guitar) and Dean Baker (keyboards).
More neo-prog, a la Marillion. Perhaps a bit more radio-ready. Evidentally their vocalist had auditioned as a Fish's replacement in Marillion, but was rejected because he sounded too much like Fish. I don't think they sound all that alike (Stu Nicholson of Galahad isn't even Scottish!). Their second release Nothing is Written, grew on me quickly.
|Marillion must have had a million outtakes because these guys (and a dozen-plus others) seem to have used them and made an album under Galahad. What's the fuss about these guys - I mean hasn't this been done already? And much better? I mean these guys sound EXACTLY like Marillion to every corner. I may as well buy Clutching At Straws again. Only if you settle for mediocrity.|
|Now here's a band that sounds very reminiscent of Misplaced Childhood era Marillion, albeit more eclectic and energized. These guys wannabee Marillion so bad you can hear it in almost every song on their first two releases In A Moment Of Madness and Nothing Is Written. There's some really good songs here, but nothing that'll ever win them an originality contest. They play quite good tho and hopefully future releases they will improve.|
|A lot of people like Galahad ... and there is a lot to like about them. They have a classsic neo-prog sound much in the tradition of other such bands as Marillion and Pallas. In fact, they are extremely influenced. The story is that their lead singer auditioned for Marillion after Fish left and was rejected because he sounded too much like Fish. In fact of the Marillion clones they may be the best. BUT ... I have a problem with them. Essentially it is this ... I see so many people on the net looking for bands that sound like Marillion. If that is what you want listen to Marillion. Otherwise, why not branch out and try something different. Certainly bands like Galahad have their place but it saddens me to think of the future of progressive rock as a bunch of Marillion clones when their are so many other creative and original bands out there that need our support.|
|More AOR neo-prog. Three releases: A Moment of Madness! (tape only), Nothing is Written, and Other Crimes and Misdemeanours (a b-sides/rarities thing, might also be tape only). Nothing is Written is quite good, practically defines the genre.|
|For me Sleepers represent a new start for the group and the new musical direction is finally poor and simple rock! Avoid this album at all costs! -- Ricardo Deidda|
|One of several British band influenced by the careers of Marillion, IQ and Pendragon. Nothing Is Written features the usual lineup features vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. This text-based melodic rock features occasional guitar solos, the symphonic touch of keyboards as well as precise and dynamic rhythms. A quality production in a very familiar style that should please the dedicated fan but that still offers very little to the others. -- Paul Charbonneau|
Galahad is one of the bands mentioned in the same breath with
Pendragon, Jadis and
IQ as an example of what Neo-Prog
is all about. I hadn't heard any of their output before, but they were recently kind enough
to send me most of their latest releases for review in the GEPR.
The first thing I need to say is that the talk about mediocrity and lack of originality in the previous entries seems to me to be quite unfair, judging at least by their most recent output. It's true that the fare isn't startlingly original or absurdly complex. It's also quite listenable as far as harmonies and melodies go. There's seldom any use of dissonance or abrasive distortion. But for my money, they're still plenty progressive enough to keep all but the snootiest of music fans pleased with what they're hearing. Not challenging at all, but personally I can't handle being challenged ALL the time! Galahad is the kind of band to put on when you want to hear some good melodies, interesting vocals, and occasional displays of instrumental brilliance that are emotionally moving without reminding you of a 5-year-old demanding attention.
Now, down to the album reviews. The earliest album I've heard is Not All There, which is really a poor place to start absorbing what Galahad is all about. This is because it's quite different than their usual fare; so much so that they call themselves Galahad Acoustic Quintet for this release. Not All There must refer to the fact that this isn't a purely acoustic album, also hinted at by the cover art depicting a lute, wood flute, bodrons and a number of effects pedals. This music is more medieval, ancient and celtic flavored than other Galahad albums, and heavy on acoustic guitars and piano, with some flute, clarinet and sax solos by guest Sarah Quilter. But there's also string synth, electric bass and the occasional synth solo. They claim it was recorded live "with just a few keyboard and vocal overdubs (honest!)". Stuart Nicholson's vocals are VERY Fish like for much of the album. He also does one solo a capella song, "Shrine", accompanied only by a reverb unit. There's also some stuff that reminds me of Jethro Tull for it's "English countryside" feel. Perhaps not the best place to start to figure out what Galahad is like, but quite a nice album nonetheless.
The next album chronologically that I've heard is Classic Rock Live, so-called because it's a recording of a concert performed April 22, 1995 at Herringthorpe Leisure Centre in Rotterdam for the Classic Rock Society. It's a straight live recoding of the performance and they didn't do any fixups or additions in the studio afterwards. The quality is pretty good, and they play very well despite their protestations in the liner notes about lack of preparation, missing data disks, inclement weather and no sound check. The guitars are a bit light in the mix, but everything comes through pretty well. The tunes are selections from previous studio albums, including "Sleepers", "Aqaba" and "Room 801", plus others. This is the way to get a feeling for what Galahad is all about. A nice compilation of songs rendered in less than optimum circumstances, but with the crowd's enthusiasm bolstering their mood they turn in splendid performances.
Following Ghosts appears to be the first "regular" studio album in my collection. It opens with a British-accented female voice introducing the band and admonishing the listener to "turn it up to eleven". The album then opens with a hard rock tune, "Myopia" (which keeps sounding like "My Opium"), and you think that, with this sound and the "eleven" joke, this is going to be like Spinal Tap. But it's not. The songs are an eclectic mix of styles from neo-prog with some Floydian touches to dancable techno ("Ocean Blue") that reminds of Enigma. There are also Indian influences ("Karma for One") and Beatles-like psychedelia ("Easier Said Than Done"). There's one 3-part 14-minute epic ("Shine") that really sounds like Misplaced Childhood-era Marillion, particularly with Fish-like vocals. Since that's my favorite era of Marillion, I found this to be quite nice. I can easily recommend this album to anyone who likes Marillion, so long as they don't carp about the similarities.
The next album is the only loser of the bunch, as far as I'm concerned. Recorded as Galahad Electric Company, De-constructing Ghosts is a "dance remix" album using source material from Following Ghosts. It consists of the usual techno beats, supplemented by reworkings, rehashings and electronic manglings of themes and vocals from Following Ghosts. I've never understood the attraction of these "remix" albums, and this one has not converted me. I'd give this one a miss, as my British friends like to say.
Other Crimes and Misdemeanours 3 is a mishmash of inadequately released material recorded during sessions for other albums. These are the songs that were never included on a full-length CD, though some had been previously released as part of EP's. However, they seem to me to be good releases in their own right, and this sounds to me like just another Galahad studio album, not "B-grade wannabee" songs. It also includes a live recording of "Exorcising Demons", which was recorded during the previously mentioned Classic Rock Society concert, but was deleted due to its length (9:36!) and space on the CD. This is a good album, but I liked the next one even more.
Year Zero is something quite different from their other output. It seems like they have gotten sick of hearing that they're just poor substitutes for Marillion, and so have expanded their musical palette quite a bit. The opening song "Year Zeroverture" is a cross between Ozric Tentacles and Tangerine Dream, with swirly synth sequences and vocal Mellotron. There's still lots of neo-prog vibe, but infused with Ozric type spacey/rhythmic synths but with vocal Mellotron replacing their string washes. There's also Gong-like space jazzy flute and sax soloing and even some metal guitar stylings. Nicholson seems to be making a conscious effort to not sound like Fish any more, in fact on "A Deeper Understanding?", he sounds just like Jon Anderson. John Wetton also appears as a guest on this album (perhaps it's him that sounds like Jon Anderson?). Overall, there are some techno passages, but they sound more like Ozrics than pure dancable techno. This is the least neo-prog of all their albums, and my favorite. If this is the direction they're going, I'll be following them for some time to come. Unfortunately, Year Zero was their last release as of this writing (1/13/04), and they don't seem to be very active at the moment. Their web site, however, seems to be fairly current. I hope we haven't heard the last of them. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Galahad's
official web site, "Room 801"
Click here for a review of Galahad's DVD
Nature's Clear Well (78)
A German band, supposed to be pretty good. I think their album is called Nature's Clear Well and was released in the US.
Swiss band that had a couple of albums from the late 70's...a little overrated I think, based on listening to their album Nature's Clear Well. Not bad, but certainly not all they're cracked up to be.
Yet another band that Genesis listeners will like. Actually, Nature's Clear Well is a pretty good offering though the emphasis is on lyrics and vocals rather than music. The lyrics are good and the music is more complicated than the average neo-prog group. Again, Genesis fans will probably appreciate this most but Galaxy offers enough that quite a few of us might. I don't know...I haven't had the urge to listen to it more than a couple times in the last two months, so I can't attest to its shelf life.
Decent but unexceptional symphonic prog in the Flame Dream/Dragonfly mould. Lots of Genesis influence. Strangely, the most interesting thing about Nature's Clear Well is the unique lyrical content, its title song is about an old homeless man who dies on a subway train. Otherwise, adequately performed and written, but not expecially exciting. There's a second album, but I don't know the title. -- Mike Ohman
Galie 2 (86)
Galie III (90)
Galie IV (92)
|I have their first album and this is great symphonic prog with no latin feel that all, instead this is a very acoustic album. This is a seven person group formed in 1979 just for the pleasure of making music, all seven musicians have previous experience with other groups before forming Galie. The band consist of drums, two flautists, bass, acoustic guitar and two keyboardists playing string synthesizer, Moog and acoustic piano. The album cover is one of the most original covers I have ever seen [in that] it is made of black denim. The music is very melodic and not very complex, but is play with great professionalism. A touch of jazz can be heard too, the closest comparison will be Gotic. -- Julio Lopez|
Heritage and Visions (94)
At This Moment In Time (94)
King of Aragon (95)
The All European Hero (96)
Mind Over Matter (98)
Beyond Dreams (00)
From Land To Ocean (03) CD1 CD2 - CD1 CD2
Engines of Creation (07)
Galleon - (not in photo order) Micke Värn (guitars), Göran Fors (bass,
vocals), Dan Fors (drums), Ulf Pettersson (keyboards)
Swedish band who play in Marillion style. The vocals are not that great, but the instrumental passages sound good, sometimes a bit like Gandalf's music.
|Links||Click here for Galleon's web site|
Strange Pleasures (70), New Dawn (70)
Gamalon (87), Aerial View (90), High Contrast (91), Held To the Light (96)
They started out as an instrumental Rock-Fusion 4 piece (from upstate New York) featuring the dual lead guitars of Bruce Brucato and George Puleo. On the 2nd album they added a violin player, and the 3rd features a few vocal tracks. The sound is hard driving, structured rock with a touch of Jazz, plenty of room for soloing, in the same league as Morse, Bonilla, Eric Johnson, etc.
