A Fury of Glass (83)
Said to be very evocative of the Swiss band Circus.
Fiesta Campestre (Rockmeria) (81)
Buenos Tiempos (89)
Rural Tour (92, Live)
No Todo Es Seda (95)
|All instrumental Celtic folk-prog group. Labanda is straight-ahead Celtic folk and very well done. Fiesta Campestre is the one I recommend. Excellent mix of Celtic folk and prog including Camel-inspired guitar. All the musicians (seven of them) are world class. They play (apart from the usual instruments) bagpipes, violin , recorder, mandolin, etc. Rural Tour is a live album. -- Juan Joy|
|Celtic-type folk-rock from Spain. Much like a folkier, instrumental version of Horslips, incorporating lots of fiddle, gaita (Spanish bagpipe) and pennywhistle. Recommended listening: Fiesta Campestre. -- Mike Ohman|
Live: On the Blue Light Pilot (82), No. 8 (84)
Polish instrumental progressive jazz-rock band, some albums are more jazz oriented, others lean to a fusion type sound with more variety of styles. The Blue Light Pilot is a live one, one of their very best.
The Laboratorium I know of is a Polish fusion band from the '70s whose charcteristic is/was an instrumental singer; that is he doesn't sing any words but plays with his voice. Despite the original approach there is something missing, as often is the case with jazz-rock and me.
First Demo (98)
Second Demo (99)
Third Demo (Let Illusion Be Your Guide) (99)
Fourth Demo (99)
Fifth Demo (00)
Sixth Demo (01)
Seventh Demo (01)
Aeternus Caligatio (03)
Lack of Faith - Ronny Hemlin (Vocals), Micke Hallberg (Bass), West (Guitar,
Keyboards), Ronnie Lundqvist (Drums and Keyboards)
Original entry 4/8/02:
Click here for Lack of
Faith's web site - "temporarily" down as of 7/10/07
Click here for some links to samples of their music from Heavy Metal Universe
Click here to order Aeternus Caligatio from Rivel Records
Joy of the Wrecked Ship (94)
|Lacrymosa was mainly the project of bassist Chihiro S., who founded this band in the early eighties. Bugbear contains recordings from 1983-85, whereas Joy of the Wrecked Ship was recorded in 1993. This is progressive chamber rock, with a lot of instruments (12-16 players on both discs) with some traditional Japanese elements, a very strange mix with a dominant bass by Chihiro. Hard to describe but quite unique! -- Achim Breiling|
|Links||[See Golden Avant-Garde]|
No Pictures (78)
Rare private-label prog, compared to Camel.
White Bird (77), Inside Out (78)
Former Violinist/Vocalist for It's a Beautiful Day. These are of little interest except for Laflamme's excellent violin playing.
[See It's A Beautiful Day]
Lagger Blues Machine (72), Tanit Live (82), The Complete Works (94)
The Complete Works is Mellow Records CD reissue of Lagger Blues Machine and Tanit Live.
|Erotic Antiques (89)|
LaHost were an English band who were around in the mid-80's, but haven't
been active in about the last 10 years or so. When Stephen Bennett
(keyboardist) requested that I add LaHost to the GEPR, he described them
as "Progressive Pop". I shuddered, trying to think up excuses for why I
couldn't add the band. "My computer is down, I can't receive your e-mail,
sorry about that chum, catch ya later." With great apprehension, I downloaded
the RealAudio samples from their web site.
Well, OK, they do have an undeniably poppy sound to many of their songs. Many of them are in a verse/chorus/repeat format, but even those have some tasty guitar and keyboard licks in them. Think Asia or Foreigner. However, there are a couple of live cuts that are just plain real good, not poppy at all to my ears.
My favorites are "The Drowning Pool", a [7:39] piece which starts off sounding like "For Absent Friends" from Nursery Cryme, then shifts into high gear with an ELP-like power organ section. This is good stuff! Then there's "In the Cold Heat", a Space/Psych piece full of spacey synth effects and ominous-sounding spoken voice. It sounds a lot like older Hawkwind, but the synth soloing is better. Both of these tunes are live recordings.
Erotic Antiques is a compilation of studio and live recordings of the band. They are currently working on a new CD, slated to appear around the beginning of 2001. A tentative working title is I Can't Believe It's Not Prog. Hmmm. I can't believe that's very encouraging. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for LaHost's web site|
Lake (77), Paradise Island (78), Ouch! (80), Live (82), No Time For Heroes (84)
An excellent, but little known, German band who created both short songs with great hooks ("Crystal Eyes") and long, introspective pieces ("Between the Lines"). Fans of Yes and Genesis will love this band.
It's odd how the rumour mill works sometimes. Because this German band (with a Scottish lead singer and a Londoner on keyboards) recorded a ten-minute track, "Between The Lines," on their first album, people immediately assumed they were a prog band. Never mind the content, look how LONG it is! It MUST be progressive! If track length were the yardstick, I guess the Allman Brothers must be progressive because "Whipping Post" was so long. Lake seem to be emulating the West Coast studio pop sound (Eagles, Firefall, Pablo Cruise) more than anything that was going on in Germany at the time. Actually, taken for what it is it's okay, though the lyrics can be quite trite, and the hooks a little too obvious. "Between the Lines" is considered a rock classic in some (not necessarily progressive) circles; it sounds mostly like Steely Dan indulging in some extensive jamming and is indeed the best song on the album. Lake II, the follow-up, featured another long track, the seven-minute "Scooby Doobies." It was recorded in Colorado's Caribou Studios, produced by Chicago associate James William Guercio and featuring a guest spot by Beach Boy Carl Wilson! Paradise Island seems to be their crowning effort, melodies which are catchy yet subtle, colourful use of instrumentation (acoustic guitars on "Crystal Eyes," multiple electric guitars and tubular bells on "Paradise Way," etc.), and good musicianship. Thanks to some symphonic Oberheim synthesizer fanfares, the contemplative "Final Curtain" is the closest they've yet come to progressive music. 1980's Ouch!, also produced by Guercio, was the band's last album issued in the U.S. They followed it in Germany with a live album. If you've already followed them this far, I wouldn't suggest going any further. No Time For Heroes, recorded several years and many line-up shifts down the road, is pretty pathetic. The sound is basically faceless 80s pop, on the level of bad Toto at its best. And as for their forays into rap ("Scotsman") and disco ("Lady Divine"), just forget it!
Lead guitarist/vocalist with the Strawbs during their most progressive period. His solo album Framed offers no evidence of his tenure with them. Just some plain old AOR rock. Forget it.
[See Fire | Strawbs]
Saxophonist Lancaster was a member of Blodwyn Pig. Their album Marscape was effectively the first recording by what would later become Brand X. Features Phil Collins, Percy Jones, John Goodsall, Morris Pert.
|Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley released a sole album (that I know of, anyway) called Marscape. Released just before Brand X's debut, Unorthodox Behavior, Marscape contains the core members of Brand X (Goodsall, Jones, Collins, Pert and Lumley) and Lancaster. As you would expect, the sound on this release is very much in the vein of Brand X except much jazzier thanks to Lancaster's sax and writing influences. However, there is excellent balance between all instruments and we are treated to excellent displays of dazzling musicianship from all members. As appropriate for the title, the music is also very spacious and celestial. Of course, this is recommended to all Brand X fans but fans of middle-period Soft Machine should also go for this. Good stuff.|
|Links||[See Aviator | Blodwyn Pig | Brand X | Genesis | Jones, Percy | Sun Trader | Tunnels]|
Unikorn on the Cob (01)
Regaining the Feel (04)
Your Finest Hour (06, scheduled release)
Land of Chocolate (Regaining the Feel line-up)- Gerald Wilson (bass, vocals),
Jonn Buzby (keyboards, lead vocals), Wes Hare (drums, vocals) and John Covach (guitars,
Land of Chocolate is Jonn Buzby's next effort after the dissolution of Finneus Gauge, where he played drums with his brother, keyboardist Christopher Buzby (Echolyn). For Land of Chocolate, however, Jonn takes on the role of keyboardist, lyricist and band leader. He is the only common denominator between two distinctly different line-ups of the band from the first to the second albums. The line-up for Unikorn on the Cob also included John Jens (bass, Stick), Brian O'Neill (guitars) and Jordan Perlson (drums). For Regaining the Feel, Jonn is joined by John Covach (guitars and also sometime columnist for Progression Magazine), Wes Hare (drums) and Gerald Wilson (bass). The line-up seems to have solidified for the time being, and the same group is currently at work on a third album.
Land of Chocolate's first album, Unikorn on the Cob, in many ways, can be described as an extremely complex new wave derivative. Or not. But the aggressive drumming and bass lines frequently sound punkish and some of the synth sequences are positively new wave. But that description misleads as much as it informs. Unikorn on the Cob is extremely progressive, and owes at least as much to Echolyn due to the vocal harmonies (Echolyn's Brett Kull co-produced the album and plays lap steel guitar on "Broken Record"), Canterbury for the guitars, Gentle Giant for the instrumental counterpoint and Bonzo Dog Band for the Pythonish lyrics and whacked-out craziness as it does to punk/wave. Nobody from those '80's punk/wave bands would have the slightest interest in this level of complexity or intellectual content. There's a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek immaturity to give a chuckle, like a voice that breaks in at the end of the frantic organ freak-out at the end of the title cut to state, "I don't wanna sound like a queer or nuthin', but I think unicorns are kick-ass". This is a great album, and is an easy recommendation.
The second album, Regaining the Feel is as different as the line-up. Not much is left here of the punk/wave rhythmic feel of the first album. Instead, we get even more Canterbury, Echolyn-like vocal harmonies and strangely beautiful chords that remind me of Underground Railroad. The band is very tight and precise (as was the original line-up) even when they are improvising, and there's a lot more of a jazz feel to this album than Unikorn. But words don't really do it justice. Land of Chocolate is a must-hear prog band. Start with Regaining the Feel first, and if you like it, try Unikorn on the Cob, which has its own charms. -- Fred Trafton
News 3/9/06: A new Land of Chocolate album is in the works. Entitled Your Finest Hour, it is scheduled for release in "late spring" of 2006.
Land of Chocolate's 2004 full-length packs a powerful compositional punch. The music exists,
in large part, somewhere between the percussive whiplash precision of Freehand era
Gentle Giant and the smart prog-rock of early 1980s
Rush, both groups' trademark tightness being fully in evidence
in every track on offer. While these are the closest points of reference, LoC's sonic
pallet also embraces jazz and funk, the title track ripping and jerking with street-wise spasmodic
venom in support of John Buzby's grungily indignant vocals. Buzby's lush metamorphic
keyboard textures are complemented beautifully throughout the disc by John Covach's jazzily
protean guitarwork and the flexible but in-the-pocket grooves laid down by drummer Wes Hare
and bassist Gerald Wilson. The ten tracks offer moment to moment stylistic diversity,
ranging from the hard-edged crunchy dissonances of Fireballet
at their most classical to beautifully reflective snapshots of prog balladry, such as sections of the
disc's moving closer, "Ungrateful". Backing vocals are well-executed and tasteful throughout, as
is every note set down by these talented musicians.
As is the case with so much music, however, Regaining the Feel's greatest strength is also a major failing. Every 5-6 minute track is crammed so full of compositional vigor, sporting so many chord changes and such subtle group interplay, that I was left breathless by the end, wishing for some expansion and simplification. Too often, ideas are stated only to be abandoned without anything close to proper development. A case in point is the seriously funky title track, definitely one of the disc's boldest constructions, where a two-chord vamp that simply screams for solos is subjected to yet more compositional overlay. A wonderfully contrapuntal instrumental break on "The Pursuit of Happiness" could have been extended for another five minutes, giving the track room to breathe, grow and change. Instead, it is truncated long before it has really had a chance to bloom properly, and the sudden silence and ensuing razor-sharp transition would have been much more effective if preceded by a longer development.
This being said, the songcraft and virtuosity on this disc are top shelf, and my grumbles about compositional / improvisational aesthetics should not prevent enjoyment of a group that has found a uniquely identifiable voice; in a time of Mellotron resurrection and retro-prog revival, this is no mean feat. -- Marc Medwin
|Links||Click here for John Covach's web site, containing info on Land of Chocolate|
Termination Point (85), Coming Forth in the Light (87)
Rather grating English electronic duo.
Synth space rock.
Riktig Äkta (92)
Lonely Land (92, English language CD version of Riktig Äkta)
One Man Tells Another (94)
Unaffected (95, Live)
Indian Summer (96)
This is a Swedish band that sounds firmly planted in the 70's, with lush symphonic arrangements, Mellotrons, and an overall feel that may remind of the Italian scene or Van Der Graaf. Really good, but requires a few listens. Two versions exist, one has Swedish lyrics and is available only on vinyl. The CD version has English lyrics and a couple tracks of bonus material.
|Lonely Land was released by The Laser's Edge, one of the two premier prog rock labels in the US (Syn-phonic is the other), and is the debut recording by a Swedish band who recreate the sound of the seventies, complete with the ubiquitous Mellotron. However, the guitarist is significantly featured, and, with his electric lead style, helps modernize the sound. The combination of quiet, melodic keyboard passages and aggressive solo breaks lends a variety to the music that recalls some of the classic Italian prog rock groups of the seventies.|
Imagine a Winter night of bitter cold, the wind howling and screaming
across the frost-bitten land. Inside a tavern, dozens of lit candles on
tables and counters provide ambient illumination. The sweet scent of
Cannabis wafts serenely through the air. A small audience of quiet and
appreciate folk sit mesmerized, entranced by the aura of a dark, quiet
music. Creating this atmosphere is Landberk. The first thing that caught
my attention about Lonely Land was that it very successfully
captured the feel of 1970s Scandanavian Prog in 1992. Usually, I
attributed part of the "unpolished" feel of early Scandanavian Prog
(Wigwam, Supersister, etc.) to the recording process. This album,
however, is recorded very well yet it still exudes an aura of 1974. The
music is instrumentally dark and darkly powerful. There is a sublime
intensity to the music that really grabs me. English vocals (on the CD
version) are sung against washes of haunting Mellotron on most songs.
Some songs, such as "Waltz of the Dark Riddle" intertwine Mellotron, piano
and subdued guitar. Some songs features accordion (e.g., "The Tree") but
Mellotron and guitar rule the day. Rather than a burning flame of
aggression, Landberk's music has a smoldering intensity underpinning all
the songs that occasionally bursts forth in brilliance, as in "Pray for Me
Now" and the cover of T2's "No More White Horses." It's hard for me to
believe this was recorded in 1992. The LP version, Riktig
Äkta, has Swedish vocals, lacks the cover song, and a different
mix (no sitar) on the title track. I have the CD and strongly recommend
it to fans of the Scandanavian scene. Not everyone will agree. I think
I'm one of a core group of people in the US who really like this album. I
mean, *REALLY* likes this album. Maybe it helps to have a good
With One Man Tells Another, the wind has grown colder and more bitter, the music darker and more painful. Real pain comes across in Patric Helje's vocals -- with a voice not unlike U2's Bono -- whether it is the introspective "Mirror Man," the letting go of "Rememberance" or the loneliness of "Valentinsong." There are several references to ice, cold or winter, such as the opening line of "Kontiki," which reads "Pain fills my soul, I am turning cold." This line sets the dark and somber tone of the lyrics throughout the album. Nowhere has the Mellotron sounded so melancholy, its mournful tone sometimes felt more than heard, other times wailing forth in morose agony. The bleak cold of the lyrics is offset by the warmth of Reine Fiske's electric guitar, which tone I simply adored. Whether it was the chunky chords of "Mirror Man" or the rounded, bluesy tone heard in most songs, Fiske's tone was gloriously analog; you could practically hear the springs in the reverb and the amp tube that was close to blowing, as his solos swirled back and forth between the speakers. Fiske's guitar is dominant throughout, while Simon Nordberg spent most of his time on Mellotron and organ, and, occasionally, piano. Stefan Dimle's bass was solid underneath without calling attention to itself, and Jonas Lidholm's relaxed (but hardly slack) drumming helped keep the music easy-going, despite the darkness of it all. Of those who heard Lonely Land, if you did not like it, One Man Tells Another will probably not change your mind. If, like me, you liked their debut, then you'll probably like this album equally as much, maybe even more. Like Lonely Land, this is an album that touches on a personal level. I can't wholesale recommend it to just anyone because not everyone will get into the painful lyrics or dark, but not complex, music. But once again, Landberk has put together an album works wonderfully for me. If you did get into their debut release, then you will, in all probability, get into this release as well. -- Mike Taylor
|Just got Lanberk's new One Man Tells Another. It's good. Rather different from their debut though. They no longer sound convincingly "70s. The lyrics on "Remembrance" seem to be either pretty bad or have lost something in the translation! Overall, it's much more modern sounding ... the guitars keep this from getting in the way though as they are still firmly in the '70s They still have the magic and when the Mellotron starts, it's great although it could have been mixed up a bit. "Kontiki" has a really heavy riff ... a bit of a suprise! "Valentinsong" is superb and quite beautiful. Well worth the money ... buy it.|
|Riktigt akta is their outstanding best album IMO. Sadly it is sold out, what a shame! The English lyrics on Lonely Land was written three days before they went into studio, so they have not the same depth and feelings as the Swedish lyrics have. The differences between Riktigt akta and Lonely Land are very huge. Riktigt akta is an absolute brilliant album, Lonely Land is just a not so good remix with not so good lyrics. The guitarist Reine Fiske is an excellent musician. His way of playing guitar can be so despaired, tortured and full of grief. He is actually the only guitarist I have heard that are able to make me cry. -- Gunnar Creutz|
|Lonely Land was the first release from these five young Swedish musicians on vocals (in English), keyboards, guitar, bass and drums. The style is straight out from the '70s with a natural (live) sound that relies on gloomy atmospheres rather than technique and production. The arrangements are simple and the use of keyboards is limited to organ, Mellotron and piano. The tracks usually include obscure introspective texts and are developed in acoustic as well as electric contexts. This quality production is rather simple, in a style that certainly evokes the early '70s. -- Paul Charbonneau|
[See Paatos |
Solitary Witness (92)
Infinity Parade (93)
The Vision Pit (95)
The Science of Coincidence (98)
Thunderstruck (99, Live)
Turbulence (06, DVD)
Landmarq - Steve Leigh (keyboards), Dave Wagstaffe (drums), Tracy Hitchings (vocals),
Steve Gee (bass) and Uwe D'Rose (guitar). Note how everyone is trying really hard
to look nonchalant about Tracy unbuttoning her sweater for no evident reason.
