Plastic Maailma (71)
Woodwind-player Seppo "Paroni" Paakkunainen has had a long career as a session musician, band leader
and arranger, with a stylistic spectrum encompassing rock, pop, jazz, folk and classical. On the
progressive front he has been the driving force behind the progressive folk group
Karelia, while his horns have graced the albums of, among
others, Wigwam, Jukka Tolonen
and Pekka Pohjola. His first bonafide solo album, Plastic
Maailma (LP Scandia SLP 559), is a kind of sweep through those many styles, progressive in the sense
that styles are juxtaposed and explored with little prejudice.
Four instrumentals join six vocal numbers where the gruff vocals of Harri Saksala alternate with the purer voice of pop-chanteuse Arja Saijonmaa, criticising consumerism, poking fun at contemporary sexual mores or singing praises to Nordic egalitarianism with the kind of sincerity that makes it hard to distinguish seriousness from levity. Throughout, the "Baron" acts as an old-style band leader, tastefully adding his saxophones and flutes to the normal flow of guitars, organs, pianos and rock rhythm section, resulting in some very colourful arrangements. He goes to East with the quasi-raga sitar/flute duet "Mango", grapples some hung-over blues-rock with "Laulajan blues" ("Singer's Blues") and takes delight in lightweight vocal pop with jazzy arrangements and a few progressive touches (e.g. sudden textural and dynamic shifts) in the likes of "Kun elämä alkaa" ("When Life Begins"). More obvious homages to prevalent progressive role models appear too: The flute carries the swaying main melody of "Ennen nyt" ("Before Now"), taking to Jethro Tull-like hoarse riffing and soloing during the instrumental interlude, while "Beat Bolero" has Coltraneish saxophone stabbing riffs in unison with the guitar and wailing over gloomy organ chords and the martial drumbeat, very much out of the Crimson cookbook. The end result is a slightly dated, but charmingly odd-ball collection that can be of interest to fans of early progressive. It is still best remembered for its surrealistic cover painting. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Karelia Pohjola, Pekka | Tolonen, Jukka | Wigwam]|
Silence Of Another Kind (06)
Recipe: Break an Ägg and take its drummer and keyboard player. Filter through the remains of Landberk for a guitarist and a bassist. Mix the four together, then add a female vocalist whose voice combines Björkish pixy with the child-like languor of Stina Nordestam or Portishead's Beth Gibbons. What do you get? Well, pathos at least, as the band name suggests, of the dark, melancholy and potentially volatile kind that Landberk, Anekdoten and Morte Macabre have previously excelled in. But Timeloss (Stockholm Records 066 147-2) amends the winning formula with new and stimulating elements in many places. Never better than on the opening song, "Sensor", as an exhilaratingly busy drum groove, harsh guitar chords and Johan Wallen's hard-fusion organ solo vie for supremacy under Petronella Nettermalm's vigorous suicide wail. But the song only quantum jumps when the band cut to a half-time feel and the Mellotron spreads out from the wings to form a glistering backdrop for guitarist Reine Fiske to doubletrack a short, brilliantly melodic solo of just a few sustained notes. The song returns to the original tempo and blasts itself apart with no meandering, leaving the stage free for the more atmospheric material. "Hypnotique" has breathy, close-miked vocals, muffled electric piano and a smoky, semi-jazzy atmosphere all borrowed from the trip-hop vocabulary popularised by Portishead eight years earlier. But again the build-up of flute, cello, Mellotron and Fiske's subdued but resonant chords and melodies brings back the shadow of Morte Macabre's dark progressive sound. This, "They Are Beautiful" and the lullaby "Téa" (the only song with Swedish lyrics) are wonderful and fresh-sounding additions to the moody, soothingly melancholy tradition that has run in Swedish progressive rock from the 1990s on.
The final track, drummer Richard "Huxflux" Nettermalm's solo composition "Quits", however, falls away from the parking orbit round planet Progressive. Its first part is actually a mainstream pop-friendly, breaking-up-is-hell vocal number with loops, played and programmed drum'n'bass rhythms, and loungey electric piano. Once free of the vocals, however, the song lets the horns in to primal scream it into dissonance and destruction, Nettermalm's amok drum-flailing and Stefan Dimle's deep and disturbingly calm bass line impelling its sonic inferno to a final meltdown. It frankly sounds contrived and bit out of place - but no less powerful a statement. Still, with or without it, those who like the dark symphonic approach with emphasis on melody and atmosphere rather than fast soloing or harmonic complexity can't really go wrong with this album. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Egg (Sweden) |
Click here for Paatos' web site
Pablo "El Enterrador" (83)
2 (98, aka Sentido de lucha)
|Potentially the most incredible album from the Southern Hemisphere. Wow, they say, are you sure? YES!!!! For those of you that like the Locanda album (are there any of you that don't?) this is the Argentine answer, a truly refined and beautiful album that reminds me of Italian rock at its most classic. Closest to a cross between the beauty of Sagrado Coracao de Terra, the Argentine prog rock of Espiritu and the classical rock of Banco, this is a masterpiece in every sense of the word and became one of my favorites immediately. Lets hope Music Hall will reissue this on CD. Please!|
|Melodic symphonic progressive from Argentina with (limited) vocals in their native tongue. Not melodic in a Camel sense, but like lyrical Italian prog. It took several listens for me to get into this band. At first, I didn't think it was as good as people had claimed. After paying careful attention to the music, I realized there was a lot of interplay between the all musicians. Like the Italian Locanda delle Fate, the emphasis is on instrumental interplay and the overall atmosphere, not climactic solos. There are a couple of (thankfully short) tunes that have a somewhat commercial feel to them that leaves me flat, but most of the album is very, very good. I think it will grow on me more as I give it more air time.|
Brazillian guitarist. His album Himalaia features mainly acoustic guitar driven pieces with guest musicians providing synth, bass, percussion, violin/ viola, and flute. Compositions have a pronounced traditional folk influence, and a very classical feel about them. Nice stuff, but a little on the quiet side, may not rock enough for most.
Feelin' Free (70)
Pacific Eardrum (77), Beyond Panic (78)
Forget Your Dream! (72)
|This album is sometimes described as "killer psych" or whatever. Which it isn't. Not quite. And the relevance to progressive rock is small as well. But it's not without merit or interest. The album has a vintage heavy organ sound that is immediately appealing. Despite the raw edges, this band could get into a real groove - though it's a pity that there are more two and a half minute singles than extended jams. The band and the songs date as far back as 1970. Which may explain why the overall vibe is so 60's. It's got more in common with West Coast rock or the British R&B groups of the 60's than anything else. On the prog rock side of things, one might discern small touches of early Pink Floyd in the organ style. But really more in common with The Animals, Procol Harum and Iron Butterfly. Even a dash of Pacific Gas and Electric (which might have been an inspiration for this band's name). "The Green Eyed Girl" sounds a bit like "A Whiter Shade Of Pale". "Gyli Gyli" consists entirely of laughter in place of singing. "Erotic Blues" is a fairly good, extended track with spaced out organ in a blues progression (as the title suggests). The organ is the dominant instrument throughout. Unfortuneately, the music is most let down by heavily accented and poor english vocals. The album has some decent musical moments but, considering where many bands were at in 1972, this comes off as clumsy and dated. I find nothing that really justifies its reputation amongst some collectors. Best advice to serious prog collectors is FORGET THIS ALBUM! -- Tharsis|
Il Paese Dei Balocchi (72)
|This LP has a pop sound and it isn't very good.|
|I have their self-titled album which is unique! Quite complex early 70's sound: bass, guitar (acoustic, electric), lots of Hammond organ and at times it has a chamber orchestra or is it the band playing ? The musicians are excellent. Nothing amateurish here. The vocals are in Italian and excellent. Overall quite dark early gothic!? Closest sounding bands are Procession and The Trip. -- Jean-François Cousin|
Paga (85), Haunted (88), Gnosis (93)
Paga is the band led by ex-Magma/Weidorje bass-monster Bernard Paganotti. The sound is a blending of thick fusion and bass-driven zeuhl, Paganotti plays bass, chapman-stick, and sings on the first album, which also features ex- Weidorje alumni Patrick Gauthier on keys and Yvon+Alain Guillard on horns and woodwinds. Claude Salmieri handles the drum kit on most tracks. Much of the material on the first album is stylistically close to Weidorje and Udu-Wudu/ Live period Magma, but more accessible. Vocals are in english, except for one track which has some japanese lyrics. Klaus Basquiz (longtime lead singer for Magma) is the vocalist on the second album Haunted, which also features Salmieri and Bertrand LaJudie on keys. This album takes the band in a more rock direction, with equal parts fusion and zeuhl influence. Once again, the playing is tighter than ever, powered by the solid rhythm section, and split about 50/50 between instrumentals and vocal tracks. Both albums are classics. Also not to be overlooked is the amazing 14 minute track titled "Urantia" which they contributed to the Musea sampler disc Enneade.
[See Cruciferius | Magma | Pinhas, Richard | Weidorje]
Mauro Pagani (78)
Sogno Di Una Notte D'Estate (81)
|[Regarding debut album], a very different approach to music than the one made with PFM (so don't expect something similar), this time in a mediterranean folk feel mixed with heavy fusion. Not all the themes include a huge display of this violin virtuoso, but in the other hand, the personnel includes Area members (two tracks with Demetrio Stratos outstanding "singing"). Highly recommended for fans of fusion, folk-fusion, Italian progressive. "Europa Minor", the first title makes the whole CD worth a try. -- Marco Antonio Gómez Urbina|
|Links||[See Premiata Forneria Marconi]|
La Mosaïque De La Rêverie (86)
Kamen No Egao (87, aka Abysmal Masquerade)
The Pay For Dreamer's Sin (89)
|The original lineup of this band included Hiroko Nagai (Vocals and Keyboards), Ikkou Nakajima on guitars, Mr.Sirius (Kazuhiro Miyatake) on acoustic guitar and flute, plus Bass and Drums. An early album titled La Mosaique de la Reverie sounds like a cross between Turn of the Cards period Renaissance and Little Queen period Heart: Just the right balance between power and symphonic. Vocals are in Japanese. A collection of EPs from that period is also available on a CD titled Kamen No Egao. Years later a reformed Pageant including Hiroko and the original drummer plus new musicians released The Pay For Dreamer's Sin, more hard-edged than the previous.|
|La Mosaïque De La Rêverie is another example of the strong symphonic albums Japanese bands kept releasing throughout the 80s. Pageant marry up the delicate symphonism of Renaissance, complete with prominent acoustic guitar and gorgeous female vocals, with an edgier electric guitar driven rock style reminiscent of British neo-prog at the time. Their music is driven by the excellent guitar work of Ikkou Nakajima and the keyboards and vocals of Hiroko Nagai, not forgetting the beautiful flute melodies provided by Kazuhiro Miyatake (aka Mr Sirius). Nagai's voice can be both sensitive and powerful and lacks the stratospheric shrill which is the boon but also the bane of many Japanese female vocalists. The best of the album's seven songs are probably "Vexation", which begins with just a dreamy voice and ringing acoustic guitar, then slams into an up tempo instrumental part full of synth and guitar soloing, only to conclude with a majestic vocal section complete with stirring synth fanfares, and the closing track "Epilogue", which is full of mournful flute, passionate vocals, emotional guitar soloing and extremely lush keyboards. The band's rockier side is best represented by "Echo", a song whose chorus has a quite unique and memorable, bouncy melody. All things considered La Mosaïque De La Rêverie is an excellent symphonic album and along with Mugen's Symphonia della Luna and Magdalena's sole album it represents the very best of Japanese scene in the 80's. Pageant second release Abysmal Masquerade in 1987 seems to be a compilation of re-worked and remixed songs from the first album, some live recordings and some new material, making for a less cohesive but still strong album. It seems that the album's Japanese CD re-release is known as Kamen no egao, though I don't know if it differs from Musea's version. A reshuffled line-up released a third album The Pay for Dreamer's Sin in 1989, a more guitar-driven and uneven album that lacks the depth of the earlier efforts. A couple of the tracks are very neo-proggy, and the funk-bass-and-shrieking-digital-stabs overkill of "Alkaloid" would almost be more in place on a disco album, but two of the three 9-10 minute tracks have dynamics, melodic depth and power that comes close to the majesty of the first album (they are also the only ones to feature Miyatake). Throughout the album Nagai's voice brightens things up and elevates even the more mundane moments. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
|Links||[See Ie Rai Shan | Mr. Sirius]|
If you've heard about this band at all, you've probably heard that their sound incorporates various traditional Japanese instruments. This is true, but it's not immediately audible at first; instead of using them as solo instruments they tend to act as part of the rhythm section and take their place among layers of guitar and synths. That said, what does Paikappu sound like? Well, on the one hand, they don't resemble any band in particular; on the other hand, they don't have a sound that I would recognize as unique (although the koto and similar instruments help). It's basically archetypal space-progressive, perhaps comparable to Camel or a much more restrained version of Ozric Tentacles. Not extraordinary, but certainly pleasant. -- Michael Walpole
Paladin (71), Charge (72)
Prog. Charge has cover by Roger Dean.
|This band was led by Motoi Semba, who later became the Keyboardist for Teru's Symphonia. I only know of one album titled Newtopia, of which about 50% of the songs have vocals. Their sound is heavy symphonic, classically influenced, like something between Renaissance and the Enid. Very strong and definitive, and highly recommended.|
Yet another one-shot symphonic aspirant from Japan's eighties scene, Pale Acute Moon was
largely a vehicle for the compositional and playing talents of keyboard player Motoi Semba.
Newtopia (note: the original Monolith LP release is titled Looking for Newtopia,
but all subsequent versions use the abbreviated title) is an album-length suite of lavishly
orchestrated rock compositions that draw shamelessly from Romantic-era classical music, the
closest comparison being Mugen or, slightly more obliquely,
The Enid. Semba is the album's focus and fulcrum, saturating
the arrangements with his filter-sweep fanfares, swirly monophonic solos and elegant piano
work. In contrast, guitarist Masahiro Imamura pitches in with melodic leads and fills, but
is increasingly side-lined in the mix, while drummer Ryoichi Terashita and bassist Katsunori
Hamada come across as anonymous linemen. Shinji Akahori's vocals, present on five of the nine
tracks, are confident enough without being terribly distinctive. Her voice moulds itself quite
readily to the melodic contour typical of many Japanese symphonic bands: stately and gliding
on the one hand, rascal and child-like on the other. A few of the synthesizer sounds used and
the occasionally heard electronic toms suffer from the mid-1980's kitsch syndrome and things
are not helped by the mix that rarely finds a proper balance between instruments.
