La Scimmia sulla Schiena del Re (80)
|At a time when the book was about to close (temporarily) on Italian progressive rock, Mo.Do. put out their sole album which observed the contracting sonic and thematic scope of the day, but also made a noble and rather successful effort to carry on the legacy of 1970's progressive sound in that context. About half of the songs on La Scimmia sulla Schiena del Re (Mellow Records MMP162) are melodic symphonic numbers, with flutes, soft acoustic and softer electric guitars, an occasional discreet vocal and ample Solina-generated string backdrops, pretty much like a toned-down version of the "lyricism" characteristic of bands like PFM. The others, however, take after the more complex style of Free Hand-era Gentle Giant, with clanging guitar and organ licks in contrapuntal or interlocking clusters, wonky synth squirts and solid rock beats made fiendish by off-beat accents. The corralling of different styles diminishes the music's impact, but the mix of styles is pretty novel and while the writing may lack originality, it is engaging enough, and the band have both the skill and taste to navigate the extended instrumental work through the straits of tedium and contrivance without major scrapes. What you get is not a classic but a decent album, which I would recommend to Italian prog addicts that have already gone through the 1970s classics. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Meditace (69, aka Kindom of Life)
Coniunctio (70, w/ Jazz Q Prague)
Nova Synteza (71)
Nova Synteza 2 (74)
Modry Efekt and Radim Hladik (75)
Svet Hledacu (79, aka World of Searchers)
|Probably the best Czechoslovakian prog band who started in more jazzier realms, and moved to symphonic style on their masterpiece Svitanie. Leader Radim Hladik is a mindblowing guitarist. Anything by these guys is pretty good.|
Led by the formidable guitarist Radim Hladík, Modrý Efekt were one of the
major progressive bands in Czechoslovakia. The band's first couple of albums, made under
the name Blue Effect, are said to be a mixture of psychedelia, R&B, beat and jazz. They
later translated their name into Czech to keep the authorities happy. The beginning of
their actual progressive period is usually traced to 1975's Modrý Efekt & Radim
Hladík, a mixture of symphonic rock and fusion with emphasis on Hladík's
extended soloing. It is also with this album that he was elevated to his status as a minor
deity in the celestial order of the six-string.
My first-hand experience of the band begins with their 1977 album Svitanie (CD Opus 91 2629-2 311), where Hladík and drummer Vlado Cech were joined by bassist Fedor Freso (ex-Collegium Musicum) and keyboardist Oldrich Veselý (ex-Synkopy 61) and the band's name had been shortened to simple M Efekt. The music here is Yes-influenced symphonic rock, but with lots of idiosyncrasies and cultural influences that make it quite unique. The brisk opener "Vysoká Stolicka, Dlhý Popol" has a definite 1971 Yes feel in its bright but sinewy bass lines and bold melodies carried by organ, electric piano, synthesizer and guitar, but the three or four strong themes that the band juggle and throw against each other with slippery ease are their own, not just chunks of unassimilated influences regurgitated. Hladík's guitar playing, sort of a Jan Akkerman-like cocktail of blues, fusion pyrotechnics and hints of Baroque lyricism played with Steve Howe's trebly tone and sense of orchestration, sets the pace for the song, whether stating the melody with broad sweeps of ringing notes or blurting out drilling bursts of fast runs and solo fills that swing the mood of the tune.
"Ej, Padá, Padá Rosenka" is a rock arrangement of a Moravian folk song and provides the album's most memorable melody - first solemnly sung by Veselý, then transformed into Hladík's rippingly emotive guitar solo against Veselý's brooding keyboards. The slick "V Sobotu Popoludní" is the album's most obviously jazzy track, but though Freso's locomotive bass groove seems to beckon for a fusion jam, the band keep shifting neatly between Hladík's solos and Veselý's slightly Tony Banks-influenced synthesizer fanfares.
The Yes influence is most blatant on the spacey opening and closing sections of the 19-minute title track, as the volume-pedal-swell guitar lines, Veselý's high-pitched vocal harmonies and distinctly Andersonian melodic slices make one wonder whether this is an outtake from an aborted Czech-language Yes album. However, the song's lengthy middle section is essentially just an extended guitar solo in a bluesy fusion mould, a bit like a bloated mutant strain of something out of Finch's first album. Though Hladík shows great taste and style in varying his solo between acoustic picking and more whipping electric surges and the accompaniment strives to match his dynamics, this is not really what I consider a progressive epic. Hence the side two of Svitanie does not quite live up to the promise made by the excellent first side. The CD bonus track "Golem" runs aground on the grey face of conventional guitar rock but is partly salvaged by its introspective sections with those harmony vocals again. Despite these reservations, Svitanie is still a very good album and may well be Modrý Efekt's peak performance.
Freso left soon after to re-join Collegium Musicum and later Fermata. Interestingly, he was not replaced by another bassist, but by Modrý Efekt's original keyboard player Lesek Semelka. Hence Svet Hledacu (CD Bonton BON 494002 2) is a whole different beastie than Svitanie, a more technical and metallic work, with the bass lines played with synthesizers or Clavinets. The fluctuation between spacey synthesizers on the one hand and Hladík's biting guitars on the other brings to mind the likes of Eloy and East, but Modrý Efekt tend to lay more emphasis on complexity and sudden rhythmic shifts and less on all-encompassing synthesizer backdrops than these bands. Further in contrast to the primarily instrumental Svitanie, Semelka and Veselý's distinctive and surprisingly homophonic vocals are present on each of the five tracks, which can irritate those who don't appreciate their nasal qualities. Veselý's "Hledám Své Vlastní" is the shortest and spaciest of the lot, darkly dreamy and mysterious with billowing keyboard layers, while Hladík's "Rajky" is scalding and heavy on jerky guitar riffs, a metal-spiked monster with a funky gait. The other three are more complex mini-epics, each contrasting arching, minor-heavy melodies and angular or spacey instrumental stretches with great skill and style. In some ways this album stands better up as a whole than Svitanie, though if Yes or Finch fans were the obvious target group for that album, Svet Hledacu would probably be taken in most eagerly by those who like 1970's Eloy but wish the band could be more versatile and lighter on pathos.
The CD has six bonus tracks gathered from singles recorded after Veselý had left the band to reform Synkopy. While similar in sound, these are much shorter and simpler numbers, essentially vocal-heavy pop that, apart from a few engaging moments, lacks the hooks or innovation to raise it above faceless MOR fodder.
The remaining trio did regain their progressive trajectory on what would be Modrý Efekt's final album, 33 (CD Bonton BON 499746 2). Here the synthesizers are much thicker on the ground than before, as Semelka had acquired a polyphonic synth and Hladík an ARP Avatar guitar-synthesizer (which he employs very frugally), allowing them to get a bigger sound with less people on board. The writing on the four longish tracks follows the previous album, but with more immediate accessibility and, unfortunately, less innovation and depth. That is not to say that this isn't enjoyable music, for Hladík and Semelka cook up a veritable vortex of guitar and synthesizer duelling over the bedrock of Cech's loose but propelling drumming, stacking up harmonic complexity and high-tech gloss over the basic bluesy rock foundation. The profiles of vocal melodies are also majestic, if somewhat limited and repetitive.
Once again, the CD features a number of inferior bonus tracks, including a matter-of-fact live rendition of the album track "Avignonské Slecny Z Prahy" and six more studio tracks from singles that Hladík recorded with different line-ups between 1983 and 1989. The best of these is the haunted art-pop piece "Nezná", the very worst the tuneless screecher "Doktor" which commits almost every sonic sin that mid-1980's pop-rock had dreamed up. Surprisingly, its b-side was "Cajovna", a shimmering instrumental that manages to be quite nice despite being hampered by the same production values. After this, Hladík seems to have disappeared from active progressive duty and Modrý Efekt with him. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Collegium Musicum | Fermata | Synkopy]|
Nao Fale Com Parades (70)
Mogul Thrash (71)
After leaving Colosseum James Litherland (guitar) founded this shortlived band including John Wetton on bass, and four other guys (3 horns/saxes and drums). They published only this LP on RCA. The music is similar to Colosseum but less bluesy and more brass, long pieces with strong guitar improvisations. This is really a strong album, especially for those who don't mind having more than one sax in a band. Recommended!! -- Achim Breiling
[See Colosseum | Steamhammer | Wetton, John]
Kaloomith is the debut CD from Mohodisco, which is Bruce White and several
guest musicians from the San Fransisco area. Bruce actually released a cassette under
the name Mohorific Discontinuity in 1996, but this is now out of print. After changing
names to Mohodisco, Bruce has released Kaloomith, an album of spacey music created
using mostly synthesizers, but also with some nice guitar work from both Bruce and guest
musicians, and also a rarity among such self-produced releases; real drums!
The first cut, "Praxis", would be at home on a Steve Hillage album circa Motivation Radio or Green with its spacey guitar work and burbling synthesizer ostinatos. I'd say the same of the fourth cut, "Remote Viewer". Other songs keep a similar feel in the synth work, but aren't very guitar oriented. "Soft and Sharp", for instance, juxtaposes synthesizer swoops and bleeps against a digeridoo drone and a hypnotic drumbeat, which works very well together.
There is some amount of techno or "house music" feel in all the songs as well, but the real drums prevent it from becoming too techno. There's also too many changes to be completely dancable, though individual parts would certainly not seem out of place at a rave. There's also some '80's "techno-pop dance music" feel going on here too, but the lack of insipid vocals counts heavily in its favor. For fans of Hillage, Tim Blake or maybe even later Tangerine Dream type space music, this album is a gem! People who liked the earliest Thomas Dolby or Gary Numan's Tubeway Army will also find some resonances here (but, again, without the pointless vocals). If you don't like that sort of thing, stay away, but I personally loved this album! I look forward to more from this artist. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Mohodisco's web site, where
you can order Kaloomith
Le Petit Violin de Mr Gregoire (77)
Avant Qu'il Ne Soit Trop Tard (78)
Vers Demain (79)
De L'Ombre à la Lumière (98)
Progfest 2000 (01, Live)
|Mona Lisa is a French progressive rock group who owe much of their style to Genesis. Their music could be regarded as Genesis with a French Peter Gabriel, with much of the same theatrical and emotional sense. The title track of Le Petit Violon De Mr. Gregoire is a side-long (LP talk !) piece in three parts ... and a couple of the tracks are instrumental.|
|Mona Lisa is a French band very much in the dramatic symphonic style of another French band, Ange. If you aren't familiar with Ange, the closest comparison would probably Genesis. There's also a hint of various Italian bands, including PFM and Osanna, at least to my ears. The singer sings in a dramatic theatrical style reminiscent of Christian Decamps (of Ange) or Peter Gabriel. The music is strongly symphonic with a "French accent." I have two of their albums that are available on the Musea label. L'Escapade reveals a developing band. There is flute, sax, and violin in addition to the usual keyboards and guitar. This is a very fine album, very dramatic (perhaps a little too much in places), but it sounds a little primitive when compared to Le Petit Violon de Mr. Gregoire, their third album. By this album, the band had worked out all the rough edges and created an excellent piece of progressive rock. Still dramatic but never overly so, the band defines their sound with dynamics and texture creating an atmospheric symphonic masterpiece. Both are good listens but start with Le Petit....|
Grimaces (CD Musea FGBG 4119.AR) is rough but spirited symphonic rock in the French theatrical
style, similar to the guitar/organ-driven sound of early Ange, though,
without the alien moods provided by the special effects organ, timbrally
more austere. Furthermore, while both bands' sounds centre around flamboyant
vocalists, Mona Lisa's instrumental work is even more subjugated to serve the
dramatic vocal delivery of Dominique Le Guennec than Ange's is
to Christian Decamps'. Le
Guennec has a similar theatrical style of narration as Decamps,
and while his narrative arcs are shorter than Decamps', his
histrionics and lyrics, balanced between irony and insanity, suggest that he spent much of his free time in small rooms
with rubber-padded walls. Musically, Mona Lisa obviously look up to Genesis as well as
It still seems like a dress rehearsal when compared to Le Petit Violon de Mr Gregoire (CD Musea FGBG 4009.AR). Curiously, this album features two completely instrumental tunes, "Solaris" and "Le chant des glances", where the new guitarist Pascal Jardon leads the way with soaring melodies, abetted and filled out by Pierson's expanded keyboard palette and the rhythm section's spirited if linear thumping. The mini-epic "Allons Z'enfants" gives a glimpse of Jardon in a more Fripp-like mode, playing a combination of sombre chromatic arpeggios and scathing feedback solos that transport the minor-key melodrama to its artificial but effective conclusion where the song picks up a livelier bass pulse and switches to major key to allow Le Guennec to end on a brighter cadence. The hymnal organ melody of the short "Le publiphobe" might have been developed into something grandiose, but now it merely stands as an exquisite backdrop for Le Guennec's soliloquy.
The three-part title track is the highlight, however, brandishing the band's whole musical armoury: driving marches with guitar and synthesizer buzzing like swarms of bees in close-in combat; anthemic guitar leads over the keyboards' more convincingly symphonic sweep; and short but jabbing instrumental curve balls that disrupt the spoken, sung and screamed vocal delivery swerving its angular way from musical hall to animal house in the heart of this rough but ripping musical beast. Le Guennec's intense multiple-personality narration, employing the image of French jester character Pierrot as a focal point (another aspect besides Genesis influences and melodramatic vocal style for those who want to see a connection between Mona Lisa and the 1980s neo-progressive style), gets some uncredited support from Atoll's Andre Balzer. Interestingly, the song eschews the archetypical "grand" ending and instead concludes with a breezy, contrapuntal synthesizer instrumental that is probably the easiest-going piece in the whole suite. As a whole, the suite is more about separate episodes than extensively developed themes, but the band are able to shuffle and juxtapose contrasting elements with such energy and smoothness that the whole thing seems like one exhaustively colourful flow of constantly evolving musical ideas. It's a neat trick, and one that the band would be unable to reproduce later. For my money, this is one of the best French symphonic albums, quite able to hold its own with the best of Ange. The CD also adds a short, melancholy instrumental "La machine ŗ théatre", which is probably from one of the theatre scores that Mona Lisa made around the same time.
Avant Qu'il Ne Soit Trop Tard (CD Musea FGBG 4107.AR) presents a sound that is more polished and reliant on clinically sharp synthesizer tones. The mood is established by the title track, where a stark tide of synthesizers grows from an ethereal ebb to a frenetic flow in support of Le Guennec's desperate clarion call for awakening and self-expression. Additional contribution comes from guitarist Jardon who, now free from the shadow of his predecessor, fully unleashes the angular and searing style first hinted by "Allons Z'enfants" at the beginning of "La Peste". This track also features the album's most memorable musical moment, where Le Guennec falls into a macabre, machinegun-like staccato chant over a relentless bass ostinato and icy wail of synth, a fitting depiction of plague-induced hysteria and madness. The music still throws in memorable hooks as well, such as the bouncy sea shanty melody at the middle of "Souvenirs de naufrage" (which Alan Parsons seems to have recycled on his song "Mr. Time"), which is where Mona Lisa are at their best; when they try to extend the structures, the seams start to show again. The album's mini-epic, "Créature sur la steppe", for example, builds expectedly to a frenetic burst of sizzling rock, but instead of developing from there, it cuts off abruptly and tapers off with an ominous electronic section - in itself a clever combination of insistent synthesizer drones, guitar arpeggios and clashing keyboard cadences - that may be meant to describe the final breakdown of the song's narrator, but leaves the musical side severely lopsided. I personally prefer the rougher and rambling beauty of Le Petit Violon de Mr Gregoire, but this tighter and darker work is certainly the other essential Mona Lisa album.