I have Gamalon's Aerial View which is very nice instrumental rock with many jazz and even a progressive feel in places. Led by two guitars, this album features some very talented playing of fusionesque rock and is a good album for guitar lovers. The progressive touches come on "1969" which adds some keyboards and "The Lost Ghost" which features some nice mini-moog work. Occasional violin work lends a sometimes Dixie Dregs aura to the album, too. Aerial View is a solid album though not Progressive in the traditional sense of the genre.
Gamma I (80), Gamma II (80), Gamma III (82), Best of Gamma (92)
Pretty Much a mainstream AOR rock outfit led by Ronnie Montrose with vocals by Davey Pattison. Some of the tracks have a definite progressive rock feel.
[See Montrose, Ronnie]
Banan Banan (85)
Soft folk-progressive from the Basque region of Spain.
Journey To An Imaginary Land (81)
To Another Horizon (83)
More Than Just A Seagull (83)
Magic Theatre (84)
Tale From A Long Forgotten Kingdom (85)
The Universal Play (87)
From Source To Sea (87)
Fantasia (87, Compilation)
Invisible Power (89)
Labyrinth (90, Soundtrack)
Symphonic Landscapes (90)
Gallery Of Dreams (featuring Steve Hackett) (92)
Stones of Wisdom (92)
To Our Children's Children (94)
Colours of the Earth (94)
Echoes From Ancient Dreams (95)
The Shining (96)
Gates to Secret Realities (96)
Into the Light (99)
Visions 2001/20 Years (00, 2CD)
The Fountain of Secrets (02)
Between Earth and Sky (03)
Colors of a New Dawn (04)
Der Prophet (05)
Austrian synthesist very much in the vein of some of Mike Oldfield's work, yet usually with a sweeter more Kitaroish edge. Reminds me of Anthony Phillips at times, and also the mellow progressive of SFF or Bo Hansson. Not to be confused with the psych band of the same name.
Austrian multi-instrumentalist Heinz Stobl (aka Gandalf) has been making some of the most visionary cosmic music around since the end of the seventies. His music uses layers of multi-guitars, keyboards, percussion and various other instruments to achieve a colorful sonic dreamscape overflowing with melody and passion. His music is peaceful, planetary and profoundly stunning: unlike many of the contemporary purveyors of so-called space music who use electronics as a crutch, Gandalf has very carefully eschewed this dependency, and instead uses a wide variety of acoustic and electric instruments, including synth, to create his magical spell. Seagull is perhaps his most celestial outing, four extended tracks combining his unique style with some natural sounds as well. Reflection is a best-of collection from his last four albums on CBS, and shows his more rhythmic and colorful side. Fantasia is another compilation of his earliest stuff.
|Austrian multi-instumentalist. His latest Gallery of Dreams features Steve Hackett. Solid, well crafted electronic music that mixes well with guitars, flutes and a variety of other instruments. The end result is quite majestic.|
|Tale From A Long Forgotten Kingdom is a concept work by the Austrian synthesist, describing the travels of a people from discontent to self-realization (!). Anyway, musically, this is an excellent blend of his symphonic style, and the more pastoral, natural sounds that he is better known for. All this is punctuated by very fluent guitarwork and accompanied by a large arsenal of keyboards. "Reflection is a collection of essential pieces chosen by Gandalf that were recorded from 1986 to 1990. You can hear influences that range from classical and symphonic music, to rock, pop, new age, and music of the Orient. There are 3 pieces recorded with a full symphony orchestra, and 2 special remixes released as singles in his native Austria, plus some of his special concept works. All the elements of his music, past and present, unite on this album, making it a unique 'symphonic landscape.'" That is the official blurb from Reflection. It is a fine introduction to one of the foremost Austrian synthesists, who combines the tranquility of natural sounds with the grandeur of symphonic rock. The primary attraction with Gallery of Dreams to prog-heads would be the presence of Steve Hackett on many tracks. When combined with Gandalf's "symphonic landscapes" (as he defines them), the result is quite majestic symphonic instrumental rock. One of the tracks features vocals by Tracy Hitchings, who contributed her talents to works by the British progressive band, Quasar. Stones Of Wisdom is a release of low-key, melodic electronics.|
|Gandalf is a multi-instrumentalist who composes, arranges, produces and plays his own music. On Gallery of Dreams, he calls on guitarist Steve Hackett to lend a hand. Other guests are featured on flute, oboe and vocals (few). The abundance of keyboards and the dreamy feeling of the tracks evoke electronic music but programmed sequences are not used. Rather, it's the calm and peaceful atmosphere that give the music a "new age" flavour. A disc with plenty of rich symphonism but with an energy that favours relaxation. -- Paul Charbonneau|
[See Hackett, Steve |
Hitchings, Tracy |
Horky, Robert Julian]
Click here for Gandalf's web site
UK sounding dreamy psych.
Path of Dreams (94)
The Seduction of Madness (95)
Forget the Colours (02)
Garden Wall (current lineup)
An innovative group. They don't recycle old cliche of genre but learn from the past and take their music into 90's. The sound is caracterized from an heavy presence of the rhythm section and original use of keyboards, with a large amount of breaks and variations.
|Garden Wall are an Italian neo-prog 4-piece who have released Principium in 1993. If the name of the band sounds familiar to you, recall Garden Wall was one of the names Genesis gigged under in their infant years. Although they don't borrow as heavily from Genesis as some of their cohorts, Garden Wall still fail to break any new ground in this arena. Guitarist and bandleader Alessandro Seravalle is obviously talented as a lead player, but unfortunately he's the only noteworthy talent in the group. Furthermore, his vocals are twisted and contorted, as he struggles horribly with the pronounciation of the English lyrics. Also disappointing is the fact that three of the members are credited with keyboards, and yet the role of the keyboards in the music is limited to simple chord voicings and basic melody lines. Not a lot of talent in the ivory department. Admitedly, there are some creative tempo/mood changes, but the music often pretends to be heavier than it is and they fall into the trap of using odd time just for the sake of it. With a dedicated lead singer and some more fire behind the keys, Garden Wall could potentially develop into one of the better neo bands, but for now this is average fare at best. If you can overlook the poor vocals, fans of Asgard and Pendragon would probably find this music quite appealing. -- Dan Casey|
No doubt, Garden Wall is the most underrated prog-band of the present day. As a matter of
fact, these very Italians are, in my opinion, the most innovative and original contemporary
progressive band. Led by the guitarist / vocalist, composer / lyricist Alessandro Seravalle,
Garden Wall has already four fully developed albums, each being different from another,
though all of them are made within the framework of the band's own original stylistics. Up to
now there have been no reviews on Garden Wall in the net, except for Gibraltar, where you
find just few lines that describe this band as "a sort of Neo compared to Asgard" (?!- it's
possible, because ex-members of Asgard from time to time are in Garden Wall's line-up: but
what a comparison?).
Already their first album shows that this is a very original band with a level of the complexity of compositions that can be quite compared to the most serious albums of the '70s. However, Garden Wall sounds not like a band (so many of them!) recycling the ideal, though old, structures, but really modern and fresh. I don't take into account a slightly accented vocals of Seravalle here, because it's really original and impressive, though, I think, Alessandro may have been inspired by Peter Hammill, in vocals as well as in lyrics. Indeed, Garden Wall's lyrics are as profound and full of grotesque with a touch of surrealism sometimes. Principium and the latest album Chimica can be called stylistically as being somewhere in the middle between classic prog-rock and prog metal, with the former nearer to the classic prog-rock genre.
The second album from Garden Wall Path of Dreams sounds unexpectedly after the familiar Principium. This is, on the whole, an album of the purest classic symphonic progressive, full of polyphony, with equally prominent roles of guitars and keyboards so as to create a full-blooded piece of art of symphonic rock. Path of Dreams is a more mature work than the already distinguished debut, with countless innovative and complex arrangements within every song, fantastic interplays between keyboards and electric or acoustic guitars, energetic and dramatic vocals already without accent (only not counting the pronunciation of the word communion). However, here more than a half of the compositions are solely instrumental, including the most beautiful piece of the album "The Bride Of The Wind". Some instrumentals have been written only by Olivo and played with piano and synth-clavecin and sound with a clear "breath" of the Middle Ages. "Maj di Muart" is the only one from the whole discography where Alessandro sings in Italian, his native language. So, already the second album from Garden Wall turned out to be a true masterpiece of progressive rock.
The third Garden Wall's album The Seduction of Madness (their first with a full-bodied line-up) sounds again too unexpectedly after a symphonic Path of Dreams. With the exception of Naia, where Alessandro sings only to the accompaniment of medieval keyboard instruments, this is on the whole the heaviest album from these guys. However, you are unlikely to perceive it as a prog metal album at all: this is simply a really heavy work of symphonic progressive rock, another state-of-the-art album from such a young band. I've never heard such a marvellous style! And it's not a mix of symphonic rock with prog metal, no way! Just listen to the gems like "La Chatea Fou", an incredible heavy ... waltz, and you'll understand, what a gem goes unnoticed up to now!