Musically, however, this is top-notch classical symphonic rock where themes are reprised and developed even as new melodic material is introduced, creating an effective symphonic montage. Only "Time Trip" deviates from the party line, its clear verse-chorus format, staccato rhythm guitars and Tony Banks-like synth bubbling marking it down as neo-progressive. _Newtopia_ doesn't quite reach the level of Mugen's Sinfonia della Luna in either writing, performance or production, but is still highly recommended to the fans of lush, romantic sympho.
Pale Acute Moon disintegrated in 1988, when Semba joined Teru's Symphonia. After leaving the band the next year, he recorded a demo tape which remained unreleased until Musea added the material as a bonus on their version of Newtopia (FGBG 4308.AR). This makes sense from a historical standpoint, but none whatsoever from a musical one, as the eight short songs are worlds apart from Newtopia's symphonic rock, being very slavish imitations of David Sylvian's solo work instead. The melodic material exhibits strong Asian flavour, in the manner of Sylvian's occasional collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto, and the mumbling male vocals try unsuccessfully to imitate Sylvian's husky, intensely musical voice. The pastiche-like approach to writing throws in a few engaging moments, but generally fails to capture the impressionistic mood of Sylvian's best works, and the production is truly of demo-quality, with only pedestrian synth work and electronic percussion serving as backing tracks. However, this should not stop you from seeking out Newtopia, though if you have the rare Japanese original release, this release won't be of much extra value. Those interested in Motoi Semba's later exploits should explore the albums of female pop trio Shonen Knife, many of which feature his keyboard and production contributions. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Teru's Symphonia]
Deep Water (80), Every Moment (82)
US fusion, very fluid, Palkovic is a guitarist primarily. Most tracks feature a full band, and offer a high energy mix of electric and acoustic work, with plenty of technical savvy, but still full of emotion and spirit. Both albums are exceptional.
Arrive Alive (81)
The Sentinel (84)
Knightmoves (85, mini-CD)
The Wedge (86)
Knightmoves to Wedge (92, Knightmoves and The Wedge on one disc)
Sketches (92, Compilation)
Beat the Drum (99)
The Cross and the Crucible (01)
|Another struggling "Genesis-soundalike" band is Pallas. They have released one album, The Sentinel, and lots of E.P.s. (Have they been taking lessons from Marillion?) Their sound is less "tight," their musical ideas aren't flawlessly formed, but they have good ideas. They are reminiscent of older Rush, with their science-fiction-oriented lyrics and their eccentric rhythms.|
|Pallas are a Scottish band of the 80's whose first album The Sentinel was a concept album about Atlantis. It was kind of pomp-rock, and more rock-centred than many progressive bands, but they did go off on long musical wanderings. Their second (and only other?) album was more pop-rock, but had a couple of nice tunes. Their best work was on a mini-LP with a great track "Sanctuary" that has great lyrics, powewrful music. I wouldn't bother with The Wedge, the early stuff is much better.|
|On The Sentinel: If you throw out the two poppy tracks that open each side the balance of the album is pretty good, although it does tend to get kind of Yes/Genesis derivative at times. Still fairly worthwhile, though. There's an EP b-side called "Crown of Thorns" I recall hearing one time that was fairly impressive as well. I've heard that the later stuff (Knightmoves to Wedge) went downhill fast and became more poppy and less interesting.|
|Warning, this is written by someone who doesn't get into neo-prog as a general rule. Pallas' Knightmoves to Wedge is a good example of *why*. What is progressive about this album? Almost nothing, in my opinion. The songs are almost all in the 4-5 minute range and are hook-laden AOR, nay pop-styled songs. The vocals are in verse-chorus-verse format. Honestly, to me it sounds like Stadium Pomp Rock. These guys could tour with Asia. The two longer songs (8-9 min.) are a tad better as they allow room for some development. Unfortunately, the music is still loaded with catchy hooks making for radio-ready music, the antithesis of quality progressive rock in my book. Finally and for what it's worth, the two longer songs show strong Genesis influences. In particular, "Sanctuary," which I find far and away the most interesting song (not too bad, actually) draws a lot from both Gabriel and Collins-era Genesis, including some fairly nice "Hackettisms" near the beginning. The drumming behind the guitar solo in the middle leaves a lot to be desired which makes for an uneven song, though. The final song, "Just a Memory," owes quite a bit to Peter Gabriel's solo work. It's too bad the entire album doesn't sustain this style as I think it would be a much stronger effort though still far from the quality of other current bands such as Änglagård, Ozric Tentacles, Anekdoten or Tiemko. Even among neo-progsters, I find Twelfth Night, IQ or Jadis are lauded as better bands. I simply can't recommend it anyone for 15 minutes of half-way decent music out of 47 minutes. And finally, I have also heard a couple of Pallas songs from the SI compilation discs that highlight some of the many neo-progressive bands on that label. The two songs are both shorter songs, one along the lines of the stadium rock stuff and the other is a ballad sung against acoustic guitar, lush synth (obligatory string sounds) and occasional Moog Taurus pedal. Nothing to make me reconsider.|
|While it's true that their sound is rather reminiscent of Marillion ca. 1985, as you can see from the above dates, this is an entirely convergent sound. The Wedge was a real disappointment after The Sentinel and Knightmoves, although it's still an excellent rock album. The Sentinel is a classic prog album, although Euan Lowson doesn't really have the vocal range and power to carry it off convincingly. Their best work though, is the track "Heart Attack" which was released as a B-side,and which made it on to the CD of Sentinel. -- David Nash|
[See Abel Ganz |
Strangers on a Train]
Click here for the Pallas web site
The Cycle is Complete (70)
|This was a solo project of Bruce Palmer (bass player from Buffalo Springfield). You will find on this one eight musicians (including bass, organ, flute, violin, oboe, piano and a lot of percussion). The three long pieces are very quiet meditative improvisations, comparison could be Third Ear Band (but its more melodic) or Richter Band. This is certainly an excellent record! -- Achim Breiling|
Roxy Elephant (75), Out of the Ashes (77), No Illusions (79)
German ensemble with a different cast each time (except for the guitarist). All three albums are quite different.
No Illusions is supposed to be a classic of late-70s German prog. I've only heard their Out Of The Ashes album. There are two very long tracks that are very pleasing to listen to, with lots of that good German synth work. The rest of the album is bland and non-committal to any one style. Not essential. -- Mike Ohman
Ville Ouverte (79), Non Jamais L'Esperance (79)
French synth duo comparable to Tangerine Dream and early Kraftwerk.
Liquid Placidity (95, as Artica)
The Rite of Passage (97)
Welcome to the Theatre ... (98)
A Time and a Place (02)
Pangæa is a Houston-based band, and their third release A Time and a Place was
produced by Robert Berry (3), and bears the mark of his typical
over-production. Don't take that as a negative, I love over-produced albums if the music is good, and
Pangæa's stuff's not bad at all. I would definitely categorize this album as
Arena Rock, with possible comparisons to Styx,
Foreigner and the like, but with (neo-)proggier
leanings and a guitarist who obviously likes Dave Gilmour
(Pink Floyd)'s guitar style, since his solos are frequently in
the same vein (they actually do a cover of Floyd's "Time" on
this album ... I like the original much better, though).
They also do a lot of very smooth vocal harmonies bringing to mind some of the vocal overdubs of Freddie Mercury in Queen or Todd Rundgren and the others in Utopia, though Pangæa's vocal harmonies aren't quite as interesting as either of them to my ears. Once again, don't take that too negatively ... I did enjoy A Time and a Place and would recommend it to those who like the styles of the bands I've mentioned.
Oh, yeah, and I should mention the cool cover art too. I just love flying galleons, and this one is nicely done. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Pangæa's web site (doesn't
seem to be functional at the moment ...)
Click here to order A Time and a Place from Musea Records
This band of five Quebecers includes bass/clarinet/guitar, keyboards, guitars, violin and drums/percussions. On Hymnemonde You can hear various prog and jazz influences but the format favours their integration. The long tracks as well as the lack of a rigid structure also opens the way for improvisation. But that doesn't translate into sustained soloing. The style is based on clever band interaction and ever present intensity, alternating between calm and more active passages. The guitar (some Robert Fripp influences) sets the tone throughout, but everyone else gets involved. They actually come close to pulling off something incredible but the modest production doesn't always do justice to the ambitious compositions. This bold effort deserves the attention it will get from demanding prog fans. -- Paul Charbonneau
Similar to Errata Corrige yet a little heavier in parts, Panna Fredda's Floydian Italian progressive is a fascinating offshoot of the genre and is rather engaging. Recommended: Uno.
2000 BC Or AD (83)
Panta Rei (1973)
Swedish Allman bros. Another band on the Harvest label. Gotta see the cover to believe it.
Bartok (77, Unreleased?)
Pop songs (~79)
Panta Rhei (80)
p.r. computer (83)
Panta Rhei - (L to R) Alex Szalay (guitar), Eniko Acs (vocals), Csaba Beke (drums).
Not Pictured - Kalman Matolcsy (keyboards), Andras Szalay (bass)
In the style of ELP from the early 70s (1974-?). This was a bunch of young physicists playing ELP-like stuff and developing a new computer-based instrument. They had many good Bartok transcriptions but never released them (story is that Bartok's son objected). The only album they did get out was a change from this so beware!
A GEPR reviewer for the East German band Karat
had identified Panta Rhei as East German also. This is incorrect, they are
Hungarian. The statement that Karat is a spinoff
from Panta Rhei is either wrong, or possibly there were two bands by this name.
I've listened to the MP3 of their "Peer Gynt Suite" on the web site listed
below, originally recorded in 1976 ... the music is excellent, much like what
ELP might have done with this material. The MP3 quality
leaves a lot to be desired (there are a lot of really nasty compression artifacts),
however this stuff looks to have been out of print for a long time, so this may
be the only way you'll ever get to hear any of it. -- Fred Trafton, thanks to
Note added 7/20/04: Panta Rhei's Alex Szalay has refurbished and moved their web site. The link below points to the new location. The MP3's have been re-encoded, so you might want to download them and see if they sound better now.
Click here for the official Panta Rhei web site, with MP3 files to download
|Dutch band Pantheon released just one album in 1972 titled Orion, which is a predominately instrumental affair featuring symphonic keyboards and airey instrumental passages. At times remininscent of bands such as Focus or Trace, the liberal use of a variety of keybords (organ, piano, synth) along with flute, sax, guitars, bass and drums, provides for some dazzling progressive rock. The CD contains all the original five album tracks, plus three singles, one titled "Masturbation", which at the time of the songs original release was renamed "Master Basion" as to not offend the public. The band really hits some high spots on two of the albums epics, "Apocalypse" (with some fierce flute and keyboard blasts) and "Orion." The title track just happens to be an almost twenty minute tour-de-force of epic proportions. Vocals are used very sparingly, and have an almost Jon Anderson with a Gentle Giant twist to them. Those who love symphonic rock that has lots of classical flourishes mixed with complex progressive bursts should enjoy this band immensely. Too bad they fizzled into oblivion after just one album. -- Peter Pardo|
Ticket to Trauma (86)
Land Without Fences (87)
Music to Trash (88)
Improvised My Ass (89)
Paper Bag - Greg Segal, Kenny Ryman, M. Segal and George Radai
Photo © 1987 by Naomi Peterson.
Paper Bag from California played improvised music (they [sometimes appended] : Improvisational Music Co.). The band consisted of M. Segal (drums, percussion, toys and junk) Greg Eric Segal (guitars, bowed device, processed screams), Kenny Ryman (keyboards, loops, tapes, turntables, percussion) and George Radai (bass). All their music was completely spontaneous and improvised (at least that's stated in the liner notes!). One has not to fear that this would degenerate into aimless noodling, endless experimental noises or long boring monotonies. This music is not as crazy as one would expect and one might describe it as progressive guitar meanderings, quiet jazz, industrial noise blasts, rock, experimental tape loops, a lot of percussion and spoken word/poetry. Some tracks, for example "Mr. Id" or "Origin" from Improvised are wonderful spacy jams á la Gong (Continental Circus, You). Some tracks make you think of British RIO or of best fusion/jazzrock. The best buy may be their Music to Trash CD with more than 70 minutes of great music. -- Achim Breiling
|Former Paper Bag drummer M. Segal and bassist and George Radai are now gigging in the L.A. area as Bag:Theory. They are still using the Paper Bag method of improvisation. See the Paper Bag web site for more details. -- Fred Trafton|
|Links||Click here for Paper Bag's web site|
Spongy Comestibles (92)
|Current psych. Reminiscent of Ozric Tentacles.|
Ex-Kraan sax player.
|Links||[See Satin Whale]|
The Corner of my Room (97?)
The Time Capsule (98)
No More Travelling Chess (99, originally released about 1991 under the band name Gold Frankincense and Disk Drive)
Unbranded: Music from the EEC Surplus (00, also available in a live VCD version)
Enjoy Your Own Smell (02, Compilation of MP3's offered free on the Po90 web site)
More Exotic Ways to Die (02)
As of this writing, I've heard only Po90's compilation album Enjoy Your Own Smell,
downloadable for free from their web site, complete with jewel case and CD artwork for
you to burn your own copy at home. The MP3's are all excellent quality, and the song
selection is a great overview since it contains cuts from each of their studio albums.
Po90 is not your typical prog band. The idea of "sounds like Yes, Genesis or King Crimson" never enters one's mind while listening to this compilation. You may, however, hear parts that sound like Pink Floyd or particularly like Van Der Graaf Generator, but they probably owe even more of their musical mix to more modern bands like Nine Inch Nails or Porcupine Tree. Their sound relies heavily on the vocal stylings of band leader Andy Tillson Diskdrive, whose range and style varies from very Peter Hammill-like to Jim Morrison-ish ... and also takes off in several other odd directions from there.