"Before it's too late", Le Guennec had cried on the album's title track. For him, it already seemed to be too late, because he left Mona Lisa in 1978, disillusioned by the lack of success and support the band had to endure. He was soon followed by Jardon. The rest of the band, in an extraordinary game of musical chairs, acquired a new drummer and keyboard player, while Pierson picked up the guitar and drummer Francis Poulet stepped out from behind his kit and on to the microphone (drummer becoming the lead vocalist in a prog band - now whoever heard of such a thing?). Their next album, Vers Demain (CD Musea FGBG 4120.AR), is best described as a good progressive pop album, heavier on stock synthesizer sounds, punchy beats and short, direct songs than the earlier efforts but still quite enjoyable. Poulet is certainly just as dramatic a singer as Le Guennec, but lacks his dynamic range. This is true with the music, as well: in some ways Mona Lisa benefit from compressed structures that force the focus on melodies, but the diminution of dramatic range robs the music lot of its power and distinctiveness, and occasionally threatens to leave the band another progressive fish out of water, stranded in an hostile environment where they have no real way of coping. The three songs that break the 4-minute mark, "Le rat dťbile et le rat dťchantť", "Curriculum vitae" and "Rťtrospective", rekindle the dramatic sweep of the earlier albums, in a somewhat truncated form but still, and the two instrumentals offer a tranquil respite with folds of pretty synth melodies and acoustic guitars anchored by Jean Betin's solid and sensible bass lines. As a whole, the album is fine, roughly the same to Mona Lisa as And Then There Were Three was to Genesis, a reasonable compromise between their established style and the current commercial demands.
However, at the onset of the 1980s the record companies deemed Mona Lisa a relic without commercial potential and so the group was cast adrift without a recording deal. Nevertheless they began working on a new album, another ambitious concept piece. Demo recordings of three songs from this project surfaced on the CD version of Vers Demain. They sound rough around the edges, and are musically not that different from Vers Demain's longer songs, late-1970s Genesis with the French trimmings and occasional swooshing stringmachine sweep typical of many European symphonic rockers of the time. Michel Grandet's keyboards are the most interesting part of the arrangements, but, despite a good effort, Pierson's guitar parts lack the creativity and assertion of his predecessors. The game was up anyway, for soon after the recording Poulet left, Mona Lisa broke up for good and there was nothing but le grande silence ...
... until 1998, that is. That's when Le Guennec resurrected Mona Lisa with 3/4 of Versailles, a younger French band whose own albums show clear debt to Mona Lisa and Ange's theatrical rock style. Their first album, De L'Ombre ŗ la Lumiere (Musea FGBG 4251.AR), is quite an impressive accomplishment, drawing quite shamelessly on the 1970's style and ideas, yet with enough original vision and energy to rise above mere pastiche, and instead sound like this is the album the band should have made twenty years earlier. Le Guennec certainly sounds as if the past twenty years had not happened, as he tears into an almost self-parodically frenzied vocal paroxysm on the opening track "Captif de la nuit", while his new band mates hammer out a doomy riff in earth-shaking unisons of organ, Mellotron and guitar.
The shared Genesis influence is obvious especially on the bouncy "Comme un songe" and the very Banks-like organ arpeggios and Mellotron swells of "Les guerriers". Yet the Versailles members also impose ideas that are distinct from most of Mona Lisa's past vocabulary: the 10-minute "Voyage avec les morts" features a long, guitar-led instrumental jam section that could be incredibly tedious were it not for the band's spirited performance, exhibiting a sense of drive and dynamics that few latter-day symphonic bands possess. Interestingly, the one song with lyrics and lead vocals by guitarist Guillaume de la Pilière is the most conventional piece on the album, a slightly overwrought progressive power ballad swinging between harpsichord sensitivity and ponderous electric guitar bluster.
Unlike many revived dinosaurs, the rejuvenated Mona Lisa have been able to produce an album almost as good as their 1970's classics. Considering the French symphonic bands have had far fewer imitators than their Anglo counterparts, they can also be excused the relative regressiveness of their approach. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Click here to order Mona Lisa CD's from Musea records
Doppler 444 (97)
The Japanese quartet Mongol seem to try to combine two major strands in Japanese progressive
rock: the slick symphonic
fusion sound on the one hand and the more strident
zeuhl approach on the other. On the first two tracks of
Doppler 444 (Belle Antique 97320), the group tackle spirited instrumental fusion with strong
symphonic leanings, very eighties-style in its combination of
sparkling synthesizer tones and occasionally metal-leaning guitar shredding. Main writer and keyboardist
Takeshi "Mongol" Yasumoto takes up lot of the sonic space with a fast combination of busy comping
and busier solos that compete with guitarist Hirofumi "Driller" Mitoma's
Holdsworthian solo spots. The balance of
fusion and symphonic
is well struck, the former providing the solo impetus, energy and a few jazzy chords, the latter, the
rich sound, melodicism and some of the compositional sensibility.
But after Mitoma's brief, demo-feel guitar-synthesizer reverie "Homewards" the band start moving in a more aggressive direction, with more angular melodies, wilder scalar excursions and occasionally almost zeuhl-like pounding from drummer Kiyoshi "Stamper" Pochi-imai. Finally, the 18-minute "Greatful Paradise" is a "De Futura"-style juggernaut, stomping along to the granite groove of Naoto "Ultra-Pump" (!) Amazaki's bass. Like most latter-day zeuhlers, Mongol suppress the funky undercurrent of the original in favour of unflinching metallic grind. But they also provide more variation to their riffs and overlay them with an assortment solos and keyboard arrangements from their symphonic and fusion vocabulary (as well as some atonal piano runs), creating a much richer work than its more monomaniacal model. Despite slight lapses in stylistic and production consistency (possible due to the length of gestation), this is a very energetic and engaging debut album that is still waiting for a worthy follow-up. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Dweller On The Threshold (81)
Songs of Squirrel Nutcase (87)
Plays Bach Live (88)
Alive (90, w/ Curved Air)
Classical Pieces (93)
The Long Good Friday (??)
21st Century Blues (98)
Dweller On the Threshold is the second solo album of the well-known
multi-instrumentalist (Curved Air,
801, Sky), one of those
underestimated works of the early 80s, the darkest time in the whole history
of progressive, a time of the reign of the punk and disco stuff. The contributors
also include such famous people as Andy Latimer,
Darryl Way, Tristan Fry
and Julia Rathbone - a permanent female singer for Monkman's solo. Also, on
Monkman's latest album of 1998 the lead vocals are from the two of them (by the
way, their voices haven't changed for all those years: a kind of severe vocal
from Maestro himself and a light, dramatic Julia's voice). As it is the case
with the most progressive performers at the time, Monkman did add the modern
electric sound. However, contrary to the prog musicians that turned to that
path, the bright, fashionable synth flashes and accentuated rhythm guitar riffs
here don't disappoint, quite conversely, they bring forward openly progressive
themes and arrangements.
The Dweller beginning with the vocoder and effects quickly turns into a fast, slightly dark song with remarkable rhythm section and strongly present synth intrusions. Stylistically very similar to "Abacab" from Genesis album of the same title, except that Dweller was written actually before it. The second also opens with the vocoder and gives way to a fast theme not unlike the predecessor, but Francis is joined now by Julia's celestial voice. "The Glamour of Emotions", the name, totally reflects the music, for there's here the glamour of the characteristic early '80s sound, coupled with the magnetic attraction that emanates from it. Parallels can be found in "Levitation", a very good Hawkwind album of that period.
Originality rests upon the vocals, that are made up of usual male and female plus a choir, which gives a pathetic atmosphere. Nearing the end, the song transforms to crystal keys supporting high vocals. Forgive is a sort of ballad with a brought in bass and two vocals. "The Glamour of Nations" is a kind of march featuring military drumming. Very uplifting, pathetic. "Learning to Live" strikes the imagination with the strength and impression of the whole sound as well as fine arrangements. A lot of subtle oriental melodies with Francis singing and guitar passages from Andy Latimer. A real killer. The next track are full of changing moods from light and rhythmic in the first part that slides into a bit slower, melancholic but energetic part with eccentric vocals that range from deep to ironic to screaming. The vocal stories unveils along with original keys themes, that then end up by a massive, overwhelming organ. The instrumental piece features more than one theme where a solemn one prevails. "Psalm 23", the last track, touts only Francis' voice and synth without the others. On the whole, Monkman's Dweller is a pretty typical representative of the prog of the start of the '80s but with its strong original vein. Especially impressive are the processed oriental melodies that fit in perfectly with the rest and also a successful use of wonderful female singing. Sadly though, another pearl from the crown of the prog of the 80s is virtually lost, as if it never existed. This is my answer to those proggers who lost their ears under therush of punk and new wave. Now I understand how much a name weighs, if this album were to appear by the name of Genesis or Sky, etc. the effect would be quite different, that is, all would know this good album. -- Vitaly Menshikov
[See Curved Air |
Elements of Monolith (78)
An obscure album Elements of Monolith exists, its black and white jacket leads me to believe it was a very limited private pressing, the music leads one to believe it's just one guy - a keyboardist who's primary influences are Emerson and Tony Banks. The songs are all instrumental, but dearly sound like they need vocal tracks, the music on its own isn't strong enough to carry.
Il Tempo di Far la Fantasia (93)
Il Pesce Rosso ... (01)
|Right now I'm listening to Montefeltro, a new italian band on the Musea label, real nice stuff, some classic and neo influences but not derivative, very melodic and moody, maybe comparable to Galadriel, Eris Pluvia, Tale Cue ... wow -- this IS nice (this is the first time I've listened to it)!! Vocals are in italian, kinda soft and echoey. A lot of classical-folk influence like early PFM or Errata Corrige. I hear some faint Marillionesque hints on this 4th track, but it's that fast frantic paced 70's Italian feel mixed in with it. There's only 5 tracks on the album. A sidelonger with 4 shorter ones following.|
|Montefeltro, an incredible Italian duo, writes and plays songs with a symphonic instrumentation that sounds like a large ensemble. Their music and lyrics embody the best of 70s Italian progressive music and extend it into the '90s. Montefeltro's orchestral sense and Attilio Virgilio's beautiful operatic falsetto transport you on a fantasy flight independent of the Italian lyrics. Il Retorno di Far la Fantasia consists of five songs that leave you in paradise at the end of the 46 minutes: "Canto #1 (Lettro ad un amico del 1400)," "Il Prescelto," "Cielo di Carta," "La Collana Riflettente" and "Nel Labirinto (Il segreto del sole)." "Canto #1" is a gorgeous 22 minute musical suite about a letter to the Duke of Urbino, Federico de Montefeltro. This suite integrates lyrical and symphonic musical passages with Virgilio's falsetto that at times recalls Le Orme and Genesis. The shortest song on the CD, "Cielo di Carta" (Paper Sky), at 2:46 is also the best. Its ethereal piano, vocals, and acoustic guitar transcend the other songs. Musea again brings another quality band to worldwide attention.|
|Montefeltro are a 2-piece progressive outfit from Central Italy which have one brilliant release on the Musea label. Il Tempo di Far Fantasia (The Time of Imagination), is a fanatastic example of a current band drawing on influences from the 1970s, but also giving them a fresh, modern reworking. This is neither neo-prog nor a "only the seventies mattered" type of group. The album begins with the 22 minute piece "Canto #1." Never dull, always leading to another interesting movement or guitar break. The hushed, almost whispered vocals are a pleasant change and a great counterpoint to the energetic drumming. The second half of the album contains excellent shorter tracks which lead to a climatic theme at the end. My only gripe is the low recording level used on the recording of this CD. Highly recommended if you're looking for some current Italian prog. -- Oliviero Ortolani|
Click here to order Montefeltro albums from Musea Records
El Pasillo (82)
|Great solo album [Homenaje] by Crucis bassist! -- Tom (AshRaTemp)|
Montesano was the bassist and primary composer of Crucis, and
his debut solo album Homenaje (Record Runner RR-0170-2) was made in the slipstream
of Crucis' second album Los Delirios del Mariscal. The
rest of the band contribute, as do many other notable Argentinean rock musicians
of the time. Those who hold Crucis' two releases as the cream
of seventies Argentinean prog will be disappointed by Homenaje, as it exhibits little
of the bash'n'burn power jam style of Crucis particularly, opting for a more
conventional and melodic symphonic sound instead. Myself, I prefer this album to anything
by Crucis, for exactly the same reason.
The opening instrumental "Sinfonia Lunatica" and the subsequent vocal number "Cuando la duda se hace grande alrededor" are the album's highlights, full of lively melodies, sunny Mellotron and synthesizer layers and excellent guitar work from Pino Marrone which highlights the melodic side of his playing. I find the vocal parts on the poppy "La última barrera" and the piano ballad "Desde que te pude ver" a bit marshmallowy, even if the instrumental parts on the latter (including a real string section) are inspired. The rest of the album divides itself between two majestically droning instrumentals and the up-tempo rocker "Primer triunfo", which has Genesis-like penchant for driving yet choppy rhythms, leaping synthesizers and solid chords. The end result is a very accessible and immediate symphonic album, not very complex in structures yet rich in arrangements and melodies. Argentina has produced stronger progressive rock (e.g. Bubu's Anabelas, Pablo el Enterrador's first album), but unless complexity and intensity are what you are primarily looking for, you shouldn't ignore this satisfying little album.
Two short, previously unreleased Crucis tracks have been added as a bonus on the CD version. These are close to the second album in sound, but lighter and simpler in style. Nice and jazzy and they push the CD past the 40-minute mark, so no complaints there. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Crucis |
Montrose (74), Paper Money (74), Warner Bros PResents Ronnie Montrose (75), Jump On It (76), Open Fire (78)
Is this guy too "big" to be in this survey? Anyway, his album Open Fire is well worth the japanese import big bucks you have to pay to get it on CD. A variety of styles, mostly electronic laced, are presented without vocals - this is much better than most of the stuff he did with Montrose or Gamma.
Ronnie Montrose is a guitarist much in the league of Holdsworth and other such prog rock heroes. In Open Fire his work that best approaches the prog rock genre, we are treated to guitar-based rock accompanied by an orchestra. The result is a compelling progressive rock work, with rock guitar interludes.