UK neo-progressives, featuring a bunch of veterans of the 80's movement. It's generally a cut above most of the other crap on the SI label, these guys are capable of eschewing the poppy sound of bands like Jadis, IQ, Pendragon and so on, but do end up falling back on the commercial stuff occasionally.
|Infinity Parade, in my opinion, has only two good tracks out of seven, "Ta' Jiang" and "Solitary Witness" (which was the name of their first CD). The lead singer on this CD is Damian Wilson, who is/was the lead singer with Threshold. -- Steve Puccinelli|
"Cutting Room", the opening track of The Vision Pit (Synergy Records SYN001), tells
a lot about what is good and what is not about the whole album. Firmly in the song-based
format of British neo-progressive rock, the song initially leaps forward with a punchy riff
and the voice Damian Wilson, which has Jon Anderson-like
range with more body and less shrillness. Problems arise when the promising verses resolve
into non-descript choruses. Unfortunately they are there to stay. "Pinewood Avenue" starts
employing the conventional neo-progressive paraphernalia to cover the lack of melodic
inspiration, but the playing lacks fire and the sound lustre. It doesn't really get better:
the band try hard to do something different, but can't make it sound convincing; when that
fails, they go for the familiar devices with mixed results at best. "Infinity Parade" summons
up the one good, anthemic synth/guitar riff on the album, but then proceeds to batter it to
death. Wilson's voice is assertive throughout, but the melodies he sings are not up to
scratch, neither good for progressive sophistication nor for pop infectiousness. The longest
track, "Narovlya" (an eyewitness account on the Chernobyl disaster and its repercussions on
the local populace), is the only consistently successful one, and it cannot save the whole
album. The Vision Pit fails both its progressive and pop briefs.
Science of Coincidence (Synergy Records SYN002) is a more convincing work, as far as arrangements, writing and performances go at least. Wilson has been replaced by Tracy Hitchings, which, if you belong to the Hit-The-Road-Hitchings Brigade, will be enough to disqualify this disc from your shopping list. I personally have no problems with her, especially as she has become more versatile with her voice over the years. Whether it's because of her or not, Science of Coincidence is more conservative than its predecessor in bowing more readily to neo-progressive mores, where the band seem better able to make their mark. It gets to a rather precarious start, though, with the title track which is another generic rewrite of that (apparent) neo-prog favourite, "Incommunicado", and the needlessly extended "The Vision Pit", which has the band, guitarist Uwe D'Rose foremost, shamelessly cannibalising the ever-popular "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" for musical spare parts and then nearly choking the song and the several good ideas invested in it by not knowing when to stop. But stick with it and things do improve with the chirpily bouncy but compelling "More Flames for the Dancer", the primarily instrumental workout "Overlook" and "Lighthouse", a much more successful take on a mini-epic. The album highlight, however, is the balladic "Between Sleeping and Dreaming", a song that combines melodic beauty and tastefully decorative, yet dynamic keyboard arrangements with skill that is all too rare in contemporary neo-prog. With some of the original ideas shown by the band, especially by keyboardist Steve Leigh, it's all the more frustrating to see them falling back on stock riffs, fail-safe solutions and desperate stabs at outdated radio hit formulas ("Summer Madness"). Some good melodies and playing, but plagued by the shadow of banality. Pop allergics should still not come near without their emergency avant-inhalers at hand. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Hitchings, Tracy | Quasar | Strangers On A Train | Threshold]|
Love is an Illusion (95)
Garden of the Moon (98)
Curious Goods (96)
Echoes from the Garden (98, 33-min CD EP)
Live in Japan (98)
Love is an Illusion 1998 Version (98, remix w/ 3 bonus tracks)
Ballad Collection (98)
Queen of the Ocean (99)
Echoes from the Ocean (99, 33-min CD EP) The Best of Lana Lane 1995-1999 (99)
Secrets of Astrology (00)
Ballad Collection II (00)
European Tour 2001 (01, Live w/ Erik Norlander)
Project Shangri-La (02)
Covers Collection (02)
European Tour 2003 (03, Live w/ Erik Norlander)
Winter Sessions (03)
Return to Japan (04)
Lady Macbeth (05)
Lana Lane 2005
Lana Lane performs on Erik Norlander's Think Tank Media independent label. I've only heard the [16:04] "Astrology Suite" from Secrets of Astrology and "Under the Olive Tree" from Garden of the Moon, both on the Think Tank Media Volume 2 CD which came with Progression Magazine #35, plus "Queen of the Ocean" from the CD of the same title. On all of these, she is the vocalist with husband Norlander on keyboards and other members of Rocket Scientists as backing musicians. Her vocals are crisp and bell-like, almost operatic, and extremely powerful. Some have compared her voice to Heart's Ann Wilson.
"Under the Olive Tree" begins with a classical-sounding synth violin solo from Norlander, then turns into a power ballad with acoustic and electric guitars strumming and picking arpeggios under Lana's multitracked vocals, with a few synth soloing breaks. Except for the symphonic progressive production, this could be a song suitable for FM radio airplay.
"Queen of the Ocean" is another power ballad, pure and simple. Well, not that simple. Norlander's keyboards and the other Rocket Scientists provide a symphonic wall of sound over which Lana belts out her vocals. But the structure is a very simple song structure, with little in the way of vocal or instrumental soloing. Notice I haven't said "progressive" yet. I did that on purpose. Like "Olive Tree", this song could have been a hit in the '80's or early '90's before alternative and rap took over the air waves.
On "Astrology Suite", the music is one step heavier than on "Olive Tree" or "Queen", due in no small part to the guitar work of guest artist Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon. But it still hasn't quite crossed totally over into progmetal, Norlander's keyboards are up a bit too much. This isn't the most complex arrangement I've ever heard, but the music is very enguaging and catchy in a "rock anthem" sort of way, with lots of good keys and guitar, and of course Lana's voice. Interestingly enough for a vocalist's album, this suite is mostly instrumental with only a few sections featuring Lana's voice.
Based on this admittedly small sampling, my impression is that Lana Lane's music has more in common with Heart or Pat Benatar than with most progressive bands you might name, except for Norlander's symphonic production. It's OK music, but it's neo-prog at its most complex, with some progmetal thrown in to increase its popularity with people who prefer their music with a harder edge. I would almost call this "easy listening" prog, progressive but not at all challenging to listen to.
It's no surprise that Lana was the first artist on the Think Tank Media label to become popular enough for Lana and Erik to "quit their day jobs" and become full-time musicians. This music is mainstream enough to attract a wider audience than most complex or "challenging" progressive CD's would allow. So is it a sellout? It walks the edge, perhaps, and Norlander would be the first to admit they are tailoring the music to reach wider audiences. But as long as they are doing music they want to do, I wouldn't call it selling out. But I may not really consider it to be that progressive any more either.
Lana is also a guest artist (along with Erik again) on Ayreon's The Dream Sequencer and Flight of the Migrator, on which she turns in memorable performances. To my ears, her vocals on these CD's are more complex and interesting than on her own. She also does guest vocals with Rocket Scientists and (of course) Erik Norlander solo CD's. -- Fred Trafton
A comment by Erik Norlander, 10/6/05:
I would like to comment on the Lana Lane review. There is the notion that I somehow produced Lana's music in a more commercial / less prog style to reach a wider audience, and that is not the case. It is indeed true that Lana's music is more commercial and less prog than my own albums, Rocket Scientists or certainly any all out prog band. And Lana has sold a lot of CDs -- in fact, we just celebrated 10 years of Lana Lane albums with a 10th Anniversary Tour and are about to release a 10th Anniversary Concert DVD filmed at our last show in Tokyo this June. But it is important to note that Lana Lane indeed never set out to be a progressive artist. The prog element comes simply from my involvement in the project, my playing, my production. Lana has a more melodic rock / hard rock background, and I have the prog background. It is the meeting of those two styles that creates the sound of Lana Lane, and not some calculated "prog but just commercial enough ..." idea. I wish I was that clever! ;-P We just do what we love, and that's what comes out. -- Erik Norlander
|Links||[See Ayreon | Norlander, Erik | Rocket Scientisits]|
Norwegian synthesizer duo, with guest musicians on guitars, woodwinds, etc. Their music is rock propelled with influences from Norwegian folk and classical music, the synth work sometimes taking on the Michael Garrison wall-of-sound feel, with the finesse of early Vangelis.
Langsyne were a German progressive folk band in the vein of Magna Carta in their Lord of the Ages period. Lyrically it can get weak at points, due to the lyricist/vocalist's strained use of the English language, but it's still bearable. The instrumentation is interesting in that they don't have a drummer - there is no percussion aside from a single drum in some songs and the glockenspiel. Heavy use of the guitar, both 6 and 12 string, and things like sitars and recorders thrown into the mix, as well as a heavy organ presence (and for some reason, whenever I hear the organ on this album, I can't help but remember Tangerine Dream's first two records, even though the music is nothing like them). I have a copy from a CD on Lost Pipe Dreams records, but I don't know whether it was a reissue of an LP, or another one of those lost, unreleased 70s prog gems. What I do know is that the disc is limited to something ridiculous like 500 copies. Overall, recommended listening. Neat cover artwork too.
Natural States (85)
Desert Vision (87)
Bridge of Dreams (93)
|David Lanz is a new age pianist, Paul Speer is a jazz guitarist. The two albums Natural States and Desert Vision mark a half way point between new-age and progressive, musically evocative with long spacy passages, occasional fiery guitar passages, and excellent interplay between these two guys and the various guest musicians. Both are good, but different from one another. Start with DV.|
[See Rockenfield/Speer |
Click here for Paul Speer's web site.
Gilbert Artman's Lard Free (73), I'm Around About Midnight (74), Lard Free (77)
French Avant-Garde, with Gilbert Artman, who also did much session work, including Clearlight, Delired Chameleon Family, etc.
This Band was mainly a project by Gilbert Artman (synths and keybords), but there is also a strong guitar and drums here. The music could best be compared to Heldon. The first one has shorter pieces and is more experimental jazzrock, whereas on the second (apeared on the French Cobra label) you find long organ/synths/guitar jams (tree pieces). Very nice, defenitely recommended for those interested in frensh prog and fans of Heldon! -- Achim Breiling
[See Delired Cameleon Family | Urban Sax]
Vita Sul Pianeta (73)
Mysterious band somewhere between a vangard and hard rock sound.
Meet Us Where We Are Today (99)
Last Laugh - (not in photo order): Stene (bass, lead vocal), Wallin (guitars,
vocals), Östnytt (nightvision goggles, saz) and T-Mox (drums, percussion).
But most often, I'm reminded of Red-era King Crimson ... schizophrenic high-energy guitar, bass and drums ready to give you the shivers. The guitar work is a combination of Fripp and John Petrucci, but Stene's vocals (actually Marcus Pehrsson, also bassist in the radically different band DarXtar) are not prog-metal-like at all (i.e. no screaming or heavy vibrato), but smoother, perhaps slightly reminiscent of John Wetton's. This isn't high notes-per-second or really strange, but very well-executed and subtle prog masquerading as something which might be able to get some air play. Really well done stuff, and highly recommended. They've been saying for awhile now that they're working on a follow-up album, but thus far it appears to be unreleased.
Circle Logic (92)
Seduction Overdose (96)
|Last Turion are a German band whose release adds another notch into the neo-progressive scene, very competent music reminiscent of bands such as Marillion and Chandelier.|
Passeo Secundum Mattheum (72)
Aquile E Scoiattoli (76)
Vampyrs (92, Recorded 79)
Live (92, Recorded 74)
|A trio, their great first, an album called Passio Secundum Mattheum is in the vein of Le Orme etc. but is much more varied and probably one of the best of the genre. Various styles are experienced and the resulting whole is very rewarding. Their second was also reissued in Japan, Papillon - also very good.|
|Very powerful classically inspired italian mid-70's band. Musically speaking probably close to RDM, but with more variance of style, more heavy and experimental. Highly recommended. The live album may be a recent recording by a reformed group. Start with Passeo.|
|Italian keyboard trio whose first album is supposed to be the best, but I haven't heard it yet. Papillon reveals a band that is somewhat ELP influenced yet unique, with a stronger jazz feel and creative use of orchestration a la P.F.M. The title track is in the twenty minute range and goes through various phases, the vocal sections sometimes being unbearably cute with childrens' choruses and the like, but the instrumental passages revealing the symphonic/jazzy mixture working its magic. The sixteen-minute, three-part "Patetica" quotes from the oft-quoted "Spring" concerto by Vivaldi, but otherwise is quite original symphonic prog. The two short songs give bassist/singer Oliviero Lacagnina an opportunity to stretch out on guitar. Aquile e Scoiattoli followed a dramatic lineup-shift after which only drummer Alfio Vitanza remained. Now a four-piece of guitar/bass, drums and two keyboards, surprisingly the style hadn't changed significantly except to incorporate more guitar. Note the title-song, the first half of which is all guitar and resembles acoustic Genesis, or the beautifully melodic "Menestrello", which is not unlike the lighter moments of P.F.M. or Il Volo. This album features a twenty-plus-minute epic entitled "Pavana", which is probably the reason most of you will want to buy this. Another fave song of mine: "Vacche Sacre--Falso Menestrello". My one complaint would be the screechy string-synth they use, which at times resembles the horrible Polymoog on Tormato. Still, excellent and rewarding, melodic Italian prog. Just recently released was Vampyrs, the band's previously unreleased fourth album. Supposedly more pop orientated. -- Mike Ohman|
|This very Italian trio barely enjoyed any success in America during the '70s. The members essentially consist of keyboardist, guitarist and drummer but their versatility assures the presence of bass, violin, flute and vocals. The compositions on Passio Secundum Mattheum, in a rock opera format, have a religious theme that is well served by the classical influences. Arrangements vary from acoustic tracks with Mellotron to heavier passages with drums, guitar, organ and synthesizer. Despite an early '70s sound, those who know what to expect from the classic italian style will not be disappointed. The Italian "classic" Papillon is amongst those that were re-edited with English vocals during the '70s. The variety of arrangements is undescribable and involves elements of classical (baroque), folk (medieval), jazz (trio) and rock (ELP). The performances show deep classical and jazz roots in contexts that range from acoustic to electric. This impressive production (for a trio) posses all the qualities to please fans of Italian symphonic rock from that era. By the time of Aquile e Scoiattoli, the band only includes the original drummer. He is joined by a bassist/guitarist, two keyboardists as well as guests on flutes, violins and saxophone. The style retains its deep classical influences and its mixture of smooth, acoustic (vocals in Italian) and heavier moments with drums, bass, organ and electric guitar. The result is a symphonic rock with strong keyboard presence and the typical Italian touch. A production that deserves attention from fans of the style and era. -- Paul Charbonneau|
[See Giganti, I]
Laura (80), Colis Postal (81)
Tears Are Goin' Home (73)
|Lava is a german "krautrock" band. It's only album, Tears Are Going Home was released in 1973 at Brain/Metronome label (re-released on CD by Repertoire). Songs on the album vary greatly. The first composition - "Tears Are Going Home" sounds much like early 70-s Hawkwind's songs such "People Born To Go" with heavy monotonous drumming and electronic sounds. The third song ("Would Be Better You Run") is not at all prog and reminds Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" or something like that. The forth (All My Love For You) features Arthur Lee-like acoustic guitar and "Can"-nish vocals. "(I'm Just A) Mad Dog" sounds a bit like "Krokodil" with some nice mouth harmonica. The last 10-minute song "Piece Of Peace" has no vocal's and is in my humble opinion the best one. Sounds a bit psychedelic and features piano and synthesizer. It's not an orthodox prog group, but I guess it's worth listening to since it features great variety of styles. -- Pothead (from Moscow)|
Storytime (86), From the West (87)
Former keyboardist with the Dixie Dregs. His album Storytime features Dregsmen Rod Morgenstein, Steve Morse, Dave LaRue, plus Jeff Berlin, Steve Smith and others. One vocal track. More laid back than the Dregs, and keyboard oriented.
Lavitz is a well respected fusion keyboardist best known for his work with the Dixie Dregs though he has also played with the likes of Jeff Berlin, Scott Henderson, and Steve Smith (on the fine Players album). While Lavitz is an excellent player, his compositional skill are weak, hence his two albums aren't too exciting. They're in a style similar to the Dixie Dregs albums that feature Lavitz except the focus is naturally on the keyboards. Enjoy his work with the Dregs, instead.
[See Dixie Dregs, The]
En avant doute ... (07, CD/DVD combo)
Lazuli at 2007 Baja Prog fest - Claude Leonetti (Léode), Dominique Leonetti (vocals,
guitar), Yohan Simeon (percussion), Fred Juan (marimba, percussion), Sylvain Bayol (stick,
warr guitar), Gédéric Byar (guitar)
Lazuli is a very interesting and unique 6-piece band from France. Though they have a guitar and Stick-driven sound that reminds of progressive bands like '80's Crimson with spacey solos that lead me to believe they've heard a few David Gilmour solos in their lives, there's also a hard-edged quality that's more like '70's Crimson. In addition to that, there's a lot of "world music" sound, somewhat like Peter Gabriel, plus some alt-rock feel, perhaps a bit of Joshua Tree-era U2.
But the bottom line is that they don't sound like anyone else, really. The band is almost all electric strings, including 2 guitars, a Stick (or sometimes Warr Guitar) and the Leodé, a strange Stick-like hybrid instrument invented by Lazuli member Claude Leonetti, which allows him to play in spite of injuries he received in a motorcycle accident. There's no bass player as such ... bass sounds come from the Stick and the Leodé. There's a regular drummer, and also a mallet percussionist who plays sequences that remind me of those heard in Peter Gabriel's Security. The vocals are emotional and gripping, though I wish I could understand the French. Still, purely listening to them as another instrument is compelling.