The fact that Po90 is influenced by Hammill is not mere conjecture ... No More Travelling Chess is an album of Van Der Graaf Generator covers, and Hammill was actually consulted for clarification of some of the lyrics, and this album was released with his knowledge and blessing.
And yet, Po90 is not basically a cover band, they have their own unique style. It took me several listens to Enjoy Your Own Smell before I "got it", but now that I have, I find the music to be captivating and unique, with incredible melodies that get stuck in your head and you can't get rid of them. The lyrical content tends to be rather dark and depressing (what can you expect from an album titled More Exotic Ways to Die?), but the music goes from sparse, muted guitar with nearly-whispered vocals to full-band richness in the space of a heartbeat, and that combined with emotional and unexpected lyrics hit a strong resonance (for me at least). I really like this band, which I can't say about some of their influences (in particular Porcupine Tree, though I'm not that big of a VDGG fan either).
[As of 6/4/03, when I wrote this article], Andy Tillson Diskdrive tells me the band is working hard on a new release at the moment, and this is why their web site is a bit stale (last updated in August 2002!), but the band is still active and will have new material out soon. He has promised me some other Po90 material for review, so I hope to expand on this entry sometime in the future. In the meantime, I would advise downloading Enjoy Your Own Smell and checking it out while it's still available. You may find a new favorite band! -- Fred Trafton
Parallel or 90 Degrees have come to be one of the most amazing surprises in the world of
contemporary prog. Led by vocalist/organist/keyboardist/main writer Andy Tillison, who
makes a perfect tandem with keyboardist/occasional guitarist Sam Baine, the band is
completed by a lead guitarist, a bass player and a drummer: several changes have occurred
throughout the years in these roles - currently, Dan Watts, Ken Senior, and Alex King,
respectively. Their style incorporates much of the electronic avant-garde and modern
psychedelia that comes around these days in the most interesting side of contemporary
pop, but all of this is encapsulated in a clearly progressive frame: PO90D's taste for
long compositions and multiple part suites, sophisticated arrangements, odd time signatures,
all these are things that they don't particularly care to hide, but actually exhibit in
full splendor. As a result, their material turns out to be, IMHO, much richer and varied
than Ozric Tentacles', Radiohead's or
Porcupine Tree's (bands that I honestly enjoy, by
the way), just to put some other examples of bands that are categorized as prog or
near-prog "with a modern sensibility", or something like it. As it was stated somewhere
else, their sound and compositional style are very influenced by
Van Der Graaf Generator
(75-76 era), and I may add, 78-80 Peter Hammill,
as well as some Pink Floyd touches. The
lyrics are properly "Hammillesque", that is,
approaching an existentialist view of the self, life, death, and a critical attitude toward
modern society and politics.
Their second album, Afterlifecycle (1997), was the one that put them on the map, drawing the attention of potential fans and prog critics. The opening namesake 21 minute-suite is superb, full of intensity, contrast, lots of synthetic textures, well adjusted sections. Another suite, "Ithinkthereforenothing", is also very inspired, though shorter, and therefore, with less room for variations, while "Run in Rings" is an angry, breathtaking manifesto of disappointment. Their following album, The Time Capsule, released one year later, explores the same territory as its predecessor, with more emphasis on keyboard textures, and a more dense, obscure overall sound. Tracks like "Encapsulated", "Blues for Lear" and "Unforgiving Skies" are well constructed, and at the same time, genuinely emotional. The most notorious number is, once again, the 22-minute namesake suite, which condenses the major musical virtues of PO90D.
Their 2002 release More Exotic Ways to Die, finds them leaning toward a harder edge, with a major presence of the electric guitar, very distorted and metallic in many passages of the album. There is also a notorious enhancement of the electronic side of the band, bordering on trance style, and also occasional ethereal, somber landscapes a-la krautrock (in fact, one of the pieces is entitled "The One that Sounds like Tangerine Dream"). The number that opens More Exotic Ways to Die is the 34-minute namesake suite, which is more like a sequence of several well differentiated songs and instrumental pieces; on the other hand, the closing 11-minute number, "Petroleum Addicts", comes to show that PO90D's ability to create and perform long imaginative compositions remains intact. -- Cesar Mendoza
[See Manning, Guy |
Secret Green |
But Everything....Seems To Be Fading Away (91)
A Dutch three piece, Par Example is Erik Van Baaren (kybds,gtr), Paul Dolmans (drs) and Ton Haring (gtr,keys). Primarily instrumental (only 2 tracks have vocals as such), their sound sometimes reminds me of a spacy Camel (later period) with some dreamy synths thrown in, sometimes more heavily sequenced, occasionally aproaching the new-agey feel of 80's Tangerine Dream et al. Very electronic oriented.
Paradise Lost (89)
This band might not exist any more, and to my knowledge only released one album (do not confuse them with the Paradise Lost who still exist and who are quite a bit heavier). They have a particular sound, due partly to the vocals and partly to the guitar sound, which is quite unlike that of other groups. It's quite difficult to describe them, suffice it to say that there are some Rush influences, and maybe some King's X. The music is quite complex (at least in comparison to your average rock-band) and they have very nice melodic lines. Definitely recommended.
Paradox (97, released as Dave Russell solo album)
Paradox - Dave Russell and some other psychedelic images
Paradox began as a solo album by Dave Russell, formerly the leader of a band named Zakir. When Dave put together a band to tour and play this music, the band became Paradox, and have since released a second CD, Ecliptic.
Although I've only heard the sound samples on the Paradox web site, these are very high quality, and there are two full-length songs to audition. The sound is very much like Ozric Tentacles or You-era Gong, lots of Tim Blake style synthesizer washes. The guitar work here is more interesting (to me) than Ozric Tentacles, though. Dave Gilmour and Steve Hillage come to mind as influences, and maybe even a little jazzy Jeff Beck too. A very enjoyable listen ... check them out! -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Paradox's web site, you can hear sound samples here|
Constant Fear (88)
Start a New Race (93)
Private Power (99)
Mawwal - Live at Artspace (02, Live, as Acoustic Paranoise)
Paranoise, 1999 Private Power line-up (also ISHQ)
Top: Geoffrey Brown (Drums/Percussion), Jim Matus (Guitar/Composer)
Middle: Rohan Gregory (Electrified Violin)
Bottom: Thorne Palmer (Lead Vocal/Lyricist), Bob Laramie (Bass)
Tribal World Ethno-Prog Techno-Metal? Nah. The Ancient Ecstatic Brotherhood of Paranoise really defies categorization. Composer/Arranger/Guitarist Jim Matus and friends have created something unique with this band. They are not only musically stimulating, but intellectually too. Permeating their music (and sometimes threatening to overwhelm it) is the fact that they create political CD's, with a definite agenda the musicians would like you to think carefully about.
Paranoise uses audio samples of people from all over the world, mostly the "Third World", as the backbone for many of their songs. By weaving their own melodic lines with these folk songs, rhythmic chantings and prayer calls, Paranoise creates harmonies which were probably never dreamt of by the original singers/chanters, and also creates rhythms which counterpoint and interplay with the original. In fact, it is sometimes impossible to tell whether the drumming or vocalizing is part of the original samples, was added by Paranoise, or is some combination of the two.
I've heard two of Paranoise' releases. Their third album, Private Power features cover art of indigenous people using tools which sport corporate logos on them ... a comment on how our ideologies influence (infect?) people from all over the world. Giving the CD a spin, Paranoise provides a haunting and manic musical backdrop for recordings of such luminaries as Noam Chomsky and Richard Hoagland to speak their minds about the rise of Corporate Power, the people of America willingly becoming isolated, mindless "atoms of consumerism", and hyperdimensional geometries (!?).
The guitar work is sometimes reminiscent of Lark's Tongues in Aspic-era King Crimson, especially when Matus and Gregory get going together, sounding like Fripp and Cross from bygone days. Other times the guitar is more like angry Punk Rock (The Sex Pistols?). It is always blistering, abrasive and nervous, which meshes perfectly with the mood of the CD. The bass, non-sampled vocals and drumming accentuate this mood with dark pulsations, dire warnings and barely-restrained thrashing. This isn't a "standard" Progressive CD at all, and it's not a "feelgood" ethnic CD either.
Their fourth album, ISHQ (it's pronounced, "ishk", not an acronym) continues along the same lines as Private Power, but is much more mature in its melding of recordings of traditional ethnic folk and spiritual songs with rock instruments. Much of the harshness is gone, and with it the King Crimson feel. This album still has plenty of power and drive, but the recording is better and the guitars not as completely distorted. The weaving of ancient and modern sounds here is more seamless and less strained than on Private Power. They're really getting the hang of how to make this concept work. Political and spiritual philosophers quoted on this album include Terrence McKenna, Vandana Shiva (the text of her speech is here) and more from Noam Chomsky. Of course, philosopher Jim Matus also contributes his own words of wisdom to the album.
Paranoise had been quiet as far as advertising for new music for awhile, so I recently visited their web site to see what was up. Well, they don't have a new album of the same variety as Private Power or ISHQ, but they do have a new (2002) album that you can download from their web site, complete with artwork for a CD jewel case. Recorded live at ArtSpace in Northern California [I don't know where I got this idea ... Artspace is Matus' studio in Connecticut -- Ed.], this is an acoustic version of Paranoise, featuring Jim Matus on Laouto (similar to a Lute), Geoffrey Brown (percussion and vocals) and Rohan Gregory (acoustic violin) from the electric version of the band, joined by tabla player Greg Rogrove. Musically, this is a world apart from Private Power or ISHQ, being basically instrumental Indian/Middle Eastern music, though there are some chanted (Indian-style) vocals, particularly on Track 4, "Helalisa". Whether you like or despise Private Power or ISHQ will have nothing to do with what you think of this album, it is entirely different in every way. The recording is excellent, the performances virtuosic and melodic without any hint of the anger and raspiness of Private Power or ISHQ. Very good stuff, and well worth the price (free). You gotta love these guys.
If you want more anger, check out Jim Matus' "Bush Rant", also available on the Paranoise web site. Or even more inflammatory (if possible) is "God Take Bush", a pseudo-sermon followed by a fervent plea for God to take Bush (as a reward for the wonderous deeds he's done, of course. It sounds a bit like an old Firesign Theater skit ... only nowadays, people take such political satire much more seriously than they did in the '70's.) After the publication of these rants, I think I'll e-mail Mr. Matus to be sure he hasn't been arrested and detained at Gitmo Bay without any charges under the PATRIOT act. I'm only sorta kidding.
Paranoise, particularly on Private Power or ISHQ, are trying to challenge you musically, politically and even spiritually. They do so, to my mind, very effectively. I recommend both of these CD's very highly, ISHQ even more than Private Power. Just don't blame me if they make you want to go out and demonstrate at the next World Trade Organization convention. Maybe I'll see you there. We can all sing "God Take Bush". And while we're cooling off in jail, we can meditate to Mawwal. Here's a band that supplies everything you need to start a political action. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for the Paranoise web site
Is A Friend (72)
Tales of Mystery and Imagination (76)
I Robot (77)
Turn of a Friendly Card (80)
Eye in the Sky (82)
Ammonia Avenue (84)
Vulture Culture (85)
Ladyhawke (85, Soundtrack)
Freudiana (90, not credited as APP but is Parson/Woolfson effort, comes in "white" Studio and "black" Soundtrack versions)
Try Anything Once (93, as Alan Parsons)
The Very Best Live (94, Live/Compilation)
Gaudi: Erlebniswelt der Phantasie (95, Soundtrack)
On Air (96)
Gambler: Das Geheimnis der Karten (97, Soundtrack)
The Time Machine (99)
|Although many people remember the Alan Parsons Project for its commercial successes such As Turn of a Friendly Card, the album I Robot may have been the crowning glory of the progressive movement. Its emotional story of machine intelligence awakening to realize that it was powerful but alone is a warning to us. Parsons combines music and lyrics to explore this topic, and it results in some of the best songs written. This is no surprise, since he played a major role in the creation of one of the other classics of this genre, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (in fact, one can argue that with out Parson's production of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon would have been just another progressive band scratching out a living).|
|The first album Tales of Mystery and Imagination is pretty good, after that they get progressively worse, more derivative (of Floyd, Camel, and just about any other mainstream prog band) to the point of blatant rip-offs, Parsons became the "Steve Miller" of progressive pop, stealing ideas from anyone and everyone. After Pyramid he got so cheesy sounding it became unlistenable. Some of the later albums (Vulture Culture, Eve, Stereotomy) make excellent frisbees.|
|The Alan Parsons Project is slightly progressive at best. There are a few good tracks on Gaudi, Pyramid and Tales of Mystery and Imagination. And that is the order that I would recommend to anyone that wants a listen. All of the other albums are pretty weak in my opinion. One or two good tracks at the most. -- Steve Puccinelli|
A one-time recording engineer for The Beatles who later helped to deliver the aural
lunarscape of Dark Side of the Moon from Pink
Floyd's imagination to the world, Alan Parsons made the transition from producer to
recording artist in his own right with the Alan Parsons Project, which basically comprised
himself, singer/songwriter Eric Woolfson (who did, at least initially, most of the writing
and conceptualising), orchestral arranger Andrew Powell and a number of studio musicians
and vocalists. This outfit reaped considerable commercial success, especially in the
United States where the soft rock sound of their later works particularly struck chord,
but they also had their often underappreciated progressive side.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination is an embryonic and, perhaps as a result, the most daring and conceptually whole incarnation of the Alan Parsons Project approach, a collection of songs and instrumentals each based on a poem or short story by Edgar Allan Poe. The opening instrumental, "A Dream with a Dream", has a moderate and boxy 4/4 rhythm, Rick Wright-like jazzy electric piano riffs and very good imitations of Gilmour's lead guitar repertoire. Most of these would see the Alan Parsons Project throughout its lifecycle, and certainly do throughout this album. The first side consists of short, somewhat interwoven (with segues and minor thematic recycling) tracks that include baroque pop, funk and hard rock, all filed suitably smooth to a middle-of-the-road palate. Yet sudden instrumental interludes, Powell's stylish orchestral and choral arrangements and Parsons' expertly produced soundscapes lend the songs progressive sheen, drama and complexity. The use of real orchestra and choir instead of synths or Mellotron distinguish this album somewhat, but there is also one of the pioneering uses of digital vocoder on the lead vocals on "Raven". The use of several different vocalists works too, thanks to a good casting: there are few better voices to express the psychodrama of "The Tell-tale Heart" than Arthur Brown's madman scream.