One and a half years later Garden Wall returned with their fourth album, Chimica, and we learn that this new one sounds again differently from any of Garden Wall's previous albums, as always. The first 35-minute "Chemotaxis" is a major outstanding composition here, as well as another long one from Seravalle "La Belle Dame" (over 10 minutes, they form the whole album together!). This time we hear an excellent mix of both styles from Path of Dreams and The Seduction of Madness, though the way arrangements are made here is an absolute breakthrough. The remaining 20 minutes contain three short fine instrumentals and two songs. The first of the songs sounds original and striking, though the main theme is based on a kind of rock'n'roll, but it's not my cup of tea. The second song completes the album with slight Hammilesque intonations (circa Roaring Forties). Of course, it's just a matter of taste, but as for me, this album would have all the six stars of mine, if it weren't for the two abovesaid songs, and not just five and a half ...
Above all, the music that is presented on Forget the Colours clearly shows that, unlike most of the contemporary Progressive Rock performers, Garden Wall continue to transform their style well into the 2000s. So, the mighty Garden Wall are back with an album, which, both stylistically and structurally, is different from any of the band's previous albums that, in their turn, are in many ways different among themselves as well. However, Forget the Colours is radically different from anything that was created by the band before. This time, these very talented Italians discovered a new area of Prog-Metal where only Alessandro's expressively aggressive and theatrically dramatic vocals can be recognized (not always, though). In short, the best definition of music that is presented on this album would probably be a blend of Prog-Metal and Fifth Element.
Really, the new Prog-Metal by Garden Wall is so unique that, IMHO, it is impossible to squeeze it into the framework of Classic Prog-Metal of any sort. Have you ever heard Prog-Metal, most of the compositional canvas of which were based on the laws of Avant-garde Academic Music with its very unstable structures, seemingly dissonant arrangements, atonalities, etc? All of this, being, in addition, mixed with the elements of Techno-Metal, Art-Rock, RIO, Jazz-Fusion, Waltz, and even some of one quaint Folk music, is present on the new Garden Wall album. This is an extremely intricate music. Most of the songs on the album are marked by the constant development of both the instrumental and vocal arrangements, kaleidoscopic changes of tempo, tone, and mood, very complex stop-to-play movements, and the complete absence of even meters. (I don't know what a method was used when composing some of the episodes of this album. However, it was not even a 12-tone scale.) As well as all the other Garden Wall albums, Forget the Colours is a concept album, created within the framework of a unified stylistics, which, overall, I have already described. However, there are many of the quiet and completely "non-metallic" arrangements on the album as well. Furthermore, each of the nine "forgotten colours" contains a few "lyrical" parts, all of which, though, sound either dark or dramatic. Most of you, profound and adventurous Prog-lovers, know that in the new millennium, a number of classic RIO bands (Finnegans Wake, Thinking Plague, 5UU's, to name a few) moved towards a heavier sound, which, in fact, is much heavier than "your typical" RIO sound. Now, when the Forget the Colours album is part of Garden Wall's discography, I see the band as a Prog-Metal counterpart of those ex-RIO bands that currently play a blend of RIO, Prog-Metal, and Avant-garde Academic Music. Really, various interplay between the virtuosi solos of guitar-synth (that, by the way, sounds not unlike an electric piano or synthesizer) and intricate passages of violins, acoustic, and semi-acoustic guitars that are featured on several tracks of this album, are in the vein of RIO rather than Symphonic Progressive. The parts of drums are incredibly diverse and complex on this album. The world of Prog-Metal doesn't know any example of such a mind-blowing drumming that is featured on Forget the Colours. This is undoubtedly an hour of triumph of Camillo Colleluori. However, all the members of Garden Wall have demonstrated a fantastic mastership on this album. As for Alessandro Seravalle, I realized that he is one of the most innovative and brilliant composers in the history of Prog several years ago.
Summary is simple. Garden Wall is one of my dearly loved prog bands ever: Top 20 of all the prog-years. This is the best Progressive Rock band ever since UK and Marillion (and just due to "Brave", their only true classic (not neo) progressive rock album). -- Vitaly Menshikov
Click here for Garden Wall's web site
Music for Televisions (91)
Ah, you yearn to go skiing or surfing after a hard year at work. It's vacation time but you blew your savings on that mega-rare Prog album. Or, you live in Death Valley and you can't get away for the weekend. Leave it to Gardner Graber and Gayle Ellet to take you away to mountains of powder and beaches of twelve foot waves with their Music for Televisions. The music on this album was commission by ESPN (a sports cable channel in the USA) for two shows: "Surfer" and "Powder." The 20 songs are mostly in the 3-4 minute range and cover a variety of styles, from the melodic "All Behind Me Now," the heavy riffing of "Cowabunga!" or "Repo Vacation," the reggae of "Vibramonrastation" and "Rasta Holiday," the blues boogie of "Equestrian Boogeyman" to the "Hang On Sloopy" melody and beat of "Colour Light." I'm sure the wipeouts and stunts in the surf and snow garnered more enthusiastic "Radical!" and "Bitchin'!" cheers than did the music itself. Although I can imagine the songs working in the context of a sports show, a few songs per episode, 72 minutes on one disc is a bit much to take in one sitting. This album is probably of most interest to Djam Karet fans. In my Djam Karet review, I mentioned that I didn't know which guitar solo went with which guitarist. After listening to Ellet on Music for Television, I can better differentiate between Ellet and Henderson on the DK releases. Music for Televisions is certainly not an album to go out of your way to obtain. If you find it at a deal though, snag it up, turn on your favorite surfing or skiing show, or the weiner dog summer nationals, and let Gardner and Gayle provide the soundtrack. -- Mike Taylor
[See Djam Karet]
In The Regions of Sunreturn and Beyond (79)
Point Of Impact (83)
Aurora Dawn (88)
An Earth-Star Trilogy (89)
Rhythm of Life (91)
A Positive Reflecting Glow (92, Compilation)
Tranquility Cove (92, Compilation)
Live Volume 1 (94, Live)
Live Volume 2 (95, Live)
Brave New Worlds (98)
California synthesist who has released seven or eight albums, all are mixed bags of sleepy and more energetic synth tracks, but the best are probably the last two Earth Star Trilogy and Rhythm of Life, which contain more rhythmic stuff alternated with the spacey numbers. Both are excellent.
Michael Garrison passed away in March of 2004. A tribute album was created by those who enjoyed or were influenced by him. It is a 2CD set featuring 156 minutes of music by electronic composers from around the world. The title of the album is To the Sky and Beyond the Stars - A Tribute to Michael Garrison. Garrison's web site has (recently) vanished from the Internet. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for info
on Michael Garrison on his friend Craig Padilla's web site
Loomade Farm (Animal Farm) (86, re-released on CD 2001)
Another re-release of once-lost music from the dusty archives of the Russian
Boheme label. This "Rock Oratorio" (or Rock Opera) is the brainchild of
keyboardist Igor Garsnek, also of Synopsis
and Ruja. It features the vocal talents of the
late Urmas Alender, the lead vocalist of Ruja.
Both Garsnek and Alender worked together under the band name Data, and the
album cover lists them as well, though this is considered to be a Garsnek
solo album with members of Data helping out, not a Data album as such.
Musically, the composition and vocals are excellent, but being very keyboard oriented with mid-80's digital synths and drum machines do tend to make the sound a bit dated. The digital sound is harsh and thin, and a bit on the cheezy side, which is a shame considering the quality of the music itself. Still, I suppose in Estonia in the mid-80's, they were lucky to get any kind of equipment to work with. Given this limitation, they have really done an excellent job of warming up the cold synth sound with overdubs of Alender's voice and with a chorale in parts, plus an occasional guitar lick from guest Mikhel Raud. I do wish they could have found real people to play drums and bass, though. The drum machines and synth bass do start to grate on my nerves by the end of the CD.
The compositions are uptempo and catchy, with lots of nationalistic flavor in parts ... several times I hear what could be the national anthem of some unknown country, with brass sections and flag waving. Other parts are more purely proggy, with some Emersonesque synth solos, though more of the Works Vol. 1 era than Tarkus.
Although I can't understand a word of Estonian (which is the language used for the vocals on this CD), the lyrics are extremely well sung by Alender, and the Boheme folks were kind enough to provide a translation of at least some of the lyrics in the liner notes. This is by far my preferred way to hear a non-English speaking band rather than hearing them butcher the English in an attempted translation. Better to sing in their native tongue and give me a translation of the lyrics. Thank you for this, Boheme (and Mel Huang, who provided the translation).