Lazuli played in 2007's Baja Prog fest, but I might warn fans of more "conventional prog" (if there is such a thing) that this doesn't sound much like the usual "prog band" suspects. There's a lot of "alt-rock" or "post-rock" vibe to this band, and the music is more hypnotic than complex. But they're very good if you like that sort of thing ... I was certainly taken by the band's new album, En avant doute ..., which also comes with a companion DVD so you can see them performing (the DVD says "live", and I guess it is, though it seems to be live in a video studio, not in front of an audience ... that's not a bad thing, it's just a fact). I would recommend this album, especially to people who like modern rock but might not otherwise think they want to listen to a "prog band". Lazuli may allow those folks to cross gently into the realms of prog music. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Lazuli's web site (in French only)
Click here to order Amnésie or En avant doute ... from Musea Records
Le Silo - Yoshiharu Izutsu (guitar), Michiaki Suganuma (drums) and Miyako Kanazawa (piano)
Le Silo is an excellent Japanese band. The only problem: how to alphabetize them? If this was a French band, I would file them under "S" as Silo, Le. But since it's a Japanese band, they're going under "L", just like Jethro Tull goes under "J", not "T" because it's a band name, not a proper name. For those who disagree and try to find them under "S", I'll add a link in the "Sh-Sq" lists, but it will still link here. OK, enough about that.
A friend sent me some MP3's of this band with a note saying, "Why isn't this band in the GEPR?" Only one reason: I hadn't heard them yet. They are not only worth of a GEPR entry, they're spectacular, and were instantly bumped to near the top of my favorite Japanese bands. They bill themselves as "avant-garde", and I suppose they sort of are. Maybe I've been listening to too much Fred Frith and Mikhail Chekalin lately, but to me this doesn't really sound all that "avant" ... it's just really good prog with a bit of occasional dissonance and the usual odd meters and convoluted harmonies. One of the main divergences from the usual "prog formula": keyboardist Miyako Kanazawa (also in the Angherr Shisspa line-up of Koenji Hyakkei) plays only piano, no synths or other electronic keyboards. Guitarist Yoshiharu Izutsu and drummer Michiaki Suganuma provide a way-more-than-adequate backup for her compositions, and this seemingly innocuous instrument line-up manages to create some of the most awesome interplay you've ever heard. Absolutely remarkable, thrilling and totally compelling. And, somehow, in spite of all the complexity and neo-classical craziness, it still manages to rock!
Miyako Kanazawa will (hopefully) be performing at NEARFest 2008 with Koenji Hyakkei, and I certainly hope she brings some copies of her Le Silo material with her for sale ... I'll get both albums if they're not too expensive ... which the imports I've seen for sale are. Which is the only bad thing I can say about Le Silo.
One further warning: the Le Silo web site has some live recordings available for download. Do not listen to these and think they have anything to do with what the band's albums sound like. The studio material is far less ... uhm ... difficult than the live material. Not that the live stuff doesn't have it's charms, but consider yourself warned: it sounds like a completely different band. -- Fred Trafton
[See Koenji Hyakkei]
[See Fripp, Robert]
[See Fripp, Robert]
Leb i Sol (78)
Rucni Rad (79)
Beskonacno (Infinity symbol) (81)
Akusticna Trauma (Uzivo)(82)
Zvucni Zid (86)
Kao Kakao (87)
Leb i Sol - Live in New York (91, Live)
The Leb i Sol Anthology (96, Compilation)
|The second album is slightly funky, very tight fusion. The drumming on several tracks is nothing less than spectacular. The possessed riffing of Garo Tavitijan is comparable with Western fusion drummers of the echelon of Pip Pyle, Furio Chirico and Billy Cobham. The songs themselves are rather short, featuring light vocalizing, but centered around economical soloing and tight group interplay. The end result is consistently jazzy and often complex, with the odd foray into Tako-esque jamming (e.g.: "Aber Dojde Donke). Their first and third albums are said to be worthwhile as well, the 1980s material tending to be commercial rock. -- Mike Ohman|
All the Rage (04)
Guy LeBlanc is the keyboardist (and also plays other instruments and sings) for Nathan Mahl. He also played keyboards for Camel from 2000-2003, and has recently joined forces to create a sort of "prog supergroup" named Distinguished Panel of Experts with Mike Sary and Chris Vincent of French TV and Shawn Persinger of Boud Deun, though their album has yet to see release.
LeBlanc has also released a couple of solo projects. I've heard All the Rage, which is a mixture of musical styles. Some of them would fit right onto the proggy style of a Nathan Mahl album while others are more balladish and one even a bit on the metallic aggressive side with some growly vocals ... just to show that he can play guitar too. Guy even sings one song in french, and sounds quite good at it. For my taste, I like the Nathan Mahl albums a bit more than this, but you can't blame a Guy for wanting to make an album of diverse styles that don't really fit with his band's musical image.
I had a chat with Guy by e-mail recently, and he wanted me to pass along that he's got another solo album named One for All in the works, but has for the time being shelved it to concentrate on a 2CD set named Exodus being put together by a new line-up of Nathan Mahl. This, along with the unreleased work with Distinguished Panel of Experts, means we have a lot of Guy LeBlanc in progress waiting for release. Hopefully much of this will see the light of day (and my CD player) in 2008. Here's hoping. -- Fred Trafton
[See Camel |
Distinguished Panel of Experts |
Click here for Guy LeBlanc's
Sung-Woo Lee (92)
Korean guitarist Sung-Woo Lee recently released his debut album. I'm not able to glean much information about the album as the liner notes are entirely in Korean and I can't tell from the layout if there are more musicians or if Lee plays everything. The titles on seven of the eight songs have Korean titles. The second song is titled "Duan Allman" (sic). Lee's style is very much in the vein of Mike Oldfield though with a spaciousness that probably accounts for the Pink Floyd comparisons I've seen. The album is roughly 60 minutes of laid back guitar over various patterns and rhythms. Often, like Oldfield, the guitar disappears into the mix and, though you can easily pick out the different instruments, the music becomes very textural. The main draw back is the simplistic rhythms but still I think many of you would like this album. This release seems to have been a bit overlooked.
Worlds of Mystery (02)
A quick glance at Left Coast's web site will reveal that Left Coast is both a
band and a recording studio, which is undoubtedly the reason for the high quality
recording of this album. It's not hard to guess by the name that they are from
California. Left Coast is a band that plays a broad range of different
styles ranging from prog metal to arena rock to power ballads to "adult pop" AOR
tunes, all very tasteful and well performed, and all with a proggy edge to it, though
"prog" isn't usually the first word I would use to describe any of their tunes (well,
with the exception of "Dancing on Crystal" perhaps).
"Earthquake" is the first cut, very prog-metal, sounding a bit like Blind Guardian without as many overdubs, but then it slows to a spooky power ballad at the end. "On The Prowl" is also metallic with some nice Jan Hammer guitar-like synth work in the middle and some "Lucky Man" synth soloing at the end. The next cut, "You" loses the metal feel and starts out as an AOR adult pop tune, nice but not very proggy. This is made up for in the song's postlude with spacey echoed 12-string guitar, a Gilmouresque solo and Steve Howe-ish arpeggios, the first outburst of what I would really call "prog".
"Moment of Truth" is practically Styx-ian pomp rock, suitable for filling arenas full of stoned males waving their fists in the air to the beat. "Do You In" is also petty pompous, but also features some interesting guitar chords, vocal harmonies and an ideosyncratic poly-metric bass line which I really liked, though I'm unsure if its a bass or keyboards. "Shadows" sounds like 2112 era Alex Lifeson in acoustic mode, (like the acoustic part before visiting the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx) except for the slinky fretless bass line which is a nice feature. "Evening in Montreaux" shifts gears again with an easygoing jazz rock instumental, though a bit too Steely Dan to really call fusion. "No Turning Back" is a 70's-styled rocker; "Spanish Lover" is also a rock tune, but has a nice latin feel and a sort of Flamenco part in the middle, juxtposed with an electric guitar solo. Neither of these are bad, but they're also not very prog.
"Rainmaker" is interesting for its pseudo Native American toms and cinematic movie theme intro (I've seen this section panned in other reviews ... personally, I liked it in spite of the pseudo Native American drums), but after a break becomes a conventionl metal rocker, though with some interesting echoed cascading guitar arpeggios. The most conventionally proggy piece on the album is the instrumental closer, "Dancing on Crystal", with some nice Steve Howeish riffs, string and chorale synth pads, multiple sections running the gamut from metallic to mellow to marching, and radical tempo changes. There's even a synth solo (or is that a heavily processed guitar?). This is my favorite cut on the album, and is worth the wait.
All in all, I would say Left Coast's Worlds of Mystery would appeal to fans of the so-called "AOR" genre, and also with some appeal to prog lovers, especially those who like the so-called "neo" or "metal" sub-categories. But don't get the idea that they will replace Yes or Genesis on your playlist any time soon. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Left Coast's web site|
Changing Time (96)
Lefty's Head is Kevin Kmetz (guitar), Jim Foster (drums) and Tracy Miller (bass, vocals). Changing Time wastes hardly a moment of it's all-too-short 33 minutes. Packing nine songs into that time, Changing Time offers an upbeat set musical variety. Their style touches down in many areas but the strongest influence seems to come from a jazz and fusion base. Comparisons? The first thing that came to mind was Bruford (the band) without keyboards. Perhaps Xaal without the zeuhl influences. UZED with emotion? Ultimately, I think I settled on Xaal for the best comparison. They even have guest trumpet on a song or two. You have three talented musicians (Kmetz has been featured in "Guitar Player" magazine) with great instrumental rapport playing a complex, jazzy fusion, and drawing from such diverse musical sources as funk, blues, classical and folk. Other than the short length of the album, the only other drawback I could find was the vocals. Of course, I've never been a fan of vocals, anyway, so it's easy for me to find a flaw in that department. In this case, the soft vocal style was somewhat discordant with the music. Miller's voice reminded me of Eric Johnson on his early records, when it seems like he's singing because it's expected but he'd much rather be playing. Only two of the songs have vocals, though, so my complaint is mostly insignificant. You can hear too much good instrumental playing to worry about a few minor vocals. Recommended. -- Mike Taylor
Light In Extension (91)
Second Sight (93)
Triple Aspect (96)
Ritual Echo (09, Compilation & Live)
Playing With Fire (10, Live)
Cardinal Points (11)
Legend in 2002 - (not in photo order) Debbie Chapman (vocals), Steve Paine (keyboards), Paul Thomson (guitars)
Martyn Rouski (bass) and John Macklin (drums)
Legend's entry hasn't been updated since I inherited the GEPR back in 2000, so it's about time. Recently, I received an e-mail from Legend's keyboardist/leader Steve Paine who wrote not to complain, but to mention that even the band wasn't all that thrilled with the first release, that they have been around for many years now, that he thinks their later releases were stronger, and that in fact Legend was releasing a new album Cardinal Points right now after taking a few years of hiatus and re-inventing themselves with a new line-up. Well, add to that the fact that Legend's philosopical/religious underpinnings are a good match for mine, and how could I resist doing a review and updating their GEPR entry? After some conversations, Steve graciously agreed to send me the bulk of their back catalog to review, plus their new album.
The earliest album I've heard is Second Sight. If the first album is really as boring as the previous reviews said (see below this entry for older entries), then this album must be a giant step forward. This album is good, solid neo-prog, at least as far as the overall compositions and keyboards go. There's also some new-agey ethnic instruments scattered around, though the fairly heavy guitar work that interplays with the keyboards keeps it from sounding like new-age. Those with a love of complexity may find the song structures and harmonic movement to be a bit simple and predictable, but the compositions are quite nice, fairly accessible without being poppy, and are nicely recorded. Vocalist Debbie Chapman is also very good, with a bit of Annie Haslam's operatic tone while maintaining a more folksy approach that isn't quite so intimidating. A good album, though not the first album I'd recommend out of the Legend catalog. That would be the next album ...
The next studio album is Triple Aspect, which many of the band's fans consider to be their definitive musical statement. Until their current reboot, it was also their last album. It's more complex than Second Sight, though still not overly so, and also has some darker moments. The album has a more cohesive sound than Second Sight, making it feel more like an album and less like a collection of songs. It boasts a 30-minute long epic, the title song "Triple Aspect", broken into traditional prog-epic "movements", five of them (doubtless an intentional number, echoing the pagan pentacle symbol). The term "triple aspect" refers to the pagan triune Goddess, with maiden, mother and crone aspects, and three of the five movements are named for these (the other two being the introductory "Overture" and concluding "Full Circle"). They're also the three women on the front cover (as one reviewer pointed out, this is not a band picture!). All this is perfectly obvious to a pagan listener, and I'm only explaining it for the non-pagan GEPR reader who might otherwise not understand what the titles are all about. Musically, lots of traditional synths, organ, Mellotronish orchestration handled by digital keyboards and/or samplers and some harder-edged guitar are the most notable aspects, along with Chapman's vocals. Quite a good album for anyone who likes neo-prog. (As an aside, a UK cover band named A-ha covered "Overture", the first 6:21 of "Triple Aspect". Uhm ... I actually think I like it better than the original! Check it out here).
Despite much positive press on Triple Aspect, Legend faded away for a while after its release. Many reviews still label this as their final album. But in 2010, Steve Paine rebooted the band, beginning with the release on CD of the recently rediscovered soundtrack from the sole Legend video release, Playing With Fire - Live 1992. This is a really nice album, with good recording quality and inspired live versions of songs from Light In Extension and some early versions of songs that would later appear on Second Sight. Then they went into the studio and started work on a new album, to be called Cardinal Points.
Legend's new line-up for Cardinal Points is Kerry Parker (vocals; also their original vocalist, though she never recorded with them), Steve Paine (keyboards), Dave Foster (guitars; Mr So & So and The Wishing Tree), Dan Nelson (bass; Godsticks) and John Macklin (drums). The Cardinal Points are, of course, north, east, south and west, and in pagan lore, these correspond with the four seasons, the four elements (earth, air, fire and water), and many other things that seem to group themselves into fours. Plenty of ideas here for a prog concept album, and Legend has decided it was time somebody created it. How about a set of four "side-long" prog rock epics? Well, not quite ... about 13 to 17 minutes each, which is still enough to get to nearly one hour of music.
The song titles are clear references to the four elements, "Carved in Stone" (earth), "Whisper on the Wind" (air), "Spark to a Flame" (fire) and "Drop in the Ocean" (water). If you're the sort of prog fan who hears bird chirps, a tribal beat, a digeridoo and a shimmery digital keyboard pad and immediately proclaims the music to be "new-age crap", then you're going to have trouble with Cardinal Points. If you're willing to listen past the intro to the first song, you'll find a lot of prog goodies to be had, including organ, nice guitar work, synth solos and interesting lyrics. This music is reminiscent of both Jethro Tull for its folk-rock aspect, but without the flute solos and Ian Anderson's quirky vocals, or The Moody Blues due to the way Mellotron and Hammond Organ interplay with the guitar. In this incarnation, Legend sounds very little like Renaissance or Marillion, the comparisons made in most reviews I've read of the earlier albums. A better comparison would be Tull at their folkiest with some of the medieval vibe of Gryphon and some new-agey ethnic feel as well. Still, this is neo-prog in the sense that it features synthesizers and guitars doing "proggy" solos and riffs while there's nothing terribly difficult about it. It's just good solid symphonic rock with Hammond Organ, Mellotronish string pads and synths contributing to the progressive sound. Not much in the way of weird, angular rhythms, dissonances or noise. Quite nice if you're not in a mood to be challenged by something really "difficult".
There is, however, some Nightwishy femme-led metal feel in places, particularly in "Spark to a Flame", and some Ozric Tentacles-like space rock swoopiness on "Whisper on the Wind". Overall more varied than previous albums, and perhaps also a bit more accessible. The songs are all good, though they might have been tightened up a bit in the length department. Still, this is, after all, prog rock, despite some attempts to make it a bit less threateneing. Can't fool me! -- Fred Trafton
The following two descriptions are from the GEPR at the time I inherited it in 2000, and appear to be discusing the first album only. I'll keep them below for history's sake.
Boring neo-prog. Vocalist is good, but she sounds too much like Annie Haslam. The band sounds like a bunch of third rate Marillion wannabees, trudging along an already well-travelled path. Little originality, and the drummer is especially annoying. One to avoid.
Legend are a new band out of the UK, whose music is best described as a combination of Renaissance and Marillion, in that a female vocalist is featured amidst musical accompaniment by a keyboard/guitar-led section. The music is less laid-back than Renaissance or Epidaurus, and features a Steve Rothery-like lead guitar to a good extent. In that sense, another point of comparison, Arrakeen, springs to mind. With all the above comparisons, it should be quite clear what the music is all about, so I will conclude my description.
[See Godsticks |
Mr So & So |
The Wishing Tree]
Click here for Legend's web site
The Concept of Our Reality (95)
Second First Impression (??)
Legerdemain's Rodler brothers - Brett and Chris (Brett is the drummer, Chris is
the guitarist in spite of what the photo shows)
On my first listen to this CD, two bands came to mind: Rush and Dream Theater. They follow a similar philosophy of creating complex, intense and ever changing music. Although they have many quiet and relaxed moments, they also have some very heavy moments. Generally they are heavier than Rush, but not as heavy or intense as Dream Theater. The songs rance from just over four minutes, to just under twenty minutes. They have the long intrumental sections similar to Dream Theater, but they use more complex chords. The thing that makes them sound most distinctive is vocalist Melissa Blair. Because of the female vocals, I'm sure they'll be compared to Renaissance, but Blair draws most of her influence from standard rock such as Pat Benatar and Heart. If you like intense prog in the Rush / Dream Theater style, I think this album is definitely worth it. -- Rob Devereux
[See Gratto |
Click here for the PMM Music site, which has info on Leger de Main and related bands
This Brazilian trio plays in a format, and with an energy that compares to ELP. In fact, the work of the keyboards (lots of organ and piano), bass and drums as well as the live energy is typical of such infernal trios. In the case of Lehmejum, the music is completely instrumental and rhythms are often jazzed up. They actually describe their style as ranging from hard symphonic to jazz-fusion. Some rhythms and themes are also latin jazz flavoured. A spectacular performance on keyboards with driving rhythms. -- Paul Charbonneau
The following titles are available from K. Leimer's web site:
Closed System Potentials (80)
Stationary Dance / Sensible Music (81, as Savant)
Land of Look Behind (82)
The NeoRealist at Risk (82, as Savant)
Music for Land and Water (83, Cassette)
Imposed Order (83)
The Listening Room (02)
Brittle Soft (02, w/ Tyler Boley)
The following titles are assumed to be out-of-print vinyl or cassette releases.