The second side's multi-movement suite, "The Fall of the House of Usher", starts off clumsily with an orchestral "Prelude" that reminds of the empty pseudo-classical bombast of too many mediocre Hollywood epics, but by the time it hits a reprise of "A Dream within a Dream", it has become a kind of ambient, orchestral version of Pink Floyd and ambles admirably on to its crashing conclusion, its textures nicely thickened by the use of kantele and cimbalom. After this, the airy ballad "To One in Paradise" is just relaxing lulling, a total recall of the mellower days of the 1960s.
Tales of Mystery and Imagination remains Parsons' most experimental and progressive work, but falls somewhat short of his best. Parsons later remixed the album for CD re-release, but showed very good taste by limiting this process to a couple of added solos and synthesizer textures, which fit seamlessly in with the original recordings, and the restoration of Orson Welles' Poe recitations, recorded during the album sessions but omitted from the original mix.
It was with I Robot that Parsons' formula found its mature and most successful form. More song-oriented and conceptually looser (supposedly about the simultaneous emergence of a sentient machine and the dehumanisation of the human race, but this interpretation is just one offered by sleeve notes and song titles, not so much by the ambiguous lyrics full of prosaic depictions of alienation and neurosis), the album is an almost perfect mixture of soft rock, largely electronic instrumentals and Powell's atonal Ligeti pastiche "Total Eclipse". From tinkling 12-string guitars and classical keyboard arpeggios to thick vocal harmonies and real and synthesized orchestral textures, Parsons and Woolfson quite shamelessly pillage progressive vocabulary to decorate what are often quite uncomplicated and even nostalgic pop songs. The fact is that it works brilliantly most of the time, thanks to the quality of songs and the confident way in which the arrangements enhance or upset their smooth flow (compare the ponderous symphonics and trumpeting guitar interludes of "Some Other Time" to simply otherworldly Floydian instrumental parts that frame the almost reggae-like vocal lines of "The Voice"). This kind of symphonic pop proved both chart friendly, yet progressive enough at a time when the big names of the genre were starting to grapple with the need to make their music more accessible to the casual listener.
The electronic pieces mix the undulating and washing synthscapes of Pink Floyd or Jean-Michel Jarre with the kind of funky, clavinet-driven grooves borrowed from contemporaneous jazz-rock vocabulary. The pulsing instrumental became a regular feature in subsequent Project albums, and some of this spawn would grace many a greatest synthesizer hits compilation. These often dark and ethereal pieces provide additional depth and contrast to warrant calling I Robot a progressive rock album. It is an off-the-wall concoction, but entirely successful - so much so that Parsons has never matched it again.
Pyramid largely reproduced the winning formula of I Robot, only in a slightly diluted and less inspired form. The adherence to simple pop beats is ever greater, but the arrangements still have depth and detail that defy the structural conservatism of the compositions. Still the trend was towards more straight-ahead songs and the success of the short tongue-in-the-cheek pop ditty "Pyramania" was indicative of things to come. Yet despite the abundance of pop accessibility, there is also the dramatic instrumental "In the Lap of the Gods", which throws alternatively haunted and hunted, quasi-Wagnerian choral work at the listener.
Eve was the real dilution of Parsons' progressive tendencies, almost Abba-like in the melodies of "Winding Me Up", stripped in arrangements and increasingly conservative in compositions. The album's songs deal with various aspects of women, but mainly in terms of male stereotypes and pop cliches, either as idealised objects of desire or unfaithful tormentresses of the fragile male ego. The opening instrumental "Lucifer" proved popular, but the only truly haunting melody on the album comes at the end on "If I Could Change Your Mind".
The gambling-themed Turn of a Friendly Card, while squarely on the road to popdom, was better written and more symphonic in its sound. It culminates in the multi-part title-track whose fusion of hymnal melodies, quasi-classical symphonism and haunting pop tunes is excellent and represents perhaps the pinnacle of Parsons' creativity and certainly the last time he could balance his pop and progressive tendencies so well. The album's biggest hit "Time", on the other hand, was a right throwback to the mellow psychedelic pop of "Fat Old Sun", complete with the dreamy vocals and Gilmour's trademark echoing slide guitars. Parsons and Woolfson obviously took heed of its chart performance, because from here on the scale tipped from its finely balanced position in favour of the short-and-sweet pop formula.
Eye in the Sky was perhaps the most popular of Parsons' albums, and in retrospect it is the last strong work in his back catalogue. It is bookended by two gems: the instrumental "Sirius" leading into "Eye in the Sky", one of the best pop songs in the 1980's "eight-note-pumping-bass" format, which became Project's biggest hit, and the rhapsodic ballad "Old and Wise", sung with breathy melancholy by the ex-Zombies vocalist Colin Blunstone. Prog fans are catered to by "Silence and I", which breaks the classically-influenced ballad format with an up-tempo middle section featuring some jubilant but all-too-brief orchestral revelry. Progressive is mainly a gesture here, though, as is the "concept" idea, which is now confined mainly to packaging (by Hipgnosis, as with most other Project albums). Imperfect as it is, Eye in the Sky saw Parsons' popularity peak, and he duly capitalised on it with a Best Of compilation. Unfortunately, the album would prove to be a watershed as far as quality and creativity went, because, as with most capitalisations, profit bluntly started overriding all other concerns.
Ammonia Avenue and Vulture Culture are both workman-like efforts based increasingly around the instrumental core of bassist David Paton, drummer Stuart Elliot and guitarist Ian Bairnson (who, along with Blunstone and ex-Camel keyboardist Peter Bardens, formed a short-lived and musically insipid group Keats, whose single album Parsons produced) supporting Parsons and Woolfson. Both feature an inferior remake of "Eye in the Sky" ("Prime Time" and "Sooner or Later"), as well as a host of pop tunes ranging from good to disposable, with only the fiendishly infectious "Let's Talk About Me" with its hints of prog-style stop-time arrangements holding up as an untarnished jewel; a few more echoes of prog can be heard in some of the synth parts and grandiosity of arrangements, though only Ammonia Avenue's title-track really qualifies as prog. Vulture Culture even saw Powell leave temporarily, taking the spice provided by real orchestral arrangements with him. It seemed that complacency had trapped the Project in its finely-crafted yet ungiving formula, the only progression now being the steady analog degradation of quality, even as digital technology allowed Parsons ever greater control of his soundscapes.
On Stereotomy's title-track, the robotic beat laid down by jarringly punchy drums is pushed to the front of the soundstage, perhaps to distract from the fact that despite an impressive use of dynamics and a few echoes of progressive-style textural shifts the writing is pretty uninspired. The album is redolent of lack of inspiration, as there are no less than three instrumentals of increasing insipidity filling the spaces between generic rockers ("In the Real World") and humdrum ballads ("Light of the World"). Finally, more than any other Parsons album, this one is embroidered with the jingly, then-state-of-the-art FM synth sounds, which very soon became state of the crap, and though some orchestral tones were reintroduced, Stereotomy's arrangements sound more austere than Vulture Culture's Fairlight-based symphonic tones. It's not all monotony, but Stereotomy still ranks among Parsons' weakest studio works.
Gaudi was an inevitable step up, more lavishly written and arranged, less immersed in the more plastic production values of the mid-1980s, and even featuring an extended track "La Sagrada Familia", whose orchestral sweep tries to conjure up the ghost of progressive rock. However, like just about everything else on the album (including its concept about the life of Antonio Gaudi), it remains half-baked. Gaudi is a gaudy album with too little depth to make it really memorable.
Even though the Alan Parsons Project albums continued selling, all was not well behind the scenes. Freudiana was originally begun as just another Project album, this time based on the life and works of Sigmund Freud, but when it eventually came out as a record and a musical, it was credited solely to Woolfson and no mention of APP was made. Musically, it was more of a musical-style material, even if the APP soundscapes were largely in place and songs like "I Am a Mirror" had some flair (a straight soundtrack version of the stage production with different arrangements and German vocalists was also released under the same title). And soon enough the Project was no more, as conflicting musical and personal aspirations drove Parsons and Woolfson into dissolving their partnership.
Parsons would not lie down, however. In 1993 he dropped the Project moniker and released Try Anything Once, an exuberantly packaged album which saw him doing just that. The hole left by Woolfson was filled with mixed success by a large number of contributors old and new, but mainly by Bairnson, Powell and David Pack. By far Parsons' longest album at that point, Try Anything Once suffers from inconsistencies in qualities and style, embracing the slick world of AOR closer than ever, while still reworking the old funk, orchestral and even progressive mannerisms. Pack's AOR-mannered songs like "I'm Talkin' to You" and "Oh Life (There Must Be More)", while not the most original tracks, seem to work best. It's actually Powell whose input is the most interesting, notable on the orchestral folk of "Jigue"/"Re-Jigue" and the album's most formally progressive tune, "The Three of Me". Vocal contributions from Eric Stewart and especially the Manfred Mann alumnus Chris Thompson brighten up this patchy collection of tunes.
After this Parsons finally took his music out of the studio and on the road. A self-explanatory The Very Best Live emerged as a by-product. Surprisingly, in most cases the band succeed in turning Parsons' studio marinated pop tunes into leaner but still cooking live numbers, in a couple of cases even improving on the originals. One of the key elements is Thompson, whose singing energises two of the more mundane numbers, "Limelight" and "You're Gonna Get Your Fingers Burned". The US edition also included three studio bonus tracks, but the two original compositions are absolutely forgettable. However, the new version of Thompson's anthemic "You're the Voice" (originally a hit for John Farnham) does offer a good three minutes of fist-pumping stadium singalong. There is still only "The Raven" to remind of Parsons' progressive past.
On Air is not the last album Parsons ever released, but it is the last I have heard. It marked the return to the concept, aviation in this case, and backed it with a lavish multimedia bonus disc. If only as much care had gone into the compositions (now mostly by Bairnson), which run a gamut from acceptable but second-hand pop (the Police-like "I Can't Look Down") and syrupy ballads ("Brother Up in Heaven") to an update of the inevitable pulsing synthesizer instrumental with metal guitars and techno rhythms ("Apollo"). "Too Close to the Sun" has more crystalline surface than actual musical content, and "One Day to Fly" sounds nothing more than a tired rehash of Parsons' previous orchestrated quasi-prog songs. Tellingly, the most interesting tracks, the plain but tasteful ballad "Blown by the Wind" and the synth-assisted acoustic guitar space-out "Blue Blue Sky", are the ones most obviously using the familiar Floydian vocabulary. It goes to remind just how derivative Parsons musical roots are, and, for all his technical mastery, how little he has done to extend them into something more original.
While Parsons' story is largely peripheral in the history of progressive rock, prog fans open to simpler, more accessible strains of the genre could do worse than try his first two releases. The rest are best approached as pop-rock albums of highly shifting quality - or as a case history of 1970s progressive rock's absorption into the corporate rock machine of the 1980s. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||Click here for the Alan Parsons Pipeline, home page to the Alan Parsons Project web ring|
Tibetan Plateau (80), Sounds of the Mothership (82), Himalaya (89), Yatra (90), Dorje Ling (92)
The more and more I hear this absolutely genius in the field of electronic music, the more and more I'm impressed. If you want seriously cosmic electronic music that takes classic T Dream and Klaus Schulze, with a sound similar to Steve Roach and surpasses all of these guys, get anything by him. Himalaya is one of the serious pinnacles of e-music and if you didn't think it could get any better, than try his double CD opus Yatra. One of the best on this list.
Legend (71), BaRock (73), A German Rock Legend (75)
Baroque/rock crossover band starring violinist Walter Quintus.
Legend is a pioneering effort mixing classical instruments with rock. Violin, viola, cello and flute are used as well as typical rock instrumentation (organ, guitars, etc.). There's a psychedelic bent to this that tends to date it a bit (the predilection for lyrics about Vietnam and the like date it even more), but the chamber-music feel makes it seem fresh. With the exception of the self-indulgent, seemingly endless one-chord-for-sixteen-minutes jam "Groove Inside," this is a strong, individualistic debut. -- Mike Ohman
Passport - Doldinger (71)
Second Passport (72)
Doldinger Jubilee Concert (74, Live)
Looking Thru (74)
Doldinger Jubilee '75 (75, Live)
Infinity Machine (76)
Garden Of Eden (79)
Blue Tattoo (81)
Man In The Mirror (83)
Running In Real Time (85)
Heavy Nights (86)
Talk Back (88)
Balance Of Happiness (90)
Blues Roots (91)
Down to Earth (93)
Spirit of Continuity (95, 2CD Compilation)
Passport to Paradise (96)
Passport Control (97)
Passport Live (00, Live)
RMX Vol. 1 (01, Live)
Passport is a German progressive-jazz-rock band which had some fantastic years. Their leader Klaus Doldinger plays the sax and synthesizers. They had this knack of really sounding like a COMPLETE UNIT. They have a real jazz sensibility and drive, but use of lot of the open chording,suspended 4ths, and feeling that make their music throughout those albums "progressive." The two albums I most highly recommend are Looking Through and Infinity Machine. Both offer an awesome experience, with songs like "Morning Sun," "Ostinato," and "Ready For Take Off." The other albums unfortunately are hit and miss. Some like Cross-Collateral and Garden of Eden have a couple of great tunes on them (i.e., "Homunculus," "Gates of Paradise") but others have an "'80s funk" sound that, from what I've heard of them, is the mainstay of their later albums. But also to their credit is the fact that all their albums are beautifully recorded and produced. Looking Through, recorded in 1973, sounds as full and clear as the mid-period Beatles albums. -- Mike LaGrega
As it says in the liner notes to Blue Tattoo, although they are "customarily pigeon-holed
as a jazz/rock group, Passport defies accurate classification, totally resists stereotyping,
and refuses confinement to one specific musical area." Quite apt. For indeed, Passport can,
and does, everything... thankfully, and alternately, unfortunately.
Formed by German jazz saxophonist Klaus Doldinger, Passport is one of the first true fusion bands in the sense that they did it all: AM jazz/rock, real j/r, funk fusion, etc. Whatever it is they're playing, however, will include plenty of influences from just about anything Doldinger can get his hands on. A real plus, for it makes the music so varied and interesting.