Finally, don't take my warnings about the cheezy sound as advice to stay away from this CD. If you like the depth and mellodrama of a good rock opera, you owe it to yourself to try out Animal Farm. I was able to forgive the digital synths after a couple of listens and really hear the music behind it. Once you do, I think you'll enjoy this CD too. -- Fred Trafton
|Based on the George Orwell Animal Farm novel, the first and only Igor Garsnek album of the same title as the novel sounds very in the mood of it, at least vocally, because the majority of the album's varied and rich in arrangements vocals parts are full of diverse forms of distinct irony which is quite typical for anti-utopias in general. I hear the Estonian language on Animal Farm by no means for the first time, but it sounds here so good as never before. In addition, there is an English translation in the booklet so I feel quite comfortable listening to this music and looking at the English "version" of lyrics at the same time. Only Urmas Alender vocals are already something special here, though, of course, the vocal palette of Animal Farm is especially rich in various colours when he sings along with the Olivina choir. So, in my view, Garsnek's Animal Farm is nothing short of a (very original) kind of Rock Opera (in the album's booklet this work is labeled as "Rock Oratorio"). But, even if Urmas had sung alone this album I would still have considered it (as well as the majority of you) a Rock Opera anyway since there is a lot of conceptual albums with one singer at the microphone that are hailed as Rock Operas. There's no even need to name a dozen of such albums. Although about two fifth of all instrumental canvas on Animal Farm is used as a background for various arias, you won't hear such primitive things as keyboard chords, rhythm guitar moves, etc. typical only for mediocre performers of Neo genre. It is simply amazing how diversely the musicians play their "background" parts along with vocals the album throughout. You'll hear a wide variety of unusual and, at the same time, very original sounds on Animal Farm which is (doubtlessly) one of the most theater-spectacular albums I've ever heard. I wonder at how Garsnek was able to elicit several really unique sounds from his archaic keyboards. You'll hear on this album, for example, such solos that sound like a talk between two dolls or like a childish (or dolly's) drivel, apart from Karabbas Barabbas-alike vocals, other strange voices, etc. Of course, 'pure' instrumental parts are the most progressive here. Already in the beginning of the album Garsnek does quite a long, tasteful, speedy and, that's the main thing, stylistically highly original keyboard solo and there are a lot of Garsnek's diverse solos the album throughout. Guitarist's solos are also excellent, though in places he supports Garshnek's endless passages, roulades and solos with quite heavy electric guitar riffs. There are only two minor drawbacks on Animal Farm - the absence of a bass guitar player and a drummer. Their absence is by no means too notable on this album, as there's too little room for a strong rhythm-section on it. The presence of the real rhythm-section would have helped an overall sound to be way tighter. All in all, from the two Igor Garsnek albums (the first one was Synopsis released a few months earlier in the same year of 1986), the second one I consider his best. Unfortunately, I know nothing about this talented musician's following life in the independent country Estonia, though, it seems to me that Animal Farm was his final album (at least solo). -- Vitaly Menshikov|
|Links||[See Ruja | Synopsis]|
|A Hendrix-influenced band featuring the talents of guitarist extraordinaire Bambi Fossati. Their only reissue to date the album Astrolabio features two side long suites, both great cosmic jams resembling none of the previously mentioned Italian bands, but just as innovative. A must.|
|In the 1971 the band Gleemen change its name to Garybaldi, keeping the same members. The first LP is blues-rock (inspired from Experience). The second is more instrumental. When the band dissolved, Bambi Fossati and Maurizio Cassinelli went to Bambibanda E Melodie.|
|Italian band. I've only heard some of Astrolabio, and that was great. Great, flowing guitar work over a smooth background of sound. Italian vocals. Recommended.|
An atypical, but excellent, Italian prog band featuring the talents of Bambi
Fossati "the Italian Hendrix". This group evolved from an earlier outfit
called Gleemen. Other works of Garybaldi and Fossati tend to be more blues
and psych based and patterned on the JimiHendrix Experience.
Astrolabio is an album of 2 sidelong, 20 min.+ tracks. If anyone has ever wondered what Hendrix might have sounded like if he joined a progressive rock band, this is the album for you! With Fossati's wailing space blues, tortured "dog whistle" soloing, and psych jams this should go over big with the disciples of Jimi or Robin Trower. In fact, the first opus "Madre De Cose Perdute" is very reminiscent of things like Hendrix "1983" or Procol Harum's "Song For A Dreamer". It also blends in a ponderous, early Pink Floyd tempo and vibe. And there is some wonderful, soaring Mellotron and trippy synthesizer more typical of the Italian 70's prog school. There are some vocals on the track which are also very standard for the Italian groups of this genre. But it's mostly an intrumental, atmospheric, multi-movement space jam - with the lead guitar as the dominant instrument. Never boring and sometimes quite grandiose. A musical trip well worth taking.
Side 2 consists of "Sette", which is a live recording. Fossati really steps out on this one and the Hendrix-isms rain down like hail. Even the vocal style (all lyrics in Italian) is very close to the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Band Of Gypsys. But Garybaldi are no mere copyists. Bambi's searing guitar leads are punctuated by some majestic organ in the classical symphonic tradition, and they also incorporate more of that Pink Floyd space rock style. The keyboardist is allowed his own feature spot towards the end of the track where he can indulge his Keith Emerson whims. The track closes with the well known musical theme from Frère Jacques. Another colorful, extended instrumental space jam that skillfully fuses blues, hard rock, psych and progressive rock.
There were a string of Hendrix disciples in the 70's and Bambi Fossati deserves to be added to the ranks of Frank Marino, Robin Trower, Uli Jon Roth, etc. But Astrolabio is a work that may appeal to progheads and hard rock/psych fans equally. It largely avoids the usual cliches of Italian prog rock. It rides a great wave of Hendrix inspiration. And it presents two 20 min. epics which are remarkably consistent and ultimately enjoyable. I might be hard pressed to rank this amongst the truly essential Italian classics in the genre, but it's definitely a top drawer recording of that era. And highly recommended. -- Tharsis
|Links||[See Bambibanda E Melodie | Gleeman | Mandillo]|
A Young Man's Gash (72)
Obscure German band on the Brain label. Nothing special except for the side long suite on their only album A Young Man's Gash.
One side of A Young Man's Gash is supposed to be a good side-long piece of spacy keyboard prog. I only heard the other side, which sucks rocks. -- Mike Ohman
Live (77), Red Light Sister (78)
An Imaginary Symphony (90, Cassette only)
Almost A Dance (93)
Strange Machines (97, Re-edits and live)
Adrenaline/Leaves (97, Mini-CD Compilation)
Nighttime Birds (97)
Kevin's Telescope (97, Compilation)
Liberty Bell (98, Alternate versions, Live)
How To Measure A Planet? (98)
Superheat (00, Live)
Rollercoaster (00, Compilation & Live)
Amity (01, Remixes)
|Certainly the most disconcerting feature of this band will be immediately obvious to anyone who listens to any song of their first album [Always -Ed.] (except the beautiful title track, which is so symphonic it makes one cry), is that the basis of their music is death-metal, which is apparent in the vocals (a nice death-grunt). Only, imho they are only very superficially so. Wanting to break out of the limitations of the genre (in their own words), they tried new things. And came up with something that is in essence sympho-rock. By throwing in lots of keyboards and a female vocalist with a rather high and frail voice (though she only appears - sadly enough - on about half of the tracks) they create a very gloomy and laden atmosphere, and the contrast between the two voices is guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. The best news might be that in an interview they said they were going to abandon the death-grunt and sing "normally." After which this band will very probably get the classification of sympho-metal or something like that. Watch these guys, they are great!|
|Like the previous entry said, they had decided to go with a non-death-metal singer. Actually, the new singer (female) has a beautiful voice, which goes well with the album. The album is best described as "atmospheric metal," nearing symphonic. I don't know why this hasn't gotten more notice. It's great. If you like the more symphonic prog-metal bands, check this one out.|
|Links||Click here for The Gathering's web site|
Bébé Godzilla (81)
Sur Les Flots Verticaux (93)
Le Morse (96)
|Ex-keyboardist of Heldon and Weidorje, Gauthier recorded one album in 1980 titled Bebe Godzilla. Jazz-fusion based highly melodic keyboard driven music with an experimental edginess and some zeuhl influence. Several tracks feature Richard Pinhas, Bernard Paganotti, Benoit Widemann, Kirt Rust, Didier Batard, and other Magma / Heldon school alumni.|
Bebe Godzilla is a superb disc. It's a bit lighter and less intense
than a Vander-led outing, but still
very much recognizable as a Magma side
project. The compositions are terrific for the most part, displaying plenty
of cool Terry Riley-like keyboard intricacy that the
Weidorje disc had. If
you're a Magma fan I cannot see how you
wouldn't like this one.
His 2nd solo effort is called Sur Les Flots Verticaux, and it's a pretty big letdown compared to Bebe Godzilla. It was released either in 86 or 87, ['93 according to Gauthier' bio at the Seventh Records site - Ed.] and is just, well, pretty blah. You know inspiration is in short supply when you start reprising themes from a 5-6 year old record (which is what he does here).
There is a 3rd record, Le Morse, which I know nothing about. As far as I know, they're still available either from Seventh Records or from Syn-Phonic. -- Alex Davis
[See Heldon |
Click here for Patrick Gauthier's bio on the Seventh Records site. There are also links there if you want to order these albums from Seventh Records.
From the Yamashiro Arts Group, an avant garde ensemble. Dounokenbai is second side and is bizarre chanting and percussion. First side ("Osorezan"), however, is classic 19 minute psych.
Area Di Servizio (72)
A acoustic vangard band.
La Muerte (??)
From Genesis to Revelation (69)
Nursery Cryme (72)
Selling England by the Pound (73)
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (74)
Trick of the Tail (76)
Wind and Wuthering (77)
Seconds Out (77, Live)
Spot the Pigeon (77, EP)
...And Then There Were Three... (78)
Three Sides Live (82, Live)
Invisible Touch (86)
We Can't Dance (91)
The Way We Walk Vol. 1: The Shorts (92, Live)
The Way We Walk Vol. 2: The Longs (93, Live)
Calling All Stations (97)
Genesis in 1972 - Steve Hackett (guitar), Peter Gabriel (vocals, flute &
theatrics), Mike Rutherford (bass), Phil Collins (drums, later was the lead
vocalist), Tony Banks (keyboards)
Their first album From Genesis To Revelation (since reissued under many different titles) was a very majestic blending of late sixties British styles, most notable comparisons would be to the early Bee Gees or The Moody Blues, very acoustically driven (piano, acoustic guitar prominent), with Peter Gabriel's unique vocals and thoughtful, often personal lyrics. There are few hints here of the complex progressive form the band would later turn to, but nonetheless this is an excellent album. The second album Trespass marked the beginning of the band's most influential period, with longer, multi-part tightly arranged numbers that make full use of acoustic-electric rock dynamics, emotive classical and folk influenced melodies, and story type lyrics avoiding the first-person cliches of most bands of the day. Much of their style in this period was driven by the acoustic based guitar ideas of Anthony Phillips (even though Phillips quit after Trespass was recorded, his guitar style would be used by the band for the next five albums). Each of the albums from this second period (Trespass, Nursery Cryme, Foxtrot, Live, Selling England By The Pound) has its own unique character and brilliance, and over the period of these albums also saw the emergence of keyboardist Tony Banks as the new dominant musical force within the band. The double epic The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway was more a transitional album musically, even though it does feature Gabriel at his lyrical and theatrical peak. Musically the album features a higher percentage of pure filler than any album they had done to date, which was necessary during the live performances to allow Gabriel ample time to change costumes. It was also their first album that achieved notoriety from the mainstream rock press. After an exhausting tour fostering much tension within the band, Gabriel decided to call it a day, leaving the band without a lead singer....and thus began the band's third period. Up to this point, nearly all of the vocals were handled by Gabriel, although other members frequently sang prominent backup (Banks on "Hogweed" for example), but Drummer Phil Collins had already sang lead on a couple of filler tracks ("For Absent Friends" and "More Fool Me") used during live shows to give Gabriel a breather and time to change costumes. It stood to reason, then, that Collins could take over the role of lead vocalist while a "hired hand" could take over the drum duties for the live performance. But public perception at that point was that Gabriel WAS Genesis, and the band, without him, would be akin to The Doors without Morrison - and this was a major hurdle the band would have to overcome. On the first "Collins led" album A Trick Of The Tail, it's evident that the band went to some great lengths to produce an excellent album, as well as on its follow-up Wind And Wuthering, which shows the band moving into some new and non- commercial territory. These two albums, while very unlike the Gabriel led Genesis of a few years prior, were still very vital and cohesive. While mixing a live album of the WaW tour (Second's Out), guitarist Steve Hackett decided to call it a day. Hackett's role within the band to that point had been primarily a counterbalance to Banks' poppy tendencies in Gabriel's absence. Now as a three-piece with Banks firmly in control, (and a higher public profile), that the band's music would inevitably become more mainstream oriented. And so began the fourth period. The first album as a three piece (And Then There Were Three) fares OK when compared with the two albums that preceeded it, but it definitely marks a move in a new direction with shorter "song" oriented tracks and their first hit single "Follow You Follow Me." The follow-up album Duke was a major step in the commercial direction, at least half the songs seemed to be intended for singles. One long instrumental track on side 2 offered some brilliance, but not enough to save the rest of the album. Subsequent albums Abacab, Genesis, Invisible Touch and We Can't Dance are firmly in the mainstream mold, with commercially oriented songs and plenty of hit singles. Of course, these later albums are not necessarily bad, but musically they're not that challenging either. Three live albums have appeared in this period: Three Sides Live is mostly recorded on the Abacab tour, and The Way We Walk (2 seperately packaged CDs) was recorded mostly on the We Can't Dance tour. My Recommendations: Start with Foxtrot, Nursery Cryme or Selling England, IMHO these three represent Genesis at their creative peak.