Go Now (65, re-released in 1972 as In The Beginning)
The above material was re-released a number of times with other singles, etc.
|I've been a Moodies fan for years, but I rarely discuss them in a progressive forum like this one. That's because while a lot of fans of symphonic prog rock love the Moodies, very few would say that their music is progressive in the sense of Yes or Genesis. And because of the nature of the band's more recent output, most people consider them more of a radio-ready adult-contemporary group, and I'm likely to get bounced all the way to rec.music.misc. The band's roots are firmly R&B. The initial line-up (Denny Laine (gtr/vox), Clint Warwick (bass), Graeme Edge (perc), Mike Pinder (keys/vox), and Ray Thomas (sax/flutes/vox)) recorded a bunch of R&B stuff, including one hit called "Go Now." When Laine and Warwick left and Justin Hayward (guitar/vocals) and John Lodge (bass/vocals) joined up, things changed considerably. They recorded their first (and probably most progressive) album (Days...) with the London Festival Orchestra. Edge's poetry, Hayward's vocals, Thomas' flute, and the full orchestra backing gave the album a lush, warm feel. This is also one of the band's most accessible albums, appealing to fans of prog, classical, psychedelia, soft rock, and classic rock. But the overriding "progressiveness" of recording with an orchestra (well, it was progressive then!) tagged the Moodies as a prog rock band, even though all of their subsequent albums were only marginally progressive, at best. ISotLC, the next album, is more representative of the sound of the Moodies, The orchestra is gone, but Pinder's use of the Mellotron made up for it, shaping the sound of the band for years to come. The lush, smooth sounds of "House of Four Doors" are typical of this era of the band. Elements of psychedelia are still quite evident in songs like the Eastern flavored "Om," and drug-oriented lyrics abound in "Legend of a Mind" and the aforementioned "House of Four Doors." The sleeve of the original album had some notes on meditative procedures and a line drawing that was supposedly good material for helping to focus one's mind. Each album from this point on always contained one or two more radio-friendly tracks, like "Ride My See-Saw" on ISotLC, although almost every track would be appropriate for any of today's classic rock stations. The band members played all of the instruments on all of the albums from 1968 to 1972, which meant learning new instruments and recording them one note at a time in some cases. Talented musicians, all. OtToaD gave a slight nod to the band's R&B roots on tracks like "Send Me No Wine," but it and the next four albums, ToCCC, AQoB, EGBDF, and SS, all continued in the same vein of ISotLC. More poetry, more introspective lyrics, more Mellotron. Their music was never dissonant, although the lyrics did ocassionally get silly, like on "The Tortoise and the Hare" from AQoB and "Nice to Be Here" from EGBDF. As the lyrics got increasingly introspective, groupies began to look to the Moodies to answer the "ultimate questions" and the band began to believe that they might have the answers! Ego ran rampant, and the band wisely decided to split up. A double live album was issued in 1977, including 3 sides of live material and 5 previously unreleased tracks. Lyrically, the band was most concerned with peace, love, and inner "balance." While Hayward's and Lodge's lyrics were generally quite good, they did occasionally contain a clunker, like: "So love everybody, and make them your friend.." Ouch. All of the band members recorded solo albums during the lay-off. The most notable is a Hayward/Lodge collaboration from 1974 called Blue Jays, which recalls some of the best of the band's earlier work. Fans of Seventh Sojourn and In Search of the Lost Chord are advised to seek this one out. The band reformed in 1978 for the Octave album. The sound was more mature, less psychedelic, and certainly less progressive. Keyboardist Mike Pinder bowed out after this, evidently reluctant to tour. Ex-Yes man Patrick Moraz was brought on board. LDV followed, and harkened back to earlier days on such tracks as "22,000 Days" and "Reflective Smile," but also gave a hint of things to come in more radio-friendly top-40 songs like "The Voice." The trend continued on The Present, although with less commercial success. These albums tended to have something for everyone on them, like "I Am," for the fans of the older stuff, "Sitting at the Wheel," for the fans of the livelier songs, and "It's Cold Outside of Your Heart," for people who enjoyed the ballads. TOSoL continued pretty much the same format, but was far more successful commercially thanks to a couple of radio ready hits. Definitely a more energetic album, but a blatant stab at commercialism. Little if any trace of progressivism or psychedelia here. The diminished role of Ray Thomas may have been a factor. He didn't contribute to the recording of the next album, Sur la Mer, and in concert, he was primarily relegated to tambourine duty, only coming to the fore on his old compositions like "Legend of a Mind." SlM was made up entirely of Hayward and Lodge songs, and has no stand-out tracks. Patrick Moraz was dismissed during the recording of KotK, which contained more adult-contemporary songs. The recent live album (Red Rocks) is an abysmal performance, and is only for die-hard fans. The Prelude album was an attempt to cash in on renewed popularity. It contained the five new tracks from the Caught Live Plus Five album and a few early singles and B-sides. It's unfortunate that mention of the Moody Blues now calls to mind an adult-contemporary, ballad-oriented band. They put out some great stuff in the early seventies. I'd recommend Days of Future Passed for its progressive nature. Seventh Sojourn and In Search of the Lost Chord are best representative of the band's pychedelic, heavy Mellotron phase. Long Distance Voyager is an excellent album as well, by far their best since 1972.|
Mark I-IV in the discography refer to different band line-ups. These are:
|Links||Click here to subscribe to the Moody Blues fanzine|
As Moon Fog Prophet:
I Crackle As I Grow (97, EP)
Dim Dum Sing the Sun (98)
When They Opened Their Parachutes ... Silence (99)
MERN3336 - A Mirror to the Marble-Coated Solar System (00)
Taunting Tin Bells Through the Mammal Void (02)
As Kuusumun Profeetta
Moon Fog Prophet - Mikko Elo, Daniel James Finley, Irina Niemelä,
Mika Rättö, Teemu Majaluoma (Photo by Veera Korhonen)
Moon Fog Prophet were one of the more idiosyncratic Finnish progressive bands to appear in the 1990s. Consisting of Mika Rättö (keyboards, vocals), Teemu Majaluoma (guitars, vocals), Mikko Elo (bass) and Veli Nuorsaari (drums), they have quietly produced a string of quirky and diverse albums that for all their various influences share a distinctive - and often very off-beat - style that is their very own.
The two early tracks that appeared on the Metazoon (Metamorphos Meta-014CD) sampler disc, "Jesters Intervene" and "Followers", carry a Hawkwind-like vibe with their pummelling beats, manic distortion guitar riffs and Rättö's howling vocal interjections. However, they also have spidery keyboard work and King Crimson like melodic angularity that would completely elude the hairies of Hawkwind.
Their debut album Dim Dum Sing the Sun (Metamorphos Meta-018CD) unveils a much more versatile Moon Fog Prophet. Among the album's ten shortish songs are 70's Bowie-style rock ("Roof Romance"), an Alan Parsons-like pseudo-orchestral ballad ("Amusement Park"), mellow psychedelic pop with an irritatingly cheery synth riff ("Things I See"), gloomy chanting with jagged guitars and robotic march drums ("Spinning Cousins") and a laid-back, jazzy space-out with symphonic synthesizer developments on top ("Whisper in Stone"). Rättö's voice shows considerable range and mutability, at best approaching Peter Hammill-like mumble-to-roar dramatics to match the alternatively subdued and bombastic dynamics of "Planet for One Man". The three instrumental tracks offer the most progressive moments, from the ominously growling volume-pedal-swell guitar lines of "Classic Bells" to the metallic unison riffs and bombastic multi-synth tornado of "Dance of the Emerald Knights", the album's highlight. Production and instrumentation flaunt a rough, hazy retro-edge (not entirely successful a strategy, IMO) but have no scruples in using obviously more modern sounds as well. The resulting mix is both baffling and exhilarating, constantly changing from track to track, even if some would benefit from longer development arcs. For hardcore prog fans some of this may be too straight-ahead or eccentric, but they too should find some attractive moments here.
When They Opened Their Parachutes ... Silence (Metamorphos Meta-022CD) is a more integrated and concise collection of more conventionally progressive songs. They include dreamy, Floyd-style space rock with glittering synthscapes; a suitably jovial and idiomatic symphonic rock; and one manic, ever-building instrumental skimming the edge of dissonance with Emerson-like keyboard shredding and effects, fast and noisy space-rock rhythm guitar, sledgehammer drums and throbbing effects bass. While more cohesive than the first album, the album is less successful in maintaining its interest throughout, and, ultimately, less rewarding.
MERN3336 - A Mirror to the Marble-Coated Solar System (Metamorphos Meta-027CD) is the weirdest, most experimental of the three. At times mysterious, spacey or just plain weird, it carries a strong retro-psychedelic vibe complete with Hammond and piano-heavy instrumentation and orchestrations close to late-1960s psychedelic pop, yet with fragmented song structures and occasionally truly warped instrumental explorations that make a complete mockery of any attempt to call this just pop music. Early Van der Graaf Generator can also be heard humming behind some of the arching vocal melodies. Songs such as "In the River of " and "Despite the Sticky Potatoes" (yes, the lyrics are very abstract and stream of consciousness) serve up a combination of lyricism and dissonance, symphonic melodicism and sonic experimentalism that is just as exhilarating as most top progressive acts have to offer. But 75 minutes is a long time and includes its share of gratuitous vamping, the worst offender being the metrically-skewed and harmonically-daffy jam at the end of "The Joy and the Agony of Being Caught" whose monotonously clanging bass pattern, leaden keyboard clusters and distorted vocal splutters sound like outtakes from a hangover-morning session in the rehearsal room. This is not perfect but in the long run probably the most rewarding album they have recorded.
For all its ambition, MERN got far less attention and credit than previous releases, mainly because it coincided with the dissolution of Metamorphos which left the record more or less hanging on its own. At this stage the band changed course and in the process developed two distinct personalities that both carry on the concept.
The first approach had the band translating their name into Kuusumun Profeetta and releasing Kukin kaappiaan selässään kantaa (Ektro Records Ektro-011), which is strikingly different from all their previous releases. A collection of dark, folksy tunes dominated by acoustic guitars and soft keyboard embellishments, the album is carried by Rättö's melodious Finnish vocals and minor-dominated melodies that draw from the Slavonic melancholy so prevalent in contemporary Finnish pop music. The 10-minute "Askeleita rannalla" ("Steps on the Beach") could be described as More-era Pink Floyd playing on a desolate beach at night with only a transistor radio for amplification, and the dusky atmosphere of "Kynttilät syttyvät varhain" ("The Candles Light Up Early") and "Aamuyön tunteina" ("In the Small Hours") could also appeal to progressive tastes. Still this not a progressive rock release, more like an idiosyncratic collection of psychedelic folk-pop tunes.
The second album, Jatkuvasti maailmaa pelastamaan kyllästynyt supersankari (Ektro-020), is a more thoughtful and impressive work, mysterious and melodramatic even. Apart from the Gilmouresque guitar solo of "Puhuu vapahtaja rappuselta kiviseltä" ("Saviour Speaks from a Stony Step") and the quaintly orchestrated "Supersankari koko maailman" ("A Whole World Superhero"), this still has little in the way of conventional progressive rock. A song like "Tähdenlennon aikaan" ("In the Days of the Shooting Star") is most akin to Nick Drake - or rather his Finnish counterpart Pekka Streng, who released two much-loved psychedelic folk albums before his untimely death in 1975. Fans of these artists would certainly like Jatkuvasti maailmaa pelastamaan kyllästynyt supersankari ("A Superhero Tired of Saving the World All the Time").
While these releases won the band more praise and recognition on their native soil than ever before, their second approach was to delve into the world of drama with two surreal plays, "Pilkkaavat tinakellot" and "Oopperse le Feti le Grande Anaale" (well if you can call a play dealing with a contractor who plans to construct a gigantic arse surreal ...). Taunting Tin Bells Through the Mammal Void (Mellow Records MMP 420) is based on the music of the first play. Its starting point is clearly the more outré side of MERN, but it is even less accessible. Its programmatic nature is disturbingly obvious at times, as long stretches of music consist only of drudging rhythms, jagged guitar ostinati and washes of majestic but frigid synthesizer chords. On the other hand, the album also has mesmerising (and lyrically baffling) vocal episodes, near-psychotic organ torture and a heavy symphonic rock behemoth for a closing number. Not the album to start with Moon Fog Prophet, it still shows the band's willingness to do something different with each release.
Rättö's flirtation with heavy metal on Circle's Sunrise and the hints dropped in interviews suggested that the band would one day make a full-out heavy-metal record. This is not what Kuusumun Profeetta's third album, Sanansaattaja Oraakkeli Salamurha Hyökkäysvaunu (Ektro-027) is, but at time it does try very hard to be just that. For example, "Morsius kuoleman" ("The Bride of Death") and "Rankaisun ylhäinen ruhtinas" ("The High Prince of Punishment") are Judas Priest-like in their third-harmonised twin-guitar attacks, evil bass grooves and almost amusingly diabolic vocal performances. Compared to the two earlier albums, electric guitars have stepped into the frontline, backed by horns and a plangent male choir that add both bombast and colour to the sound. In some way, this is almost like a parody of heavy-metal aesthetics that actually creates something more interesting: the lyrical themes of war, death, demons and assassination expressed in Rättö's literate and ultra-serious idiom and the bloody-minded pathos and richly melodic solemnity pumped into the performances and arrangements somehow make the ridiculous excesses seem genuinely gripping. Sometimes it works, sometimes it is just wide-screen bluster. But the album also revisits the sound of both the earlier Finnish and English albums, from the weepy guitars, folk touches and introverted vocal style of "Hämärän enkeli" ("The Angel of Dusk") to the sublime "Puutarha menneen ihmemaan" ("The Garden of a Bygone Wonderland") whose elegiac reeds lead to the primal-screaming, psychedelic sound-collage coda "Sanansaattaja" ("The Herald"). The brief instrumental "Hyökkäysvaunu" ("Assault Tank") even combines bluesy harmonica with the delayed rhythm guitar from "Another Brick in the Wall Part 1"! Again the group confound conventional genre expectations with this mixture of metal, folk, psychedelic and progressive rock that really doesn't sound like any other band. At least not for long. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Thanks to Salla Korhonen for the spelling fix ... it's Kuusumun Profeetta, not Kuusuumun Profeetta. Suubtle, but important. -- Fred Trafton|
Click here for Moon Fog Prophet's web site
In Europe (72)
H'art Songs (7?)
|Experimental composer. (That's his name, honest!).|
|Links||Click here for Moondog's Corner|
Moon Sadness (94)
Brainstorm of Emptyness (96)
The Gates of Omega (01, 2CD)
|Brainstorm of Emptyness is in the typical style of many British bands. In fact, what we find is a melodic, symphonic rock with the added drama of a strong vocal presence (in English). This low-tone (ex: Peter Murphy, David Sylvian) and versatile voice certainly dominates but it rests on the solid compositions of the keyboardist who obviously favours an excellent delivery by all five members. The familiar format successfully alternates between calm and more vigourous moments and therefore offers a chance for everyone to shine. Fans of the style will recognise a good old recipe while others will appreciate the quality of its ingredients. -- Paul Charbonneau|
Brainstorm Of Emptyness, the second album by the Italian group
Moongarden, offers 71 minutes of high-quality symphonic rock. The music is
composed by keyboardist Cristiano Roversi, who names Andy Latimer as his
biggest inspiration (though Camelís influence isnít very obvious in
Moongardenís music), and his compositions are consistently excellent. All
lyrics are by vocalist Ricky Tonko (ex-Theatre), being often whimsical,
semi-surreal stories with dark undertones, like many of Peter Gabrielís
early lyrics. As a vocalist, Tonko is something of a chameleon: on this
album, he manages to sound alternatively like David Sylvian, Peter Gabriel,
a child and Clare Torry in "The Great Gig In The Sky"! Keyboards paint
colourful sonic textures with a combination of Mellotron, piano, organ and
various digital and analog synthesizers, while the guitarist operates in a
melodic mode. The rhythm section is competent, if not very assertive. What
I like most about this album is its diversity: no two tracks are quite
alike. For example, the understated closer "Losing Dawn" sounds very much
like some of David Sylvianís better solo works, while "Chrome Heart" is at
times a very driving piece, with a hectic middle section reminding of Van
Der Graaf Generator; towards the end the song slows down for a melancholy
symphonic coda. "Whoís Wrong?" is a very cinematic piece, resembling
Twelfth Nightís "The Collector"; the music follows Tonkoīs gyrating
vocals, but despite - or perhaps because of - this there is a lot of
variation within the track. The album also features a four part
instrumental suite called "Sonia In Search Of The Moon"; the first three
part are quiet pieces featuring acoustic guitar, piano and warm Mellotron
pads, but the fourth is a strong symphonic rock piece, with plenty of
sizzling synth leads and a grandiose, melodic guitar solo to bring it to
close. This album may not be breaking much new ground but it serves a large
and diverse dose of familiar ideas, and the execution is inspired and
The Gates of Omega only emerged after five years, a few line-up changes and Roversi's personal problems, all of which are reflected on the end product, a rather solemn double album. It moves away from the basic symphonic style of the previous in many places, exploring new venues like ambient music or Roversi's stick playing, but also more conventional pop structures. Similarly, the new vocalist Luca Palleschi is confident and technically more meticulous than Tonko, but also more conventional and his Americanised Gabriel style can get tiresome. Some of the songs are basically melodic pop tunes (some inspired, some less so) decked out with a few off-the-shelf Tony Banks synth ornamentions, mandatory rhythmic shifts and David Cremoni's phenomenal guitar solos, which have enough melodic sharpness to cut their way out of even the most impenetrable cul-de-sac of clichés. The 27-minute title track plunges deepest into the opaque mists of the ambient, but while it manages to conjure up a few haunting melodic moments where traditional synth and Mellotron tones combine with more diverse sound-canvasing, it also hovers too long in flaccid soundscapes and otherwise stylishly moody vocal sections. The second disc is stronger overall, with more traditionally symphonic mini-epics like "Home Sweet Home" and "Stars and Tears" which Moongarden seem most comfortable with. The Gates of Omega is in many ways a very ambitious project, but as so often before, you get the feeling it would have been a stronger whole if condensed into a single disc. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Click here for the Cristiano Roversi and Moongarden web site
Every Pixie Sells A Story (93)
Live Stupidity And Other Embarrassing Moments (94, Cassette)
|The Swedish progressive space rock band called The Moor was formed in 1985. Their keyboardist Kenneth Magnusson and vocalist Hans Moll had always been the nucleus of the band. The Moor released two singles back in 1988, "Candlelight/Now ..." and "Tolling Bells/If You Want Me." One of the singles were reviewed as "the soundtrack for your darkest dreams" in a newspaper. In 1990 they began to work on Every Pixie Sells A Story, which was released in 1993. The favourite groups of Kenneth Magnusson are Hawkwind, Gong (You-era), Rush and King Crimson. The Moor had been compared to all these groups, but their album Every Pixie Sells A Story has also been compared to Black Sabbath, Depeche Mode, Neon Judgement, Porcupine Tree, Roxy Music and Sisters of Mercy. The people on the album were: Kenneth Magnusson (samplers, synthesizers, Mellotron, composing, arranging, programming), Hans Moll (vocals, lyrics) and Peder Jansson (guitars). The line-up has changed, but at the moment (1995) their members are: Kenneth Magnusson (Mellotron, Wurlitzer piano, Moog, synthesizers), Hans Moll (vocals, computer), Stefan Renström (basses, synthesizer), Claes Edmundsson (guitar), and Ulf Nylén (percussion). I saw them live in Gothenburg at the 1st of April 1995. They were very powerful. Magnusson and Renstrom played furiously, while Moll calmly sat at his computer writing curious messages on the screen. Hans Moll is actually one of the most non-moving singers I have ever seen. I remember a concert back in 1993, when Moll was dressed like a preacher and was singing "Master Builder" (from Gong's You) with his back to the crowd. The Moor had also released Live Stupidity And Other Embarrassing Moments (Cassette Compilation 1994, Bishop Garden) that comprises live recordings of various quality, some outtakes from Every Pixie Sells A Story, and their second single. -- Gunnar Creutz|
|According to bassist Stefan Renström (also of Simon Says), The Moor is still together as a band, "though Kenneth has declared that the band henceforth will concentrate on one-offs, primarily for release on the net, as I have it. He, like me, has finally surrendered to the fact that we probably can't stop making music even if we want to." In recent years, the band has also counted Nik Turner (Hawkwind) among its members. -- Fred Trafton|
[See Egg [Sweden] |
Click here for The Moor's web site
Story Of (75)
Out In The Sun (77)
Patrick Moraz III (78)
Coexistence (84, aka Libertate, w/ Pan Pipe player Syrinx)
Future Memories Live On TV (84)
Future Memories II (84)
Future Memories I & II (84)
Human Interface (87)
Libertate (89, re-release of Coexistence with all rights given to "Terre des Hommes", a charity organization based in Geneva)
Windows Of Time (94)
PM in Princeton (CD & video) (95)
Change of Space (09)
With The Moody Blues:
Patrick Moraz (circa 1975)
Original entry, last updated 9/27/06:
Immediately after this, Moraz replaced Rick Wakeman in Yes and did one studio album with them, the classic Relayer which sounded the way it did largely because of Moraz' unique keyboard stylings and his Vako Orchestron. He toured with them for the Relayer tour. He can be heard on several of the live cuts from this tour which appear on Yesshows, and can be seen on VCD/DVD from that tour.