In the beginning, they had a more listener friendly AM jazz/rock sound to them, in the vein of Chicago or Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Fortunately, Doldinger quickly outgrew this. Not that that style of music is bad, necessarily, but when you have the incredible examples of Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, and Joe Zawinul & Wayne Shorter looming large, and if you consider yourself a serious jazzer, you'd better move beyond the superficial. Still, while I don't own their first two albums (hard to obtain in the US as they're out of print or exorbitant), I've gotten an idea of their style from the '97 compilation release, Passport Control. This is an essential release for any fan of the early band as it contains from their first two albums the excellent "Lemuria's Dance," as well as "Madhouse Jam," and "Registration O". And even though these tracks have that AM j/r orchestration to them, they're still a cut or two above the rest.
It is with their '73 release, Hand Made, Doldinger really begins to show his mettle. The band really hits their stride with a wonderful blend of jazz, rock, ethereal psych, funk, and even quasi-muzak, as they continue in this fashion with Looking Thru (which contains the best title track, in my view), Cross-Collateral, and Infinity Machine. These four albums are considered (by every fan I've talked to) as the period when Passport was at its zenith and I agree, culminating with the masterpiece Cross-Collateral. The band moves from jazz to rock to prog and back again with an ease you find rare. This is due entirely, I believe, to the fact that Doldinger had collected his most stable line-up with the excellent drummer Curt Cress, the more than adequate Wolfgang Schmid on bass & guitar, and the wonderful Kristian Schultze on mostly electric piano, as well as other keys. Indeed, as it states at the All Music Guide, "Cross Collateral is the album that shows how well this jazz band can rock and how well this rock band can play jazz."
I've contemplated what it is about this particular incarnation of Passport that pulls me back again and again. What I've come up with is that (a) Doldinger is at his most melodic and (b) the supporting musicians may not make any top 10 lists, but are so incredibly capable that they sound like a perfect unit that I can only relate to Steely Dan. Perhaps, that's the way to describe Passport: Germany's answer to Steely Dan, but with a true jazz base, better jazz chops, and more fusion influences. Just listen to the first 3-4 minutes of the 13 minute epic "Cross-Collateral" and tell me you're not reminded of the McLaughlin/Cobham "duets." Or listen to the live version of "Yellow Dream" from Passport Control and tell me you don't hear King Crimson's Mellotron laden etherealness of "Journey to the Center of the Cosmos" from The Great Deceiver.
And now the unfortunate part. It is with Infinity Machine, or more specifically the 1st track "Ju-Ju Man", that contains the writing on the wall: Passport, unfortunately, was heading the way of disco/funk fusion that became so nauseatingly popular on easy listening jazz radio. Still, the rest of the album does contain plenty of that Passport magic. After this album, though, the hit or miss factor increases dramatically.
If you'd like to only dabble in Passport first, I recommend the aforementioned compilation Passport Control, which should be easy to find in the US. It is with this album you can get an idea of Doldinger's sensibility as a composer and wonderful sax player. In addition to the previously mentioned tracks, it also contains the title tracks "Hand Made" (live) and "Cross-Collateral" as well as the excellent Philip Catherine track "Angel Wings," from the live album Jubilee '75, with Catherine in the line-up playing lead guitar.
It should be noted that Passport didn't really tour in the sense that other bands toured. Doldinger was fond of recruiting well known musicians to supplement the band as they played dates. The two live albums featured Brian Auger, Pete York, Alexis Korner, Philip Catherine, Buddy Guy, and Les McCann.
It should also be noted that Doldinger took a Miles Davis approach to his band: he always recruited different musicians through Passport's career. Included are Jimmy Jackson, Olaf Kübler and Lothar Meid of Amon Düül II, John Mealing who's worked with The Strawbs and appears on John Entwhistle's album Mad Dog, Bryan Spring who ended up in Nucleus, and the aforementioned Cress, Germany's most recorded drummer, who ended up in Triumvirat.
And lastly, I would be remiss in not mentioning Doldinger's propensity for ending his albums with a ballad that showed how truly melodic, and often poignant, he could play. I cannot say enough about his talent as a musician. -- Kirk Sandall
Click here for a Passport web site
Click here for Klaus Doldinger's web site (in German)
Le Matin Blanc (79)
|Le Matin Blanc is a semi-experimental piece of underground French prog that lies somewhere between middle- King Crimson and Henry Cow. Nice fuzz-bass work reminds me of The Muffins. -- Mike Ohman|
|Seventies all-instrumental French band which inhabit the mid-period King Crimson/Heldon realm. They are more experimental than KC but more accessible than their compatriots Heldon. I like them better than Heldon but they are no KC! Certainly worth a listen. -- Juan Joy|
|Le Matin Blanc is one the most intriguing discs I have ever listened to. And another example of music which doesn't want to be described. But I'll venture into that despite the sonic "threats" that emanate from the album. Think of broodiest King Crimson circa Starless and the Bible Black or Red, the broodiest Soft Machine era 3rd, heavily meshed with spikiest of the Henry Cow, and all together filtered through Heldon / Lard Free synthronic ambience. Perhaps more Lard Free than Heldon, cause the music itself isn't that jagged. The improv parts last very long (remind me of Tanz der Lemminge-era Amon Düül II.) and the implied balance between tension and resolution is fairly in favor of the former, itself being carried along for long seconds of time, aiming to get answered the question how tense can things get before they explode due to sheer overload. I don't know exactly, but this is how I hear the majority of the proceedings on the album. Otherwise this is welcome addition to prog/avant-prog explorator's rooster of unusual sounding goodies. Very, very good with every long second. -- Nenad Kobal|
|Links||[See Alpha Du Centaure]|
Star Suite (77)
|One of the rarest from Austria. Dark, heavy progressive.|
|Pretty dark Krautrock ... the vocalist sounds like he's singing 10rpm slower than the music. This grew on me considerably although you may find the vocals unbearable at first. I'd say you should buy it if you see it. It was re-released around 91ish by Ohrwaschl.|
|A dark and moody album, most songs on Paternoster are built on gloomy organ chords over which we get vocals, steady rhythm section and swirling, psychedelic lead guitar. The sound and the restrained tempos remind of early Pink Floyd at their gloomiest, while the vocalist sounds like Procol Harum's Gary Brooker with a very, very bad hangover. There is not much variation but the music still manages to be surprisingly intense and captivating. In lack of the original master tapes, the CD transfer was made directly from an LP, but the sound quality is still quite good. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Acoustic Guitarist/songwriter that emerged from the 80's UK neo-prog revival. he was a member of Coltsfoot and Twice Bitten. His solo album Flightless is lyric intensive and musically monotonous for the most part, like Dylan... very stark and under-arranged - acoustic guitar only for the most part. Still has some nice moments though.
Patto (70), Hold Your Fire (71), Roll 'Em Smoke 'Em Put Another Line Out (72)
Jazzrock band featuring Mike Patto and Olly Halsall (who later played with Tempest). The first one on Vertigo is quite good. The shorter tracks are more rocklike but then there is the ten minute "Money Bag", a great mahavishnulike guitar jam. There are also two more albums, but I don't know anything about them. -- Achim Breiling
[See Tempest (UK)]
Strange Please of Living (91), Minotaurus (91) (w/ Miroslav Vitous)
Guitarist and leader of Czechoslovakian prog-band Stromboli. He has a slew of albums, some solo, some with other musicians, ranging from electronic to pure jazz to fringeland. Of his album Strange Pleasure Of Living: Musically, it showcases Pavlicek's more electronic oriented side, although there is still plenty of blistering guitar work and the usual experimentalism. This is not your standard electronic-based fare, much of this is very avant, quirky and cutting, without being amelodic or ugly. No vocals as such, but apparently some vocal samples were used at various points (my guess). An interesting and very unique album, but may be too avant for some. Another album that Jazz purists might want to check out is Minotaurus, a soundtrack for a modern dance score he did with bassist Miroslav Vitous.
Pampered Menial (75)
The Sound Of The Bell (76)
St. Louis Hounds (77, also known as Third, never released except by band members as bootleg)
Lost in America (91)
Pavlov's Dog 2000 - End of world (00)
Pavlov's Dog in 1976 - David Hamilton, Steve Scorfina, Rick Stockton, Doug Rayburn,
David Surkamp and Tom Nickeson
American Rock band with some progressive tendencies, most noteworthy for lead singer David Surkamp, who I once saw described as sounding a little like "Marty Balin on helium," which seems to be a fairly accurate asessment. Their first album featured a seven piece lineup including violin and Mellotron/ flute, plus guitar, bass, drums and keys. The sound was straight hard rock with inventive arrangements, with the violin taking a prominent role. By the second album the violinist and drummer had left, and the sound had changed somewhat, and in general had taken a slight turn in a poppier direction, but with Surkamp's bizarre voice, I don't think these guys could've expected a hit from it, although tracks like "Mersey" come pretty close; Bill Bruford was the guest drummer on this album. A third album was recorded but never released, until a few years ago when it surfaced as a bootleg.
I bought Pampered Menial on LP from a cutout bin back when I was in college
(maybe 1977-78?). It's been years since I listened to it, but near as I can recall, I
wouldn't characterize them as having "progressive tendencies" at all, they were a prog
band. Lots of Mellotron, Surkamp's Geddy
Lee-ish high-pitched vocals and odd, melancholy
arrangements put them as much in the prog category as anyone else. They didn't do
anything super complex, actually they remind me a bit of early
Nektar, prog but also accessable in a '70's sort of way.
The album listed above, Pavlov's Dog 2000 - End of the World, is not the original band, but a new band put together by Pavlov's Dog drummer Mike Safron. A fan has put together a nice Pavlov's Dog web site and you can link to it below. There's lots of great info there (including what I just told you about PD2K). See also the links to Pavlov's Dog 2000 and David Surkamp's band listed below. -- Fred Trafton
Pavlov's Dog originally founded in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, developed a more British–oriented
prog rock style, influenced from bands like Roxy Music,
Curved Air, Genesis
and Focus (Holland), but with an occasional additive flavor of
Southern Rock rhythm and guitar riffs. The standard Group set -- Drums, Bass, Guitars, Keyboards,
enriched with flute, violin and viola, provided the melodic and sensitive sound of Pavlov's Dog.
Group's focal point is David Surkamp (lead vocals, guitars), the main lyrics writer and song composer, marking their sound with his unique high-vibrato tenor voice, sometimes reaching unbelievable octave levels. The original line-up for the first 2 albums, included Steve Scorfina (lead guitar), Rick Stockton (bass), Doug Rayburn (Mellotron, flute) and David Hamilton (keyboards), while impressive collaborations occurred on At The Sound Of The Bell, from Bill Bruford on drums (Yes, King Crimson, UK) and Andy Mackay on sax (Roxy Music) expanding group's sound ability.
Pampered Menial and At The Sound Of The Bell are, by far, the best works of the Group, with the latter, to my opinion, one of the Prog Rock Masterpieces; a real MUST have for every Prog Rock listener.
Pampered Menial opening track "Julia", a sensitive ballad, performed by Surkamp's sensational voice with a crystal piano sound and acoustic guitar, is the Group's trademark and most famous hit song. "Episode"'s piano-violin guided melody is magic, while "Preludin" alternations from rhythmic to slow with excellent flute passages, refer to Jazz-Rock likes.
At The Sound Of The Bell is a complete set of artistically arranged strong compositions-songs succeeding wonderfully one another, creating alternate feelings and soundscapes. A perfect use of melodic keyboards, strings, saxes and flute, based on a solid rhythm section and occasional fast classic rock guitar outbursts, allow Surkamp's dramatic voice crescendo to be revealed. "Did You See Him Cry", strongly influenced from Genesis and (Yes motifs, is the epic symphonic highlight of this exceptional Album.
Third and Lost In America are fairly rare TRC releases in Europe, but issued on CD as well. Neither are at all considered progressive rock works.
Third, recorded back in their motherland Missouri, contrast to the first two, recorded both in New York, is a collection of mostly conventional Southern blues-rock songs, with a little melodic blend enriches from keyboards and strings. Surkamp's sensitive touch is still present, but the magic is gone. Only for fans!
Finally, Lost In America, their 90's comeback, with Surkamp and new personnel, has no connection to the previous three 70's albums. Excluding the homonymous opening track, a nice urban soft rock song, the rest vaults between R&B tunes, soft rock, electro-pop and new wave sort of styles. Only for Collectors! -- Kimon Danielidis
Click here for Pavlov's
Dog's Official (fan-created) web site
Click here for the Pavlov's Dog 2000 web site
Click here for the David Surkamp Band web site
Different Worlds (07, Compilation including solo & works from several bands)
John Payne was the voice and front man for the post-John Wetton incarnation of Asia before they re-formed around the original members without him. As discussed in their entry, Asia is really two different bands at this point: Asia (also "Original Asia" or "Asia Reunion") and Asia Featuring John Payne, the latter obviously being pertinent for this entry. Payne also put together a band called GPS featuring members of the later Asia line-up plus Spock's Beard's Ryo Okumoto.
What I've heard from Payne is a compilation album put out under his own name but featuring tracks he's done with others throughout his career. The title is Different Worlds, put out by Voiceprint. Here's what I would say about this album to GEPR readers: If you're familiar with Payne's output with Asia and like it, then you'll like this album too. If you think that Asia is an OK band but has little to do with prog, you'll feel the same way about all the other cuts on this album. Of course, if you think Asia just sucks, then you won't find much to change your mind in this album. I'm sorta in the second camp. Not that Payne is a bad singer, or that the songs are bad or anything. They're just sorta ... well ... I had a friend who used to describe music of this sort as "straight". You know. Like my parents would probably have liked it. Not bad, but I have more interesting things to listen to. That includes all the cuts originally released as Asia and GPS.