I can't find any release dates for these:
|Ambient ala Brian Eno.|
Click here for Palace of Lights,
K. Leimer's web site
LeoNero was a nom de guerre for keyboard player Gianni Leone in his struggle to
build a solo career after the demise of Il Balletto di
Bronzo. On Vero (CD Vinyl Magic VM CD 077) he took the DIY approach and played
absolutely everything, which in this case means drums, percussion and some electric guitar
in addition to the usual piles of keyboards. He also seemed to be hedging his bets almost
evenly between pop accessibility of the day and the keyboard-based progressive style of
yesterday. The former style dominates the first side of the album, manifesting mainly as
grandiose ballads laden with synthesizers, piano and typically affective vocals - all very
nice and lyrical, but too simple and underdeveloped to tickle the jaded palettes of hardcore
prog fans too much. They should get off on the kid-in-the-candy-store approach to keyboard work
on side two, though: "Tastiere isteriche" is a particularly exhilarating ride with lots of
Banksian organ arpeggios, only more Baroque. This and "La
discessa nel cervello" later appeared on Il Balletto
di Bronzo's live album Trys. Those versions benefit from a dedicated rhythm section,
for Leone's drumming and Moog basslines lack some impact here. The two sides briefly fuse
on the album's best cut, "La bambola rotta", where a musical-box-like melody is given a rather
cathartic symphonic treatment with some Hackett-like buzzsaw
guitar. Generally the material lacks the dark intensity of Ys. Only "Una gabbia per me"
comes close, but its rather standard rock-guitar riffs and piano chords don't really share the
resemblance. Vero has its charms, especially if you don't mind a dose of good pop, but
is hardly an essential part of Italian progressive rock history.
Leone's second solo work Monitor was supposedly a more outright commercial outing with New Wave and synthesizer pop influences. In the late 1990s, he resurrected Il Balletto di Bronzo with a new line-up.
|Links||[See Balletto Di Bronzo, Il]|
Obscure. Acoustic and electric guitar in complex blend with synths, vibraphone, organ, flute, and oboe.
From the ashes of Mirror came this band, not to be confused with the '90s Italian band of the same name. This Lethe made just one album, but what an album! It starts off very much on the slow side, with a gentle oboe/piano/acoustic guitar etude, which begins to wear out its welcome about half-way through. But things pick up with the second track: "Averbury Circle," in which a typical prog arrangement with guitar and flute is juxtaposed against a creepy piano part seemingly lifted from a Fellini film! Sounds like what the result would be if Samla Mammas Manna attempted to make a symphonic prog tune! The two long pieces that make up the balance of the LP are a good deal less outré, yet are still excellent, instrumental prog on the level of Atlas' classic Blå Vardag. -- Mike Ohman
Bee Yourself (90)
|Italian band who's sound is sometimes reminiscent of Trick of the Tail period Genesis, although on the second album they have much more of their own sound. Their musical approach has an ofttimes jazzy feel, with a lot of (sensible) tempo and dynamic changes from heavy to light, occasional odd time signatures, and very unpredictable and unique melodies. Vocalist Alex Brunori has a voice similar to Stanley Whittaker of Happy The Man, which may have also lent some influence. The net result is a very original sound that gets better with each listen. Heartquake is a little weak, but does show the band off to a good start. The second album packs much more power, spirit and originality.|
|Bee Yourself is the second release from the Italian progressive band, Leviathan. Their sound has matured well, and is manifested in strong, well composed tracks. The music is quite well within the neo-progressive realm, with fluid interplay between keyboards and guitar, and well-formed melodies. The vocals are in English, but are not obtrusive. This will probably appeal to those who like the eighties prog revivalist bands such as Marillion and Deyss.|
As far as homegrown prog bands went (with a couple exceptions), 1970's America was the home
of the brave but doomed. Leviathan was one act that actually managed to get one proper album
release before disappearing, probably to secure to themselves and their posterity the
blessings of not starving to death. Not as derivative of big-name British acts as most of
their contemporaries, Leviathan's release (LP Mach Records AMA 12501, CD Akarma AK 110)
instead demonstrates how much more blurred the line between heavy metal and progressive
rock had already become in the Colonies than in the Old Blighty.
The opening track "Arabesqúe" is rife with crunchy guitar riffs, stomping drums and bass, and bluesy vocal melodies delivered with hard rock's throaty harshness and occasional caught-meself-in-the-zipper yells. On the other hand, these are interspersed with a more delicate and harmonically complex sections with acoustic guitar, quick organ cadenzas and especially swirling Mellotron swells. The effect resembles some of Kansas' early works, though the writing is less adventurous and the playing less dynamic. The rest of the album pendulates between these two elements, searching for a right balance with variable success.
On "Seagull" the effect created by the mellifluous middle section full of liquid piano and Mellotron strings and woodwinds in what is otherwise just a slow-grinding, chugalong rock tune is a bit too cut and paste to avoid sounding contrived. Others mix ingredients with greater skill, either giving a straight-forward song a rich prog-style coating and melodic shine ("Always Need You") or using heavy guitar and rhythm section for impressive dynamic swells on an otherwise brooding, classical composition ("Endless Dream"). "Angel of Death" pretty much ditches the prog element, and sounds much smoother - and duller - as a result. The other extreme is the gentle, non-metallic ballad "Angela", which is saved from MOR mundanity by a small but nice harmonic modulation and a frothy use of acoustic guitar and lapping Mellotron strings. It all finally comes together on the closer "Quicksilver Clay", a quite stylish amalgamation of progressive melodic and instrumental richness, and the vigour of an underlying metal base.
It's too bad things don't click more often, because it results in an unbalanced, lopsided album. Admittedly, I am not a fan of the metal style, but when it works, the synthesis of old-style heavy guitar and Mellotron as displayed here is quite novel and charming - certainly enough to make this album worthwhile. Those into heavy prog in the old sense of the word, without thrash riffs, neo-classical shredding or double bass drum havoc, should definitely investigate this one. -- Kai Karmanheimo
A complete Tony Levin discography would be nearly impossible. Here I list only
his "main" Progressive albums. For a more complete list, see Tony's web site.
Tony Levin is also known as "the man who has played bass or Stick with every progressive rock band in existence". Actually, that's not true. He's played bass or Stick with everyone, not just progressive rock bands. Just kidding. But not by much.
Tony Levin was born in Boston on June 6, 1946. His love of "the bottom end" of music began at age ten when he studied Bass (upright, not guitar) at school, and continued as he played Tuba in his high school's marching band. He studied classical music at the Eastman School of Music and performed for a time with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, playing upright bass.
In 1970, having traded in his upright bass for a Fender Precision bass guitar, he moved to New York to join Don Preston (ex-Frank Zappa keyboardist) in his band Aha, the Attack of the Green Slime Beast (nice name). He also worked as a session musician in the '70's, playing bass on many albums including Alice Cooper and Lou Reed.
Wanting to tour, he joined up with Peter Gabriel's band. He played bass on the first Peter Gabriel album, and also dusted off his tuba skills for this album. It was about this time that Levin began to work with the Chapman Stick, which was to become his trademark instrument playing and touring with bands such as >Peter Gabriel, King Crimson and Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe.
Tony is a great bassist and Stick player, so he is sought out for work other than Progressive. Tony has played with (to name a few) Joan Armatrading, The California Guitar Trio, Karen Carpenter, Tracy Chapman, Cher, Judy Collins, Al Di Meola, Eumir Deodato, Brian Ferry, Peter Frampton, Art Garfunkel, The Indigo Girls, Mark Knopfler, Kenny Loggins, Melissa Manchester, Chuck Mangione, Herbie Mann, Phil Manzanera, Stevie Nicks, Yoko Ono, Buddy Rich, The Roches, Neil Sedaka, Carly Simon, Paul Simon, Phoebe Show, Rick Springfield, Andy Summers, James Taylor, Bonnie Tyler and Warren Zevon to name just a few of the more famous folks. It's not really everyone but it's close enough.
Just to round things out, Levin has also published a book called "Road Photos," a collection of black & white photos of Gabriel, Crimson, Paul Simon and others, and is the inventor of Funk Fingers, which are drumsticks cut short and attached to the fingers for use in "hammering" the bass strings. These were used extensively on Peter Gabriel's So album. They are available for purchase (off and on depending on supply) on his web site.
Recently, Levin has been concentrating more on his own solo albums and with bands in which he takes a more active role (Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, Liquid Tension Experiment and Bozzio Levin Stevens). But he still works with everyone. You can expect to hear him on the next CD you pick up ...
And I refuse to refer to him as "Stickman Tony Levin". I'm just tired of it. I'm sure he is too.
I'm back from NEARFest 2006 and saw Tony and the guys playing songs from their new Resonator CD. Superb stuff. I was particularly enthused about the barbershop quartet at the beginning and ending. Everyone except Larry Fast sang. In the opening song, they introduced themselves. The ending song was an a capella version of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up". In between were songs from Resonator, Gabriel's "On The Air" and "Back in N.Y.C." from The Lamb, which Jerry Marotta did a fine job of singing!
So why am I inflicting this photo on you? 'Cuz it's my web site and I'll add what I want to, that's why! Just look at the picture ... Tony thinks it's funny! -- Fred Trafton
[See Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe |
Anderson, Laurie |
Bozzio Levin Stevens |
California Guitar Trio |
Dream Theater |
Fripp, Robert |
Gabriel, Peter |
King Crimson |
Liquid Tension Experiment |
Pink Floyd |
Click here for Tony Levin's web site
Musica E Parole (75, aka Libra), Winter Day's Nightmare (76), Schok (79)
The second album is the English version of the first one. Acoustic and rock songs. The third album is a soundtrack.
[See Goblin | Logan Dwight]
Lied Des Teufels (73)
One Mind (87)
Bay area fusion guitarist, his album One Mind features Steve Kindler on violin and Steve Smith on drums, it also relies heavily on electronics, played by Kindler and Lievano. This is an outstanding guitar album, not for pyrotechnic whizz-bangery, but more for the spirit and emotion, akin to a Carlos Santana without all the latin baggage.
A Life After Death (74)
Two-keyboard prog band.
As Tony Williams' Lifetime:
Turn It Over (70)
As Tony Williams:
Tony Williams (Photo by Michele Clement)
Fantastic early fusion with Tony Williams (drums), Larry Young (organ), John McLaughlin (guitars) and Jack Bruce (bass and singing, only on Turn It Over). After playing with Miles Davis Williams started his own band in 1969 with McLaughlin (recording at the same time for Miles' In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew) and Young. The trio recorded Emergency! a wild and heavy fusion work, with McLaughlin's incredible guitar, equipped with a bunch of electric gadgetry and the distorted Hammond by Young. The double LP release of Emergency! was pretty strange. It had an incredibly bad sound quality and also the cover art was well out of focus. But the poor balance and rampant distortion actually enhanced the trios uniqueness. The inadvertent wall of distorted sound added a level of raw intensity. The CD reissue of this preserved the roughness but also increased the sound quality to an adequate standard. Turn It Over went on in a similar way, adding Bruce on bass and also included some quieter pieces with some strange vocals by him.
In 71 McLaughlin left to form Mahavishnu Orchestra. Lifetime carried on in several jazzrockish incarnations but never could reach the uniqueness of the early days again. -- Achim Breiling
Tony Williams joined Miles Davis' band at the age
of 17 and holds the distinction of being one of the few musicians that
Davis didn't trash in his acerbic autobiography.
Williams' first album Life Time, made when he was 18 and still billed as
"Anthony Williams", featured tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers, vibraphonist
Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Herbie Hancock
and both Richard Davis and Gary Peacock on bass. Spring added Wayne
Shorter but was not as interesting as Life Time. After this, Williams added
Lifetime to the band name, changed the line-up as mentioned above and recorded
Emergency! and Turn it Over, generally acknowledged to be of the most interest
to progressive rock fans..
The final album as Lifetime was Ego, said to be a blend of "post-hard bop jazz and the spacier end of psychedelic rock". This album still featured keyboardist Larry Young, but replaced John McLaughlin with guitarist Ted Dunbar.
After this, Williams continued to make albums, but dropped the Lifetime name, simply becoming Tony Williams solo albums. These ranged in style from experimental jazz to more commercial efforts. During these years, he worked with such greats as Allan Holdsworth, Stanley Clarke, Jan Hammer, Brian Auger and even jazz pianist Cecil Taylor.
Williams died unexpectedly on Feb. 23, 1997 of a heart attack after routine gall bladder surgery. He was only 51 years old. -- Fred Trafton.
|Links||[See Davis, Miles | Hammer, Jan | Holdsworth, Allan | Mahavishnu Orchestra]|
Nach Hause (87)
Lift (Germany) 2001 - (Top 2) Jens Brüssow (bass), Bodo Kommnick (guitar,
guitar synth, backing vocals). (Bottom 3) Peter Michailow (drums), Werther
Lohse (vocals, percussion, keyboards) and Yvonne Fechner (violin, keyboards, vocals)
Though starting off on a sour note with the harmonica-blues of "Wir fahr'n über's Meer", Meeresfährt is really a high-quality prog album. On "Tagensreise" they essay a choral type of vocal sound to aim at a full sound, and they succeed admirably. But it is on the 15-minute title suite where they reach their apex, exploiting the dual keyboard lineup to its fullest. It's on a par with the best of Stern-Combo Meissen. -- Mike Ohman
A new line-up (pictured) of Lift continues to perform in the reunified Germany (they were originally East German). I have been unable to find the titles of any albums released by this line-up, however, other than compilations from the earlier version of the band. If you can read German, check out their web site for further information. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Lift's web site
(mostly in German)
Caverns Of Your Brain (77, Bootleg LP from 1974 recording sessions)
Caverns Of Your Brain (90, Official CD release of above)
The Moment of Hearing (01, Compilation of above + new tracks)
Lift (Atlanta line-up) - (not in photo order) Chip Gremillion (keyboards), Richard Huxen
(electric & acoustic guitars, vocals), Chip Grevemberg (drums & percussion, vocals)
Mike Mitchell (electric & acoustic guitars, Mellotron), Tony Vaughn (bass, bass pedals,
lead & backing vocals) and Laura "Poppy" Pate (lead vocal, synth)
If you love Yes, buy the Lift CD Caverns Of Your Brain one of the truly ultimate USA prog bands ever. This New Orleans progressive band, covered "Whipping Post" in their heyday and were almost signed to a major before the labels lost interest in progressive music.
Excellent example of the early seventies progressive scene. Featuring incredible keyboard work that is very reminiscent of early Wakeman (Strawbs, Fragile, Six Wives) as well as Tony Banks circa "The Knife".
|Mid-70's progressive group from Louisiana, their Caverns album features four extended tracks that may remind of early Yes, but with plenty of their own ideas thrown into the mix as well. Not a clone, but a further refinement/ development on that basic style.|
|Originated in New Orleans. Lift is a good American progressive band who recorded on album's worth of material in 1974 that was never officially released until Syn-phonic released it on CD. The music is keyboard dominated. At times you will be reminded of Tony Banks and other times you'll be reminded of Emerson or Wakeman. The music is pretty good for a first attempt. Four long tracks that are well developed. These guys might have really been something had things worked out. Overall, this is solid music and definitely worth an audition. It's not as strong as Mirthrandir, but much better than The Load.|
|"Earnest" is the best way to describe this early 70's New Orleans outfit. The boys were only teenagers when they made this ambitious album, and you can just tell they really loved Yes. Yet its not so much a ripoff as a tribute. In that respect, its a charming work, full of youthful enthusiasm, and yes, good playing. No flashy solos like Wakeman, but lots of tasteful, driving keyboards ala Tony Kaye. Just listen to "Simplicity" and you'll be taken by its deceptively simple melodicism. Or the melancholy guitar solo on "Caverns." In fact, if you love Yes but sometimes wish they'd loosen up a bit, this album may be for you.|
After the 1974 recording in New Orleans, Lift relocated to Atlanta on the advice of
their record producer. Several members departed after a set of gruelling recording sessions
for which they never received the masters, but the band reorganized with a new female vocalist,
Laura "Poppy" Pate. This version of the band went on to record several songs up until
1979, which remained unreleased until recently.
The band members were not even aware of the bootleg release of Caverns Of Your Brain until they were contacted by Syn-Phonic Music about a CD re-release. The first official release (on CD) was released by Syn-Phonic in 1990. In 2001, Syn-Phonic re-released these four songs, along with five more from the Atlanta version of the band in a compilation album entitled The Moment of Hearing.
The New Orleans version of the band is usually compared with Yes, but the Atlanta line-up is said to be more similar to mid-period Genesis but with vocals that sound like Annie Haslam of Renaissance. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Lift's web site
Click here to order The Moment of Hearing from Syn-Phonic Music
Story Of Moses (72)
One of the last releases of the ill-fated SI Music, Light's debut album (SI3063-2) sits
pretty well in with that company's roster of melodic hard rockers and neo-prog of all
descriptions. Certainly they share the heavy chordal keyboard presence and
straight-forwardness of most neo-prog. Yet the guitar is heavier and much more dominant
than is usually the case, occasionally in a prog-metal way ("Just Feelings"), but often
closer to traditional hard rock riffing (e.g. "Elephants on Tightrope"). While there is
definite Steve Hackett influence (the way to "Carnivore
Feast" goes straight across "The Steppes"), they go for a bit more unusual, Arabesque and
Indian-sounding scales and melodies, and give instrumental work much more weight than is
normal in this genre. Having said that, I must say this is not necessarily a good thing,
because the writing isn't always up to scratch, and the first part of "Elephants on
Tightrope", for example, drags on monumentally without getting anywhere. The vocalist isn't
quite what you usually come across in these circles either: Nick Kershaw rocked up and
drugged out might be a suitable comparison. The uneven material really clicks perfectly
only in "God on Wires", a gripping power-balladic song, with the album's best vocal melody
and one of its few synthesizer solos. Often the band have ambitions but not quite the ideas
to match them.
The height of those ambitions is the 22-minute "Dreams", apparently trumpeted as being the first track on an SI album to feature a full orchestra and choir (no wonder they subsequently went bust). Once you've paid for it all, you'd better milk it for all it's worth, and so an awful lot of time is spent subjecting what is essentially a single riff to hard-rockish, fusiony and rudimentary classical treatments - far too much for the material's endurance, in fact. Still, embedded in this meandering epic are a nicely glacial choral section and a strong, largely acoustic song with an almost tangible atmosphere of lamentation and vulnerability. The album's (IMO) excellent production and enjoyable atmospheric quality are here matched by worthy material. Too bad that this is not the case more often.