After leaving Yes, Moraz did several solo albums including what may be my all-time favorite multi-keyboard album, the Brazilian-flavored Story of which also wins my award as most difficult album to list on a computer because of the "" symbol. Moraz is said to have hated his album, claiming that he had recorded several takes of each keyboard solo with the intent of choosing only one. But he was not in the studio when the album was mixed down, and the sound man thought it sounded really good with all the parts playing at once. Personally, I agree with the sound man. This is probably the most frenetic pitchbend-fest ever commited to tape, then or since. This was and still is the album I use as proof that keyboards can be the instrument doing screaming solos just as well as the best guitar solos around.
Patrick Moraz signed up for a time as keyboardist for The Moody Blues. He recorded and toured extensively with them from 1981 to 1991. It was particularly during this time that his music began to lose its progressive feel and began to become more popular. Timecode (1984) had little left of the progressive sound evident in his earlier works, and has been missing since. I keep hoping that one day he'll do another great work like Story of or Patrick Moraz III, but I doubt it will ever come to pass. At the moment, he is composing strictly for piano, and his last albums, from Windows of Time onward are solo piano albums. -- Fred Trafton
Change of Space is about a 50/50 mix of instrumental music and "songs" with vocals. There is a bit of prog-pop/arena rock feel in some places, especially on the tracks that have vocals. A prime example of this is the opening song, "Peace in Africa", which reminds me of some of Peter Gabriel's ethnically influenced music due to the percussion and lyrical subject matter. Still, Moraz has always been a fan of "ethnic" percussion, though this song has a more African feel then the previous South American percussion. But the Gabriel impression flies out the window when Moraz unleashes a solo to prove he hasn't forgotten how to make a synthesizer wail. Nobody else does pitch-bends the way Moraz does, it's an instantly recognizable style, and years of focusing on piano doesn't seem to have diminished his mastery of it.
The second cut, "Change of Space" starts off with a very Larry Fast-like intro before moving into more usual Morazian territory. The drums sound like a combination of real and drum machine, and it's a bit more vocal-heavy than I'd like. Still, there's some nice fretless bass work (or is that keyboard? I'm not entirely sure ...) and guitar-like synths, so it's still a good cut.
From here, we move on to the instrumental part of the album. "Sonique Prinz" is split into 3 CD tracks, but is actually a single piece in 3 movements. It recycles some themes from Moraz' first three albums (and maybe more, though I don't recognize them), especially in the first movement, and then provides variations on them. I might complain about this if, as I said before, Moraz' first three albums weren't some of my all-time favorite music, but as it is I really enjoyed this suite. Fabulous fast arpeggios, frantic pitch bending and furious percussion get the adrenaline pumping like in the old days.
Next up (track 6, actually, since the previous song spanned three track numbers) is "One Day in June", a great song that could be a slightly less overdubbed outtake from Story of . Another instrumental pitch-bend fest.
To be honest, the remainder of the album started to lose my interest a bit. It starts getting to be a bit on the Muzak-ish side, a problem Moraz has had in previous albums too. But even these cuts aren't bad, they're just not as great as the first few cuts. Overall, I'd have to call Change of Space a bit uneven, and not up there with his first three masterworks. But still, not a bad album and worth checking out for any Moraz fan. The king of the keyboard pitch bend definitely reawakens after a long slumber. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Bruford, Bill | Mainhorse | The Moody Blues | Refugee | Yes]|
Nova Solis (72), Brown Out (73?; aka The Sleeper Wakes), Seasons (83), Ivories (84)
Morgan is keyboardist Morgan Fisher and friends. He has also played with Mott the Hoople. I have Brown Out and it is a good (not great) prog keyboard-oriented album with a side-long track. Sort of a mix of ELP and Yes styles. -- Juan Joy
Sea Of Dreams (76)
The Long Goodbye (95)
Note: There is no listing for an album called Worldwide Diffusion, mentioned in the description below. This may be a song title.
|This band sounds very good. They blend guitar and synth sounds in a beautiful way. Lyrics from Worldwide Diffusion are about dreams and nightmares and reality! Their influence seems to be Genesis, Pendragon and Pallas. -- Olivier Malivert|
|Moria Falls is from St. Albans. The Long Goodbye was produced by Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon, etc.) engineered by Karl Groom (Shadowland, Strangers on a Train, etc.) and Martin Orford (IQ, Jadis etc.) played the flute, so it's easy to guess the style of this band. -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||[See Arena | IQ | Jadis | Nolan, Clive | Pendragon | Shadowland | Strangers on a Train]|
Mormos (70), The Great Wall Of China (71), Magic Spell Of Mother's Wrath (72)
Prog/psych folk. American band who lived in France.
The Morrigan Rides Out (90, re-released in 1997)
Spirit of the Soup (99, recorded in 1985)
Originally formed in 1984, they play a kind of progressive folk, sometimes reminiscent of a latter-day Gryphon but with a more polished symphonic feel. Many of their numbers are variations on or extensions of traditional English or Irish folk tunes. Musicianship is topnotch throughout. All albums are now available on CD via speciality label English Garden. -- Mario Camilleri
A very obscure English band, The Morrigan was formed seventeen
years ago, in 1984, yet its wonderful creation remained unnoticed up to
the middle of the 1990s when the excellent UK Prog-label "Hi-Note"
was formed. (For the absolute majority of prog-heads The Morriganís
creation remains unnoticed up to now, though.) The people at the label
have immediately recognized that there are more than enough values
in the music of The Morrigan to consider this band one of the most
essential parts of international Progressive Rock movement. Without any
doubts concerning the bandís status (in limbo) in the world of
contemporary Progressive Music "English Garden", one of the four
divisions of "Hi-Note", released all the four albums by The Morrigan
in the second half of the 1990s. It must be said that two of them
(especially the first one), these real pearls of Progressive, could be lost
for us forever. The point is that Spirit of the Soup was just recorded
(in 1985) yet never released up to 1999 when the albumís master tape
was, at last, restored with using the special equipment within the
precincts of "Hi-Note". As for the second album, the band members were
able to release just a few hundred of the ... Rides Out LP copies
at their own expense in 1990.
Spirit of the Soup:
Line-up: Colin Masson - vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, keyboards; Cathy Alexander - vocals, 12-str. guitar, keyboards, recorders, autoharp; Cliff Eastabrook - vocals, bass guitar & pedals.
Did you notice that there is no drummer on Spirit of the Soup (fortunately), unlike the three remaining The Morrigan albums? I feel youíd be happy to collar me and ask: how the absence of the drummer could be fortunate, especially since there is a permanent drummer among the band members that feature all the following albums? Just wait a bit and Iíll explain. The absence of the drummer is (if not turned out to be) the main trump of the Spirit of the Soup. You canít even imagine how unusual yet wonderful your typical powerful "heavy" arrangements sound without a drummer. These fantastic surprises are waiting for your ears (to amaze them along with you yourself) on tracks 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 & 9. (Long songs "Agincourt" (penned by Colin), "Silent Seasons" (by Cathy) and the two-minute instrumental piece "Dribbles of Brandy" are, however, especially rich in heavy sound.) Quite aggressive and, at the same time, tense bass guitar moves and heavy electric guitar riffs and solos are essential parts of these compositions, as they play more than a prominent role in development of the arrangements - at least on the first two of these tracks. (Note: both these songs are not the bandís versions of the folk songs, but written by The Morrigan members themselves.) Filled with a lot of diverse arrangements that are full of solos and passages of a wide-variety of instruments used here (electric, acoustic and bass guitars, keyboards, various recorders - wood flutes) as well as the interplays between the soloing woodwinds, keyboards and guitars, "Agincourt" and "Silent Seasons" are the most complex and intriguing tracks on the album. Whatís the main thing, there are not any chords "behind" the beautiful vocals by Cathy Alexander. Truly progressive musical backgrounds support her singing even on the folk songs that were just arranged by the band. So despite the fact that most of the folk songs (almost all of which have actually just the remote resemblance to real folk songs, though) are quite accessible to these experimented ears, itís clear to me that the way they were arranged is typical for performers from the Classic (not Neo!) Progressive Rock camp. While there are only two instrumentals on the album (the title-track and the foregoing "Dribbles of Brandy") Cathy has enough place to shine with her wonderful vocals. Three songs that are more mellow than all others ("Turtle Dove", "The Unquiet Grave", and "The Great Sun") are better than any of the best Rock-ballads I ever heard. With raises to the heights of dramatic emotions and falls to the soft grasses of gentle, very female singing, Cathyís vocals are so diverse on these songs that only her parts make them sounding like real progressive ballads. Cathyís voice is a pure magic, but her pseudo polymorphous [I think Vitaly means "polyphonic" - Ed.] singing is sometimes especially impressive. The only one song that, in my view, doesnít blend with quite a monolithic musical palette of the album is the short (2-minute) "Off the Rails". With the irony of fate this one turned to be the only track here that sounds like a typical folk song from the first to the last note. Thatís, probably, why "Off the Rails" is also the only song on the album that was sung by Colin Masson, but not by Cathy. (By the way, Colinís "Executors Song", featured simply fantastic vocals by Cathy, is my favourite on this album, although it is less progressive than "Agincourt" and "Silent Seasons", at least.) It is also more or less clear to me now why The Morrigan, who play so distinctly original music, full of magic vocals, warm melodies and rich arrangements, werenít noticed already then, back in the middle of the 1980s. Perhaps, the problem is in those (progressive) arrangements that are "behind" the vocal partsÖ Meanwhile, itís obvious that The Morrigan is one of the most undeservedly (criminally? all right!) unnoticed and underrated Progressive Rock bands ever existed.
The Morrigan Rides Out - Five years after The Morrigan debut album was created, having got a free bassist and, which is especially significant, a drummer, the band is back with the second album in 1990. Of course, with a full-blooded line-up now completed, The Morrigan got a strong presence of the traditional Rock "formula" in their musicís structures. Along with getting a real Rock sound, the band, this time around, have brought in a lot more of Irish folk music, either original or a la original, being composed by the band members in full accordance to its canons, in their second "movement" in comparison with the Spirit of the Soup debut album. But despite the fact that there are only three compositions (out of nine) on "Rides Out" in a musical palette of which folk motives donít play a prominent role, the bandís main passion is very well blended with progressive forms in all other songs. Of course, instrumentally The Morriganís second album is more complex than the debut one.
Wreckers - It is absolutely amazing to listen to the first album The Morrigan have released within the precincts of Hi-Note - once again five years after the band had produced the previous full-length album (there is also an EP in The Morrigan back catalogue). Now itís obvious to me that the regular changes of stylistics within the frame of the bandís very own and distinctly original style, that The Morrigan demonstrate with each new album of theirs, is a phenomenon that is equal to the task of only the mightiest progressive bands. And "Wreckers", in my view, is especially rich in stylistic diversity within the framework of the bandís own style. Also, this one is more progressive and diverse than any of the bandís previous albums.
Masque - I must admit ... I was wrong when I was talking of The Morrigan previous album Wreckers as of the most diverse in their discography because after a few listens to Masque Iíve found it even more variegated - in all senses, as almost all songs here contain a lot of various themes, arrangements, etc. already within themselves. (Thus, once again I am back to the thought that repeated listens to any Classic Progressive Rock album should be a law to all reviewers without exceptions.) Only the albumís closing song "She Moved Through the Fair" brings the listener the only, on the whole, mood, full of some placatory wisdom. Youíll find, however, a few different themes even on this very special track, apart from Cathyís beautiful and charming vocals whose parts here are as diverse as always. I canít even imagine a more wonderful ending for this album than "She Moved Through the Fair", and Cathy, in my view, is the best female singer of all time - ever since Progressive Rock was born way back in the beginning of the second half of the 1960s. All the other tracks (1 to 9) of Masque are incredibly tasteful and highly complex music that is nothing short of a true Confluence of Classic Progressive Rock and Progressive Folk Rock. I use the word "progressive" twice in this definition of the music of The Morriganís latest album by no means in the usual manner. This music reflects such an exact sense itself and, this way, another new term in the classification system of Progressive Rockís manifestations has just popped up.