[See Banks, Tony |
Brand X |
Hackett, Steve |
|Genesis from Uruguay is not a progressive band (no resemblance to Peter Gabriel's Genesis!). To give you an idea of the kind of music they play, they did had a cover of Cat Stevens' "How Can I Tell You". -- Ana Maria Lopez|
Crystal Fantasy (87)
Riddle of the Sphynx (88, w/ Anton Mizerak)
Harmonic 33 (90, w/ Anton Mizerak)
|French electronic artist whose best known work is probably the spacey, minor-chord wall-of-strings release Ascension. As with that, the emphasis in Riddle of the Sphinx is on melody, dominated by synthesizers and other electronics, but more symphonic.|
Plaisirs Et Pénitences (90)
|Christian Genet (bass) was in the first Univers Zero line up, and you can hear him on 1313. He left the band in the end of the 7ties with Roger Trigaux to form Present. After recording Present's Triskaidekaphobie he joined Univers Zero again (for Uzed and Heatwave) were he met Jean-Luc Plouvier who had also joined Univers Zero before the Uzed sessions. From 85 to 90 this duo put together several tracks in the studio for what is called in French a "spectacle". So the music on this disc is the background music to some kind of dance-pantomime happening (like Art Zoyd's Marathonnerre). The music is quite complicated, clearly in the vein of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, a lot of instruments, samples and strange sounds, sometimes very dark, sometimes very heavy and rhythmical, but all in all typical neoclassical prog. The best comparison would be one of the more recent recordings by Art Zoyd (e.g. aforementioned Marathonnerre), but it's a bit more varied and rough. This is certainly a very worthwhile addition to any neo-classical prog collection! -- Achim Breiling|
|Links||[See Present | Univers Zero]|
|Keyboards, flute, sax, guitars. Obscure.|
|Excellent Italian band from the late 70's. Close to Pink Floyd's Moon at times ; folky prog at others. The music is very moody but never boring. Feminine and masculine vocals in Italian are very good. Great synth and sax playing. Flutes (soprano and alto) at times as well as folk instruments. -- Jean-François Cousin|
Gentle Giant (70)
Acquiring The Taste (71)
Three Friends (72)
In A Glass House (73)
The Power And The Glory (74)
Free Hand (75)
A Giant Step (75, Compilation)
Playing The Fool - The Official Live (76, Live)
The Missing Piece (77)
Pretentious (77, Compilation)
Giant For A Day (78)
In Concert (BBC Radio 1) (94, Live recording from 1978)
Out Of The Woods (96, BBC recordings 1970-75)
The Last Steps (96, Live last concert in USA, 1980)
Under Construction (97, 2CD, Unreleased, Demo & Out-take material)
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents (98, Live recording from 1975)
Out of the Fire (98, 2CD, Live concert from 1973 plus In Concert re-release))
Totally Out Of The Woods (00, Re-release of Out Of The Woods w/ extra tracks)
Live in Rome 1974 (00, Official release of a bootleg CD Giant Steps Forward)
Scraping the Barrel (Due Fall 00, 3CD?)
|One of the most original British progressives, with an unlikely mix of dissonant 20th-century classical chamber music, mediaeval vocal music, jazz and rock. The first album is one of the most progressive efforts of 1970, but still not totally developed. Still, they are one of the first British bands to experiment with the Moog synthesizer, and they use cellos, violins, reeds and horns to round out the sound, as well as the usual guitar/organ/bass/drums. Experimentation with dissonant vocal harmonies ("Alucard") and improvisation ("Nothing At All") is already present, but for the most part it's pretty straightforward rock, but with odd instrumentation. Interesting as a band in progress. Acquiring The Taste shows significant advancement as far as complexity goes, adding (acoustic) clavichord and Mellotron to the keyboard banks, and also beginning to use tuned percussion such as vibes, xylophones, tympani and the like. The addition of askew time-signatures, or at least syncopated rhythms, to many tracks shows them delving ever deeper into experimental territory. The complexity of much of the music here is astounding, listen to "The House, The Street, The Room" for a fine example. By incorporating rock and neo-classical sections side-by-side, they reach a new level of musical intricacy. An excellent album. Three Friends is a rather mundane concept album, the music to which takes a LONG time to grow on you, but eventually it DOES grow on you and in a big way. More accessible than Acquiring, still incorporating odd dissonances though. Octopus finds them becoming quite conceptually bizarre, with a far more overt mediaeval bent, yet also using 20th century icons such as Albert Camus and R.D. Laing as a springboard for song ideas. Listen to the madrigal-like "Knots" for a truly odd exercise in musical counterpoint. Intriguing and essential. In A Glass House contains some of their most daring, provocative music. Note the dark "An Inmates Lullaby," using percussion as its only instrumentation. "Way Of Life," "The Runaway" and the title track are among the best music the band produced--ever! Highly recommended. Power and The Glory continues this artistic plateau, with shorter, but still strong, songs. "Aspirations" is a lovely softer piece. "Proclamation," "The Face" and "No God's A Man" are among the other fine songs, but it's so hard to decide as they're ALL great. Fans of complex prog--don't miss this one! Free Hand is probably their most accessible to date, yet without compromise to complexity. "On Reflection" is another madrigal-based piece that works well, though not as weird sounding as "Knots." Probably the best album for starters, as it's at once listenable and uncompromising. Interview is quite the opposite of its predecessor, very dissonant and unsettling, especially on the mostly all-vocal "Design." "Give It Back" resembles askew reggae, the title track and "I Lost My Head" are other standouts. Playing The Fool is "the official 'live' Gentle Giant album." An interesting overview of the band's entire career up to and including Interview. Many of the songs are spliced together in medley form, yet they still pull it off: note the 16-minute "Excerpts from Octopus." Later albums became more commercial, generally unenthused reports on them has caused me not to even bother. I'd suggest you do the same. -- Mike Ohman|
|The paradigmatic progressive rock band. They captured almost everything that was great about the 1970s progressive rock movement and ignored most of the unfortunate pretensions. Starting with their fourth Octopus album in 1973, the band churned out a bunch of flawless albums. All are highly recommended.|
|Actually I'd recommend just about anything these guys do, and we can't forget the classics (albeit hard to get into) Gentle Giant (with the monstrous "Why Not") Acquiring The Taste (with the highly innovative "Pantagruel's Nativity") and Three Friends (Which gets my vote for the best side of GG ever - side 2).|
|Most people do not like Gentle Giant at first listen. They definately take some getting used to, but once you get used to them they are great. A good album to start with is Three Friends simply because it is their album that is most like what the other progressive groups of the day were doing. From their I would go on Octopus and Free Hand.|
|I found GG to be a very difficult band to get into. While a lot of prog rock can take 2 or 3 listens to fully appreciate, Gentle Giant took me many more. Most people I talk to who like GG didn't care much for them at first listen. I started with The Power and the Glory, and most of that has grown on me, but there are still one or two tracks that I find tough to listen to. I also have Three Friends, which isn't as good as PatG, and Octopus, which has some good stuff and one very good instrumental. Generally speaking, the music is excellent; it's the vocals that can be irritating. The vocal melodies are often the same as the instrumental bits, and the layered harmony vocal thing is just overdone. I prefer vocals with more of a bite to them, like Fish's or Roger Waters'.|
|Acquiring the Taste is the hardest album to start with but I think its their best. Octopus and Power and Glory are ok, but not as great as everyone says. This is quintessential prog rock. Free Hand is also good.|
|Outstanding group...I like the live CD Playing the Fool best, for some reason I like the live versions of their songs better than the studio versions, maybe they were more musically mature in developing their sound when this live album was recorded. Studio albums are hard to get into, I have Octopus, Free Hand, and Three Friends. Music is really complex, each member of the groups seems to be able to play 10 different instruments. They do lots of different styles of music...an essential progressive rock band.|
|Gentle Giant are awesome, but you have to have a PHD in music to understand what they're doing. The music is so stunningly complex that it's sometimes difficult to absorb, After listening to albums like Octopus and Power And The Glory 50 times or more, I still hear something new each time that was different from the last time. Multi-part vocal harmonies galore. The best place to start would be with one of their more accessible albums, maybe Three Friends or In A Glass House.|
|No big secret to why these guys have traditionally been one of the most-asked-about bands on rec.music.progressive. -- they're truly amazing in every sense. Their composition, playing, and singing remain well above almost every other progressive band, and light years ahead of mainstream rock. My favourite albums by them are Three Friends (unusually gentle for the Giant -- much less in-your-face complexity and dissonance than on their other albums), Octopus (where the in-your-face complexity is pulled off with even more panache than on most of their albums), and Playing the Fool (the obligatory live double album, where they demonstrate that those astounding vocal harmonies are *not* just a trick of the studio). However, you really can't go wrong with any of the studio albums that preceded Playing the Fool. (Apparently, they took a more commercial turn after the live album.) Highly and unequivocally recommended. -- Greg Ward|
|One of the better known progressive bands, Gentle Giant were a style unto themselves. This is one of the bands to which others are always compared. GG themselves are comparable to no one. Incredibly tight vocal and instrumental interplay that you'd swear they couldn't pull off live, yet the do so with grace and ease. Influences are Baroque and Renaissance styles. My personal favorite is Octopus followed closely by Acquiring the Taste but any except for the last two or three are great.|