Light were reportedly working on a second album (some new material had been premiered in concerts in 1996), but seem to have split up since without releasing anything more. Like many SI releases, their only album has not been picked up by anyone else and remains out of print. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Light of Darkness (71)
British band but album was released from Germany, hence most people think they are a German band.
Dreamy Floydian sounds.
Modular Experiment (87)
Cités Analogues (88)
Ici et Maintenant (88)
Musique Provisoire (89)
Tycho Brahé (94)
Mundus Subterraneus (95)
In der Unterwelt (96)
Cantus Umbrarum (00)
|Excellent new French electronic band, whom Paul Haslinger has purportedly joined (of Tangerine Dream).|
|Long, moody electronic pieces. It didn't hold my interest very well, an it doesn't sound to me like old Tangerine Dream, which I have heard some people claim. They make an appearance on Hector Zazou's "Sahara Blue."|
Includes members of Kraan and other Krautrock stars.
V.C.U. (We See You) (75)
Cosmic Music Experience (69, as Limbus 3, aka New Atlantis)
Mandalas (70, as Limbus 4)
|Limbus 3 is a trio and Limbus 4 is the same band with one additional player. Both are amazing works of progressive-experimental-improvised music using a large variety of instruments. Cosmic Music Experience, also referred to as New Atlantis because of the side-long track with that name, is more electric in sound, and gets quite wild and scronky at times. Limbus 4's Mandalas, is similar in some ways, though less noisy. The band use mostly acoustic instruments (even a kazoo!) and ethnic percussion to create exotic trance music that is strange and beautiful. It's a bit like Between, or Yatha Sidhra, in a similar relaxed mode but even more unusual. Both albums are very hard to find, but highly recommended. -- Rolf Semprebon|
Power trio in Rush vein, but with Mellotron and keys for prog feel.
I En Aldelles Speciell Tid... (84)
Swedish keyboardist/composer, his album I En Aldelles Speciell Tid... features a full band (guitar, cello, saxes, bass, drums), and musically it falls on the classical/jazz side of the progressive spectrum, sometimes reminding of certain Almqvist or Pohjola tracks (waltz and tango type stuff). It's a very interesting album, definitely worth a listen. Instrumental.
Boogie Woogie (74)
Bike Voyage II (78)
Wet wings (Våta Vingar) (80)
Världen vänder (World turns) (85)
Europa 2 (85)
Feather nights (87)
Europa III, Bridges (89)
Svensk Rapsodi (89)
The Prophet (93)
Sing louder little river (94)
Opus europa (98)
In the air (99)
|Swedish composer who plays the flute, but is also a great piano player and keyboardist. In recent years he´s made mainly "new ageish" type music, but back in the late 70´s, and in perticular on this album [Wet Wings], he wrote great jazzy rock/easy avant garde/artsy electro acoustic music. Slightly high brow (more so than your average pop record anyway), but never hardcore jazz or pure modern classical. Very original, and this is his best record. Something of a Swedish classic. "Elastic Love Song" of this album is among the most beautiful songs I´ve heard. "Sing Louder Little River" is a huge standard in Sweden. And yeah, it´s all instrumental. Don´t bother with the new stuff though, if you´re not into elevator music. -- Daniel|
|Links||Click here for a Björn J:son Lindh fan web site|
Gothic Impressions (94)
Rondo (95, EP)
Bilbo (96, with Björn Johansson)
Mundus Incompertus (97)
Live in America (99)
III: Veni Vidi Vici (01)
Pär Lindh Project in Concert – Live in Poland (08, DVD or DVD+CD)
Pär Lindh has long been involved with the Swedish progressive rock
scene, working for a couple of years with an early formation of Manticore and also helping Änglagård on pipe organ at
Progfest '93. More importantly, Lindh founded The Swedish Art Rock
Society in 1991. Festivals sponsored by this society are an important part
of the '90s Swedish prog scene, of which
Most of the music on Gothic Impressions was written by Lindh in the '70s but the music had to wait until the '90s, when Lindh established the Crimsonic label, to be released. Lindh eschews digital synthesizers, prefering instead to create his music on piano, church and Hammond organs, harpsichord, Mellotron, Clavinet and various analog synths. Lindh also plays bass and drums on several of his songs. On various cuts, Lindh is helped out by a cadre of Swedish musicians, including four members of Änglagård (no more than two appear together on any one song), Roine Stolt (of Kaipa/Flower Kings fame), various guitarists, vocalists and the Camerata Vocalis choir. With a title like Gothic Impressions, you can imagine the style of music heard on this album. "Dresden Lamentation" opens the album with a somber statement about "what once was Europe's most beautiful baroque city." Lindh's haunting keyboards are supported by bassoon, flute and tubular bells. After two minutes, the pace rapidly and seamlessly shifts into "The Iconoclast". Using church organ and an arsenal of synths, Lindh blends classical artistry with the driving force of rock, influenced as much by Bach as by ELP (but without the over-the-top pyrotechnics of the trio). Speaking of ELP, Lindh pays an (intentional or otherwise) homage to "Tarkus." One section of "The Cathedral," the album's 20 minute centerpiece, runs quite parallel to "The Battlefied" section of ELP's epic. Elsewhere in this song, Lindh alternates dazzling displays of dexterity with tender passages of subtlety and sensitivity. The bass and drums, provided by Johan Hogberg and Matthias Olsson of Änglagård, provides listeners with a certain familiarity, and are an excellent foil for Lindh's more intense keyboard work. Vocals are heard on three of the six songs. The vocal passages of "Green Meadow Lands," sung by Mathias Jonson and punctuated by flute and Mellotron, invokes comparisons to the Moody Blues. In contrast, vocals by Ralf Glasz on "The Iconoclast" and "The Cathedral" tend toward gothic classicism. Another feature of the album, one that also reflects Lindh's classical training (and perhaps an indirect reflection of Emerson's influence), is his rendering of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bare Mountain." More faithful (and less adventurous) than Emerson's reading (some would say butchering) of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition," Lindh's interpretation of this classic work fits in well with the overall flow of the album and is an appropriate and welcome inclusion. Gothic Impressions should appeal to all who enjoy the marriage of classically-styled keyboards in a prog-rock setting. -- Mike Taylor
|Pär Lindh Project is a talented Swedish band who have released one full-length album called Gothic Impressions and a mini-CD called Rondo. The band which has changed from a lot to five people has a unique style. As a Swedish band they have a Swedish touch, but blends both early Baroque, Bach as well as post-romanticism, avant-garde and the symphonic rockbands of the early seventies. Pär Lindh writes and play the keyboard in the band (includes Mellotron, Hammond organ, churchorgan, old LSE Syntheziser). He has a long career as church-organist, a solo harpsichaordist, touring classical pianist and much more. The music are on a very high class. I think the debut-CD by this band is the best to come out from Sweden in a long time, although I prefer Änglagård. But the to bands have much incommon. Except the likeness in music, four Änglagård members play on the first record, including Mattias Olsson which do some exelent drumming. There are many other talented people on Gothic like: Roine Stolt, Bjorn Johansson and Jocke Ramsell. The two highlights on Gothic Impressions are the song "The Cathedral," an epic 20 minute symphonic masterpiece and a rework on Mussorgsky's "Night on Bare Mountain." Superb and very mighty. Just thinking about that piece makes me shiver. Rondo is a mini-cd including four songs. First "Rondo," the classic song played by The Nice. Then there is a drum solo-song by Pär, that shows us that he can handle the drums as well as the keyboard. The third song is a staightforward jazz song. The last song is inspired by Tarkovsky's dynamic film "Solaris." A mellow Mellotron musicexperience. I love it. We have to watch out for this band in the future. -- Tobias Broljung|
|Keyboardist Pär Lindh uses analog instruments (organ, Moog, Mellotron) to capture the essence of the '70s sound. He is joined on Gothic Impressions by various Swedish talents on vocals (in English), bass, guitar, drums, harp flute, choir, lute and bassoon. The compositions, as well as the performances, show deep classical root (various era) and themes suggest Gothic or medieval inspiration. Arrangements vary from acoustic folk to heavy symphonic rock in a style that necessarily evokes the acrobatics of a Keith Emerson. A brilliant tribute to an era where just about anything was possible for a keyboardists. The Bilbo collaboration Lindh and Björn Johansson features a versatile duo that uses a great variety of instruments. To the multiple keyboards, guitars, bass, drums, percussions and bassoon are added guests on oboe, flute and female vocals (in English). The music is inspired by fantastic themes with a strong medieval flavour (Lord of the Rings) and shows varied but very appropriate arrangements. A disc where the constant symphonism of the keyboards compliments the baroque sound of the woodwinds as well as the more imposing sounds of electric instruments. A production with strong classical influences where the stronger moments are not always the most explosive ones. -- Paul Charbonneau|
|Gothic Impressions is a very good symphonic progressive rock album with Pär Lindh playing a lot of church organ and Mellotron. Some Änglagård members plays on this album. -- Gunnar Creutz|
|Pär Lindh Project played at Nearfest 2000, and were backed up on guitar and bass for this concert by Joe and Bill Kopecky. Bill subsequently joined the band on bass. PLP has been on hold for a few years now due to the illness of vocalist Magdelena Berg, but she has now rejoined the band and they are recording a new album for release sometime in 2005. -- Fred Trafton|
[See Änglagård |
Far Corner |
Stolt, Roine |
Haiku Funeral |
Click here for the Pär
Lindh Project web aite
Liquid Tension Experiment (98)
Liquid Tension Experiment 2 (99)
Spontaneous Combustion (07, as Liquid Trio Experiment)
|A splinter group of Dream Theater featuring 3/4 of them (Scenes from a Memory lineup), namely Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess plus Tony Levin on bass. Their music has some echos of DT, but has more fusion in it than DT. Still plenty of shred and speed here for ProgMetal-heads. Good stuff. -- Fred Trafton|
Our beloved Editor's write-up* doesn't do justice to this remarkable coming together of musicians. One of the really exceptional "hot players join forces for one or two CDs" projects, this band of brothers turned out to have a compositional and improvisational chemistry almost unparalleled in the power-progressive arena. Led by drummer Mike Portnoy with his cohorts from Dream Theater John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess (not yet with DT in 1998), and Tony Levin on basses, Liquid Tension Experiment certainly lived up to its' mercurial name. From the first notes of the self-titled debut album (Magna Carta, 1998) you know it is going to be a racing, white-hot ride through a music that reveals instrumentalists at their height of skill and inspiration, hungry, not yet ready to relax or look upon their accomplishments, willing to push further, to exhaust the exhausted and have some real fun. This was no Dream Theater . Though heavy and tenacious, LTE are not progressive metal per se. Prog-metal is essentially metal with a progressive leaning, like Tool, The F---ing Champs, Voivod, even Maiden at their best. LTE are heavy but not metal, new but not neo, indulgent but not repetitive. We are living in a great time for progressive and instrumental music, it is more prevalent now than ever albeit less chic. LTE is part of that all too fleeting second golden age we will reminisce about fifteen years from now. Enjoy it while you can. -- David Marshall
*Editor's note: Beloved or not, the Editor had only heard a couple of MP3's of the band at the time he wrote his micro-entry. I didn't feel qualified to write any more on the basis of that, though I did feel that LTE was important enough that they needed an entry in spite of my lack of familiarity with them. I'm glad someone has finally written something more substantive.
Two interesting pieces of news about a band I thought was over with ...
Late October of 2007 saw the release of Spontaneous Combustion, a recording Mike Portnoy has had laying around on a DAT tape since 1998. During the the recording of Liquid Tension Experiment 2, John Petrucci had to leave the already-booked recording studio because his wife had gone into unexpected labor. The remaining three stayed and jammed. Though the original recordings have vanished, Portnoy's personal mixdown still exists and will be released through CD Universe under the name Liquid Trio Experiment. No overdubs, no remixing ... just the raw jams. Sounds interesting.
Second, and perhaps even more interesting, is the fact that LTE has regrouped for a performance at NEARFest X in the summer of 2008 as the Saturday night headliner act. I never thought I'd get to see them live, but maybe now I will. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Dream Theater | Levin, Tony | Rudess, Jordan | Rudess Morgenstein Project | Transatlantic]|
|Of all the Basque progressive albums, Lisker (CD Lost Vinyl L.V. 016) is perhaps the least connected to the music of their own region and certainly closest to rather heavy, straight-head psychedelic rock. A muscular rhythm section keeps the rhythm in both even and odd time, acoustic guitar strums or arpeggiates a chordal backdrop while flute and a fuzzy electric guitar trade riffs and solos. A couple of the five songs start out in a purely acoustic setting, allowing some softer arpeggios, hints of folkish melodies and rather unremarkable vocals to come forth, before the band switch back to rock mode. The flute-playing is the biggest delight here, very bright and melodic, and contrasts with the rougher and more blues-inflected lead guitar. Some of the solos are really compelling, but ultimately that's what the whole album is, a collection of extended solos, including one on the drums near the end. Those who like heavy and passionate guitar rock will like this, but it's no way essential to a progressive rock collection, even Basque progressive. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Surface Serene (03)
Little Atlas - Rik Bigai (bass), Diego Pocoví (drums), Steve Katsikas
(lead vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitar, sax) and Roy Strattman (guitar)
Original entry, 7/26/07:
The first progressive offering from Little Atlas is Surface Serene. This is a really good album of melodic, symphonic prog. It sounds a bit like Kansas in the keyboards, and sometimes reminds of Rush in the guitars, but the album certainly speaks with its own individual voice. Surface Serene was almost "in the can" when their drummer, Tom Vazquez quit the band. They quickly replaced him with Diego Pocoví, who continues as their drummer today. Diego plays percussion throughout Surface Serene, and drums on the first track, "Faceless", but most of the tracks feature Vazquez on drums.
Surface Serene is a nice album, but really has nothing in it that sets it apart for me as a great album. Not so with Wanderlust, which is a truly memorable release. There are still echoes of Surface Serene here, but the songwriting is stronger and more dynamic, and the recording quality and mix is subtly better too. Katsikas' vocals are gravelly and vibrato-y enough to be a good vocalist in a prog-metal band (he's even got the hair for it ... hehe) ... but this isn't prog-metal (except for a few guitar sections that recall Rush's 2112), it's symphonic prog, and the intensity of the vocals gives the music a nice edge. There's even some nice a capella sections that made me think of Gentle Giant for about 8 bars before moving on to something else. Great interplay between all the instruments as guitar, bass and keys create a fugue, then hand off the melody from one instrument to another. The synth soloing reminds alternately of Banks, Wakeman or even the simple-but-satisfying filter sweep sounds of Geddy Lee while the guitar solos switch seamlessly between Steve Howe-like pastoral fluid notefests, Steve Hackettish attack-suppressed crooning or Alex Lifeson-like crunch. They also do several nice dual solos where it's hard to tell what's guitar and what's keyboard. In other words, all the usual proggy stuff, though it never stays with any one style long enough to say, "It sounds like X". Little Atlas will instead be one of those reference bands, where know-it-all reviewers will say, "This band sounds like Little Atlas". A nice place to be, guys. Great stuff!
For the future, Steve Katsikas tells me, "We are currently hard at work on our new album, tentatively titled Hollow. It's a concept album ..." He also thinks this album will owe less stylistically to the "prog forefathers" than the previous releases. I'm looking forward to it! But, it will probably still be awhile until it's complete, having so far recorded only most of the drum tracks. -- Fred Trafton
[See French TV |
Man on Fire]
Little Free Rock (70), Time of No Consequence (71)
Early power trio, hard rock/prog.
Porcelain Pavilion (99)
Sun of the Spirits (00)
Return (05, patented by Little Tragedies 2003)
New Faust (06, 2CD) CD1: CD2:
The Sixth Sense (06)
Chinese Songs (07)
Chinese Songs Part II (07)
The Paris Symphony (09, studio album recorded in 1997 with other bonus tracks from 1996)
Contributions to project albums
Little Tragedies (2007) - Aleksey Bildin (saxophone), Alexander Malakhovsky (guitar),
Yuri Skripkin (drums), Gennady Ilyin (composer, keyboards, vocals) and Oleg Babynin
(bass guitar, vocals)
Original Entry 9/28/01:
This album is primarily a duo (Igor Mikhel on electric and acoustic guitars, plus Gennady Ilyin playing keyboards and vocals) with some guest artists, though I've heard that they have recently fleshed out their line-up to a more complete band. But you won't really miss any other band members on this album, since they have fleshed it out quite nicely with overdubs.
The guitars range from fairly metallic to very acoustic, and the keyboardist really reminds me a lot of Patrick Moraz circa his first or third solo albums (Moraz from this time is probably my all-time favorite keyboardist, so take this as a big complement). Since the lyrics are supposed to be taken from a Russian poet, it would be nice if I could understand what they're singing about, but this doesn't detract from the very well done vocal performances (with many rrrrolling Rrrrussian R's). I'm glad to say that the vocal performances don't take over, though, there is at least as much instrumental music as vocals. The melodies are strong and varied, and the performances very tight and virtuosic. The sound quality is second to none. There's nothing to dislike about this album, unless you just can't handle the Russian vocals. Personally, I find them quite interesting.
Boheme has come up with another winner! You really need to hear this album, it belongs in every serious prog fan's collection. Recommended.
Return is superb, even better than Porcelain Pavilion. As Vitaly mentions in the next article, Little Tragedies has now fleshed out from two to five members, and the only one left from the original line-up is keyboardist/composer/vocalist Gennady Ilyin. Joining him on this album are guitarist Alexander Malakhovsky, sax player Aleksey Bildin, drummer Yuri Skripkin and bassist/vocalist Oleg Babynin. If those names aren't enough to let you know this is a Russian band, wait until you hear the album! There are many bits of Russian classical and folk elements woven in among the rock elements. The blending is seamless, and they make it sound as if Russian classical and folk works should have always been played on organs and polyphonic synthesizers.
The keyboards are definitely still the foremost instrument, and I'm tempted to say it sounds like Emerson, Lake and Palmer sung in Russian. But this is better than ELP in almost every way, with the inclusion of many laid-back pastoral sections and lacking in the bombastic overkill of many ELP works. And this is coming from a guy who really loves ELP! The complexities of these compositions are always there because the music demands it, not to show off how well Gennady Ilyin can play, and it flows from section to section like a well-thought-out classical piece rather than jerking spasmodically from one section to the next as some ELP (and lots of other prog) does. This is very mature, professional and completely captivating music.