To me, the unique creation of The Morrigan came as a real great discovery in a time when it seems obvious there are no blank spots already on the map of Progressive Rock. Itís really hard nowadays to come across a band whose music would be more or less drastically different from anything Iíve heard before, but the UKís The Morrigan music is so distinctly original that I just wonder why it dwells in obscurity for the majority of prog-heads of the world. While regarding the first two albums of The Morrigan I can say they remind of some unusual Symphonic counterpoints to the creation of another great UK band Skyclad - the only outfit (this writer knows) that plays Progressive Folk-Metal (and such a comparison already sounds quite revolutionary), the two latest ones are free of any comparisons in general, even if they were as flattering as the latter. Originality, however, is by no means the only trump of the band. You should listen to this music to let all the wonderful magic that it brings along with outstanding Progressiveness dawn on you. Add to this already incredible picture the great lyrics by Cathy and Colinís (additional) brilliant talent of a painter (his paintings are artworks that feature all The Morrigan CDs booklets) and youíll have that Golden Trinity of Arts in one face: in the face of The Morrigan creation as a whole. -- Vitaly Menshikov
Click here for The Morrigan's web site
Click here for Vitaly's interview with Cathy Alexander and Colin Masson in ProgressoR
Click here for Vitaly's review of Colin Masson's solo album Isle of Eight
Click here to order The Morrigan CD's from Hi-Note
Neal Morse (99)
Merry Christmas from the Morse Family (00, a Christmas album, not very progressive)
It's Not Too Late (02)
God Won't Give Up (05)
Lead Me Lord (Worship Sessions Volume 1) (05, Christian rock, but not prog)
? (05, a.k.a. Question or Question Mark)
Send the Fire (Worship Sessions Volume 2) (06, Christian rock, but not prog)
Cover to Cover (06, Covers album, recorded during One, ? and Testimony sessions, as Morse, George and Portnoy)
Sola Scriptura (07)
Songs from the Highway (07, Acoustic Folk, not prog)
Secret Place (Worship Sessions Volume 3 (08, Christian rock, but not prog)
The River (Worship Sessions Volume 4) (09, Christian rock, but not prog)
[Editor's note: Right off the bat, I'd better admit I've never heard any of Neal Morse' solo albums. But I think I can't wait for that to happen any longer. Morse is so important to prog rock in general that I can no longer use that as my excuse for his lack of a GEPR entry. Therefore, this article is simply a summary of Morse's own words about himself on his web site ... boring, but at least a start.
So, as I have done a few times in the past, I would like to extend an invitation to any of Morse's fans who would be interested in contributing a GEPR article about him to please do so, in order for me to replace this entry with a less personally biased one. I don't mind if you love Morse (or hate him, for that matter), but at least it will be an outside opinion and not Morse's own. Just e-mail it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Neal Morse (born 8/2/60 in Van Nuys, CA) is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and vocalist currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. His solo albums are in the genres of progressive rock and Christian Contemporary Music (a.k.a. Christian Rock, but not prog). He started off trying to find success in the pop music world, but soon gave up on that and started devoting himself to progressive rock, forming Spock's Beard with his brother Alan. They scraped enough money together to record The Light, which was very successful in the context of the small prog rock community.
Over the next ten years, Spock's Beard released 10 CD's and 2 DVD's, and became very well-known in the prog world. Neal also recorded 6 CD's and 3 DVD's with "super-group" Transatlantic during this time. However, Morse then decided that he needed to embrace his Christian faith as a spiritual quest, leading him to quit both bands in order to focus on music with specifically Christian themes.
Morse's first album after this was the 2CD Testimony, chronicling his spiritual and musical journey in words and music. It is said by those in the know to be in the genre of prog rock, and it was also Morse's first of many albums with Dream Theater drummer (and former Transatlantic bandmate) Mike Portnoy.
Morse's next progressive albums were entitled One and ? (also known as Question), with many guests from the prog world including Portnoy, Christian guitarist Phil Keaggy, Roine Stolt, Jordan Rudess and Steve Hackett.
Morse's next album was Sola Scriptura, a concept album about the abuses of the church in the middle ages, and finally Lifeline, his first non-concept album since his break with Spock's Beard and Transatlantic.
Most recently, after a 10-year hiatus, Morse agreed to get Transatlantic back together again to record a new album, the result being The WHirlwind, an album with its roots in a 45-minute composition of Morse's. -- Fred Trafton (largely paraphrased from Morse' web site)
With the Dixie Dregs:
The Great Spectacular (75)
What If (78)
Night of the Living Dregs (79)
Live At Sigma Sound (97, Live, recorded '79)
Dregs of the Earth (80)
Unsung Heroes (81)
Industry Standard (82)
Bring 'Em Back Alive (92)
Full Circle (94)
California Screamin' (00)
Solo Albums or with Steve Morse Band:
Selected other albums:
The leader of the Dixie Dregs. His solo albums are much more guitar oriented than his stuff with the Dregs, which is more group oriented. My favorite of his solo albums is High Tension Wires, which I think could pass for a Dregs album.
Multi stylistic guitarist. Check out Coast to Coast.
Leader and guitarist from Dixie Dregs, his solo output is an extension of the Dixie Dregs style, but usually in a three-piece rock band setting without violin and minimal keyboards.
Extraordinary guitarist from the Dixie Dregs. Though his work with that band is incredible, his solo work isn't as hot. To be sure, Introduction is killer, but the later albums follow the same formula and no new territory is explored. Southern Steel particularly suffers from tizzy production.
Steve Morse is lead guitarist for the Dixie Dregs, and also for the latest incarnation of Deep Purple (Mark VII, I kid you not!) starting in 1994. In addition, he played on 3 Kansas albums (Power, In The Spirit of Things and Live ...'89) and has guested on numerous other recordings. Not to be confused with Neal Morse of Spock's Beard and Transatlantic fame. -- Fred Trafton
The latest news for Steve Morse is that he's joined forces with Neal Morse and ex-Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy to form a new super group. As of this writing, the new band is unnamed, but has begun recording an album. -- Fred Trafton
[See Dixie Dregs |
Deep Purple |
Click here for Steve Morse's official web site
Symphonic Holocaust (98)
This project teams up Anekdoten's guitarist
Nicklas Berg and drummer Peter Nordins with
Landberk's guitarist Reine Fiske and bassist
Stefan Dimle, and has them performing inventive cover versions of horror movie
tunes from 1968 to 1981, with the nucleus of the sound being
Mellotron played by all the members.
The musical pieces on Symphonic Holocaust (Mellotronen MELLOCD008) come mainly from gory potboilers of Italian directors Lucio Fulci (including the "how to puke your guts out - literally" zombie movie "Paura nella Citta dei Morti Viventi") and Ruggero Deodato, as well as Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" and even one hardcore porno movie, but all have been rearranged to create a uniform and unique sound which is both convincingly retro and profoundly bleak. Instead of screaming shocks and hectic horrors, the album is largely a study in moodiness and haunting atmospherics, only occasionally erupting with bursts of fury. The influence of Landberk and Pink Floyd (circa Ummagumma) is noticeable in the way that the rhythm section creates simple, almost hypnotic grooves with slowly throbbing bass and top-heavy drumming, which then swell impressively from swishing to crashing. Over this we get sombre guitar arpeggios and restrained, but evocative solos, as well as a liberal dose of Mellotron, which sets the alternatively haunting and doomy mood, with occasional help from synths, sound effects or theremin. The tactic works best in the magnificent version of Goblin's "Quiet Drops" (from their Buio Omega soundtrack), where Fiske wrenches an incredible amount of emotion out of a simple but strong guitar melody with the rest of the band gradually building up intensity behind him; the track economises on notes but invests heavily on atmosphere, dynamics and melody - and cleans up beautifully. The album can also accommodate the desperate doom of "Apoteosi del Mistero", with a gloomy Mellotron choir and guitar growling its anger against the thrashing of the rhythm section; the sunny wistfulness of "Opening Theme", whose nostalgic Mellotron melody is probably the strongest on the album; and the "seaside lounge way after closing time" ambience of "The Photosession", a song of that could have come from Floyd's More soundtrack. The album's only vocals are the childlike "la la" vocals on "Lullaby", smoky innocence against clunky, slightly off-key Fender Rhodes stabs and the dark waves of Mellotron strings.
The band have included two original compositions, of which "Threats of Stark Reality" is just a brief, spooky and improvisatory prologue to another track, but the title track stretches the improvisation to nearly 18 minutes, with predictably mixed results. A Crimson-influenced tune with Morsecode Mellotron, crunching guitar riffs, bubbling, bulky bass and powerful drumming, "Symphonic Holocaust" ebbs and flows and then builds and builds in intensity until the mood gets so apocalyptic that the tune has nowhere to go but falls apart instead. Impressive as they are, the dynamics and intensity can't quite hide the fact that this is essentially a two-riff improvisation without the kind of development and balancing between the structured and the improvised that lifts pieces like "Starless" from mere impressive to stunning. So while "Symphonic Holocaust" is breathtaking on first couple of listens, I find it less enduring than the shorter, more composed material on the album.
In addition to the CD version, Symphonic Holocaust was also released as a double LP which features a three-minute bonus track, "Irrealtŗ di Suoni" (also available on Black Widow Records' ...e tu vivrai nel terrore compilation). This is not an album for those expecting a virtuoso gorefest, but extremely recommendable to those looking for a subtly menacing but no less terrible beauty. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Anekdoten | Landberk]|
Top 80's heavy prog.
For All We Shared (98)
Spirit of Autumn Past (99)
The Last Bright Light (01)
Prints in the Stone (01, EP)
The Story So Far ... (01, Live, available as DVD or CD)
Music Inspired by The Lord of the Rings (01)
Heroes Never Die - The Anthology (02, Compilation, but re-recordings)
Catch the Spirit - The Complete Anthology (02, 2CD, Heroes Never Die plus a second CD)
Mostly Autumn - Jonathan Blackmore (drums), Liam Davison (electric & acoustic
guitars, vocals), Heather Findlay (vocals, bodhran, tambourine, 6 + 12 string
acoustic guitars), Angela Goldthorpe (flute, whistles, recorders, vocals),
Andy Smith (bass), Iain Jennings (keyboards, vocals), Bryan Josh (electric &
acoustic guitars, vocals)
I am not sure how I came across Mostly Autumn but on hearing sample I had to investigate further. I bought a copy of The Last Bright Light and was, well, completely stunned by it. The opening tracks would not disgrace a next Pink Floyd album - don't get me wrong they are not a copy or tribute band as there are many differences - but you can't get away from the strong Gilmour influence particularly in the guitar work. The music develops over the album and builds into a glorious mix of progressive and celtic rock with vocals shared between Bryan Josh and Heather Findlay, backed by very accomplished musicians. Heather's voice is just glorious and is in good contrast to Bryan's almost Gilmour-style singing. The album is completed by some great production to deliver what, for me, has to be the best release of 2001. If you are a fan of Division Bell style Pink Floyd, Camel, Pendragon or even Capercaillie then I cannot recommend them highly enough. Very few CD's make it into my personal "hall of fame" but this one of the few.
Following The Last Bright Light, Mostly Autumn released Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings. According to their web site, "This is the result of 14 days and nights in November 2001 that actually turned out to be a lot of fun. It's not intended to be our 4th album, it's more in the way of an interim statement, but it is definitely intended to be a loving tribute to a great work of literature". Once again they have produced an excellent album, not the polished product like The Last Bright Light. I do not think the quality or variation in the compositions is on as high a level as the previous album, perhaps an indication of the short time it took to create. Nevertheless it is still a very good Mostly Autumn album and I can't wait for the next "4th" album.
Mostly Autumn received "Best Band" at the Classic Rock Society Awards night, 2001. -- Quba
Mostly Autumn is one of those bands that's hard to categorize ... I would have sympathy
with anyone who called these folks progressive and with anyone who says they're
not prog at all. Depending on your definition of "prog", you can really go either way
on a band like this. But what you can't argue is that they're "Classic Rock", which is
the name of their production company. "Classic Rock" they definitely are, with a very
'70's sound, moulding aspects of folk, celtic, psychedelic and ... yes ... progressive
musics into a style both uniquely their own and yet somehow hauntingly familiar. Their
music isn't particularly complex and is not at all difficult to listen to. Yet, like
those old bands, you get the feeling that there's a lot more than just a bunch of notes
going on here. Like their '70's forebears, one gets the feeling that there's something
important going on when you're listening to this music, as if the very fabric of
the space-time continuum is being subtly altered by the presence of this band playing
these notes and singing these words at this moment in time. No, really ... it's more
like a group spellcasting than a performance.
My first exposure to Mostly Autumn was through the DVD version of The Story So Far ..., so I'll break with my usual policy of viewing a DVD as sort of a poor second choice to an album. Actually, the CD of The Story So Far ... is really an abridged version of the DVD as far as songs go, so the DVD is arguably "the real deal" and the CD is the second choice in this case, particularly if you're listening to the DVD through your stereo speakers. From the opening of the DVD, showing the standard footage of them backstage getting ready for the concert, you get the impression that something really special is happening here. My adrenaline pumps, and I realize that some part of me thinks I'm about to see one of Yes' old concerts. Well, they don't sound much like Yes when they start playing, yet there's something kindred here. Something cosmic, something organic, something ... of course ... something spiritual about this music! I'm beginning to feel stoned ... like inhaling that "special smoke" at a concert ... like having a long meditation ... like cool spring breezes heightening the senses. What's up with this? It's just notes, after all. Just people standing around playing the same notes as all the other bands play; A thru G is all there are. But it's the attitude of this band; focused, serious, and absolutely committed, yet also playful and somehow wise. You want to buy into their vision of reality, to figure out where they're coming from, so you willingly teleport a part of yourself there.
All right, I'll stand back from the spell for a moment and get analytical. The sound is rich and acoustic-heavy, even when electronic instruments are being used. Flute and recorder parts abound, and celtic drums and rhythms create a folky feel. There are also Gilmour-inspired heart-tugging guitar solos and of course, Heather Findlay's sensuous vocals, with lots of backing vocals from virtually all the other band members. The compositions are emotional and not very complex, mostly being simple song structures. It's the texture and emotions here that would make this band of interest to a progressive rock fan, not the complexity or difficulty. But I would bet that most proggers who are about my age (pushing 50, or already pushed beyond it) will find Mostly Autumn a great break from all the difficult stuff. And, you might even find your wives like it too!
The Story So Far ... is a concert performance of their earlier tunes, so I was interested to see what they might do in the studio. The next Mostly Autumn album I spun up was Music Inspired by The Lord of the Rings. Well, with all the hype from the movie, I figured they were just jumping on the bandwagon. But no, this music really has nothing to do with the movies at all, being just pieces inspired by various characters, places and battles from the books, and they did the entire album in just two weeks. They don't even consider this to be a "real album", just an "interim statement". To quote MA's Bryan Josh, "... it is possible to write, rehearse, record, mix and master an album in 14 days; so long as you work every second of every day and night and don't sleep, eat, or lay your guitar down for long enough to go to the bathroom." Well, that will put you in an altered state of consiousness for sure. And it seems to have been a very creative state, for the music here is excellent; alternately breezy and acoustic or dark and heavy, with recurring themes and not much recourse to endless soloing just to fill out the time available. In fact, they could have gotten away with a lot more endless soloing and it would have been fine by me. Once again, nothing too difficult here, but with a lot more celtic and electric (as in electric guitars, though there's also more synth too) feel than the concert video. Some nice (digital) synth work here too. Great feeling of Elven craftsmen at their anvils creating the Rings of Power in "Forge of Sauron", for example. There's also a little eye candy at the end of the album ... a video track to play on your PC. Actually, I haven't watched it yet, so I can't comment.
So, if Music Inspired by The Lord of the Rings isn't a "real album", what do their usual studio albums sound like? To find out, I listened to Heroes Never Die, a compilation album with a twist ... this isn't just a collection of previously released cuts, but a re-recorded version of MA's favorite tunes. They felt that they could do better on these pieces, so they were re-recorded. Many of these pieces are the ones from The Story So Far ..., which are my only basis for comparison since I haven't heard the original studio recordings. They are all nicely done, though to tell the truth I like the live versions better, for all their minor flaws, just because of the energy of the DVD.
So that's enough for this entry. In case you can't tell, I really like this band, and I recommend them highly as long as you don't require a bunch of odd meters or difficult bits to enjoy your music. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Mostly Autumn's web site
Moto Perpetua (74)
Kayak sound alikes.