|What can I really say? The quintessential prog band. They are very tight, have some pretty complex musical pieces. Some of their stuff shows strong influence from madrigals and motets of the Medieval period, and I've even noticed a fugue or two. Some people don't like the vocals, but I love them (but then I really like madrigals a lot). For some reason, many people complain about having difficulty getting into this band. Someone sent me a tape of Playing the Fool and within a week I owned 3 of their CDs. This band just really did it for me. My favorites are: Free Hand, Three Friends, PtF, The Power and the Glory, In a Glass House, and Octopus (roughly in that order). The others that are on CD don't do as much for me, but I still like them a good deal.|
|Truly progressive English band. I've never heard anyone like them. Sometimes they sound vaguely Jethro Tull-ish, but they're no clone. Definitely influenced by that medieval sound Tull became famous for, as well as jazz and straight forward rock. Tough to get into, but worth trying out. Took me many listens to really enjoy this stuff. Early albums are pretty "heavy," they peaked around their 6th-7th album, then put out a few poppy albums after that. Lots of vocal harmonies on each album. Titles with ratings for the ones I've heard: Gentle Giant (***), Acquiring the Taste (**), Three Friends (***), Octopus (***), The Power and the Glory (****), Free Hand (****).|
|One of the greatest bands ever. After much searching, I now have all of their albums on CD. Everything album up to and including Interview is superb and they are all utterly recommended. Starting with The Missing Piece, they were in a race for success with Genesis (so the liner notes say). Both went comercial about the same time but, due to their higher profile, Genesis won. After TMP, Giant put out a couple of pretty bad commercial rock albums before ending up recording Civilian in the US and splitting up for good. Civilian is slightly better than Giant for a Day ... not a terrible note to go out on but it's best to stick to pre TMP. Rumours abound about a re-union.|
|The only prog band with no pieces longer than ten minutes! An incredible group, especially on albums and concerts between 1972 and 1976. All albums up to The Missing Piece are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! If you do not like this group after the first few hearings, try some more times as they really grow on you!! The individual musicians are very versatile, playing the very wide range of instruments that makes up Gentle Giant's complex and intriguing music. The keyboard player, Kerry Minnear, is a lot more laid back than Keith Emerson. However, he may be the only one on the Prog Scene that really can be compared to Emerson as instrumentalist - and even surpasses him as composer! -- Bjørn Are Davidsen|
|I am 16 years old in the year 2005 and I have been addicted to Gentle Giant since I was 12 years old. The intricacy of the music is so amazing that I still catch new, interesting things every time I listen. Their music is timeless. My dad would always have progressive music playing when I was young, but I never really got into it until I was about 12. I began really listening then, and I discovered Gentle Giant. I didn't like it the first time I listened because I didn't understand it, but as I got into it, I liked it more and more. The way they have every instrument playing something different, but always just making it work out in the end is astounding. The complexity of their harmonies, time signatures and musicianship makes me believe that their music is some of the best ever made. Their real talent shows live though. Not only do they play near perfect, they can all switch instruments and play just as well. I've only listened to their albums from '70 to '76 (before they "sold out"). I love them all, especially The Power and the Glory, Three Friends, Free Hand, Octopus, Playing the Fool ... hell, I like them all. An amazing band for all the ages. -- Alex Penney|
Click here for the official Gentle Giant web site
Geodesium (77), Double Eclipse (81)
Empty Lie, Empty Dream (85)
Irony Of Fate (91)
Save Knight by the Night (94)
The Pendulum (96)
Pandora's Box (97)
Meridian (98, Re-recorded compilation of songs from previous albums)
Live in Marseille (99, Live)
The Ruins of a Glass Fortress (00)
Sighs of the Water (02)
Gerard - Atsushi Hasegawa (Bass), Toshio Egawa (keyboards) and Masuhiro Goto (drums)
These guys sound like a cross between Rainbow and Marillion, technically more sharp than either of those bands though. Vocals all over with a couple short instrumental tracks on each album. If the Japanese vocals bother you, these guys are definitely not for you. The playing is tight and powerful, and very progressive - especially on the first two. Irony of Fate seems to be by a reformed band and leans more towards metal.
|Empty Lie, Empty Dream is the second release by the Japanese progressive group who turn out a brand of lush, symphonic music that is somewhat characteristic of many of their contemporaries. In this case, however, the somewhat aggressive tone of the lead guitar distinguishes Gerard from other bands, bringing an almost Marillion-like sensibility to the music. The Japanese male vocals are somewhat subdued in relation to the music, and this release should go over well with those who like their progressive rock symphonic and melodic.|
|Here's an example of a band that I can't really make a call on. At first listen I liked it a lot. Serious techno-wizardy. Speed guitars and keys, double-bass drums, pounding bass... But then I came to think of other bands that play in a similar style which I don't enjoy that much anymore. For example, the first comparison that popped into my head was with Marillion. Gerard plays with that early-eighties neo-prog feel, but much more proficiently. However their rhythms are interesting half the time and 4/4 the other. Right now I can't tell what kind of a shelf life it'll have. The vocals are in Japanese, and though not outstanding they are competent. I'd say this band cuts the fine line between progressive and neo-prog and will probably appeal to fans of either genre, in different ways and for different reasons.|
|Gerard are a relatively recent Japanese band who sound has similarities to Marillion and "progressive metal" bands like Dream Theater. I've heard only Irony of Fate. Obviously, with comparisons to Marillion there is a hint of lush symphonic that is typical of many neo-progressive bands. However, these guys have a very strong metal flavor to their music that calls to mind the pyrotechnics of Dream Theater. Gerard aren't quite as proficient as Dream Theater but Gerard is composed of outstanding musicians, nonetheless. I don't subscribe to the "progressive metal" theory of Dream Theater but I could accept Gerard as representing that "subgenre." Instead of a metal band with a few progressive touches (Dream Theater), Gerard are a Progressive band with many metal touches. Lyrics are sung in both Japanese (usually) and English (occasionally). Recommended to the Dream Theater crowd and those who like their Prog with a sharp metal edge.|
To date, I've only heard a few tracks by this well-known Japanese band on
Musea compilations. If my memory doesn't fail me, these guys from the Land
of the Rising Sun (which is so rich in Prog) played much harder on their
previous albums. As I guess, this group had a guitarist then, as well as
a female singer who used their native lyrics. In any case, this CD released
by Musea in the end of 2000, is highly different from anything I've heard
from Gerard before. The band's latest opus The Ruins of a Glass Fortress
is practically a true conceptual album. Both songs here, like two islands in
an instrumental sea, have common ground in idealistic outlook on fragility of
the illusory physical world, and thus of all the Earthly hopes and emotions.
It is difficult to call such lyrics philosophical since, first of all, they're
too short here. Despite the skills and originality of the guest vocalist,
there is a slight accent in his pronounciation which is obvious even to me,
though English is not my native language. However, due to the vocal talents
of the singer, prog-lovers should not be bothered by such minor defects.
Stylistically (only) Gerard are close to the early works of ELP, but I would never name Gerard as a kind of their derivatives. Although the fact that this trio is inspired by ELP and their early works is obvious, you won't find on The Ruins of a Glass Fortress any borrowing themes, episodes, solos, etc, etc at all - either from ELP or from any other bands I know, and I know plenty of them. In terms of style, it is not breaking any new ground, though, anyway, it will be interesting mostly to experienced listeners, and I can see that will be above your typical 'neo-progger'. However, for such people in the latter group, I recommend the best works of IQ (from 1983, 1993, 1997 (2CD) & 2001), Saga's Generation 13 from 1995, as well as most of the Marillion albums (except their really complex, Classic masterpiece Brave from 1994). After such preparations they may begin to understand better works like The Ruins of A Glass Fortress. -- Vitaly Menshikov
Gerard is one of the oldest Japanese progressive rock bands still active. The band is
essentially a vehicle for keyboard player Toshio Egawa, who first rose fame in
Novela, the group whose popularity helped to establish the
basis for the rise of Japanese symphonic prog in the 1980s. In 1984, when
Novela had reached their commercial peak with the live set
From the Mystic World and begun their artistic decline with the second part of
Harmagedon Story, Egawa left and put together Gerard with his school friend
Yukihiro Fujimura (guitar, vocals).
Gerard (King Records KICS 2837) and Empty Lie, Empty Dream (King Records KICS 2838) are the quintessential Gerard albums: still connected to Novela's fusion of melodic hard rock and heavy symphonic sound, but heavier on keyboards and slanted far more towards classically-influenced instrumental work than Novela's vocal-driven, extended pop song structures. Egawa balances Emersonian scattergun synth soloing with lofty symphonic synthesizer arrangements redolent of Yes and Genesis, at best turning simple enough melodies into insanely anthemic, symphonic locomotives that sweep you irresistibly along ("Melting Time" on the first album, "The Acts of the Apostles" on the second), at worst cycling through the tried and tested symphonic vocabulary in a loose compositions that serve mainly as vehicles for striking solos ("Revenge"). Fujimura's guitar is subservient to keyboards but provides raw edge and weight to the arrangements, while his vocals are a competent and restrained, with only a few rock prima donna mannerisms which are just as grating with Japanese vocalists as they are with their Western counterparts (lyrics are in Japanese, with an occasional English interjection, though the pronunciation often renders the distinction irrelevant).