One more interesting note: Payne also sang backup on Roger Daltry's (do I need to say "of The Who"?) 1985 solo album Under a Raging Moon. -- Fred Trafton
Pazzo Fanfano di Musica (89)
Although it's an Italian name, and everything on the sleeve is written in Italian, this is Japanese. It is said to be of classical rigeur while being in the progrock realm. Much like the atmosphere in Le Orme's "Florian" and "Rapsodia piccola dell'ape" (as it is written). A chamber orchestra, really, with occasional drums and keyboards. Japanese musicians from bands such as Outer Limits, Mr. Sirius, Magdalena, Deja Vu, Vienna and others combine on this disc their efforts to create. a stunning oeuvre. A balanced work, with some sombre passages and it's share of niceties. Two piano players, violin, cello and bass, classical guitar, flute, Mellotrons, harpsichord, drums and last but not least, the superb voice of Megumi Tokuhisa, also with Teru's Symphonia. She is singing here in a lower range, which may very well please people for who the high-pitched Japanese singing is like scratching a fork on a chalkboard. 10 musicians in all, from various Japanese bands, playing an evocative work that rocks at times, but that is mostly string-driven. -- Alain Lachapelle
[See Deja Vu | Magdalena (Japan) | Mr. Sirius | Outer Limits | Teru's Symphonia | Vienna]
Bley/Peacock Synthesizer Show (71), Revenge (7?), I'm the one (72), Dual Unity (73), Improvisie (73), X-Dreams (78), The Perfect Release (79), Sky-Skating (82), The Collection (83), Been In The Streets Too Long (83), I Have No Feelings (86), Abstract/Contact (87), Ironic GB Iron 4 (??)
Because she sang on Bruford's first solo album, I was tempted enough to buy two of her CDs. I didn't get what I expected. The two I have are very arty. Basically just her on an electric piano singing/speaking poetry. Not for your average prog fan.
Progressive jazz singer/songwriter/pianist/synthesist/poet. She was originally married to jazz bassist Gary Peacock, divorced him and married keyboardist Paul Bley. The two made a couple of albums together: The Bley/Peacock Synthesizer Show and Revenge. Bley continued to make guest appearances on her next three albums until their divorce. Albums from this period are very rare, the only one I've heard is the fabulous I'm The One. Peacock is experimenting with Moog synthesizers and early vocoder technology a lot, which is the explanation for the strange distorted scat-sung solos on the title track and "Pony". "Blood" includes multiple parts for synthesizer, other songs like the heartfelt "Seven days" include some more subtle use of Moog. Peacock's bluesy, soulful vocals and rich, original piano playing style are well spotlighted here, she also improvises well on the free jazz snippets "Did You Hear Me Mommy?" and "Gesture Without Plot", the latter featuring percussionist extraordinaire Airto Moreira. The best song is probably the bluesy "One Way", with a superb organ solo and great horn charts. Also of note: her jazzy interpretation of the Elvis song "Love me tender". Peacock and Bley divorced after Improvisie. X-Dreams is probably Peacock's most commercially-geared album. It's an attempt to present the dualistic side of her personality cohesively on the two sides of an LP, her naughty, saucy side on the A-side, and her softer, romantic side on the other. The A-side has a couple of really punchy blues-orientated numbers, especially the hilariously irreverent "My Mama Never Taught Me How To Cook" split between a long Caravan-like jamming number called "Real & Defined Androgens", which has Bill Bruford on drums. The B-side is composed of easy-on-the-ears jazz ballads, plus another version of an Elvis song done in a very jazzy style: "Don't Be Cruel". The Perfect Release finds Peacock sing-speaking her way through a bunch of political-statement type of songs long before it became trendy. Includes some good songs: "Solar Systems" and "Love's Out To Lunch" especially, but is marred by the overlong, overly wordy "Survival"; if you survive all 15 minutes of it, you ought to be commended. Sky-skating was the first album recorded on Peacock's independent Ironic label. It is the first really intimate album she's ever done, mostly just her and a piano, singing songs she's written over the years but never recorded. A very pleasant, contemplative album. Been In The Streets is a mixed bag, some of the tracks are new recordings of old songs a la Sky-Skating, others are tapes (live and studio) rescued from the vaults. Bill Bruford appears on one of these, the free-jazz "So hard, it hurts!", which also features Brian Godding on guitar. The all-guitar "No Winning/No Losing" is one of the other standout songs. I Have No Feelings is probably the nadir of her work, pretty much in the same style of Sky-Skating, but she hasn't grown as an artist since then. Abstract/Contact is her first album with a band since The Perfect Release, and seems to carry on in that style only better. Some of this could be classified as rap, but don't let that scare you away; Public Enemy this ain't. It's more like Todd Rundgren's No World Order with a jazzy bent, and of course she sings on some tracks: "Lost In Your Speed" and "Down In Blue" are very beautiful. Her best in years. -- Mike Ohman
|Innovative Communications' promo material for this Australian trio's only release spent a lot of ink recommending it to fans of King Crimson and Genesis. This should be taken with about half a ton of salt, for Ebondazzar (LP KS 80044) is really about something else. Granted, "Encounter" may open the album with some Red-influenced rapid-fire guitar-synth flailing, before turning into a bittersweet symphonic synthesizer largo, while "Ocean of Dreams" uses a web of slightly Genesis-like synthesizer ostinati to weave out its dreamy melody. However, these excellent pieces represent just one minor piece in the musical mosaic that makes up the album. The sequencer-driven "Nightmist" is like a melodically better structured excerpt from [TD's] Rubycon, while the intertwining guitar and synthesizer lines on the first part of "Along for the Ride" and the synthesized power-trio rock of "The Hunt" would not be out of place on Ashra's Belle Alliance. In fact, Ashra might be the paragon of the whole album. However, the presence of the free-time synthesizer abstract "The Abyss" on the one hand and the pseudo-Baroque guitar heroics far removed from Manuel Göttsching's space-blues style on "Agent's Lunch" on the other belie such easy comparisons. While short of spectacular, Ebondazzar is quite a novel take on the Berlin-school electronic rock that unfortunately has got buried under a pile of lesser acts in the IC back catalogue and the history of Australian rock. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Islands in the Stream (94)
Nick Peck, keyboard player for San Francisco Bay-area band Episode, has released a solo album completely unlike anything he has done in the group format. Billing himself as a "sound artist," Peck has, over a period created an incredibly interesting and explorative collection of music. A study of contrasts, Peck draws from the yin and yang of digital and analog instruments to create flowing streams connecting islands of solidarity. The connecting stream is, for the most part, brief snippets of abstraction, collages of disjointed timbres, filters and other electronics. Occasionally, the stream runs deep and Peck plunges headlong into the running waters of the six minute "The Stream (Diversions from a Natural Course)" and the 10 minute "The Stream (10 Feet from the Shore)." Residing as structured islands in the non-linear stream, songs such as "Imagining a Radio-Free Europe" and "The Rose Mirror" are more concrete ideas. Herein, the synth tones become more indentifiable, from "traditional" synth leads to chiming bell tones, and the rhythms are firm. Each song title in the nicely produced booklet is accompanied by a brief statement of the vision in Peck's mind that is the foundation for that song. Whether the song is "Mpathy," a tribute to Peck's Prog influences, or darting schools of fish in "The Stream (Dropping Stones in the Water)," Peck presents to you potential imagery. You are also free to use your own imagery. One very interesting piece is "A Fugue Made of Concrete." Peck explains the piece thusly:
The structure of a Bach fugure forms the backbone of this piece, with subject, countersubject, and episodic material represented by sounds rather than sequences of notes. The sounds are processed corresponding to Bach's manipulation of melodic material. For example, when Bach's subject material is inverted by pitch, my subject is pectrally inverted - the high and low harmonics switch position.The song really has to be heard to be fully understood. After a stretch of stream, Peck offers a study on the piano ("The Rose Mirror"). This contrast between the fugue and the piano is indicative of the experimental thought that pervades throughout this album. An innovative work of experimental electronics and highly recommended to fans of such. -- Mike Taylor
Fusion band led by guitarist Max Suñé, the excellent guitarist behind another great Spanish fusion band, Iceberg. The bassist from Gotic also played in Pegasus.
Max Suñé and Kitflus (guitar and keyboards) founded Pegasus, a bit more jazzy than Iceberg, good, but inferior to their former band, losing a lot with the change of drummer. -- Manuel De Pinedo Garcia
[See Gotic | Iceberg | Suñé, Max]
Pegasus released an album under the name "Pegasonics." I believe it was called New New York and only released locally or regionally. The album cover showed the band in renegade garb, sitting on one of the Three Sisters Islands about 50 yards above Niagara Falls. The band and its individual members had somewhat of a cult status in the mid-to-late 70's. Their keyboard player, Steve Trecasse, went on to become the "band" on that wacky game show on MTV (can't remember the name). Bassist Kent Weber formed a trio called The Celibates, which also released an album. Lead singer Mark Freeland showed influences ranging from Gabriel to Bowie to Iggy Pop. Guitarist and drummer were both solid players - I think the guitarist was one of the most visible users of a double-neck guitar on the local music scene at that time.
Upptkenir (74), Litl Fluga (75)
From the New World (73)
|Pell Mell's Marburg is one of the very best progressive albums ever. They are much more like Italian bands than German, and use violin and keyboards to stunning effect. Later albums pale.|
|Marburg contains some great music, of the post-psych proto-prog variety, with nice vocal harmonies which remind of some of the obscure late 60's bands like HP Lovecraft. Lotsa violin.|
|I'm not a big fan of Krautrock (yet). I've tried Grobschnitt and they've struck me as a Yes soundalike, though I'm told they have done some interesting work. So I'm trying to broaden my German space-rock horizons. Pell Mell has caught my fancy with their effort entitled Marburg. This seventies-style, heady offering is reminiscent of early Hawkwind with its heavy guitar and trippy feel, but the similarities stop there. Pell Mell includes violins, thick keyboard textures, and screeching vocals. While I wouldn't categorize this as a progressive classic, I think that Krautrock fans will eat it up. The main detraction is that the vocals are "too much" sometimes, with unbridled screaming that can get on your nerves. However, once I got used to the style, I began to appreciate Marburg. The best parts of the album for me are when the keyboards and violins exchanged leads and dual harmonies. It adds a pretty touch to an otherwise discordant and rough texture. If you're into Krautrock or heavy, dissonant music, I recommend this album. If not, I wouldn't rush out and buy it, though it's definitely worth a try.|
|Their album Moldau sounds like Oldfield going Kraut-rock, although it borders sappy at times. Then again, this was recorded in the eighties, the decade that taste forgot, so it is perhaps forgivable in light of their earlier work.|
Pell Mell's debut Marburg (Bellaphon 287-09-004) shows some Krautrock
hallmarks: heavy guitar/organ riffs and jamming, somewhat rough-edged,
German-inflected vocals singing in English with occasional grating screams
and high-register yelps, underlying psychedelic freakiness and occasional
weirdness (e.g. the happy-days-in-the-loonybin scat section of
"Friend"). However, they balance this with lots of violin,
symphonic-oriented keyboard ideas and calmer, more melodic sections in a
way that reminds of Italian prog bands' ability to mix harshness and
lyricism so that it sounds quite natural. There is also some attempt at
creating continuity throughout the album, with the final track
"Alone" reprising musical motifs from the other songs. My favourite track
is their rendition of Bedrich Smetana's "Moldau" (the only instrumental on
the album), where they use recorder, violin, organ and Mellotron to a
beautiful and dynamic effect. A rough, unpolished but very vigorous and
I have not heard Pell Mell's second album From the New World, but by their third, Rhapsody (Spalax CD14901), they had toned down the vocal excesses and assumed a more polished and heavily symphonic sound. Thick layers of keyboards dominate the sound (three of the band's six musicians play keyboards) and heavy classical music influences replace the earlier psychedelic vibe (Liszt and Rachmaninoff are credited as sources). There is still occasional goofiness, such as the "Can Can" section of the three-part title track, and "Paris the Past" has some scratchy electric guitar soloing, but mostly this is a calmer and more elegant (though still dynamic) album full of beautiful melodies, emotional vocal harmonies and buzzing synthesizers. Flowing classical guitar, recorder and flute broaden the symphonic palette, lending an intimate air on the fragile "Wanderer". My own favourite is "The Riot" whose sublime main vocal/violin melody glides majestically over stately piano runs. Overall, one of the best German symphonic albums in the 1970's.
On Only a Star (Spalax CD14902) Pell Mell eschewed direct classical quotations in favour of a more energised and Americanised rock sound. The violin, organ and vocal melodies on the opener "Count Down" remind of Kansas, and "Across the Universe" has funky electric piano, hectic rhythms and heavy backing vocals which occasionally reach a Todd Rundgren-like overkill, but there is also a lot of their own character here. Especially on side two the band achieve an exhilarating combination of soaring melodicism, violin/keyboards interplay, colourful arrangements and plenty of Mellotron/string-synth lushness.
The melancholy and introspection of Rhapsody re-appear in the wistfulness of "Trailors in Movie Halls", but this album is generally a more up-beat and raucous affair, consisting in effect of two suites, as the songs run together and themes are reprised. A more immediately accessible, vocal-oriented and punchier album, and though I prefer Rhapsody, this one is just as good. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Wicked Ivory (72)
Corporal Cauliflowers Mental Function (77)
Flat Broke (80)
Party Upstairs (81)
Bee tai pop (85, w/ Timo Kojo)
Jim Pembroke was an English designer-to-be and a fledgling rock singer who came to Finland in 1965 and ended up staying for thirty years. He found a receptive audience for his undeniable musical talent in the still-parochial country that adored The Beatles and afforded every long-haired Englishman with a fashionably groovy kit a celebrity status. After stints with a few commercial, often engineered star-vehicle groups, he ended up fronting two quintessential bands in the history of Finnish progressive rock, the proto-progressive Blues Section and then the flagship of 1970s Finnish prog, Wigwam. While he was never the most experimental-minded writer in the group, his songwriting was an essential part of Wigwam's appeal right from the start and prolific enough to overspill into a string of solo releases. His three first solo albums, made concurrently with Wigwam's most creative phase and with considerable synergy between them and the group's regular releases, are all quite interesting.