Infra Dig (84)
Klang (85, mini)
Contact With Veils (86, mini)
Shapuno Zoo (88)
Archive One (97, Compilation incl. Infra Dig and Contact With Veils)
Archive Two (98, Compilation incl. Shapuno Zoo and Klang)
Archive Three (99?, Compilation)
City of Mirrors (99)
All America City (00, Live)
|Great US RIO sounding band which was silent for more than decade, by the fact that members went to form U Totem (another great US RIO sounding band) with Dave Kermanís 5UUís (yet another great US RIO sounding band). Since í95 U Totem are bound to sleep (hope that not for very long time). MTG are inspired by Henry Cow as well as by Gentle Giant and incorporate into their appealing poisonous concoct various ethnic and plenty of other contemporary and jazzy sounds. More elaborate review is coming in near future. -- Nenad Kobal|
Archive One is a tricky one. Consisting of two early LPs (Infra Dig from
'84 and Contact with Veils from '86) totaling 73 minutes. By far closer to modern
classical music and experimental sound-engineering than to rock and pop, it's a far cry
from U Totem. Now the reason I bought the Archive
records was because I fell in love with U Totem and later
MTG, but at first I was disapointed (or maybe chocked) because this was a different thing
altogether; not rock music at all. More like modernists like Penderecki or Varese. Early
20th century italian composer Luigi Futi is refered to by themselves a couple of times. And
the use of drums and percussion hints to greater ambitions; rarely keeping a beat, it's
more often used to accentuate and double melodies. In a way I keep hearing
Zappa, and how he often used tuned percussion to double
guitar- or flute-runs. There's also the ghost of classical
Zappa in MTGs more accessible orchestrated moments.
Contact with Veils concentrates even more on the string and brass department, and
generally I find that more effective. Add to that the noise-sound experiments and spoken
word (abstract) poetry and you've got quite a trip. One strange bouncy pop song on
the record, then it's modernist-ville.
Archive Two is more of the same but better, that is to say: more like U Totem, and since David Kerman plays on these recordings that might not come as a surprise either. Three albums are collected on this one: Shapuno Zoo from '88, A Luigi Futi from '89, and Klang which is an early demo from '85. So overall later stuff which might explain the higher quality. Shapuno Zoo does sound a bit like the U Totem debut, and more importantly it features the wonderful Emily Hay on vocals. Fewer all out strange pieces and more actual songs (this is all relative of course), it's not only interesting but sometimes really good. A Luigi Futi has some themes on it that were later re-used on the U Totem debut, and is a single 20 minute track which reaches considerable heights but also has some odd spoken parts and other experimental fiddlings that bring down the general grade. Klang starts out with a recorded conversation in a dinner, and the story running thru the four songs all deal with Barbie and Ken (?) The silliness of that clashes with the serious music and I doubt anyone would find it either funny or interesting. Archive Two however is well worth checking out if you felt U Totem and later MTG left you wanting more.
City of Mirrors discards the heavy experimentation and concentrates on strong compositions. There's something like an arty pop song starting things of with "Tower of London", on which early 5UU's vocalist Curt Wilson sings (other than that it's Emily Hay to the fore), and again I discern a large dose of classical Zappa on various occasions throughout the album, and also a stronger bigband jazz feel is present. Basically the 28 minute "Bixby Slough" is a bigband jazz piece, with everybody taking turns at playing a chorus or two. Lots of brass and woodwind paints a nice and original soundpicture. The "Bixby Slough" track drags on a bit, but this is a great record. I keep thinking of it as the album Strange Attractors could have been if it hadn't relied so much on synths. -- Daniel
|Links||[See 5UU's | U Totem]|
13th Avenue (82)
Rock Sous La Dalle (93)
Haven't heard much from Patrice Moullet since he and singer Catherine Ribeiro fronted Alpes, the premier french underground band, in the late sixties and early seventies. Yet apparently he's been busy all these years doing music for various special projects, creating new musical instruments, and writing a lot of theater and film music, generally staying out of the music business mainstream. Rock Sous La Dalle, recorded in 1993, represents some of the most powerful and creative music that has ever reached this writer's ears; Moullet has created a sequence of innovative sonic tapestries each with its own mood and unique strength, and contains nothing that even remotely approaches typical rock accessibility, yet this music begs to be played over and over again. Entirely instrumental, employing a programmed music computer, real guitar/mandolin, percussion, flute samples, saxes, tons of Mellotron, and various other acoustic and electronic instruments, it's an almost-other-worldly musical odyssey, full of adventure, power and raw emotion. For those who need comparisons, it's not an easy task - the closest match might be Thierry Zaboitzeff's Dr.Zab, but Zab seems a bit more uniform and metronomic by comparison; Rock Sous La Dalle uses far more sonic depth and subtlety, and traps it all within a variable acoustic percept, which he has evidently mastered through his work in film soundtracks. Moullet has put togethar a forceful and compelling album, which at once has the spirit of the nineties intertwined with the freedom and adventurism of the seventies. This is truly progressive music. Welcome back, Patrice.
Lady Killer (74)
The Move (68), Shazam (70), Lookin' On (70), Message From the Country (71), Split Ends (72)
I'll give a brief Move history. There are excellent liner notes inside the Move's LP Split Ends (vinyl only), so look for that album (hard to find these days) for complete details. Started from various bands, The Move was lead by song writer and multi-instrumentalist Roy Wood. Carl Wayne did most of the early vocals, coming from Carl Wayne and the Vikings. The other notable member is Bev Bevan on the drums. The first album, The Move, as a collection of short, snappy Roy Wood songs done in pop style with a strong 60's psychedelic bent (plus some covers). I think this came out in 1966. (Albums don't have copyrights from back then!) It produced some hits in the UK. The first album is the first record in the 2LP set Best of The Move, which was the first album plus A and B-sides of their 5 singles. The Best of the Move was (maybe still is, but I haven't seen it for a long time) available on CD from A&M. I saw an add in Goldmine for the first album on CD form $20. The second LP, Shazam was only 6 songs, all but one over 5 minutes. Side one was three Roy Wood songs, and side two is three non Roy Wood songs, including what I call the first heavy metal ballad I know of (well heavy metal for the late 60's) "Don't Make My Baby Blue." Side two is one of my all time favorite LP sides. The line up is slightly different the first LP, but not sure of it (not listed). CD is available in Japan, and contains the first LP (in mono) as well. The third LP is Message From the Country, which was the debut of Jeff Lynne in the Move. Lynne has just left the Idle Race after two very good albums with them. This albums contained a mixture of Wood and Lynne songs, each singing their own for the most part, and a Bev Bevan song! This albums is quite good, except for three tracks which are so-so. This available in the USA on CD. A fourth LP came called Looking On, which contains the first glance of ELO with Lynne's "What" plus Lynne on the only track I know in which he plays drums, Wood's "Feels So Good." The album had 5 GREAT songs, plus some okay songs. Available from Japan on CD, but the quality is not so good (sounds like it came from record). The last album was really a rerelease of Message From the Country, with the 3 so-so tracks replaced by some singles ("Do Ya," "California Man"). The result is Split Ends, which to more than one Move fan is best collection out there, but of course this isn't on CD. The singles can be picked up (except for one Lynne b-side) on Lynne and Wood compilations CD (England). After the Move Roy Wood formed a couple bands, Wizzard and Wizzo, and did a few solo albums (Mustard, Boulders, On the Road Again.) The last coming out in the late 70's. None of these lived up to his Move days, although there are moments that come close. I hear/read a rumor about once a year he is recording again. Jeff Lynne of course went on to become the 5th Beatle. :-)
I have the Best Of double LP. More beat-psych than progressive, but the way they use orchestral instruments, sound effects and such, is very influential on the prog/rock to come. Overall sounds a bit like a symphonic version of the Who; excellent 1960s rock. Predecessor to ELO, and it shows. -- Mike Ohman
[See Electric Light Orchestra]
Post-Moving Gelatine Plates.
[See Moving Gelatine Plates]
Moving Gelatine Plates (71), The World of Genius Hans (72), Moving (80)
Early '70s French band, their sound will remind of the styles of the first edition of Magma, as well as the Soft Machine of the same period (Third), although in the end they're not derivative of either, This was one of the pioneering french progressive bands, who provided inspiration for many who would follow.
Moving Gelatine Plates is another obscure French progressive band from the early 70s given new life on CD by Musea. MGP consisted of Didier Thibault on bass and vocals (later with Gong), Gerard Bertram on guitar, Gerard Pons on drums, and Maurice Helmlinger on keyboards, sax, flute, and trumpet. This CD reissue includes their entire debut album (5 songs), original cover artwork, extensive band history, lyrics (such as they are), and 4 bonus tracks from MGP's 1980 album Moving. The cover art, a hand holding an exploding plate of gelatin, suggests today's industrial bands rather than 1970s progressive music. The opening track "London Cab" has a great "industrial" intro. MGP is a refreshing glimpse into the past. These four guys really cook! Their music mixed a dash of Soft Machine, King Crimson (Lizard), and Pink Floyd (Atom Heart Mother) with a dab of Iron Butterfly ("In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" drums). Fast breaks, complex rhythms, virtuoso playing, and weird lyrics combined to produce innovative music ahead of its time. The lyrics are one of the many surprises in store for you. Suddenly, in the middle of an energetic jam, you hear a processed voice reciting Three Blind Mice! Disconcerting, and in the immortal words of Mr. Spock, "Fascinating!." Don't pass on the opportunity to buy this CD.
Seminal French jazz-rock/prog band whose heavily Soft Machine/Zappa influenced debut album sounded a lot more like something from the German jazz-rock underground (Thrice Mice, Creative Rock, etc.) than anything French. They use not only sax and flute, but also trumpet, which gives them an odd, distincitvely underground sound. The very original, mesmerizing organ tone is unlike any other band I've heard, and sounds almost synthesized. Their use of complex time signatures, wacky vocals and sound effects and judicious soloing keeps things interesting. The only slow moment comes with the 15-minute "Last Song", which houses a seemingly endless drum solo. The band's second album, The World of Genius Hans (with its insane cover artwork of a cow's head dolled up in human clothing with a cigarette in its mouth and its ears and nose garnished with parsley!) has been reissued. I heard it's even better than the first. -- Mike Ohman
Il Mucchio (70)
Not a very interesting rock band.
Secret Signals II (75)
Air Friction (79)
Open City (85, Compilation)
Chronometers (92, Compilation of unreleased material, Recorded 1975-76)
Air Live (02?)
The Muffins - (Top) Billy Swann (Bass, Guitar, Vocals),
Dave Newhouse (Keyboards, Sax, Clarinet)
(Bottom) Tom Scott (Sax, Clarinet, Oboe, Flutes), Paul Spears (Drums)
Everyone played percussion
The Muffins were a DC area Canterbury inspired band that existed from about 1975 to 81, who, during their time released three regular albums, and contributed to the Random Radar Sampler - an excellent compilation of many of the artists who recorded on that now defunct label. The Muffins were Dave Newhouse (keyboards,reeds,winds and percussion), Tom Scott (reeds,winds, percussion), Billy Swann (bass,piano,guitar) and Paul Sears (Drums,saxes). Other band members came and went, playing drums, violin, harmonica, guitar and so on, and most of the albums have at least a few guests sitting in - including one-time producer Fred Frith. Their sound is heavily jazz influenced, but solidly rooted in progressive rock. As might be suspected from the lineup, saxes, flutes, clarinets and other woodwinds play a major role in their sound, which early on could be compared to the likes of Soft Machine circa Third or the instrumental flights of early Caravan. As time went on, their sound became more improvisational sounding, jagged and experimental, full of fiery urgency, and moved more in RIO directions. Chronometers is a disc full of early recordings from the 75/76 period and is a good showcase of their early sound (parts of Chronometers had appeared on the Random Radar sampler LP). The band's first regular album was Manna/Mirage, from around 78; by this time they had embraced a more improvisational direction. Later albums like Air Fiction show more of Frith's RIO influence: unusual rhythms, irregular melodies and rampant dissonance, all delivered with a vengeance. All these albums are excellent, as the Muffins were a masterful crew of top-notch musicians. Start with Chronometers and work your way forward. In addition to Chronometers, Cuneiform has also reissued Manna/Mirage and Open City, a posthumous release of recordings from the 77-80 time period and a couple tracks originally recorded for Fred Frith's Gravity with backing by The Muffins. This one is due for a CD reissue any day with 20 minutes of extra material. Hopefully the others will not be long to follow.
|Manna/Mirage is a release originally on Wayside's old label (their only label now being the eclectic Cuneiform), Manna/Mirage is an American approach to the style of Henry Cow. A sometimes noisy, but well composed offering, The Muffins cover the realms of prog rock and experimental fusion, falling well on the fusion side. The four bandmembers play multiple instruments, including strings and woodwinds, giving their music a non-centered sort of sound, always doing the unexpected. This is a winner if you like Henry Cow or National Health and might even get a rise out of the fans of other forms of complex music, such as Gentle Giant or Gryphon.|
|This Washington D.C.-based avante garde fusion band was one of the few who could out-Cow Henry Cow. :) So it comes as no surprise that <185> was produced by Fred Frith. The album is a veritable cacophony of squeaking, bleating clarinets, wild wailing saxophones, deep fuzz bass and Frith's distinctive guitar playing. Anyone who thought no-one could outdo "Nirvana For Mice" ought to hear "Angle Dance" or "Zoom Resume" from this album--incredible! Open City is a collection of posthumously released recordings. Quite restrained in comparison to <185>, the album is full of jazzy reed-solos in the middle Soft Machine mode. Also included, a pair of outtakes from Frith's Gravity album. One begins to wonder why they weren't released before. -- Mike Ohman|
|The Muffins re-banded in 2001 (the same four guys, unlike some other "re-banding") and have released a new album, Bandwidth in 2002 on Cuneiform. They are currently working on another studio album, tentatively titled Double Negative. They have also launched a nifty web site (Internet Explorer recommended, rather than Netscape), see link below.|
|Links||[See Bass, Michael | Chainsaw Jazz | Feigenbaum and Scott | Frith, Fred]|
Sinfonia Della Luna (84)
Leda Et Le Cygne (86)
The Princess Of Kingdom Gone (88)
|Keyboard-heavy sympho-prog from Japan. They posess a very "dignified" sound with bombastic vocals and lots of fanfare-like keyboards. Doesn't do a good deal for me, but in the right state of mind it can be quite pleasing. Renaissance or Moody Blues fans may like them, though. -- Mike Ohman|
|I've heard one track from The Princess of Kingdom Gone. It starts out with Japanese singing over somewhat spacy backdrop and Mellotron, managing to sound original. Middle section pulls out every early-mid era Genesis riff, some nearly note for note. It ends about the same as it began. While one song on a sampler doesn't represent the group overall, this particular track was nothing special.|
|Mugen is keyboardist Katsuhiko Hayashi and vocalist Takashi Nakamura, and whatever other musicians they can round up when it's time to do an album. They have three albums I know of: Sinfonia Della Luna, The Princess of Kingdom Gone and Leda et Le Cygne. I suspect there may be more. There's also several flexi-discs containing one or two tracks that have come out in limited numbers over the years; Vento di Primavera is one of these, which seems to pre-date everything else, and it features a female vocalist rather than Nakamura. Their sound is a very powerful symphonic- progressive that might be described as PFM-meets-The Enid. There are vocals on almost all the tracks; Their music is strikingly powerful and grand, the writing and arrangements are very original, and not understanding a word of the singing shouldn't bother you. One of Japan's best symphonic bands.|
|Links||[See Ie Rai Shan]|
The Journey (90)
Poem About the Hero (94)
Colours Fulfilled (98)
Bristol Concert (00, w/ Georgian Ensemble)
Mujician - (not necessarily in photo order) Keith Tippett (piano), Paul Dunmall
(reeds, pipes), Paul Rogers (six-string double bass) and Tony Levin (drums)
Mujician is apparently a one-shot project [incorrect, see discog above - Ed.], a live improvisation recorded in 1990 featuring Keith Tippett (piano - has played with everybody you can think of and more), Paul Rogers (double bass - no, NOT the guy who was the lead singer in Free and Bad Co.), Paul Dunmall (clarinet and saxes), and Tony Levin (drums - NOT the guy from King Crimson and Peter Gabriel's group). All four of these guys are respected sessionmen and first rate musicians, and on The Journey, they are basically playing free-form jazz, a one-hour improv that climbs to some fervent peaks and also glides through some quieter valleys - a very colorful music full of rhythms and counter-rhythms all played effortlessly in a very free and open jazz style. A close listen will reveal there is much more going on here than meets the ear at first listen - all four of these guys smoke the entire hour, there isn't a dull moment to be found anywhere - it truly is a journey. For fans of free-jazz or other adventurous music, Mujician is a must-have. Others might be advised to proceed with caution, as this is very unstructured, and bears virtually no resemblance to any rock or progressive rock forms.