While never getting overly complex, the music balances its symphonic bombast with calmer piano sections, jumpy instrumental breaks and occasionally multi-section development of thematic material, especially on the longer (7-10 minute) tracks like "Wall" (Empty Lie) or the three-part "Orpheus" (Gerard). Gerard's preference for solid 4/4 and bouncy 7/8 in rhythms, embrace of early-1980s synthesizer technology and periodic flirtation with stadium-friendly riffs and vocal hooks (mainly in the singles-only tracks, such as "Love Game" and "Midnight Dreamer", which can be found appended to the CD versions of both albums) tend to suggest British neo-prog that was developing simultaneously, but they don't fit comfortably in this category. Like with the use of pre-Raphaelite paintings for the covers of nearly all their releases, Gerard show the Japanese propensity to eagerly assimilate Western musical influences and then reproduce them in a form that is not only slightly deviant from the original cultural guidelines, but also over the top in a manner that European bands rarely can emulate without lapsing into total pomposity. These two albums are prime examples of that approach and contain most of Gerard's best compositions. Gerard is a bit less consistent, suffering from a muffled and hollow sound and somewhat unassertive rhythm section; Empty Lie, Empty Dream is better in all areas, and perhaps their strongest overall studio work.
Gerard split up temporarily in 1986, and Egawa joined a heavy metal group called Earthshaker, while Fujimura became part of the all-star Vienna. However, 1990 saw them back together with a new rhythm section and Irony of Fate (Spalax 14803) was the fruit of this reunion. The heavy metal influences must have been catching, as the familiar compositional material was served with slightly sharper edges and more in-your-face attitude than had been the case on the first two albums. The up-tempo "Last Night Forever" is essentially 1980's pop metal, distinguished mainly by Egawa's hyper keyboard work and rhythmic convulsions at the middle. On the other hand, predominantly acoustic moments, such as Fujimura's nimble acoustic guitar reverie "Heaven" with its hazy backing harmonies, are more prolific on this album, giving it a different character from earlier efforts. It also makes it more uneven in comparison. In retrospect, this can be seen as epidemic of a widening musical rift between Egawa and Fujimura, which here merely creates tension but would eventually lead to a parting of ways.
In 1992 Egawa participated in the Scheherezade reunion with Terutsugu Hirayama, which resulted in the release of the band's one and only full album. He apparently wasn't as happy to work with Fujimura again, however, as the next Gerard release, 1994's Save Knight by the Night (King Records KICP-431), was credited to "Toshio Egawa's Gerard" and though Fujimura did contribute to the album, it was only vocals this time. There is some guitar on a couple of tracks, but overall this marks the beginning of keyboards-only era in Gerard's history. The album sounds thinner as a result, a gap being left in the band's sonic bulwark. Yet here Egawa produces more low-key and classically melodic numbers than before (or since), such as the introspective "For Piano" and the subduedly fanfaric title track, fragile miniatures of the fortresses of sound he had specialised in. Against such intimacy the pedestrian pop metal residue of "Don't Leave Me Now" sounds all the more jarring. While also an uneven work, Save Knight by the Night remains Gerard's most uncharacteristically pretty and gentle album, and as such is commendable. Times were changing, however, and after this tenderness was out, heavy manners were in.
For all this time Earthshaker had been Egawa's main occupation, but after the band dissolved in 1994, he set about reforming Gerard for good, shaping the band into his own image without any interfering guitar players. With two younger musicians of metal background, drummer Masuhori Goto and bassist Atsushi Hasegawa, he released The Pendulum (Musea FGBG 4195.AR), a collection of new tunes and two remade songs from the first two albums. To further appeal to the more lucrative Western markets, most songs feature vocals by Canadian R&B singer Robin G. Suchy, whose resonant tenor can be still grating, but is probably more acceptable to those listeners who feel that rock is West and Japanese vocals East and never the two shall meet. With heavy layering of roaring Hammond and ever more intense synthesizers, augmented by occasional melodic counterpoint from Hasegawa's grossly overdriven bass, The Pendulum became the heaviest-sounding Gerard release at the time, yet it largely eschews the outright metal influences of Irony of Fate. It does sport several winners in tracks like "Killing Our Mother, Condemning Our Children" and the title track, which successfully balance bayonet-charge instrumental rampage with calmer but more bombastic vocal sections, though one can sense some hesitancy in some of the performance, especially the oddly abridged remake of "Orpheus", which slightly detracts from the intended effect. Yet with The Pendulum Gerard produced their strongest work in a decade and re-established themselves on the progressive map. As with compatriots Ars Nova, this album and its successors would see parallel releases in both France and Japan, with each version usually having one track not included on the other one.
Pandora's Box (Musea FGBG 4221.AR) repeated the formula, only now with all-new material. Live experience had obviously welded the band together into a tighter unit, as the tentative, session musician vibe that plagued parts of The Pendulum is gone and there is some truly intense playing on this album. Unfortunately the material performed isn't up to same standards. The album shows the increasing tendency to just compile dazzling solos and riffs and blast through them with afterburners blazing, hoping that the sheer intensity of the delivery will fuse things together into a working composition. It works on the title-track and on the piercingly beautiful "Siren in a Mysterious Sea", the album's most inspired melodic moment, but most of the other material leaves little lasting impression, beyond the initial "man dig them solos" effect. Suchy appears only on two tracks, the pomp-balladic "Freedom" and the throwaway "Analysis of Life". Here the Japanese version (Trycle Records TCCN-28035) would be slightly superior to the French one, as its exclusive track, "Payment for his Evil Sins", is melodically more compelling than "Delirium" on the Musea version, even if both tend to be filler material.
"Delirium" also appeared on the Japanese-only mini-CD Evidence of True Love that came out the following year. The title song (a re-recording of a song from Save Knight by the Night, with Suchy on vocals), on the other hand, appeared on the French version of Meridian (Musea FGBG 4247.AR), a seven-track compilation of re-recorded songs from all albums except Pandora's Box. The album shows how wonderfully Pandora's Box approach can work with proper material, as Egawa & Co. up the energy levels on several of Gerard's best songs, a formula most successful on an all-instrumental versions of "Melting Time" and "Prelude" (from Irony of Fate), and what I consider the definitive reading of "Orpheus". This version of "The Acts of the Apostles" is timbrally and dynamically poorer than the original, but quite acceptable as a rowdier alternative reading of the piece. Many will probably prefer these more energetic and solo-filled versions to the original renditions, but having both is worthwhile because of the sometimes considerably different approaches to the same material. Meridian is far the strongest of their post-1990 albums, and probably the best introduction to the band (and much easier to obtain outside Japan than the first two albums).
Live in Marseille (Musea FGBG 4268.AR; Made In Japan MJC-1019) fills Gerard's live album gap with live versions of several of their instrumental pieces. The performances are excellent and the set-list unsurprising, except for a high-octane version of Banco's "La Conquista della Posizione Eretta", a studio version of which appears on the tribute albums Keyboard Triangle and Zarathustra's Revenge. Gerard seem to be in their element onstage, where admittedly the nuances tend to wither and the music's essential reliance on pyrotechnics over development comes more apparent. The album also highlights the problems inherent in Gerard's condition at the end of the 20th Century: they have thoroughly formulated their own style and polished it to a great degree, yet offer very little variation on the basic formula, which seems to lead to increasing recycling of ingredients and greater redundancy with each new album.
It seems that their 2000 album Ruins of a Glass Fortress (Musea FGBG 4364.AR) attempts at least partly to address this issue of non-progress. Like Ars Nova on their 2001 release Android Domina, Gerard try to pop out the air brakes for awhile and put more emphasis on slow symphonic movements than on mere technical wizardry. The two-part title track is the best realisation of these intentions, spinning a sumptuous theme on combinations of Hammond and various synthesized orchestral sounds, each reprise interspersed with instrumental jaunts of increasing aggression. Yet most of the tracks make no attempt to break away from familiar mores, and the occasional vocals by Jean-Luc "F. Nazaki" can't quite compete with either Suchy or Fujimura. For those into Gerard's admittedly addictive sound Ruins of a Glass Fortress is a safe bet, but it breaks little new ground. Gerard keep doing what they do best, and you can't really fault them for that. -- Kai Karmanheimo
I've been hearing about Gerard for years, but had never had a chance to hear them, so I
was thrilled when Musea Records sent me a copy
of their latest album, Sighs of the Water for review. Not surprisingly, Gerard
sounds exactly like I might have imagined from the previous reviews ... a power keyboard
trio with some stylistic leanings in the bombastic ELP direction,
though the compositions are only the slightest bit similar to them from a musical standpoint.
Sighs of the Water evidently comes in two versions, one for world-wide release via the Musea Records, which is the version I've heard, and another version evidently targeted at their Japanese fans. The Musea Records release has a different version of the title track, "Sighs of the Water", and also a bonus track, "Aqua Dream Part Two : Spring Tide", which goes with "Aqua Dream Part One: Aqua Dream". It is unknown if the Musea version omits any tracks on the Japanese version.
The tunes are dominated by Toshio Egawa's fast keyboard arpeggios with drums doubling the cadences and are rife with wailing synthesizer solos, some sounding so similar to a guitar solo that you may be fooled into believing it's a guitar for a few measures until suddenly a pitch bend reveals it's a synth. But then the energy level will subside and go into a soft King Crimson "Moonchild" quiet moodiness with a Mellotron being mellow alongside. Most of the album is instrumental, though there are three tunes with well-executed vocals (in quite passable English, at least on the Musea version).