Released under the pseudonym "Hot Thumbs O'Riley" (in the best Sgt. Pepper style), Wicked Ivory is a cycle of songs tied together by sound effects and a caricature MC (Pembroke with a broad Southern drawl) announcing various increasingly ludicrous sounding acts, as if this were a live recording from some club. Those acts are of course all Jim Pembroke, singing his wry, pun-filled, dryly satirical stories about graveyards, social wrongs and ever more eccentric characters to the range of tunes that encompasses influences from folk, music hall, Tin Pan Alley, 12-bar blues, C&W and even Traffic or The Band-style rock. The songs are brief but off-centre, often cutting short, or shooting off at unexpected tangents, dissolving into sound effects or dreamy piano snippets, and generally forming a deluge of musical ideas that is off-kilter enough to be called progressive, even if not all its constituent parts are so. The stand-out track -- and perhaps the only one played completely "straight" -- is the angsty ballad "Grass for Blades" which Wigwam took as their concert staple and later re-recorded for their Dark Album. In fact the whole contemporaneous Wigwam line-up appear on the album (as well as both their past and future bassists), providing the skilful and largely solo-free backing for Pembroke's piano, guitar and harmonica.
On Pigworm the 1974 Wigwam line-up (already including guitarist Pekka Rechardt) is credited on the cover, emphasising that this is more a band record than its predecessor, a stylistically unified collection of individual pop-rock tunes rather than a single opus wrought out of a plethora of styles. It is a Wigwam album where Gustavson and Pohjola's instrumental skills and more cerebral ambitions have been subjugated to restrained but still rich accompaniment to Pembroke's more conventional but offbeat songwriting. The smooth-grooving, infectiously melodic "Do the Pigworm" and the beautiful "Sweet Marie" are among Pembroke's best tracks. Progressive ideas surface mainly in the nuance-rich arrangements. For example, in two cases songs are segued into larger units, so that the chorus of the first reprises itself after the second song. Only the august but unsettling "No More Terra Firma" with its Moog colourings, offbeat harmonic steps and stylish horn arrangements comes to the orthodox progressive territory. Both the powerful singer-songwriter number "Just My Situation" and the art-pop tune "No New Games to Play" were included in Wigwam's setlists, the latter also appearing on Light Ages with an added instrumental section.
Corporal Cauliflowers Mental Function is a more straight-forward record, moving into the eccentric singer-songwriter territory perhaps best comparable to Peter Gabriel's second album, in spirit at least if not sound. Several different styles are covered again, including the driving, lyrically bizarre and harmonically simple yet unorthodox "Bertha Come Back", the Caribbean-flavoured symphonic pop of "Island Town" (with its Gentle Giant-like solo marimba) and the slightly Band-like country ballad "Goddammaddog (The Horse)" which shows his penchant for humorous lyrics and ironic use of an "obsolete" style and it turning into something genuinely gripping and relevant. Compared to the Wigwam albums of the day, it is a more neurotic, more varied outing where the typically "progressive" band sound is largely absent - the space-funk guitar solo of "Knockknockknock (The Revolution of Love)" being the main exception. "Earring Is Believing" comes closest to progressive with its angular chromatic melodies over droning piano and guitar and a mediaeval-flavoured middle-section completely divorced from the rest of the song. Wigwam made the here rather phlegmatic "A Better Hold (And a Little View)" cook nicely live, but never recorded it in studio.
Pembroke's post-Wigwam albums have their moments, too, but are of less interest to progressive rock fans. Flat Broke was recorded with the Jim Pembroke Band and took up a more mainstream, rootsy rock sound, prompted by the success of the R&B-style rock single "Hardtop Lincoln" (re-recorded for the album), even if its stylistic sweep could still include things like calypso, folk, country, and even a swab of disco and reggae in addition to rock. Party Upstairs is a darker and sparser album, lamenting the recent deaths of John Lennon and ex-Wigwam drummer Ronnie Österberg, the instrumentation often just piano and guitar, the music more rooted to blues and other styles of American South. Elsewhere, Pembroke has lent his talent to many other artists, among them rocker Kojo, with whom he made the rather indifferent Finnish-language pop album Bee tai pop. Many of his promising projects in Finland and in the USA (where he lived between 1995 and 2000) have not managed to release anything. Ultimately he has always gravitated back to Wigwam, which seems a perfect setting for his musical vision. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||[See Gustavson, Jukka | Pohjola, Pekka | Tolonen, Jukka | Wigwam]|
Fly High, Fall Far (84)
The Jewel (85)
9:15 Live (86, Live)
The Rest Of Pendragon (90)
The World (91)
Live in Lille 92 (The Very Very Bootleg) (92)
The Window Of Life (93)
Fallen Dreams and Angels (94, EP)
The Masquerade Overture (96)
As Good as Gold (96, EP)
Live in Kraków 96 (97, Live)
Live at Last ... and more (97, VHS, re-released in 2002 on DVD)
Overture (98, Compilation for US market)
The Masquerade Overture (99, as above w/ bonus track)
Once Upon a Time in England Vol. 1 (99, Compilation, Freebie when joining fan club)
Once Upon a Time in England Vol. 2 (99, Compilation)
The History: 1984-2000 (00, Compilation for Polish market)
Not Of This World (01)
Acoustically Challenged (02, Live)
Liveosity (04, box set including Acoustically Challenged CD plus Live At Last ... and more DVD)
The Jewel Remastered (05, remastered reissue with bonus tracks)
And Now Everybody To The Stage (06, Live, DVD or box set with DVD+2CD)
Past and Presence (07, Live, DVD or box set with DVD+2CD, Reunion concert of past & present Pendragon members)
Pure (08, CD-only or CD+DVD "special edition")
Passion (Unreleased, pre-sales now available)
Pendragon - Current line-up in Spain, 7/21/07 (a slightly doctored photo, to move the band
members closer to each other) - Joe Crabtree (drums), Nick Barrett (guitars, vocals),
Clive Nolan (keyboards) and Peter Gee (bass)
The band began humbly in 1979, under the name of Zeus Pendragon, they went through various membership changes with little success, doing mostly cover tunes for their first 2 years of existence. In 1984 the band, with their name now shortened to simply Pendragon, were discovered by Marillion's manager John Arnison, and signed to their first record deal. Their first release was the four song EP Fly High Fall Far, a full length album called The Jewel followed in 1985, both included the line-up of Nick Barrett (vocals, guitar), Peter Gee (bass), Nigel Harris (drums) and Rik Carter (keyboards). The Jewel stands today as one of the best releases from the 80's English prog scene, filled with energy & power, although with hindsight, it lacks the fine production quality of later albums. Nevertheless, "The Black Knight", and "Leviathan" remain Pendragon concert favorites to this day. After two important lineup changes, which saw Harris & Carter being replaced by drummer Fudge Smith (Steve Hackett Band, LaHost) and keyboardist Clive Nolan (Shadowland, Strangers On A Train, Arena) the band released some singles and a live album titled 9:15 Live. The bands next studio album, 1988's Kowtow, contained some shorter, simpler songs, mixed together with some stunning sympho-prog anthems like "The Haunting" and "Total Recall". It was obvious at this point that this band was capable of great variety in their material. It was also obvious that Pendragon were going to be one of the more lyrically interesting bands around, as songwriter Nick Barrett began to take on some serious topics, including the immorality of War in the title track "Kowtow". Pendragon continued to become a well-respected live band, and raised a devoted following.
Pendragon reached new creative heights with the excellent release The World in 1991. Although this band freely admits the deep influence of bands like Camel, Yes, early-Genesis, and Pink Floyd, by now a distinctive "Pendragon sound" was starting to come through. For one thing, Barrett has one of the most unique and recognizable voices in the modern prog scene. His emotive delivery is just one of the things that sets Pendragon apart from all of those bands with the Peter Gabriel / Fish vocal clones! Some have called Barrett's voice an "acquired taste", but I liked it from the first time I heard it. The songs on The World overflowed the melody, from the vocals, to the backing instrumental arrangements, to the guitar and keyboard solos. Nolan really added color to the band with some nice choices of keyboard sounds. Barrett's guitar came more to the forefront with The World, and he showed himself to be a true master of structure, melody, and more important, emotion! Like his influences, Andy Latimer (Camel) and Mike Oldfield, Barrett uses his guitar to re-create the full gamut of human emotions, sounding melancholy when needed, and jubilant at others. Songs like "The Voyager" and the lyrically & musically complex 22 minute epic "Queen of Hearts" showed Pendragon to be standing tall over most of their competition. A rather raw-sounding live album (by Pendragon standards) was also released during this period, titled, The Very, Very Bootleg.
The next album, 1993's The Window of Life took Pendragon to even greater artistic and creative heights. It stands as one of the most scrumptious feasts of melodic prog ever served up! Every song on Window just swells with emotion, not to mention tight, well-executed musical artistry from all involved. Drummer Fudge Smith is really featured front-and-center in many of these arrangements, especially on the rich, atmospheric prog anthems "The Last Man On Earth" and "The Walls of Babylon". Smith shows himself to be one of the only drummers in the rock world with an easily recognizable style. Again, these songs are just drenched in strong melodies, thoughtful lyrics, and creative, interesting arrangements. Songs like "The Last Man on Earth" and "Ghosts" contain all of the dynamic shadings, and tight rhythmic structures of classic prog bands such as Genesis, Yes & ELP. Why Pendragon are sometimes dismissed as some sort of simplistic "prog lite" band is beyond my wildest imagination. Barrett's eye-popping guitar work and inventive writing should be enough to make any prog fans mouth water! A great live album from the Window tour, "Utrecht: The Final Frontier", followed in 1995, with far better sound quality and production than earlier live recordings.
To many fans, including myself, Pendragon's crowning glory came with 1996's The Masquerade Overture. This excellent album continues the distinctive sound of their previous two studio albums, but adds more instrumental interplay, some classical flourishes, and some thick panoramic production. The guitar and keyboards just play off of each other throughout this album, interweaving melodies, and taking turns at the forefront. Peter Gee adds some fine melodic bass work to every track, and really compliments the overall arrangements. Songs like the pastoral "Paintbox", the twisting, turning, spiritual prog of "Guardian of My Soul", and the dynamic melancholia of "The Shadow", put Pendragon in the same creative ranks as the excellent bands that influenced them. After all, bands like Yes, Genesis, ELP, and Camel always gave us tight, melodic, structured music (not simply the technical "time signature workouts" of the more experimental bands), this is the grand tradition of music that Pendragon continues today. With the kind of musicianship and advanced melodic sense on display here, comparisons to Marillion and other 80's prog bands no longer apply! Not that I am against those bands by any means, but I think that Pendragon have proved that they stand apart from the rest of the pack. The Masquerade Overture is the album that I would recommend to anyone who is checking out Pendragon's music for the first time, it won't disappoint. A four song EP, As Good as Gold, was released soon after Masquerade and makes a great supplement to the album, containing 3 new, previously unreleased songs. Another live album and accompanying concert video, Live in Kraków were also released from this period, the video in particular is worth seeking out.
Pendragon have not released a new studio album since 1996, but have put out some compilation albums in various countries in the interim. The Polish compilation album The History: 1982-2000 is worth finding, and includes new acoustic recordings of two Pendragon favorites. A new full-length album is being recorded as of this writing, and should be available by the end of 2000. -- Jeff Matheus
|The Jewel is one of the very best neo-prog albums (albeit slighly commercial) and the second half of "Alaska" is a very high point of the eighties scene! Later albums (except The World?) pale, but credit must be given for The Jewel.|
|Much in the vein of Marillion, perhaps a bit watered-down. I have The Jewel, which has some excellent stuff on it. At their worst, they make good upbeat pop tunes, at their best, they exemplify the neo-prog genre. I like them, but then again, I like most of Asia's stuff, too. The Rest of Pendragon is a good cross-section of their stuff, as it includes a couple of more mainstream tunes as well as some more progressive songs.|
|Pendragon have an album called The Jewel and a number of tapes available from the band. They did release an album just before I arrived here, so maybe 1990-91 but again I don't know the name. They have some long, complex pieces, notably "The Black Night," and some more poppy tunes, like "Higher Circles," so they cross the line between progressive and pop-rock. They produce quite anthemic stuff and the lyrics are mostly pretty thoughtful. Another Genesis-type sound, but the guitarist is more fluid and dynamic than Rutherford.|
|These veterans from the "second wave" produce typical British music in the style of Marillion or Pink Floyd. Very melodic rock that uses fantasy and very tasty guitar solos. The compositions and arrangements on The Window of Life, fairly simple, involve rich keyboard textures, modest but efficient rhythms that make way for Nick Barrett's vocal and guitar work. The tracks often take the shape of long melancholic ballads that can feature more than one guitar solo. In fact, it can only be the length of the tracks that keeps this music off the FM airwaves. A rich production and catchy melodies make for an enjoyable mix of pop rock and symphonism. -- Paul Charbonneau|
|A completely over-rated British neo-prog band, very derivative and boring, they sound like watered down Marillion with a wimpy singer. The Jewel did show some promise that was unfortunately never hinted at again. All of their subseqent releases have been mostly simplistic pop with an occasional stolen neo-prog hook, and sappy wanna-have-a-hit-single-but-we're-not-good-enough-to- cut-it type love songs that are awful enough to make any progressive fan vomit.|
|Pendragon are a UK 80's progressive band, who combine elements of Genesis, Marillion, and Rush in their music. Recently, they opted for a more mainstream sound, with Kowtow, but, with The World, there is a return to their earlier style of Rush/Marillion-influenced progressive rock, with the emphasis on longer tracks, and more conceptual lyrics. With the demise of traditional prog rock from pop artists such as Genesis and Marillion, it may be well worth your while to look for bands such as Pendragon who keep that aspect of rock music alive. The Very Very Bootleg is an "official fan club CD" released by Pendragon, chronicling a 1992 performance in Lille, France. The recording quality is very good, though a mite low on the bass component (easily remedied with the Loudness switch, I might add). Five tracks span 52+ minutes, offering up a mixture of tracks from The Jewel and The World, their best two releases. Most of the tracks are augmented with instrumental passages, making this a good showcase for one of the better neo-progressive bands making music these days.|
|Pendragon is one of the better known of the neo-progressive bands, i.e., those bands of the mid-late 80's that were greatly influenced by Genesis, or worse, Marillion. I guess I just gave away the direction of this review. Most people have said their best work is The Jewel so that was the one I checked out. The opening cut is called "Higher Circles" and obviously must be the one designed for commercial radio airplay. It doesn't get much better either. Frankly, why listen to a band that is trying to sound like Genesis or Marillion when you could listen to Genesis or Marillion themselves? I admit I'm a big fan of old Genesis and don't really care for Marillion. The Jewel really doesn't hold a candle to either of them. By comparison to the originals, Pendragon's music lacks energy, dynamics, and any real variety. One of the better tracks is the long "Alaska" where they do their best to set up the jam, but it comes off sounding forced. "Circus" is actually fairly decent, with some good Hackett-like guitar playing. A couple of merely decent songs, however, does not make the album worth owning. Perhaps if I'd never heard Genesis or Marillion, I might like this better. But as it is, I have no interest in this at all.|
[See Arena |
Neo (UK) |
Nolan, Clive |
Strangers On A Train |
Click here Pendragon's web site
Music From The Penguin Café (76)
Penguin Café Orchestra (81)
Broadcasting From Home (84)
Signs Of Life (87)
When In Rome ... (87, Live)
'Still Life' at the Penguin Café (90)
Union Café (93)
Concert Program (95, Live)
Preludes, Airs & Yodels (96)
Piano Music (00)
A History (01, 4CD Box Set, Compilation)
Penguin Café Orchestra
This is an odd sort of chamber-orchestra rock, with some jazzy and strong classical elements tossed into the mix. I find that listening to an entire CD of this stuff gets a bit tiresome, but considered one song at a time, it's really quite good. lots of violin, cello, piano, etc.