[See Tippett, Keith]
Click here for the Mujician web site
Journey to the Nesting Place (08)
MultiFuse (the only band photo available that I can find) - (I'm assuming this is the order)
Peter Fallowell (drums, percussion, guitar, keys, vocals), Cherie Emmitt (vocals) and Tom Allen (bass)
MultiFuse is obviously Peter Fallowell's "baby", though the other two musicians also play important roles. Fallowell says that Journey to the Nesting Place took 16 years to produce. Maybe so, but judging from the recording quality and continuity, I'd say it was actually recorded over a much smaller time span. The web site and advertising contains the following recommendation: "Although Journey To The Nesting Place contains individual compositions it was conceived as a modern Symphony and is therefore best appreciated listening from the beginning to the end. The experience will be more enjoyable and the true meaning will be understood if you treat the work as one piece." OK. Sounds like prog to me.
And prog it is, though of an unusual sort. One might call it symphonic, and parts of it are, due to the keyboard "sweetening" or "thickening". There's guitar, bass, drums, piano and synths to be had on this album, but mostly it's focused around the mellow tines of the Fender Rhodes and Cherie Emmitt's vocals -- with Fallowell also singing backup -- frequently multitracked to a Queen-like (A Night At The Opera) intensity level. Some of it also reminds me of Magma at their most vocally-intensive, though MultiFuse sings in English rather than Kobaïan. When I played this for my wife, she pointed out some similarities to Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, which is true due to the hypnotically repeating note patterns, though MultiFuse's patterns aren't quite as hard to count out. The lyrics seem to be about some sort of spititual journey, though it's vague enough to speak to you about your spiritual journey rather than being preachy about theirs.
This is an album that took me a few listens before it started to really speak to me, but after investing that time, I really like it now. It's deceptively simple-sounding on first listen, though deeper levels of complexity start revealing themselves after a few spins. If Journey to the Nesting Place turns out to be MultiFuse's only album, at least it was quite the masterpiece. If not, then it will be hard to top. I really enjoyed this album and suggest that those who don't need crunchy electric gultars, screaming vocals, scads of Mellotron or distorted Hammond to make it feel "prog" to you. Good stuff. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for MultiFuse's web site
Click here for Peter Falallowell's MySpace page
|Mid-80's UK neo-proggers, their primary influences seem to be Tales period Yes, and early Marillion. The singer even sounds like Anderson sometimes. Unfortunately, too often a promising idea turns into "boom-bash-boom-bash" Pallas/Asia style AOR pop. Still, the album has some very good moments.|
|Multi Story were a British band who recorded East West in 1985, despite which, a Mellotron is listed on the equipment list! The vocalist, on most occasions, appears to have been greatly influenced by Jon Anderson, with the music revolving around the almost "electronic" and melodic keyboard sounds of Rob Wilsher. This release should appeal to those who enjoy the new crop of UK progressive bands, such as Castanarc, Galahad, ABWH, and the like.|
|The maxim that says I should say nothing if I have nothing good to say applies in spades to Multi-Story's East/West. But I should tell you at least a little bit about this British band. Multi-Story consists of two guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and vocals. All five of the members strike me as incredibly plain, talent-wise. There are eight songs on this disc and only one, at 7:55, breaks the 6:00 mark. Fully half of the songs are in the highly accessible (and minimally interesting) 3-4 minute range. Within and across songs, the rhythm is the same mix of electric power chords from the guitar and chordal melodies from the keyboards. The drumming is extremely monotonous. The lyrics are generally in a verse/chorus format and the vocals remind me a bit of (once again) John Waite, though less so than Castanarc's Mark Holiday. The best song is the 5:55 minute "The Wire," in which the band actually try to develop an IQ or Pendragon-styled instrumental passage. Even the long "Ahead of Your Time" doesn't approach this level of "progressivity." This cut has ample doses of Mellotron and they change time signatures now and then, but never does the band seem inspired to even *try* something spicy. Basically, these guys want to pass off as prog but it seems they had more than one hopeful eye on stadium stardom. Frankly, this is incredibly poor music. It would be best if I said no more. -- Mike Taylor|
|[Through Your Eyes is said to be mediocre AOR music.]|
|Links||Click here for the Multi-Story page on the Kinesis web site|
High Speed Kindergarten (77)
Moon You (78)
Brot + Spiele (80)
Le Perfectionniste (84)
|Another band near Embryo, founded by musicians coming from Missus Beastly and the Real Ax Band. Alto Pappert from Kraan played also in the band for some time. In 1980 they were several times on tour with the Swedish band Zamla. The music is typical German mid-end seventies fusion/jazzrock, you will also find with bands like Aera, Missus Beastly or Embryo. For all those who like these bands, Kindergarten would be a worthwhile addition to their collection. Their third (Brot + Spiele) featured a more smooth German rock (including vocals and Christian Burchard from Embryo playing vibraphone). -- Achim Breiling|
Pronounced like their second album.
The line-up for Munju's first and second albums was Dieter Kaudel on acoustic and electric guitar, Wolfgang Salomon on acoustic and electric bass, Jurgen Benz (of Missus Beastly) on sax and flute, and Thomas Romer on drums. High-Speed Kindergarten and Moon You are groovin' instrumental jazzrock albums in the vein of Missus Beastly, Aera, Katamaran, (instrumental) Kraan , and Release Music Orchestra's Garuda to name a few examples from that unbelievably wealthy (but unfortunately rare) tradition of labels like Brain and Egg, April and Schneeball.
On their third album the music took an unexpected turn. Benz was replaced on sax, and Christian Burchard of Missus Beastly joined on vibraphone. It is not easy for me to describe the music of Brot + Spiele, but I'll try: It's high-energy, unprocessed, totally jamming, fused with Middle Eastern flavors at times, and a joy to behold. Very complex, yet fresh, like they're playing it "live" (which I would guess they did in the studio, with little overdubbing, etc.) There are vocals this time, good and ???. The song "Computer" could rub some folks the wrong way, but the vocals on "Cosmische Mullabfuhr" make up for it. A highly progressive piece I consider their best work overall.
The musical twists and turns of Le Perfectionniste are less surprising following Brot + Spiele, but exciting nonetheless. The line-up is the same excepting another new sax player. The first song is a kicking jazzrock piece called "Hollywood". They then proceed to cover about 40 different areas of music on the rest of the album. The highlight for me is a wicked voodoo piece called "Beat on the Wet Sock" with Kaudel playing mindbending electric guitar.
Wolfgang Salomon also played some cool bass on Von Zamla's No Make Up. -- C.J.
P.S. I communicated several times with Dieter Kaudel and Wolfgang Salomon over the
past couple of years. Dieter sent me a tape of some stuff he's been recording in Coos
Bay, Oregon where he lives with his wife and daughter running a specialty microphone
business. The tape is just Dieter, so it's not as full as Munju, but it is excellent.
His wife and daughter join him on vocals for a cool new version of "Cosmische Mullabfuhr".
That tape and all of the Munju should be released on CD, and I'm wondering which
conspiracy is keeping them from digitalia ... Although, I just remembered that Dieter
told me that the Munju masters were somehow destroyed. Major bummer.
Wolfgang told me he was working with a project called Luna, and pointed me towards their
album Small Step for Mankind. I have yet to find it. He said Cuneiform may carry
Wolfgang told me he was working with a project called Luna, and pointed me towards their album Small Step for Mankind. I have yet to find it. He said Cuneiform may carry it soon.
|Links||[See Embryo | Kraan | Missus Beastly | Von Zamla]|
First Loss (70)
German underground. Heavy guitar and organ.
Io Sono Murple (74)
|Rock band with great music but banal lyrics. I think they were too original for the time they played in.|
|Quite innovative synth and keyboard playing. Has 2 side-long tracks. Reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe and Apoteosi though less good. -- Jean-François Cousin|
|Io Sono Murple (Akarma AK1035) is the story of Murple, a sentient penguin who departs the humdrum conformity of Antarctica to embark on some great quest, but ends up as an attraction in a zoo, still convinced it is on its way to paradise. Parables aside, the music offered by the album's two suites is another stylish variation of the 1970's Italian symphonic approach. Baroque piano and organ figures, lush multi-keyboard developments and typically bel canto-ish vocal melodies are punctuated with slabs of more stinging rock guitar or wild card elements, such as a shady chorale or a contrabass solo. The style is perhaps somewhat stereotypical, but the form, with its flow of sections, thematic development and reprises, is well-balanced and smoothly functional; the melodies are strong and omnipresent, but never lapse into saccharine or banality; and the various elements are used cleverly enough that the sense of surprise and of alien atmospheric shifts common to many of the best progressive rock albums is sustained throughout. A sure fire hit with fans of Italian symphonic, though perhaps not quite a must-have. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Rare and Unreleased (92, Recorded '72)
Live '72 (92, Recorded '72)
Museo Rosenbach 2005 - Alberto Moreno (bass and mellotron), Giancarlo Golzi (drums),
Marco Balbo (classical and lead guitar), Andrea Biancheri (vocals) and Marioluca
I highly recommend Zarathustra to all symphonic prog fans. Somewhat heavy progressive (though not as heavy as Metamorfosi or Semiramis) dominated by synth and organ (Hammond and Farfisa) and some guitar. There is some wonderful Mellotron work. Italian lyrics (included). The side long title track is absolutely killer, starting in a moderately lush and melodic form and developing in intensity to the very end. The three songs on the "second side" are also very powerful. Again, I can't recommend this one highly enough.
|Zarathustra was a heavy Mellotron-prog album. Heavy guitar meets with grand swoops of Mellotron and Hammond organ. Potentially interesting to Änglagård fans, as some of the motives here sound proto-Änglagård. the final track of this album is great! I wouldn't say that Zarathustra is a must-have, but it's very enjoyable anyway. -- Mike Ohman|
|Museo Rosenbach were an Italian band who released the brilliant Zarathustra in 1973. The original LP issue commands large sums of money from collectors, but, unlike many others, with very good reason. The music is prime organ/Mellotron-driven progressive rock that sounds like a melodic version of early ELP, with high-energy keyboard and guitar solos. This release falls into the same class as Il Balletto Di Bronzo's Ys, with less ... er ... tortured vocals. The highlight is the 20+ minute title track that goes through a variety of moods, each of which is underpinned by the keyboard work of Pit Corradi, accompanied by the Palmer-like drums of Giancarlo Golzi. Recently, the Mellow Records label in Italy has released limited editions of rarities from the golden age of Italian progressive rock, the early 70s, with unreleased tracks, alternate mixes, etc. Rare and Unreleased is a self- descriptive title for the CD that features a few tracks from Zarathustra, done with a different singer, or instrumental versions. In addition, some previously unreleased tracks are included. The sound quality is uneven, bootleg-ish at times, but for those who enjoy this form of progressive rock, or have collectors' instincts, this is well worth it. In the 78+ minute compilation are also included versions of songs by Uriah Heep, Colosseum (Dave Greenslade's band before he went solo), and The Beatles (!).|
|The individual who taped this for me summed it up best: Almost a classic but not quite. Yet another 70's Italian progressive band, Museo Rosenbach has been exposed by recent CD re-issuings. Their style is a heavy, thick jamming, in the same league as Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's best. Even the vocalist reminds me of Banco's with his harsh yet likeable voice. Except for the guitarist, the band has impressed me with a busy, over-the-top approach, fusiony at times, and even mellow (again, not unlike Banco) at others. Overall I like it, and while it may not be the best place to introduce someone to the Italian scene, experienced listeners will appreciate it.|
|Museo Rosenbach re-banded with some line-up changes to create 2001's Exit. They are still working together and have recently released a lengthy composition on the Kalevala project album. -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||[See Sistema, Il]|
Early One Morning (73)
|The Dublin quintet Mushroom managed to release one single and the album Early One Morning (CD Little Wing LW 2043 RP3) that stands as a bit confused mixture of psychedelic, progressive and folk rock. About half of their shortish songs are in fact simple rock arrangements of Celtic folk pieces. The lively jigs and reels are ably and energetically dispatched with violin, electric guitar and organ battling out the melody lines in turns or in unison over standard rock rhythm section, with a bit of bodhran occasionally thrown in for "authenticity". The popular Celtic ballad style is also explored in the slower jig "Tenpenny Piece", which features recorders, mandolins and harpsichord as the usual stand-in for the still museum-bound Celtic harp. The folk-violin feel carries over to their faster original compositions, which might otherwise be fairly uncomplicated and heavy rock numbers of late-1960s vintage. The group's ballads are a bit more interesting, even if somewhat underdeveloped. "Unborn Child" creates a solemnly graceful, quasi-hymnal mood with organ, acoustic guitar and lambent violin, but lets it be upset by the guitarist's acid-dripping wah interjections. The funereal "Standing Alone" shows some proto-symphonic symptoms with its brief quasi-classicisms during the intro and cycle of synthesizer, guitar and violin solos over a typically "grand" chord progression. The overall impression Mushroom leave you with is a group who dabbled in many styles but never quite mastered any of them - typical of many other groups at the time as well. Their most gratifying pieces are still their folk arrangements, which obviously derive from Horslips' similar approach to Irish musical heritage. However, a comparison with the handling of folk material on Horslips' own The Tain, with the instrumental dexterity of Fruup's Future Legend or with the songwriting of Mellow Candle's Swaddling Songs makes Mushroom look somewhat obsolescent and journeyman-like among their contemporaries. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Music Magic (79)
Obscure Hawaiian prog quartet.
The Sound Pool (69)
Leave The City (70)
The Original MEV (99?)
Rome 1968 (99?)
|The Sound Pool is a live album of dense, confusing freeform noise. Sixteen people are listed in the band, and it sounds like it: a roomful of people of varying musical talent scream and pound on things while various reed instruments and flutes bleat and wail. On Leave the City MEV had pared down to a trio (Ivan and Patricia Coaquette, and Brigit Knabe, with the addition of Nona Howard and Stephano Giolitti on the second track) and the music is far more focused and easier to take, though no less avant garde. Just one long track on each side, side oneís "Message" has long, droning sounds, trippy chanting (both male and female voices), flutes, and tribal percussion. The other side, "Cosmic Communion" uses far more electronics for a harsher industrial sound, often just waves of feedback, as a woman rants about destruction and war and money and evil and power. Nightmarish to the extreme, until the last seven minutes when a wistful acoustic guitar and actually singing and the sounds of birds and water bring us to a place beyond the insanity. Itís definitely a product of the hippy era, without being dippy-drippy. The Original MEV and Rome are both live recordings from 1968, of experimental improvised music (or noise) without any rhythm or melody. I didnít find them as satisfying as the other two. -- Rolf Semprebon|
From the Forced Exposure web site:
A note of explanation from Frederic Rzewski about the various incarnations of MEV: "In 1968/69 MEV experimented with audience participation and took on a number of new younger people, many of whom were not musicians. We wanted to see how far we could extend the idea of free improvisation, surrounding the core group with people who happened to be around. The group expanded and spawned separate communities. In the early 70's there were three MEV's: one in Rome, led by Alvin Curran; one in New York, where Richard Teitelbaum & I were based; and one in Paris, which was organized by the Coaquettes. Birgit and Nona were members of the Living Theatre, with whom we also hung out a lot, and Stefano was one of the younger acolytes. The record you are talking about was a kind of hippie child who chose MEV as its identity. Nobody ever found out really who was in MEV. At that time, it was part of a movement, and that part of it that was a part of the movement lived and died with that movement."