Atsushi Hasegawa's bass and Masuhiro Goto's drumming are very powerful and form a solid backbone for Egawa's flashy keyboards. Actually, the drum and bass lines frequently are reminiscent of Starless and Bible Black-era King Crimson, though the keyboard parts keep it from sounding much like that.
Perhaps this album is a bit on the predictable side for a power keyboard trio, but the "vintage keyboard sound" (although the sound of Hammonds and Mellotrons seem to be simulated by modern Korg instruments if the liner notes are to be believed), compositions and general attitude still makes this an excellent, and easily recommendable album to fans of this kind of prog ... like me! -- Fred Trafton
Gerard was formed in 1983. Unlike most of the other veterans, this Japanese
band still continues developing their compositional and performing skills. Furthermore,
since 1996, Gerard's progress is especially evident, and the band's previous album,
Ruins of a Glass Fortress (2000), was, IMHO, their best album - at least
in the last millennium.
Above all, the new Gerard album Sighs of the Water shows that Toshio Egawa's inspiration to compose the music that would be both intricate and interesting seems to be really inexhaustible. Three out of the seven tracks on the album, "From the Deep", "Keep a Memory Green", and "Cry For the Moon" (tracks 2, 4, & 5), are songs, though there are just a few of the vocal parts on the first two of them. Both of these songs, "From the Deep" and "Keep a Memory Garden", and all the other tracks on the album, all of which are, of course, instrumental pieces, were composed within the framework of a unified stylistics, which is typical for the late creation of Gerard. Certainly, it represents nothing else but a real, intensive and hard-edged, Classic Symphonic Art-Rock. There are many of the different moods, such as tense and dramatic, calm and light, etc, changing each other almost kaleidoscopically on all the tracks on the album, except "Cry For the Moon" (5). The instrumental palette of this song almost completely consists of tense and dramatic colors, while the lead vocals are slightly distorted and are of a sinister rather than dramatic character. Unlike those tracks on the album where the riffs of bass guitar sound like those of electric guitar only episodically, on "Cry For the Moon" they are heavy and aggressive throughout it. The fast and virtuosi synthesizer solo of a certainly Eastern "origin" is a hallmark of one of the six different instrumental parts that are present on this song.
However, especially impressive are here those arrangements where the harsh riffs of fretted bass and the low-tone moves of two synthesizers sound in unison and in fourth (or fifth), while the fast organ solo, along with an incredibly diverse and complex drumming, cross them like the unimaginably complex parabolas. (By the way, I have never heard such musical acrobatics from Japan's another well-know keyboard trio, Ars Nova.) In fact, seemingly atonal interplay between a few of the soloing instruments, as well as the unexpected changes of tone, tempo, and mood that happen almost exclusively with the use of complex time signatures, are quite typical for this album as a whole. The bass guitar sounds very diverse throughout the album, though, of course, modern synthesizers, like those on "Sighs of the Water" (1), are incredibly rich in various sounds, most of which are quite realistic. (By the way, Toshio Egawa uses exclusively "Korg" synthesizers).
Apart from a wide variety of the 'traditional' solos and passages of synthesizers, the solos that are not unlike those of Hammond organ play also one of the prominent roles on this album. However, the musical palette of it as a whole is wonderfully rich in sounds of various instruments. For instance, the guitar-like fluid solo is clearly heard on "From the Deep" (2). The diverse, masterful, and very realistic (what is central, though) solos and passages of synthetic violin sound on the album's title track and "Cry For the Moon" (1 & 5), though the latter song is also marked with the excellent flute-like solo. The electric piano passages that sound not unlike those of an acoustic piano are present on "Keep a Memory Green" and "Aqua Dream" (4 & 6). The magic sounds of Church Organ and clavier are parts of the arrangements on the same "Keep a Memory Garden", though the parts of synth-clavier are featured also on "Sighs of the Water". Finally, a virtual string ensemble that plays throughout "Aqua Dream" is simply amazing. Apart from the aforementioned "Cry For the Moon", "Pain In the Bubble" (3) is another composition that is also rich in the heavy guitar-like riffs of bass.
The Classic Symphonic Art-Rock that the band presented on both of their latest albums, both of which are real masterpieces of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock, is distinctly original. The early creation of ELP is only the object of inspiration for the only mastermind behind Gerard, the keyboard player Toshio Egawa. None of his solos and passages will remind you of those by Keith Emerson, while technically, Toshio is on par with that legendary maestro. Masuhiro Goto also uses his own method of drumming, which is notably different from that of Carl Palmer. As for Atsushi Hasegawa, it would be especially pointless to compare his harsh and, often, distorted bass solos with those by Greg Lake. At least presently, Gerard just cannot be compared to ELP and any of the other bands as well. Nevertheless, in spite of everything, one can compare Gerard to ELP anyway; simply because they are a keyboard trio as well. Today however, this band, IMHO, is the best keyboard trio on the Symphonic Prog scene, so the connoisseurs of the genre, including those of ELP, should get "Sighs of the Water" at any cost. -- Vitaly Menshikov
[See Novela |
Click here for Gerard's web site
(hope you can read Kanji!)
German Oak (72), Nibelungenleid (unreleased second LP now on CD)
A fine example of the early German underground scene. Long drawn out guitar excursions (along with some organ work) that aren't as acid-drenched as Ash Ra Tempel, for example, but are still capable of exploring the inner recesses of your mind. Their self-titled first uses the Third Reich as a theme, so there is some very brief German "war talk" between one or two songs, but it doesn't really hamper the music. Recommended to fans of the German underground and long guitar solo explorations.
German Oak is also called Bunker because it was supposedly recorded in an abandoned WWII bunker.
Sinister Morning (70)
Backed by High Tide.
[See High Tide]
The Mirror Pool (95)
Duality (98, w/ Pieter Bourke)
Several movie soundtrack albums
Spiritchaser was not intended [to be Dead Can Dance's] final album, but sessions in 1998 ended rather suddenly after Lisa Gerrard quit [DCD] following a fight with her backing musicians. [At] this time she has released two albums on her own, The Mirror Pool (1995) and Duality (1998, with Pieter Bourke). Both of these cover ground that DCD never did, but the connection is unmistakable. It's too early to tell at this point, but so far Gerrard and Bourke seem to be a more than adequate substitute for DCD itself. Recently though their output has been largely film soundtracks ("The Insider", "Gladiator", "Ali") which don't quite match the quality of the studio albums. -- Markus Derrer
[See Dead Can Dance]
Click here for Dead can Dance's web
site, with info on Lisa Gerrard's solo albums as well
Gomorrha vs. Khan (99)
One reason why I'm not too enamoured with the post-1990 zeuhl scene is that so much of
it has been modelled after the crunching merry-go-round of "De Futura", an interesting
but not my favourite item in Magma's rich musical heritage.
Gomorrha vs. Khan (Musea FGBG 4316.AR) serves more of the ilk on tracks like the
segued twin terrors "Gomorrha" and "Alien" where that other bane of latter-day zeuhl, the
heavy electric guitar, joins the typically heavy drums and bass in their accelerating
riffarama. But wait, there's more to Gestalt's constitution than brutal heaviness: the
roiling synthesizer, like a swarm of electric bees in a steel tube, that carries the
melody of "Gomorrha" and the manic, Arabic-modal synthesizer/saxophone duel of "Alien"
offer compelling contrast to the thrash metal mayhem playing underneath. "Alien" also
sports a swaying vocal line almost straight out of "Astronomy Domine", and the band clearly
hark back to the interstellar drift and overdrive of early
Floyd at places. "Cyberstates" coats its riffs with almost
symphonic-style synthesizer and guitar textures, and "Black Hole" orbits a constellation
of shifting instrumental motifs around the hypnotic pulse of drums, bass and ringing guitar
arpeggios, before collapsing into another space-warping riff.
In fact, this is only half of the album, the more aggressive "Gomorrha" side. On the "Khan" side, the band flaunt their Middle-Eastern and Indian modalities more openly in droning psychedelic mantras that waft with weird chanting and ticking rhythms, and only occasional explode into a metal frenzy. The band's multi-lingual vocal exercises can range from the melodious chanting of "Celtic Song" to the kind of manic and amusing ensemble braying in pidgin English that suggests either Ruins or a very bad frat party. Both repetitive and surprising, soothing and screaming, Gomorrha vs. Khan is a singular combination of styles that can grow on you, but may just as well remain repulsive. Fans of early Happy Family and other manic, metallic sons of zeuhl it will most likely suck into its thrall like a black hole. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Click here for
Gestalt's web site
Second Time Around (92)
Temple Stone (94)
Lama Rabi Rabi (96)
Snuff Box Immanence (99)
Tune In, Turn On, Free Tibet (99)
Hypnotic Underworld (04)
Acoustic psych w/ guitar, flute, oboe, violin, ethereal percussion, doses of feedback.
Click here for Ghost's web
site (mostly in Japanese)
When You're Dead - One Second (70)
The Ghost - Paul Eastment (vocal, guitar), Terry Guy (keyboards, vocal), Charlie
Grima (drums), Shirley Kent (vocals, guitar), Daniel MacGuire (bass guitar, vocal)
Not to be confused with the current Japanese psych band, The Ghost existed in the late '60s. They released on album that I am aware of, called When You're Dead--One Second. The album's sound of folk and psychedelia is typified by male and female vocal harmonies (folk) over guitar and Farfisa organ (psych). The sound is generally pretty dated (thanks to the Farfisa) but some of the guitar work (such as on "Too Late to Cry") is excellent. Essential to no one, but fans of the late '60s psychedelic scene will want to have this. The original LP pressing is apparently pretty rare.
|The Ghost was formed by singer/guitarist Paul Eastment (formerly of Velvett Fogg). Originally called Holy Ghost, they soon changed the name to avoid negative publicity. Local singer/songwriter Shirley Kent later joined the group. They recorded a single and one album, released in early 1970 on the Gemini Records label. It was in the progressive music category although there was also a strong folk influence that was probably due to Kent's involvement. -- Fred Trafton (paraphrased from a web site about Birmingham bands, see link below)|
[See Velvett Fogg]
Click here for a web page with info on The Ghost