The vocals are the other main instrument here, and I'm sorry to say that I can't say much about them except that they were penned by Russian poet Nicolai Gumilev and are well-sung on the album. I just wish I knew what the subject matter was. Vitaly Menshikov speaks a bit about Gumilev's poetry in the next article. [Note added 11/14/05: See links below for English translations of Gumilev's poems]
I will abide by the wishes of composer Gennady Ilyin and refrain from labeling this album as "progressive". He says, "I view it to go beyond time and needing no label. It talks of the eternal issues that every person sooner or later comes across in his life." What I will do is say that, no matter what you want to call this music, it ought to become an instant classic album among those that appreciate progressive music and also classical music. This is among the most exciting releases I've heard in a long time, and it's sure to be staying in my CD player for way too much time in the months to come. This album is beyond recommended ... it's essential. Order it as soon as possible!
My wife is an ELP fan, so I wanted to play this for her. After our son went to bed one night, I put it on. This is the sort of music that begs you to crank the volume. So the volume level kept creeping up, and my wife and I were headbanging away to the amazing, powerful organ and guitar pyrotechnics when suddenly my wife held up her hand and remarked, "What's that noise?". I turned down the sound and listened, and could hear the doorbell ringing. It was a cop at our door. He said he'd been ringing the bell for the last ten minutes, that it was too damned loud and turn it down or he'd ticket me for disturbing the peace. Well, what could I say to this? Several things, I suppose ... but my choice was "Yes, Sir". Hey, it's just that kind of album. But watch out for cops. Now I blast it on my car stereo and nobody can say anything about it to me.
In spite of the fact that I loved the album more than anything I've heard in recent memory, I felt like it was unfair to talk about it in the GEPR because I couldn't tell anyone else how to get ahold of this masterpiece. But, since that first e-mail, Little Tragedies has signed with MALS, a Russian progressive rock label, and even played at the only prog festival in Moscow that I've ever heard of, In-Prog. An international version of the album, with an English CD insert and titles is available from them by mail-order, see link below. If you are a fan of ELP, but wish there was more and better guitar work and perhaps a little less ELP "overkill", and perhaps also more in the way of serious development of themes in a 2CD long concept album, then New Faust is the biggest treat you can imagine.
After receiving the New Faust CDR's but before the international release, I got a second package from the Ilyins. This was Little Tragedies' newest unreleased album, The Sixth Sense, along with a Gennady Ilyin solo album, also unreleased. Ilyin is sure a busy guy. The Sixth Sense is a good album, but to tell the truth New Faust is such a hard act to follow that I find it a bit more sedate than I might have wished for. It's pretty good, really, but the heavy Hammond sound has been superceded by polyphonic synthesizers and piano to a large extent, so it sounds more like ELP circa Works Vol. I than, say, Brain Salad Surgery. Even the organ sounds cleaner on this album, less distorted. The second cut, "Bird", doesn't sound much like ELP with the possible exception of the classical piano section in the middle of the song ... the beginning and ending have more in common with Pink FLoyd, with a slow, sustained, bluesy guitar solo being played alongside a jazzy sax solo. The third cut, "On the Seashore", starts off with a new-agey spacey electronic soundscape, then moves on to a harpsichord ballad, ornamented by synth basses, bell-like chords and a slowly evolving sustained guitar solo. In other words, there's a lot more stylistic variation on this album. Well, the music is still very good, but overall I still like New Faust better.
A word of warning (again) ... Little Tragedies isn't an ELP clone band by any means, though you'll be reminded of them frequently. This music is far more Russian sounding overall and Ilyin isn't above using martial flag-waving epic patriotic sounding structures, though I suspect that Gumilev's poetry is a bit different lyrically than what one might expect from the music. The chugging prog-metal guitar work is also not like anything you'd hear on an ELP album, so Little Tragedies is really speaking with a new voice, though it still has echoes of past prog artists.
My understanding is that MALS will be releasing The Sixth Sense soon as well, so check out the links below if you're interested. -- Fred Trafton
I really like this album. It's different enough from New Faust that I don't feel any need to draw comparisons between the two or declare one the winner. Still plenty of emotional, complex keyboards, with some good metal guitar work playing in front of a roaring freight train of a rhythm section and plenty of Russian epic scope and almost patriotic fervor. Less bombastic, but still with plenty of liveliness, Chinese Songs perhaps shows Little Tragedies becoming more mature without getting boring. Another easy recommendation.
Chinese Songs seems to be the first of a two-part release, if I interpret the album layout on the MALS web site correctly. It seems as if there's supposed to be a sample of one song from Part 2 available there, but all the samples seem to have broken links at the moment. Try them for yourself when you get a chance. And I'll let you know when I get a chance to hear some or all of Part 2.
One more thing to note: New Faust and The Sixth Sense are also available for download on the Mindawn web site. Jump directly there by clicking the or icons by the album titles above. I expect Chinese Songs to become available from Mindawn soon as well. -- Fred Trafton
The next step, for me, should be trying to sing a couple of songs in English. Because, while I don't mind prog in other languages, the lyrics for Little Tragedies' music seems to be very important, and I feel like I'm missing out by not understanding them. Providing the English translations in their CD notes is highly appreciated, but I'd still like to be able to hear the lyrics' meaning within the context of the music. I suppose I could learn Russian ... but then I'd have to learn Japanese, Portugese, Spanish, Swedish, Italian and German to hear some of my other favorite lyrics from other bands. That's not going to happen. But, even if they continue to sing only in Russian (as seems likely), Little Tragedies will remain not only my favorite Russian band, but one of my favorite prog bands from anywhere. Brilliant! -- Fred Trafton
The heavy polysynth in The Paris Symphony keeps reminding me of Works Vol. 1-era ELP, or to a lesser extent, Eddie Jobson's keyboard work in the first UK album or (even more) "The Green Album". The compositions are excellent ... rockin', bombastic and classically-influenced at the same time, but with that "Russian Classical" feel pervading the piece. It also reminds me quite a bit of their countryman Aviva's first album, though this has no prog-metal content like Aviva's latest release.
The Paris Symphony is a great album, worth it for the title piece. There are also three bonus tracks that were recorded a year earlier. These are OK, but sound a bit more primitive both compositionally and recording-quality-wise. But not to worry, The Paris Symphony alone makes this album a must-have release, at least in my book. Fantastic.
I also want to mention the "side-long" epic contribution the the 2008 Colossus/Musea project album Spaghetti Epic 3. Entitled "The Voice of Silence" and clocking in at 19:10, it's a great piece of Little Tragedies-style keyboard-dominated prog. What it has to do with Spaghetti Epics is anyone's guess, but it's a really great piece of music, and since the lyrics are still in Russian, I guess it can be about anything they say it is, including Italian Westerns. But in my mind it conjures more pictures of armored armadillos than it does cowboys ... oh, wait ... there is a brief acoustic guitar part that sounds a bit like "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" for about 15 seconds before getting back to the power keyboard prog. Well, anyway, it's a really cool piece of music, and Spaghetti Epic 3 would be worth having just for this piece, though the other 2 cuts aren't bad either.
Little Tragedies has been quite active in this "project album" arena for the last year or so, also contributing pieces to Inferno and the upcoming Purgatorio, both Colossus/Musea projects. It's a good way to get a few releases out there without doing an entire album, and they can always release them on an album of their own later if they want to (since I've noted several bands who have done this, it seems to be a clause in the musicians' contract for these projects that they retain the right to re-purpose these compositions for themselves later). If you're any sort of completist, you'll need to own these albums for Little Tragedies contributions alone, and Inferno, being a 4CD behemoth, also has a bunch of cool stuff ftom many other bands too. -- Fred Trafton
Porcelain Pavilion is the debut album of Little Tragedies - a
contemporary Russian ProGject led by composer and keyboardist Gennady Ilyin.
Actually, Gennady composed a trilogy (of albums) based on the poetry of the
remarkable Russian poet Nikolay Gumilyov (and, this way, dedicated to the
memory of his). Two of these "trilogic" albums - this and the second Sun
of the Spirit - are already recorded and released on CDs. While the first
two Little Tragedies albums, unfortunately, feature only two musicians, the
third one, now in the works, presents a full-blooded line-up. At last, Little
Tragedies became a real Rock band (with a trombonist, in addition).
Despite the only instrumental ("In the Heavens") on the album all the vocal parts of the nine songs are almost always located somewhere in the middle of them. So, first of all, there's enough space for Ilyin to demonstrate his mastership as a keyboard player, as well as his composing talents in constructing engaging and intricate instrumental arrangements. The vocal parts of the nine songs (in Russian) have Ilyin singing various verses of Gumilyov that actually are nothing but the poet's reflections on life in this world, including mini-poems of everyday little tragedies (though, most of Gumilyov's verses in general is exactly that: short real tragedies). While the majority of vocal parts here, on the whole, are rather of a meditative character (apart from, maybe, a couple episodes that brood over humanity's plight), the album's instrumental palette, that takes up about two third of the playing time, is astonishingly diverse in moods, colours, and arrangements. It's only analog and acoustic keyboards you'll hear on Porcelain Pavilion. Using only analog keyboards helps to support the singer's varied emotions (just according to Gumilyov's moods in each exact verse), as these keyboards sound more vivid (and maybe more sincere) than their younger brothers - modern digital computer-like synthesizers (machines!). Rarely playing chords, Ilyin and his ten fingers are constantly busy and the melodies he plays are as beautiful as his speedy solos and interplays between different keyboards are inspiring. Although Ilyin's skill is on par with the best today's (and most of the "old" as well) keyboardists in the field, his style to play this instrument is devoid of any side influences. This is a unique in some ways style, and the sound of the album as a whole becomes already typical for a new, Slavonic branch of Progressive. Mikhel's electric and semi-acoustic guitar chords and roulades are very good, though they're particularly notable just in about a half of album's 10 pieces. As for his (wonderful and virtuosic) solos, I've heard them only on two compositions, though I'd wish there were more on the album. But I'd especially appreciate if there were enjoyable interplays between keyboard solos and electric guitar a-la classical passages and the other way round, of course. But if the lack of guitar moves on the album I consider a serious drawback (just because there is a live guitarist in the album's line-up), using the 'synthetic' bass and the programmed drums looks more or less justified (at least in that exact year of 1999 when Little Tragedies were just a duo). So while compositionally I consider Porcelain Pavilion a unique album in many ways that at least approaches the status of a masterpiece, a lack of diversity in the overall sound doesn't have too positive an effect on the performance as a whole. Like I said, first of all it applies to the absence of the guitar in a lot of places. It wouldn't matter that much had there been a real bassist and a drummer in the line-up, but this is another story. So I am really glad Little Tragedies became recently a full-blooded band (at long last).
Sun of the Spirits, the second Little Tragedies album, continues a specific conception based on an obvious spiritual connection between the composer Gennady Ilyin and the poetry of Nikolay Gumilyov. Although [it] was again performed by the two same musicians that featured the Porcelain Pavilion CD this is a more mature album in all senses. First off, all arrangements shine here with wonderful diversity. That happens thanks to a different "structural" approach to the process of composing of every separate composition, as well as to the frequent changes of a lot of different mini-pieces the album throughout. Sun of the Spirits contains a lesser number of bright keyboards solos and this music, on the whole, is more focused on reflecting the poet's emotions in detail, which are plenty in each verse of Gumilyov. Another positive point is that now, unlike the first album, it becomes impossible to know "in advance" when another vocal part should begin. The same goes for Ilyin's vocal parts that sound much more diversely on Sun of the Spirits than they did before. Another one good factor is that Mikhel this time got more room for his own arrangements, and his electric guitar's riffs and moves support Ilyin's keyboard passages, roulades and solos especially often. A whole palette of the music of Little Tragedies became now as full of change as any place in the dangerous "Zone" from the elitist movie "The Stalker" (by Andrey Tarkovsky) that was based on the Strugatsky Brothers' scenario written on the motifs of their own novel "A Picnic On the Roadside" (this is that rare case when a (180-minute long) film turned out to be much more profound and interesting than the original novel).
Despite the fact that stylistically Porcelain Pavilion is, on the whole, your typical keyboard-based album (keyboard-driven, more precisely), you'll be amazed at its refreshing originality because Little Tragedies sound different from anything you've heard in this style. At least relatively, this music has also the same Slavonic roots, as it is the case with [other] Russian, Ukrainian, Moldavian, etc. bands (i.e. Vermicelli Orchestra, Er J Orchestra, Pesniary, et. al). Generally, Sun of the Spirits, unlike the Porcelain Pavilion album, enchants the listener with a lot of new ideas and with really diverse, complex and very interesting arrangements, though the dominating moods on this album are sorrow and anxiety - these eternal heralds of tragedy. Drama is the word. A complex, thoughtful and very deep drama is being performed on Sun of the Spirits. There are also a lot of wonderful acoustic episodes on this album that couldn't sound so vivid and touching being supported by a "live" rhythm-section, so this time I just have to shut my eyes on the absence of the latter and, this way, I honestly consider the second Little Tragedies album a real masterpiece. -- Vitaly Menshikov
Click here for Little Tragedies' web site
Note: Boheme records is now defunct, but ...
Click here to order all titles from Musea Records or
Click here for samples & info from MALS on the newer releases, or Russian versions of the albums for those who like such things
Click here or here for English translations of Nicolai Gumilev's poetry
Lives and Times is Richard Wileman (guitars/keyboards/perc), Teresa Griffin (bass), and Lorna Cumberland (lead and backing vocals), an outgrowth of the New Idea Of Heaven project (see elsewhere). The album is dominated by Cumberland's voice, which has a mysterious Kate Bush type feel. Wileman's Guitars and keys propel it well, and give most tracks a strong progressive foundation, but never come out front to dominate. My only gripe is the drum machine that makes many of the tracks feel over-programmed.
[See New Idea of Heaven, A]
Let: From Experience To Experience (78), Mysterious Dream (81)
The sound is a mix of vangard, jazz and popular music.
To Allen Ginsberg (72)
The lyrics are from the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, the sound is folk.
In Concert (81, re-released on CD in 1999)
All right, let's get one thing out of the way immediately. This is a really
awful recording. I've heard better bootlegs recorded by some guy with microphones
sewn into his hat. It also happens to be the only recording in existence of this
very unusual Swiss progressive/art rock band. So deal with it. At least it's not
the old joke, "The food here is awful ... and such small portions". The recording
may be awful, but at least there's plenty of it, 2 CD's worth.
Lizard toured Switzerland from 1978 to 1981, and almost never set foot outside the borders of their own country. This was to limit their exposure severely, so they never got more than a small following in Switzerland, and nobody outside really ever heard of them. But here we have a compilation of their best performances, all recorded live and In Concert.
Lizard is mostly instrumental with some sections of spoken voice and vocals in both English and French. The singer is a bit on the rough side, which may be why they relied more heavily on instrumentals. Styles range from keyboard-oriented progressive to avant-garde noise with starts and stops, with some rock and roll thrown in for good measure. They don't know how to do a short song, and sometimes the musical ideas are exhausted five minutes before the end of the song. But they're not the only prog band I can think of that has this problem ...
They probably sound the most like Todd Rundgren's Utopia around the time of Utopia or Another Live, though occasionally a bit of Van Der Graaf Generator shows through as well. Since the CD is a compilation of recordings from several concerts over the span of about a year and a half, the quality of the sound varies dramatically, as does the quality of the musicianship. I'm not sure if it improves as time goes on, or if it's more a function of the particular concert, or perhaps the sobriety of the musicians. But, at any rate, the 2 CD set is a roller coaster ride. If you don't like what you're hearing at any given moment, just wait a couple of minutes and it will be quite different. I find myself being alternately thrilled and bored by this CD. But, as I said, it's all we got, so let's thank Black Rills Records for re-releasing it on CD. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Black Rills Records
Lizard's guitarist Matthias Grob has a web site, but you'll have to look hard to find a mention of Lizard there.
Coïncidences (85), Brussels (87), Friendships (8?), French Guitar (89), 5th Edition (90)
After the break-up of Coincidence, Jean-Pierre Llabador bounced back with his first solo album Coïncidences, which also featured Coincidence drummer Joel Allouche. Musically, Coïncidences is very pleasant listening, and recalls the ECM recordings of the Pat Metheny Group. Jean-Pierre Llabador has done at least one more solo recording following Coïncidences, and Allouche is currently a sought-after session drummer who has appeared on CDs by Marc Ducret and Nguyen Le, among others. -- David Wayne
Lluis Llach a l'Olympia (73), I si canto trist (74), Viatge a Itaca (75) Les seves primeres cancons (77, recorded '67 to '69), Campanadas a mort (77), El meu amic el mar (78), Maremar (85), Astres (86), Sommiem (79), Verges 50 (80), I amb el somriure, la revolta (82), T'estimo (84), Geographia (88), Torna Aviat (91)
From Catalonia. Llach is a musical chamelon who mixes "progressive" with folk, new age, chanson, ballads and more. For the "progressive"-minded, Astres and Torna Aviat are probably the most interesting.
Praise The Load (76)
Load Have Mercy (95, Mostly recorded in 1977)
|Fairly mediocre prog rock, rescued from oblivion by The Laser's Edge. Most of the tracks on Praise The Load sound as if they could use some vocals: as instrumentals they just don't have what it takes to be more than backing tracks. Two classical covers ("Brandenburg #3,""William Tell Overture") are notable exceptions to the overall boredom of this album.|
|The Load were formed in the early seventies, and originally recorded Praise the Load in 1976. They are a trio of keyboards/guitar/drums, and the music on their album is finely crafted keyboard rock, in the tradition of Refugee and, to some extent, ELP. There are a couple of arrangements of classical music, namely the 3rd Movement of Bach's "Brandenburg Concerto," and Rossini's "William Tell Overture," which give an indication of the band's direction. Overall, the music is very well executed, and is primarily instrumental.|
|Okay American prog with classical influences. The keyboard player, Sterling Smith, seems to have definitely enjoyed the baroque era of classical music, as his playing is full of Bachisms. Indeed, they cover Bach's 3rd Brandenburg Concerto to pretty good effect. He's a very fast and nimble player, ala Wakeman, but as a whole, the band isn't that hot. One cut, "Dave's A Song" is really nothing but a 2-chord boogie with a pseudo-prog break in the middle. There's much better US prog, but then again, there's worse. The CD for Praise the Load was released by The Laser's Edge. Their unreleased 2nd, Load Have Mercy is due on the same label in '93.|
I can not tell you if the comments on their past effort Praise the Load are
right or wrong, because I don't have it ... [but on Load Have Mercy], interplays
between keys, drums, bass and guitar make this CD a must for every prog fan in the world
that enjoy retro seventies sound. The great Bob Katz was in charge to the do the
remastering duties and he succeeded!!! What a mix. There are 9 songs on this CD that range
between 2 and 14 minutes, and there are a few vocals tracks as well, good vocals for
instance, lush harmonies too. The last song "Eitel's Lament" 12:14 minutes has an
incredible story; they had the rough mix since the seventies [but] it was improper to
include it in the CD, so they got together after more than 20 years and rerecorded it
using the same old studio.