You can order The Sound Pool and Leave The City from the Forced Exposure web site
Music for Nikola Tesla (05)
|Good, inventive texture-rock with driving electronicisms and dark, spacey flights of fancy. Mogwai meets John Carpenter in a dance hall on Friday night. -- David Marshall|
|Music for Nikola Tesla is a solo project from ex-Montefeltro keyboardist PierGiorgio Ambrosi, but is said to sound nothing like them. -- Fred Trafton|
Click here to order Music for Nikola Tesla from
Fulmines Regularis (89)
Fulmines Integralis (02)
Musique Noise was born in 1986 from several musicians who had been in bands working with
the jazz/rock end of the Zeuhl style. Fulmines
Integralis appears to be a re-release of the '89 album Fulmines Regularis
with several other recordings made after the release of the original album.
The pieces all sound very much like early Magma, with lots of Fender Rhodes, chanting hypnotic vocals and drums in the forefront. They aren't singing in Kobaïan, but "L'étroit Huit"'s vocals from a text (in German) by Nietzche sound pretty similar. Voices are frequently used as instruments without any actual lyrics. There's loads of excellent jazzy melodic soloing on saxes, bass and synths, then always returning to the vocals, similar in style to "scat" singing. Who ever said Prog died during the '80's? Musique Noise evidently never got the news, because Fulmines Integralis' quality is right up there with their '70's forebears like Magma or Zao. This album is a must for fans of Zeuhl. In spite of the fact that the quality of what I assume is the later, "bonus" material isn't the best (the drums and synths are muddy and the master tape sometimes suffers from drop-outs), it's still plenty good enough to hear what the musicians are trying to do, and Musea is to be commended for re-releasing this masterpiece with these extra tracks. Recommended! -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here to order Fulmines Integralis from Musea Records|
Os Mutantes (68)
A Divina Comedia ou Ando Meio Desligado (69)
Jardim Eletrico (71)
Mutantes e seus Cometas no Pais do Bauretz (72)
Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol (74)
Mutantes ao Vivo (76)
O A e o Z (92, Recorded 1973)
Technicolor (99, Live, recorded in 1969)
|Mutantes were releasing albums from 1968's Os Mutantes to 1973's "A" e o "Z". Their were six albums total, one from each year. The early albums will appeal more to fans of psychedelic music. They are supposed to be quite good, though. 1970's A Divina Comeda saw the band becoming more progressive, filled with beautiful dynamic and emotional contrasts. Their last album from 1973 is considered by many to be the best. It is a good place to get one's feet wet. It has a good cover and packaging, too. Lyrics are included so you can sing along! Their lineup through most of their career consisted of bass, organ/piano/ Mellotron, elec./accoustic guitar, and drums/percussion. They may remind you of Yes (due to the bass), Wigwam (due to the organ), or maybe even PFM. Lyrics are in Portuguese, and multi-layered vocal harmonies are abound. The singing is one of the highlights. They tend to sound best when they really let loose and play out. Especially when the keyboardist goes nuts. He may remind you of David Greenslade. Fans of dark, morbid, depressing music may be disappointed, though, as Mutantes are generally on the brighter side of the spectrum. Mutantes prove that South America had an excellent progressive scene, as if we needed more proof. -- Mark Bergen|
|The Mutantes were a very popular Brazilian band, formed in the late '60s. In the beginning, they were a weird mix of pop and psychedelic, with the obvious latin influences. After five albums, they lose all members except guitarist Sergio Dias, who wanted to take the group into the progressive vein. With Sergio Dias, Mutantes made two albums, Tudo foi feito pelo Sol and Ao Vivo. Ao Vivo captures a live show by the 2nd incarnation of the prog-rock Mutantes. An interesting fact of this album is that there are no songs from the Tudo foi feito... album, as the show consists of all inedit material, though more or less in the same style as in Tudo foi feito.... Before Tudo foi feito pelo Sol, Mutantes recorded an album, still with Arnaldo Baptista (from the early line-up) on keyboards and vocals, but the record company refused to release it, as it was too "prog" for the Brazilian taste (it wasn't trendy then), and so it was shelved. Now, after all these years, it's released in CD form, named O A e o Z. The band was quite influenced by Yes, as it shows on many parts, specially on Sergio Dias' good tricks. Also noteworthy is the very nice use of keyboards all around, including the Hammond and many Mellotrons! The vocals were shared between Sergio Dias and Arnaldo Baptista, and both are very good. Another thing that will remind you of Yes is the Squire-like bass player! Drums play an important part also, being very well performed, obviously not up to Bruford's standards. -- Luis Eduardo Bondesan Paulino|
|Mutantes started in the middle of a musical movement called Tropicalia, wich featured, among others, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Tom Ze'. Mutantes were at first a trio: Rita Lee (vocals and percussion) and the brothers Sergio and Arnaldo Dias Baptista (respectively elec/acoust guitar and bass), with Ronaldo "Dinho" Leme on drums as invited musician. From Jardim Eletrico on, the latter was incorpored on the "official" line-up, together with Arnolpho "Liminha" Lima Filho on the bass (Arnaldo going to keyboards). Their first albums were the more psychedelic kind, always quite inventive, using vocals which pass through the organ channel in order to get distortions, and so on. From the Jardim Eletrico on, they began to get a little more "progressive" (I spoke with both Sergio and Arnaldo in 1993 and they admitted lots of influence from Yes at that time), not losing their anarchic spirit, almost always well-humoured. After the release of Mutantes e seus Cometas no Pais do Bauretz, in 1972, Rita Lee left the group. Then, the band records the album "O A e o Z", which their label considered too much uncommercial for the time. It was finally released in 1992, when they begun to edit the band's work on CD. O A e o Z is such a Yes-like, acid-oriented album, very good but a little different from the first albums. Then, after this recording, there was a general split, and Sergio Dias re-organized the band, with other components, and recorded an album called Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol in 1974. Now this is a *very* good album, in the "traditional" progressive style, yet a little Yes-oriented, with very good instrumentation, although yet a little far from the initial band's sound, which cannot be labeled. I recommend Mutantes and Mutantes e seus Cometas no Pais do Bauretz for a first-time listen). -- Gabriel Costa|
Hey, a New Orleans band! Bet they play Dixieland music. Uhm ... no. Not even close. The album title Xox-alekwrt gives it away. This title bears as much resemblence to English as this album bears to traditional music. I could easily call Muvovum "avant-garde", but that wouldn't really be the best way to categorize them. These guys could serve as a definition for the meaning of "Rock In Opposition", or as we prog-snobs prefer, "RIO". If you're not put off by the likes of Henry Cow (particularly the earliest album Leg End) or other Frithian organized mayhem like Guitar Solos, then you'll like Muvovum's take on RIO. They sound a lot like Cow, but more stark and crystalline, which is why I also compare it to Guitar Solos, though this album features a full band rather than just guitar. I particularly like the heavy use of Fender Rhodes on this album, which reminds me of Quiet Sun's less melodic moments, or even some of Glass' Rhodes work, though far less harmonious.
It would be easy (and absolutely incorrect) to try to cast an album like this aside as "just a bunch of noise". There are a lot of seemingly random notes on this album, but if you listen carefully, you'll be rewarded by noticing that all the musicians are playing very carefully crafted pseudo-randomness which interplays intricately between the instruments. The instruments' timbres are also distorted in various ways by what I assume is a combination of studio techniques and "alternative" playing styles like using objects to hit the guitar strings or plucking in unusual locations on the strings (like above and below the fretboard). I would be amazed that guitar, keyboards and drums could sound this alien if I hadn't heard other bands that use this standard rock line-up in a similar way. This album is well composed, well executed and well recorded. A treat for RIO fans.
If you're a symphonic-only or neo-prog fan, I wouldn't recommend Muvovum to you. They'll sound just like all those other noisy bands to you. For the conoisseur of artistic musical deconstruction, this is some of the best stuff I've heard. Absolutely not dance-able, and guaranteed to frighten your mother-in-law out of the house. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for a
fairly useless Muvovum web site
Neon Dreams (79)
Violin-led California prog band.
Twelve Little Treasures (98, Limited edition of 200, each with an individual bonus track [!])
Allen Myers - that's a crust of pizza he's holding
in his hand, and there's a kitten on his shoulder calculating the best trajectory
Allen Myers' release Pairadox is not one you're likely to find on the shelves of your local CD store. I don't know what the Pairadox is here (or what the meaning of the misspelling is) ... perhaps it's that an unabashedly Christian artist is making music that sounds like it's coming from the guitar of Robert Fripp. Not your usual combination.
The guitar sounds and playing (which are clearly Myers' forté) are always excellent, whether picking acoustic chords or shredding your speakers. The writing is also excellent ... complex, dissonant and jarring, with occasional respites of softer sections before plunging once again into chaos. However, I must say this is one of the more uneven self-produced CD's I've ever heard. Typically, they're either uniformly awful or very good. Pairadox swings both ways, sometimes with a very naive and amateurish sound, sometimes with a perfectly well-balanced and carefully-crafted quality. When there are problems, they lie largely with the drum recording, and occasionally with looseness between overdubs. I also don't care for the vocal harmony multitracking on "Keep the Faith".
On the plus side, this CD has some of the most nerve-ripping guitar work you're likely to hear this side of King Crimson, especially on "God's Cosmic Joke" and "Spiritkiss". "Fill Me Up" begins with some oriental-sounding percussion, then moves on with a slightly out of tune piano and an incredibly distorted and schizophrenic guitar line ambling around behind it, giving me the illusion that I'm listening to Robert Fripp jamming with the locals in a Chinese honky-tonk bar. And if that's not exotic enough for you, I don't know what would be.
Although I've made several allusions to Robert Fripp, Myers' style also borrows from more modern guitar styles. I can detect more than a bit of Grunge/Alternative influence here too, and it works well with the music he has created. Overall, I would give this album a B+, with an A for effort. It shows at least that he is a very promising young guitarist, and we should keep on the lookout for further output from him.
Myers' third CD, Say, is almost in the can as of this writing. In this one, he's using a guitar synthesizer to add some extra textures to this CD. Check out his web site for ordering info on this CD and his earlier ones. Allen also plays guitar for the Christian rock band Ezekiel's Wheel. -- Fred Trafton
[See Ezekiel's Wheel]
Click here for Allen Myers' web site
Land Ho! (91)
Theatre Of The Mind (96)
At the Dawn of a New Millenium (00, Compilation)
Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face (07)
Destiny? 10th Anniversary Edition (09, Reissue w/ bonus track)
One Among the Living (10)
Mystery in concert, sometime before 2000
Original Entry 10/12/00:
Mystery 2008 - Michel St-Pere (guitar, keys, backing vocals), Dean Baldwin (guitar, keys, backing vocals), Francois Fournier (bass, keys, Taurus pedal, backing vocals), Benoit Dupuis (keyboards, backing vocals), Steve Gagnť (drums, backing vocals) and Benoit David (vocals)
Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face is a good, if conventional, album. The songs are all longish symphonic anthemic arena rockers. David's vocals are emotional and clear, and all the other band members supply harmony backup singing. The recording quality is excellent and the musicianship is just fine. Despite all this, I would be hard-pressed to describe the music as "exciting". It's good. Just not standout. Blame this opinion on my hearing too many progressive rock bands in my "job" as GEPR reviewer. This opinion won't endear me in the heart of Michel St-Pere who also happens to own their label, Unicorn Records. I hope this lackluster review doesn't shut me down as far as getting further promos from there. But if it does, oh well.
As most GEPR readers will be aware, BenoÓt David was asked by Yes to sing for their "In The Present" tour when Jon Anderson became ill and had to bow out from this tour. He has since become the new official Yes vocalist. When I heard about this, and about David's history of singing in a Yes tribute band, I expected his vocals to be extremenly Jon Anderson-like. Not so, to my ears. He sounds at least as much like Geddy Lee or even Freddie Mercury as he does Jon Anderson, and he's much less prone to bombast and ornamentation than any of these three. On Beneath the Veil of Winter's Face at least.
BenoÓt David continues to be a member of both Mystery and Yes, and his vocals are featured on both the new Mystery album One Among the Living and the upcoming Yes album Fly from Here, neither of which I've heard yet. David did quit Close to the Edge, though (who have replaced him with an excellent singer who I've seen on YouTube). -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Spaced Out | Yes]|
Standing in Stillness (03)
Mythologic - (Top row) Steve Matusik (guitars), Melissa Rodler (vocals)
(Bottom Row) Brett Rodler (drums), Chris Rodler (guitars, keyboards)
Mythologic is Leger de Main with the addition of guitarist Steve Matusik (Andeavor). Yes, Melissa Rodler on this album is Melissa Blair of Leger de Main, and I don't know the details of the name difference. And I don't care ... all I know is that this lady can really belt out the tunes.
Someone once said of Leger de Main, "this is what Rush would sound like if they were really a prog band". Ouch! Well, sadly, I must agree, at least considering what Rush has been putting out lately. But if you like that 2112-era aggressive metal without much in the way of shredding, then Mythologic's Standing in Stillness should be as big a treat for you as it was for me. It's very melodic while maintaining all the metal aggressiveness anyone could ever ask for. In truth, it's much more prog than metal in its composition, but the sound textures used and minimal use of keyboards put it squarely in the metal camp.
Nice thing about Melissa Rodler's vocals as opposed to Geddy Lee's ... she doesn't have to strain to sing in that register! She sounds a lot like Lana Lane or Heart's Anne Wilson, which gives her a perfect voice to match the crunchy guitars. The instrument mix is superb, and never steps on the vocals even when everyone is playing/vocalizing at a frenzied volume. The only thing about the production I find questionable is an occasional compression artifact in a couple of places, particularly the solo vocal at the album's start which has what sounds to me like compression-created buzzing artifacts. Still, this is a minor quibble; this is barely noticable, and overall this is a spectacular album, which I can easily and highly recommend. I really hope it's not a one-shot. These folks were made to make music together. -- Fred Trafton
[See Gratto |
Leger de Main ]
Click here for the PMM Music site, which has info on Mythologic and related bands
Concrete City (79)
Grand Prix (81)
|A very innovative ensemble led by Stefan Kaske, who put albums out slowly over the last twenty years. Their first two, Mythos and Dreamlab are generally regarded as classics, yet are very difficult to find. In the German Cosmic music vein.|
|Early 70's german group, their music was a combination of spacy classical influenced ideas and revved-up psychedelic jams, all very cosmic and sometimes unstructured. Of the albums Mythos and Dreamlab: They use guitars (acoustic and electric), percussion (lots of hand drums), flutes, organ, and what sounds like primitive electronics (theremins, etc.), with occasional vocals, sometimes spoken. Because of the strong forward presence of the flute, these may at times remind of early Tull or Focus, but Mythos' has a more improvised feel.|
|Mythos were a German band that released many albums. The classics are Dreamlab and, to a lesser extent, Mythos. Later albums apparently became much worse but they still seemed to find fans. The first two are very dreamy, cosmic albums typical of many German "space" bands in the early '70s. A variety of ethnic percussion instruments and acoustic guitar give a very earthy feel to the music which is balanced with ethereal flute and voices. You'll also hear moog and Mellotron weave in and out of the spacious texture. If you're into the German "Kosmic Musiche" scene, search out Dreamlab and Mythos, preferably in that order.|
|Having listened to the first couple of albums, I prefer the self titled debut to Dreamlab. It has more variety, moving deftly from abstract ambience to exotic eastern raga (on "Oriental Journey") to full throttle Sturm and Drang. There are some great experimental electronic effects, as well as blistering guitar solos, especially in "Heroís Death" and the side long "Encyclopedia Terra," as well as processed vocals, and other sonic treats. Itís a much darker, harder-edged album and much less compromising than the mellower Dreamlab. The albums after Dreamlab are supposed to be a lot more conventional and boring. -- Rolf Semprebon|