This is passionate music played with the heart. In the seventies, the structure of the music was more important than showing instrumental mastery ... -- Mario German Mejia
|Links||Click here to order Load Have Mercy from The Laser's Edge. Praise the Load is out of print.|
Time Flies (71)
Local 7 is a progressive power trio ... oops! That's just what they sound like! They're
really a progressive power duo (at least for this album, more on that later) consisting
of Patrick Andrieu on guitar, bass and keyboards and Jean Francois Graviloff drums and
percussion. The guitar and bass lines interweave expertly together, like two players
who have been playing together for years, this doesn't sound like overdubs at all. But
the drums are also played in a very "melodic" way, echoing the cadences of the notes
rather than just keeping a beat, so it's obvious that this music is heavily pre-planned
and composed rather than improvised.
I can't really think of any other bands that sound much like this, so I'll just have to be descriptive. The guitar, bass and drums mostly play fast phrases of notes, and any overall melody can only be heard as it is handed off between all the instruments (including the drums). At my first listen to this album, I wasn't all that impressed. But subsequent listenings have allowed me to hear what's going on with this instrument-hopping, and I now have to say this is really well done. The melodic parts happen mostly on guitar and bass, though there are some minor amount of keyboards as well. If I had to make a complaint, it's that the songs all start sounding sort of alike by the end of the album. Still, this is excellent stuff and I have no trouble recommending Substrat as long as you're not one of those "it's not progressive unless it has keyboards in it" people.
Local 7 have recently acquired a bassist and keyboardist in order to be able to perform this music live, and I suspect they will be working together on a new album which will include all four of their contributions. -- Fred Trafton
Local 7 do not appear to have a web site.
Click here to order Substrat from Musea Records
Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più (77)
Live (93, recorded '77)
Homo Homini Lupus (99)
|Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più may be one of the best progressive albums recorded. A seven piece - complete with dual guitars and dual keyboards, that takes the best from all of the best progressive bands - most notably PFM, Pink Floyd, and Yes - sounds nothing like any of them, yet is consistently one of the most beautifully crafted albums ever, rivalling any of the progressive greats. If it weren't for peoples attitudes to foreign lyrics, this could have been listed with the recognized classics of the genre. It is of equal stature.|
|Locanda Delle Fate were another of the Italian progressive rock bands who released one classic and slipped into obscurity. However, unlike many bands whose releases deservedly go nowhere fast, this release is a fine piece of work. The music is lush and full, featuring seven members, centred around keyboards and piano. The best comparison would be to PFM in their better moments, with Italian vocals that are not intrusive. There are half a dozen classic Italian CDs that have been released as Japanese pressings, which are essential additions to the collection of serious prog-heads, and this, in my opinion, is one of them.|
|One of my favorites. Progressive music doesn't get much better than this. No one in the band stands out but they work so amazingly well together. The vocals are great and the interplay contains enough counterpoint to match classical music.|
|Italian seven-piece featuring drums/vibraphone, bass, two guitarists, two keyboardists, and lead vocals. Their sound models the best aspects of early PFM (1st two albums) into a more rock sound, not in the way PFM did (by assuming the stylings of Yes, ELP and later Genesis), but by expanding upon the very essence of that sound. This is by and far one of the most spirited examples of the 70's italian progressive scene. Vocals are great.|
|I think all these people who call this band's album a "classic" are rather overstating the case. Nonetheless, it IS an excellent, but somewhat reserved set of melodic Italian prog tunes, often resembling P.F.M. or Il Volo. Vocally, the singer somewhat resembles Francesco Di Giacomo of Banco, but deeper and not quite as accomplished. The instrumentation includes dual keyboards and flute, and for the most part cruises along gently and pleasantly, but occasionally injects surprising bits of intensity that seem to come out of nowhere. There are also some good vocal harmonies that remind of Latte e Miele. A very good album, yet it lacks that extra "punch" needed to give it the "classic" label. -- Mike Ohman|
|Another great entry from Italy. Intricate and complex, melodic and enjoyable. Lead vocalist has a rough, but likeable voice. A very sophisticated work, it has a "jazz" sensibility to it, in that the ensemble really plays togther well - it's not a group of virtusos trading solos - but a group playing off each other.|
|Excellent Italian band who released one album in 1977. A largish band as it goes with two each of guitar and keyboards. Add a drummer, bassist, and vocalist and you've got seven guys with potential to do some complex music. And they do. This is another one of those albums that you have to listen to several times to fully appreciate the melodic interplay. I find these albums to be the most endearing over the long haul. Also relatively unique is that the members contribute rather than showcase. In other words, the entire musical piece and atmosphere is primary; standout solos are minimal. For that reason, upon first listen, you might want to pass the music off as uninteresting. Hardly so! Give it time and it will reveal itself to you. And you will be pleased. Musically, the closest comparison would be to Gentle Giant or Pablo "El Enterrador." Realize that these are vague comparisons. Locanda delle Fate is one of a kind. Highly recommended.|
|Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Più allows the discovery of a typical Italian band of seven members on double- keyboards, double-guitars, vocals (in Italian), bass and drums. The style is a symphonic rock with arrangements and developments that make the most out of a rich and varied instrumentation. The delicate melodic work, shared by vocals, keyboards, guitars and flute, is supported by dynamic rhythms to create a sound that alternates from acoustic to electric. The tasteful double-keyboard work deserves the comparison to Banco as the overall performances to the rest of the Italian "classics." -- Paul Charbonneau|
|I have only listened to their ("European Rock Legends Series" re-mastered) 1977 debut Forse le Lucciole non si Amano Piu and would have to consider it (along with everybody else) as a late-period masterpiece. This recording boasts athletic ensemble work, superb arrangements, wonderful analog synthesizers, and deft musicianship. However, no matter how great their debut is, it is not completely beyond criticism. Unlike Banco, PFM, and Le Orme, where emotion abounds, I found the music on this disc to be somewhat cold and mechanical, which stems from the sacrifice of "space" and "warmth" for technical prowess. Moreover, the lead vocalist (vocals in Italian) has a raspy, gravelly baritone, which he occasionally strains unnaturally and painfully into higher registers. I also feel compelled to point out that despite the comparisons, he sounds NOTHING like the brilliant and technically correct Francesco di Giacomo. Fans of American progressive might like the (fleeting) moments where they lay down some very Kansas-influenced passages (this is just an effect of the combination of some very Dave Hope-ish bass playing and Kansas-ish synth sounds). Given the generally high quality of the music however, any shortcomings that I have perceived are more than compensated for. Recommended! -- Jeff Park|
|I have listened to "forse le lucciole non si amano piu" from the album and was a bit disappointed. Its nice, pleasant but far from being the great work I usually read about. There are far more interesting Italian bands from the mid-late 70's - Corte dei Miracoli, for instance which I find much more captivating. The complexity issue that a lot of reviewers and prog-heads continually express is a bit odd. I remember having the same views when I was a teenager - but the older you get, the more your musical curiosity will take you toward jazz or classical. Prog is still fun, but if you're looking for "complexity" just look at Bach, Coltrane or any other of the myriad of composers. Locanda is wimpy as a rock act, overly produced - its intricacies are commonplace and its lyricism is not pretty, just sugary. -- Philip Andrews|
for the Locanda Delle Fate web site
Click here to order these CD's
Lockwoods (77), Surya (79), New World (79), Eyeball (80), Live (81), Fasten Seat Belts (82), The Kid (83), Didier Lockwood Group (84), Out Of The Blue (85), 1-2-3-4 (87), Au Clair De La Lune (89), Phoenix (90) With C.Vander/B.Widemann/J.Top: Fusion (81) With C.Escoude/P.Catherine: Trio (83) With Blake/Urbaniak: Rhythm And BLU (??)
Lockwood was the violinist with Magma in the mid-70's lineup that recorded the live album, he also played with Gong, Clearlight, and Ceccarelli. His solo albums tend lean more towards jazz than rock, although Surya carries a lot of influence from Magma. Most fans of the Magma sound will enjoy it.
[See Clearlight | Gong | Magma | Widemann, Benoit | Zao]
Hungarian releases: Kepzelt Riport Egy Amerikai (73, with
others), Ringasd El Magad (73), Bummm! (73), V (75),
Mindig Magasabbra (76), Zene (77), Mindenki (79),
other '80s releases
Other releases: Locomotiv GT (74), All Aboard (75), In Warsaw (75), Locomotiv GT (76), Motor City Rock (76)
Hungarian. Not progressive in my book, by any means. Remember that they were *huge* in Hungary. Ok, my main experience with them is a live album from Warsaw, and the first side has some interesting stuff (including Buddy Miles' "Them Changes" which they cover without credit), but the B side has some really sappy material. (And hearing the English version on the radio later didn't help). And I sampled another album of theirs, simply called Zene I believe, who found its way to Sweden, and that was nothing but pop.
Sounds a bit like early Steve Miller Band. Active from 1970 until 1992. Loski is your best buy. You may also want to check out Gabor Presser's solo career if you like them. There was a 1973 English version of Bumm.
Omega spin-off. Kepzelt Riport Egy Amerikai is a rock-opera based on events of the 1969 Altamont festival. Other LPs supposedly more blues rock orientated. -- Mike Ohman
[See Omega | Presser, Gabor; Ringasd El Magad is supposed to be their most progressive/psychedelic. By the '80s, they were pure pop/rock.]
Kollege Klatt (72), James Blond (73), Fette Jaehre (75)
German political-rock compared to Floh De Cologne, Eulenspygel, et al. w/electric violin and synths.
Time Flies (71)
Smell of a Friend (88)
|New York-based band led by ex-Slapp Happy guitarist Peter Blegvad and bass player John Greaves, formerly of Henry Cow and National Health. Also featured in the band are Blegvad's brother Kristoffer on lead vocals and ex-Dizrythmia guitarist/flute player/vocalist Jakko Jakzyk. The music is a somewhat interesting mix of semi-complex progressive rock and adult pop that ends up sounding like a most unlikely mix of National Health and Prefab Sprout, but with the elder Blegvad's weird free-form poetry lyrics giving it a uniquely New York underground feel. One must respect them for being able to try such a combination and actually pull it off. -- Mike Ohman|
|Links||[See Blegvad, Peter | Greaves, John | Slapp Happy | Henry Cow | Jakzyk, Jakko | National Health]|
Logan Dwight (72)
When the band folded, Federico D'Andrea went to play with Libra ... jazz-rock not very original.
London Underground (00)
Through a Glass Darkly (03)
The London Underground (original line-up) - Marco Paiggesi (bass), Daniele Caputo (drums),
Gianluca Gerlini (keyboards)
London Underground is the side project of Standarte drummer/vocalist Daniele Caputo. Basically a trio, the band features Caputo, bassist Marco Paiggesi, keyboard player Gianluca Gerlini, plus a few guest guitarists. Stylistically similar to Standarte, but perhaps with a Beatles flair, ala Big Elf, the main difference is that this band is much less in a heavy rock vein. Caputo seems to feature classic retro 70's sounds, and the bands emphasis on Hammond organ, Mellotron, Moog, and vocal harmonies that would have found a home on any Beatles or Traffic album from that era. Guitars are used quite sparingly, instead leaving room for Gerlini to steal the show. From the production, to the instrumentation, down to the song arrangements, if you didn't know any better you would swear this album was recorded in 1971. Some of the highlights are the catchy "Worst Is Yet To Come", with its driving bass line, swirling organ, and addictive chorus. "Was She Worth My Time" is like a head on collision of The Beatles and early Deep Purple, complete with haunting Mellotron. There is even a neat cover version of the Brian Auger classic "Whatcha Gonna Do" included, featuring a hot Hammond solo that would make Auger smile. London Underground is one of those bands that, given the right promotion, could possibly catch on with a more mainstream audience. Only time will tell. -- Peter Pardo
|With a few line-up changes (Standarte bassist Stefano Gabbani replacing Paiggesi and the addition of full-time guitarist Gianni Vergelli), London Underground released their second album Through A Glass Darkly in 2003. Though I haven't heard their debut, Peter Pardo's review above tells me that the musical style must be pretty similar. Through A Glass Darkly is definitely early '70's popular rock style, reminiscent of The Beatles and early Deep Purple (due to the organ), though I don't really notice any Mellotron on this album, only typical early '70's Hammond organ sounds. The guitars are more prevalent on this album than Peter says were on the first album, which makes sense since they now have a full-time guitarist. And he also plays in a style that accentuates the keyboard and vocal style's time frame (early on, London Underground's web site claimed that this was a release of tapes from an unknown band found buried in the foundations of the London Underground during rennovations, hence the band name. This is, of course, untrue, but the music certainly sounds like it could be true). I like this album a lot, though it's more '70's "classic rock" in style than "prog" in the "sounds like Yes and Genesis" sense. Excellent. -- Fred Trafton|
Alan Loo is a guitarist who has released an album named Memories on the Musea
Records label. The songs were composed by Alain Burger, who is credited on most songs
with "Drums Programations", which I assume means he programmed the rhythm parts on a
The songs are instrumental, with smooth acoustic and electric guitars usually taking the forefront and lush keyboard orchestrations supporting the overall symphonic sound. There are some fuzzed electric parts too, but I would describe this album as "easy listening". Everything is very pretty and not challenging at all, though the musicianship from all involved is topnotch. More complex than your usual new age album, but definitely with similar melodic sensibilities. Musea compares Loo to Jean Pascal Boffo, but I can't comment on this since I'm not familiar with Boffo's work. If you want something light and undemanding but still showing a high level of musicianship, this is a pleasant album. -- Fred Trafton
Near as I can tell, Alan Loo has virtually no web presence at all.
Click here to order from his label, Musea Records.
Lacrimae Rerum (87, rereleased as L'Acre Hymne Aerait Rome in 2001)
Bec Et Ongles (91)
|Very much like Hellebore, to whom they were related.|
Denis Tagu, once a member of Hellebore, picked up bunch
of musicians after the Hellebore's split (though I suspect
that the former Hellebore members just assumed funny
pseudonyms and continue to work in a realm of weird music for at least a few years (and
more, for the linear notes promise band's ressurection in years to come, and thus 2003
being one of these years)). L'Acre Hymne Aerait Rome (translated ...) being
listened to from a distance sounds like head on collision of 80's
Residents and Barricade 3 era
ZNR, at a closer "Look" listener recognizes a swarming mass of
unexpected sonic combinations. More wavy than Hellebore
(sometimes even discoid, and thus more in the spirit of the age). Pascal Comelade-like
toy-sounds mingle with "serious" ones, say ZNR-ic or better said
Satiesque keyboard passage, oozing out a myriad of eccentricities. Placed on the line of
humor, but on quite the opposite side of [Hellebore's]
Il y a des Jours, "Tout Comme Bach" is perhaps the finest example. Pretty good and
Bec et Ongles is weirder in construction, looser and more playful, yet it sounds quite "normal". Playful to the degree of being thoroughly childish and containing 24 short tracks, it comes even closer to Klimperei, Pascal Comelade and other French "toylovers". The main point of this offering is not to concentrate on presentation of odd combinations but to present the everlastingness of the young spirits in general and their youth in particular. So the results are plainly charming and not mind-disturbing. It must be noted, though, that the work was accomplished with the help of L'Ensemble Raye members and associates (such as Brode Tango) in whose studio in Switzerland Bec et Ongles was recorded. The "unity" of the actors involved may help to grasp the further shift from brooding experimentation of early Hellebore days to childish ear friendliness of Look's Bec. The material thus sounds somewhat similar to Ensemble Raye efforts, but still, these may be light years away. Indispensable for any avant-prog collector. -- Nenad Kobal
[See Ensemble Raye, L' |
Equinox (00, demo EP)
Looking-Glass-Self (demo line-up) - André Matos (Vocals), Markus Steffen
(Guitars), Oliver Holzwarth (Bass) and Alexander Holzwarth (Drums)
Original entry, 7/31/02:
Looking Glass Self is comprised of three former members of Sieges Even, namely Markus Steffen, SE's original guitarist, and the brothers Holzwarth, Oliver on bass and Alex> on drums. Their demo EP featured the vocals of Brazilian singer André Matos, formerly of Angra, but for reasons I don't know, he has now parted ways with the remaining band members and they are looking for a new vocalist. In the meantime, the Holzwarths have busied themselves working with Blind Guardian on Nightfall in Middle Earth and Angra on Angel's Cry, and Alex is the current drummer for Rhapsody, performing on 2000's Dawn of Victory and 2001's Rain of a Thousand Flames.
Musically, LGS is about as far from thrash or prog metal as you can get. There is a lot of guitar picking, to the point where it really sounds like classical spanish guitar or flamenco sometimes, but with a nice rock backbeat (and no castañets). It's also got some slight resemblence to '80's King Crimson as far as fast repeated sequences go, but this is far more acoustic and organic. It's quite unique, really, and not metallic at all. I do hope these gents are able to find a singer and put out a real album. In the meantime, you can download most of their EP and some work in progress on their web site. Check 'em out. -- Fred Trafton
Looking Glass Self turned out to be just a quick detour on the road of Sieges Even. See their entry for details. LGS never did release a proper album, though Sieges Even's vocalist Arno Menses (who answered the call to replace André Matos as I mentioned above) says that many of these songs were revised and recycled on Sieges Even's The Art Of Navigating By The Stars (2005). -- Fred Trafton
[See Angra |
Blind Guardian |
Looking Glass Self currently has no web presence that I can find. The once-downloadable demo
discussed in the first section above also seems to be unavailable as far as I can tell.
Lord of Mushrooms (02)
Seven Deadly Songs (05)
Lord of Mushrooms - (not in photo order) Julien Vallespi (vocals), Laurent James
(guitar), Quentin Benayoun (keyboards), Brice Volodia (drums) and Julien Negro (bass)
Other reviewers have complained that this album is too simple, even comparing them with the likes of Jadis. I have nothing against Jadis, but this album is a lot more complex than them, though I suppose I could still categorize it as "Neo-prog" in that it's catchy, symphonic and not full of heavy dissonances or "difficult" parts. I've listened to Lord of Mushrooms at least a dozen times now, and it continues to get better with each listen. If you want challenging, Lord of Mushrooms isn't your album. But if you want something easy on the ears, yet complex enough to want to listen to without any interruptions, this is a really nice debut offering. -- Fred Trafton
Lord of Mushrooms' second outing Seven Deadly Songs is said (by the band) to be a harder-edged album, more progressive-metal in style than their first album. I haven't heard it, but just wanted to warn you ... or give you good news, depending on how you feel about prog-metal. The band now has a decent web site again after a period of falling off the Internet for awhile, click the link below. -- Fred Trafton
Drummer Brice Volodia went on to join Philharmonie for their last album, and then move on to Frédéric L'Epée's new band Yang. He was replaced in Lord of Mushrooms by drummer Marco Talevi.
The band is currently "nearly finished" with their third album (as of May 20, 2009, so their definition of "nearly" is a bit looser than mine), and they say it will be "a concept album and will feature 9 tracks of pure progressive metal". -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Philharmonie | Yang]|
Le Pays Blanc (94)
Sur le Chemin ... (96)
Passe Compose (02)
|I've only heard Loreau's latest, Passe Compose, which also features Lionel Palierne (guitar) and Oliver Briand (keyboards). Loreau himself also plays a variety of different keyboards. If you like Vangelis, Jean-Michael Jarre or the new-agey latest stuff from Tangerine Dream's Chris Franke, then this album should turn you on too. Similarly schmaltzy, thick and symphonic sounding, but musically pretty easy on the ears. Personally, I'd buy Franke's Babylon 5 soundtracks first (and I did, at least half a dozen of them). But if you've already done that and still want more, then order Passe Compose from Musea and keep on dreaming those symphonic dreams. -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||Click here to order Passe Compose from Musea Records|
Invisible Voices (83)
The Last Secret of Poseidon (85)
Morning of the World (88)
German synthesist. Quiet space music that goes nowhere. His 1990 album Fata Morgana works better than sleeping pills. Yawn!
The caption under this photo on his web site reads: "01.09.1941 - 31.01.2000", which leads me to believe that he passed away on Jan. 31, 2000. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Rudiger Lorenz' web site
Orchestra II (84, w/ Ann Ballester)
Orchestra V (87)
Le Diable Bleu (94, w/ Ann Ballester & Jean-LucPonthieux)
Question de Temps (01, w/ Ann Ballester & Jean-LucPonthieux)
|Mimi Lorenzini is a french Jazz guitarist who played with Edition Speciale. The album Orchestra V features Ann Ballester on keyboards, and Didier Malherbe on saxes and flute. Outstanding album of superb compositions and tight playing, comparable to Coryell, like that. May be too jazzy for some.|
|Links||[See Edition Speciale | Triangle]|
Trajectories (03 on Boheme Music label, reissued 2005 by Musea)
Awakening of the Elements (06)
Sound Source (09)
The Lost World Band (2007) - Konstantin Yudin (keyboard), Andy Didorenko (violin, guitar, bass),
Veniamin Rozov (drums) and Vassili Soloviev (flute, wind synth).
Not pictured - Yuliya Basis (guest keyboardist on Sound Source)
Lost World (their full name seems to be The Lost World Band, though they mostly use the shorter form) is a Russian symphonic prog band. I've only heard their last release, Sound Source, from which I would judge them to be an instrumental symphonic prog band. Their description from ProgArchives as a "Crossover Prog" band seems to be mostly due to the musical choices they made on their first album, Trajectories on the now defunct Boheme Music label. Don't let this description put you off from trying out the excellent Sound Source! This album was the standout from this set of review CD's I got from Musea.
Musea Records compares them to Little Tragedies and Horizont, which is true only insofar as their classical music influence and the fact that they're all Russians. Other than that, this is a useless comparison. In fact, it's misleading if it makes you think this music sounds at all "Russian". It doesn't. It could as easily have come from the US, the UK or Norway for that matter. This is unlike Little Tragedies and Horizont, who both have a very "Russian" sound, whatever that means. I think it means it has the sound of Russian classical composers, which (again) Lost World does not.
The suggestion that they sound like Kansas, on the other hand, has some merit, since the violin playing is sometimes similar to David Ragsdale's. There's also some songs that remind me of Tull due to the flute stylings, though they also have more mellow flute moments like Focus. Heck, there's even some parts that remind me of Mahavishnu Orchestra. But for the most part, you can forget about these comparisons and simply say that Lost World is an excellent instrumental symphonic prog band with lots of classical music influences. A nice surprise from our friends at Musea Records. Excellent, fresh prog from Russia. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for The Lost World Band's web site
Click here for Lost World's blog at the Power of Prog web site. Here's where you can hear MP3 clips.
Click here to order Lost World CD's from Musea Records.
Lotus (75), Vera o'Flera (76)
Blues Helping (68), Form and Feelings (70)
Dave Edmunds' first band before going solo. Of prime interest is the second album Forms and Feelings, which is dominated by multi-layered rock guitar textures and blistering high speed solos. There are three covers of classical tunes: A ripping twelve minute version of Khachiturian's "Sabre Dance," Bizet's "Farandole," and "Mars" (from Holst's The Planets). Brilliant stuff.
Love Sculpture's Forms and Feelings, recorded in 1967, features Dave Edmunds on guitar and vocals, plus a drummer and bassist. The album is quite varied in style. Many songs are very Beatles influenced, especially the 7+ minute "Why" which sounds like something from the Revolver sessions though much longer. "Farandole" is an excellent, fast and furious guitar jam based on Bizet's classical piece. Edmunds simply cranks and plays in a style that's was quite different from most other guitarists at that time. They do a blistering cover of Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me" and a short take on Holst's "Mars." The last track is the 11 minute "Sabre Dance" written by classical composer Khachaturian, which finds Edmunds going on a guitar solo that must put blisters on his fingers (to keep the Beatle influence going), though only over a very basic one chord rhythm. Pretty hot for 1967.
Love Will Make A Better You (71)
Really wigged out Japanese psych band from 1971 that subscribed to the "wall of sound" theory. Featuring a flautist and two saxophonists in addition to the usual drums, organ, guitar, piano and bass, Love Will Make a Better You is a rather mixed bag of music, ranging from bluesy psych to free jazz excursions somewhere between Coltrane and Coleman. This wild use of horns and flute lends a very avant/prog aura to the album, particularly if it is viewed as a psych album. In comparison to the grungy, bluesy psych from Japan in the early '70s, Love Live Life + One were actually quite experimental. In fact, though they don't sound like them, I was vaguely reminded of the experimental side of the Soft Machine. The English lyrics are pretty hippie/trippy and aren't worth writing about other than a rather unique delivery style. Unless you know you liked wigged out psych with an experimental touch, try before you buy.
[See Foodbrain | Yanagida, Hiro]
Mister Cafe (99)
|Lowblow are in fact|
Portobello (73), Chiaro (75), Lago de Vico (79)
Black Mass (71)
Black Mass was one of the earliest attempts at a "popular" synthesizer album. The music is dark and moody (as the name would suggest) and dealt with subjects like Incubi, Succubi, Demons and such in an instrumental format. Also lots of "moaning and screaming" synthesizer sounds. A good album, but now very rare. -- Fred Trafton
Underground and Beyond (97)
In Anadi's Bower (00)
Blues from Hellah (05)
The Divine Tree (07)
According to this Norwegian bands history, Lucifer Was came together in 1970
and toiled around for many years without releasing any recorded material.
Upon being discovered by the Record Heaven label, the band was convinced to
record songs written back in the early 70's which were only played live at
the time. Underground and Beyond is the culmination of those songs, a raw and
aggressive collection of songs that owes to many of the great bands of that
era, including Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath,
Cream, Mountain, and early Scorpions.
Led by guitarist/vocalist Thore Engen, the band featured his pounding and savage riffs complemented by dual flutes. If one can imagine what Jethro Tull would have sounded like if Tony Iommi had chosen to stick around instead of going back to Black Sabbath in 1969, Lucifer Was would be a good example. Hearing the bludgeoning guitar licks dueling it out with manic flutes throughout the bands first CD is quite impressive, and a precursor to the surprise the group had in store for the follow-up, In Anadi's Bower. Here the band brought in a full-time singer named Jon Ruder (previously vocals were shared by Engen and flautist Dag Stenseng), whose vocals sound like a cross between Ian Anderson and Klaus Meine from the Scorpions. In addition, the band now has two Mellotron players, who add even more depth to the songs. One listen to the title track, with its waves of cascading Mellotrons that ultimately gives way to a classic, evil guitar riff from Engen, will send shivers up your spine. Another highlight is the four-part epic "Little Child", that is the most progressive and adventurous song the band has yet recorded. Listeners who love crunchy guitars, wild flute playing, and tons of Mellotron will find much to like with Lucifer Was. -- Peter Pardo
Lucifer Was released The Divine Tree in 2007, on the Transubstans imprint
of the Record Heaven label. This time out, there's a bit less
Mellotron but a lot more Hammond organ, which
in conjunction with the '70's metal guitars, makes this album sound more like
Uriah Heep or Deep Purple
than Black Sabbath ... not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned. There's also a new guitarist,
Freddy Lindquist (formerly in a band called Vanguards) who uses bottleneck slide techniques
quite a lot, which works well in these compositions. There's also some nice flute passages, which always
brings Tull to mind.
Except for the vocals, which sound as American as they can be (no hint of Norwegian accent) and are sung by a good, clean-sounding and well-recorded vocalist (Jon Ruder), this album sounds for all the world like it was recorded in the '70's. But you can actually understand the vocals here. The '70's sound quality adds to the charm of The Divine Tree, and I find myself really enjoying an album that I wouldn't have thought I'd like that much. The Divine Tree is well worth a try, you may be as pleasantly surprised as I was. Or as Lucifer Was. Hehe. Sorry. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Lucifer Was' page on the Record Heaven web site|
Lucifer's Friend (71), Where the Groupies Killed the Blues (72), I Just a Rock'n'Roll Singer (73), Banquet (74), Mind Exploding (75), Good Time Warrior (76), Speak Me In (80), Mean Machine (81)
Lucifer's Friend is an often overlooked quintet from Germany. Their earlier releases are agressive and raw, not that unlike fellow countrymen Scorpions, Lonesome Crow or early offerings from Jane. Of the Scorpions, Jane, and LF, LF is the most progressive. The debut album, released in 1971, is somewhat influenced by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. The opening track bears a striking resemblence to "The Immigrant Song," also the opening track of Zep's third LP. The album features a heavy sound with some fairly strong performances turned in by guitarist Peter Hesslein and keyboardist Peter Hecht. This is raw "recorded live in your garage" style music but it does show a band trying to find itself. The next release, Where the Groupies Killed the Blues is a bit more experimental. There are a few acoustic numbers, some strange sounds, and some more accessible songs. The album lacks consistancy and is a throw-away if not for the opening track and "Hobo." Both are good tracks and make the album worth owning, but at cut-out prices :-) The third album, I'm Just a Rock 'n' Roll Singer, is an attempt to get more mainstream and commercial. It is also a complete mess. The title track is a radio ready song, full of energy, horns, and a straight 4 time signature. The rest of the album sounds disconnected and shows a band that has lost itself. Banquet, the fourth release is their masterpiece. It is comprised of two 10+ minute tracks, each surrounded with shorter more accessible songs. One of the long tracks, "Spanish Galleon," features excellent guitar, bass, and keyboard work with a highly integrated 30 piece orchestra. The effect is incredible and it remains on my top ten list of progressive tracks. The next release, Mind Exploding, is the most produced album by the original lineup. While nothing spectacular on the progressive scale, it is a nice rock album and on par with what bands like Uriah Heep ("Return to Fantasy," "Firefly") were doing at the time. Unfortunately for Lucifer's Friend, this release did not catch on and it was time for some major changes. Lawton left to sing for Uriah Heep. He was replaced by former Colosseum II front man Mike Starrs. The next release Good Time Warrior was in the same vein as mind exploding and was met with about the same reception. One more attempt for commercial success was Speak Me In, released in 1980. Lawton returned after the demise of Uriah Heep in 1981 and recorded one last Lucifer's Friend album Mean Machine, full of loud bombastic pre-metal material. For many Mean Machine was the fulmillment of a promise made a decade before. Like all the releases that preceeded it, it went largely unnoticed. A few club dates and a few months later saw the end of Lucifer's Friend. Lucifer's Friend and Where the Groupies Killed the Blues are both available on CD. Lucifer's Friend features five bonus tracks, one of them from I'm Just a Singer and one from Banquet. The other three are unreleased instrumentals and oddly enough are the three best tracks on the CD. If they had continued in that direction, maybe they would have enjoyed success. Lucifer's Friend is recommended and is a good starting point with the band.
I'm only including this review of I'm Just A Rock and Roll Singer because I saw it listed in the survey, and because it was my misfortune to purchase this dog. It's not even tangentially progressive. Lucifer's Friend was a German/British hard-rock band whose highest aspiration it seems was to sound just like Uriah Heep. (And in fact, vocalist John Lawton was the replacement for David Byron in said band) In that endeavour they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, so that in itself should be enough condemnation for anyone! But Lucifer's Friend apparently were not content to be merely bad, they seemed to want to be the worst band in the world. So a few tracks have horns a la "Bloodrock," while the six-minute "Song For Louie" is an absolutely pathetic attempt to sound progressive by gussying up a laconic blues number with a middle-section which includes every synthesizer cliché in the book. It ends up sounding like Gravy Train doing a Pink Floyd rip-off. I recall someone telling me their album Banquet was pretty good, but I only need to be burned once to know how fire feels. Stay well away.
Banquet is said to be Lucifer's Friend's best release, so it's the one I checked out. If this is their best, there's no point in getting any others. Banquet consists of several short songs, somewhat commercial in nature and two longer songs that are the standout tracks, though there is still a commercial nature. Lots of horns and strings and a "groovy" mid-70s rhythm reminded of bands like Lighthouse, Three Dog Night, Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears, and so forth. I admit that some of the compositions are nice and there are some excellent solos and arrangements *but* basically this mid-70s AOR rock that doesn't excite my senses very long or very much. I can recommend it only to members of the '70s Preservation Society.
[See Colosseum II | Pink Mice]
Lunar Chateau (94)
Beyond the Reach of Dreams (01)
Lunar Chateau - Brothers
Novak (keyboards), Paul (Bass) and Milo (Drums) Sekulovich
Lunar Chateau are an American keyboard trio in the ELP-style, though their music is generally lighter and more melodic in the way of neo-prog, even if it lacks most of that genre's cliches (Genesis influences, electric guitar/keyboard wall heaviness). The focus is clearly on writing and melodies, allowing the obviously talented threesome only occasional moments to break away from the smooth linearity slaved to the bassist's soft, pleasantly mellow vocals. The keyboard player sprinkles nifty runs and fills among the simple chord backdrops, the bassist has a nice melodic style which stretches into solos here and there, and even the drummer has a short solo number called "Fearless". They are at their best with the well-crafted melodic style and nimble if streamlined playing of short, memorable pop numbers like "To Be Alive" or the title track. When they start stretching things out, the energy often flags. For progressive rock enthusiasts the most interesting pieces would be the instrumentals "The Thrust" and "Metropolis", which have hints of later-day ELP, and the 8-minute closer "Aurora Borealis", which conjures up a really captivating, etheric atmosphere and unleashes two extended, liquid keyboard solos, ending with a nice, almost spooky bass melody. Very light and pleasant stuff, released on Musea (FGBG 4117.AR). -- Kai Karmanheimo
Click here for the Lunar Chateau web site
Click here for Vitaly Menshikov's overall view of Lunar Chateau on his ProgressoR web site
Click here to order Lunar Chateau's albums from Musea Records
Aloha Arita.Kalejdoskop (66)
Lyckomusik. Vintermusik (68)
Tellus. Fågel Blå (69)
Andromeda A3 (69)
Erik XIV (69)
Gustav III (71)
Svit för Elektroniskt Dragspel - Gunnar på Lidrände (73)
Johannes och Huldran (75)
Cosmic Love (76)
Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (79)
En Midvintersaga (81)
Fantasia by Starlight (86)
The Dream Master (86)
... several more releases, re-releases & compilations of earlier works with English titles
|Prolific Swedish composer began his career with unusual experiments in sound (e.g.: Suite for electronic accordion). Later he built his own electronic studio called "Andromeda Studios," which featured huge, custom-made modular synths. Paradissymfonin is typical of music from this period, a simple theme, gradually becoming more twisted as the piece progresses, acoustic instruments (and voices) perverted weirdly by his synthesizers. Imagine Mike Oldfield slowly going mad in the studio as the other musicians can only look on in horror as they play and you're beginning to get an idea. On the Featuring The Andromeda All-Stars album, he's a bit toned-down: much of what's here is definitely weird, but there's lots which can be termed beautiful as well. -- Mike Ohman|
|Links||Click here for a complete Ralph Lundsten discography and information|
|No albums released|
Lupe - No, not Frank Zappa, it's Peter (Frank) Dieck on the left and Luigi Sterlini
Lupe is an up and coming band, currently in the process of recording their first album. It's clear that their main influence is Pink Floyd, with Gilmouresque guitar leads and spacey synths to go along with the profound and meaningful vocals (well, at least they aren't going on about dogs, pigs and sheep). The band name is both a combination of Luigi and Peter, and is also a jeweler's magnifying glass, plus the Italian word for Wolf. So it has multiple, hidden meanings, like their lyrics.
The MP3.com recordings are [... I mean were ... -Ed.] an enjoyable listen, but sound like the band could have payed a bit more attention to the tuning in some places. Hopefully a real studio album would eliminate such problems. They're a bit on the accessable side (in a Floydish sort of way), but complex enough in their arrangements and sound textures to keep most prog rockers interested. Keep on the lookout for these guys, and check out their stuff on MP3.com [... not any more ... -Ed.]. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Lupe's only web site was on the now-defunct MP3.com|