A bizarre avant-garde multi-instrument Orchestra, structured by and around Simon Jeffes, main Composer, Producer and Band's multi-instrumentalist. PCO music is an inventive fusion of ambient and World-Ethnic, with strong Classical influences, as well as Folk/Jazz-Rock edges. Mostly instrumental, ethereal melodies, ambient soundscapes, traditional Folk, Exotic rhythms and pure classical parts. Similarities with Brian Eno's ambient music, Harold Budd, Jon Hassell and Art of Noise. Instruments used, range from the exotic Ukelele and Cuatro (Jeffes favorites, played in many tracks) to milk bottles and cowbells! A lot of piano, violins, violas and cellos. All their recordings are excellent avant-garde stuff, recommended to all prog seekers!
Music From The Penguin Café and Penguin Café Orchestra are characteristic albums of their music. Broadcasting From Home is a more ambient-oriented album, but again enriched with all the above sound flavors and performed with all sorts of strings, brass, air and percussion instruments. Signs of Life is, more or less, a classical-oriented album, with some astonishing compositions ("Bean Fields", "Southern Jukebox Music", "Oscar Tango"), mainly performed on piano, violin, viola and cello. A truly significant recording. When In Rome ... is a live recording at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 09.07.1987. Simon Jeffes, with 10 PCO musicians, perform sensationally a broad range of their work, from the early years on. An excellent start for newcomers and a very representative PCO album. -- Kimon Danielidis
[See Quantum Jump]
Click here for Penguin Café Orchestra's
official web site
La Clef des Songes (75)
|La clef des Songes is a little-known but very enjoyable French prog album. Pentacle were influenced by early King Crimson in their often minor-key dominated compositions, subdued tempos and the guitarist's occasional, though generally restrained bursts of electric scorching amid softer acoustic picking, but this is balanced by the keyboardist's heavy presence, as he smears string-synth, organ and piping Mini-Moog melodies all over the sound picture, and the overall proliferation of warm, sometimes fragile melodies that evokes the Moody Blues spirit of early prog, though with the distinct flavour given by the French lyrics and vocals. The vocalist gives a strong and emotional performance, which is still more "conventional" than the theatrical antics of Ange's Christian Decamps (who produced the album). Though there are obvious tempo and rhythm shifts, the overall style never gets too complex or too far away from the vocals, the power of this music manifesting in the sophistication of the melodies and the dynamism of the arrangements, as Pentacle smoothly fluctuate between soft acoustic melancholy and snarling electric anguish. Apparently the group were ordered to shorten the original arrangements of their songs and this is apparent in the way that the band sometimes seem to be holding back their playing and some songs seem to end too abruptly, never fully exploring their full potential. It is only on the 11-minute closing track "Le raconteur" that they get to stretch out, with guitar and keyboards trading solos like there's no end. Musea's CD re-release (FGBG 4131.AR) includes three live versions of album songs as a bonus, and these show the band fleshing the songs out with gusto. The CD was remastered with Super Bit Mapping, and all the album tracks sound excellent, though the live tracks are quite muddy and distorted throughout. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
|This one is said to be mixing best Ange with King Crimson. Well, if Ange sound like this than my interest for them is no more. I expected KC circa Red or Starless. I don't hear anything like that except for ending part of the second track, which overall sounds like the collages of Dog Eat Dog few years ago (here I mean the way of making track, using more glue than material to be appended together). One can hear plenty of KC's "I Talk to the Wind" -like tracks. Everything thus results in a KC kind of mellowness plus some more mellow theatrality with distinct french pathos plus a folksy laid-backness as an undercurrent. Overall, this is pretty decent lullaby and recommended to those with problems to get asleep or those wanting something easy on stereo before the departure into Kingdom of Lord Morpheus. O.K., myself being a fan of "difficult" in music (RIO, etc.) and with my leaning towards hypertension I usually do not enjoy this, but if you like prog which doesn't really build on complexity, this one's for you. -- Nenad Kobal|
The Pentangle (68)
Sweet Child (68)
Basket of Light (69)
Cruel Sister (70)
Solomon's Seal (72)
Open the Door (85)
In The Round (86)
So Early in the Spring (90)
Think of Tomorrow (91)
Live at the BBC (95)
Passe Avant (99)
also many compilations ...
|Considering the inclusion of Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny, and others in the survey, it seems only fitting that Pentangle should also be noted. Although often categorised along with the aforementioned groups as folk-rock, The Pentangle really transcends attempts at categorisation, and they're definitely not rock. They formed in 1967 around the nucleus of guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn and vocalist Jacqui McShee, with two session musicians providing upright bass and drums. The resulting music drew on traditional material, baroque (such as John Dowland), Eastern scales and instruments, blues, and of course jazz. The guitarwork is the biggest attraction, providing the kind of improvisational interplay that fusion fans should love. And both guitarists really are masters of the instrument, achieving more on wood in one song than most electric noodlers do in a career. These guys *are* hard to characterise, more so than I thought before sitting down to write this. If they sound interesting, and I'm sure they would be to at least some prog fans, then check out anything from their initial incarnation (1967- 1971). Shanachie's Early Classics is is a good compilation from this period.|
The classic line-up was Jacqui McShee, vocals; John Renbourn and Bert Jansch, guitars and
vocals; Danny Thompson, double bass; Terry Cox, drums and percussion. The later albums add
sitar, banjo and restrained electric guitar to the blend.
Not truly progressive rock, but who cares? McShee has a wonderfully clear voice and the playing is high-caliber throughout. They are best-known for their renditions of traditional ballads, but their repertoire covered everything from ancient hymns to Charles Mingus to original songs and instrumentals. Enthusiasts of Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and the Incredible String Band should give them a listen. All six are worthy albums, but if I had to choose only one it would be Basket of Light.
Pentangle disbanded after Solomon's Seal. McShee, Cox and Jansch reunited for at least one more album, In the Round (1986), but without Renbourn, who was sorely missed. Renbourn released a number of solo albums over the years, ranging from explorations of early music to bluesy folk, plus several more as leader of the John Renbourn Group. Noteworthy is the latter's A Maid in Bedlam (1977), featuring McShee along with fiddle, woodwinds, tabla and Renbourn's guitar, which is as pretty as a record can be without triggering the gag reflex. When this album plays, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood lives. -- Don McClane
|Links||[See Bread, Love and Dreams]|
A sound like PFM.
Out Of The Abyss (76, released 92), Pentwater (78)
American band, a 6-piece who played a complex progressive rock with very busy arrangements and lots of vocals. If comparisons need to be made, there is a definite early Yes feel (circa Time and a Word), with perhaps a touch of Gentle Giant, but despite this, they cover far more ground, especially via the use of violin and flute, and a few tracks like "Necropolis" and "The Journeys" that defy categorization and comparison.
A US band that operated in the Midwest during the seventies. The music is organ-keyboard-driven progressive rock that might recall bands such as Focus, and is reissued from a mid-70s private release. However, elements of the heydey of prog rock, such as Yes and Genesis are present in the instrumentation and the harmonies, and I detect a reasonable similarity with the obscure UK band, England.
Out of the abyss of obscure US seventies' bands Syn-Phonic brings to the light of day unreleased music by the Chicago band Pentwater. Pentwater recorded this music from 1973 to 1976 with the final song, Kill the Bunny, recorded live at CBGB's in New York City in November 1976. Pentwater released their self-titled LP with different songs in 1978 and then broke up by the end of that year. The combined talents of Pentwater produced songs that bought to my mind elements of Genesis (Selling England by the Pound), Gentle Giant, Jimi Hendrix, and Italian progressive rock ala Le Orme (Felona E Sorona). It is a true indicator of excellent music when it distracts you from what you are doing. I did not expect much when I first listened to this CD. Much to my surprise and pleasure I had to stop and take notice of Out of the Abyss. Each time I listen to it, the better I like it! The one weak moment on the disk is the song Necropolis, a bland ode to famous dead people, saved only by the instrumental break in the middle. The two longest songs on the CD, "Gwen's Madrigal" and "The Journeys," feature the best of Pentwater: Hammond organ and Mellotron, "Steve Hackett" guitar riffs, and pleasant vocal harmonies. To top off this CD, Syn-Phonic included a short band history, lyrics, and an artistic picture disk with a black sky and sunlit water. Kudos go to Syn-Phonic for releasing this excellent CD. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Simple Mortal (91), Music Film Scoring (??)
Serge Perathoner (keyboards, ex-Transit Express) and Jannick Top (bass, ex- Magma) have collaborated on several soundtrack albums. Simple Mortal also features drumming by Claude Salmieri (ex-Paga); the first half of the album is fairly "normal" sounding rock tracks with vocals and all, the second half is advanturous instrumental music that at times reminds of both of these guys' respective bands.
Percewood's Onagram (70), Lessons For Virgins (71), Tropical Brainforest (72), Ameurope (74), 1969-74 (84)
Weird German rock/folk, possibly like Witthuser + Westrupp or Hoelderlin.
The Modern Dance (78)
Dub Housing (78)
Datapanik in the Year Zero (79, EP)
New Picnic Time (79)
The Art of Walking (80)
390 Degrees of Simulated Stereo (81, Live)
Song of the Bailing Man (82)
Terminal Tower (85, Compilation)
One Man Drives While The Other Man Screams (87, Live)
The Tenement Year (88)
Worlds in Collision (91)
Story of My Life (93)
Raygun Suitcase (95)
Hearpen Singles (95, Box Set)
Beach Boys (95)
Folly of Youth (95)
Datapanik in the Year Zero (96, 5 CD Box Set)
Apocalypse Now (99, Live)
|Another strange band from Ohio. If you've had too much to dream this is the band for you. Some members from Red Crayola an equally strange band from the late '60s out of Texas.|
|Pere Ubu is vocalist David Thomas and other Cleveland musicians who get together for noisy and strange jam sessions. The musicians change so often you'll need a program to keep up, but frequently include Allen Ravenstine or Robert Wheeler on EML Synthesizer and Tom Herman on guitar and bass. I've heard this music described as "industrial" because of its urban noise content, while others simply describe them as "strange". They are rhythmic and noisy, sarcastic and occasionally even threatening. Definitely worth a listen. -- Fred Trafton|
|Lead by Dave Thomas, whose untrained singing warble will definitely not appeal to some, Pere Ubu's music is like a darker and noisier version of Captian Beefheart. Modern Dance is gritty and noisy garage rock where they hadn't quite found their sound, so start with one of the later albums, like Dub Housing, New Picnic Time, or Terminal Tower, a collection of older Ubu tracks, including the nightmarish "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" and "Heart of Darkness." The Art of Walking and Song of the Bailing Man are also great, far less chaotic, and with a more varied sonic pallet. Of the newer stuff, I've listened to both The Tenement Year and Pennsylvania, and both are quite good, as Thomas retains his dark outlook on life. -- Rolf Semprebon|
|The band was founded in Cleveland in 1975. Pere Ubu is a character in several absurdist plays by Frenchman Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) and means father Ubu (Ubu is his name). They named the band like that because "the name looked good, sounded good, had three syllables and wasn't likely to mean anything to anyone" (from the liner notes of the Datapanik CDs). After several singles they put out their first LP The Modern Dance in 1978. The Datapanik EP contained the early singles. They started as a New Wave/Punk-band, but developed soon a unique style, which is reminiscent of British RIO of the same time (Henry Cow, Art Bears or Zamla from Sweden). Another clear influence is Captain Beefheart and his Magicband. Most remarkable is the very high and distorted singing of David Thomas, who usually recites strange poetry. After Song Of the band broke up, and Thomas recorded 6 solo LPs. All the material they recorded from 75 to 82 is included on the 5-CD box Datapanik from 1996 (including many live tracks and rarities). Terminal Tower is a compilation of their singles and some rare tracks (contains all of the Datapanik EP). 390 Degrees is an early live compilation, with sometimes pretty bad sound quality, One Man Drives was also recorded live later (1981) and sounds much better. In 87 they restarted the band with Tenement Year (including Chris Cutler on drums). Starting with Cloudland they developed a smoother pop-like sound. With Suitcase and Pennsylvania they returned to the crazy weirdness of their early days. For all fans of early New Wave and weird RIO this is an essential band and their first recordings from 75 to 82 are highly recommended! -- Achim Breiling|
|Links||[See Red Crayola | Thomas, David]|
Haul ar yr Eira (80)
Tirion Dir (82)
This is a very unique and one the best prog-folk bands I ever heard, this music is totally
wonderful. They play original material and some traditional songs all sing in Welsh, the
songs are a mix of different themes, some are spiritual (Christian), others are love songs
and others tell the history of folk heroes and some talk about Welsh culture, they also have
The music is in perfect balance between the folk and the prog, between the traditional and the contemporary with good instrumentation through each song, that includes guitars, flutes, and keyboards, and very beautiful arrangements with certain degree of complexity and male and female vocals.
Their original albums are on the high price list on the collectors circuit. Thankfully all three albums have been released on CD (Syn-Phonic seems to be the only place the have all three records.) This is a great band with good musicians working together with a high sense of lyricism and dynamics with songs full of grace and imagination and going through different moods in each song. This is a HIGHLY recommended group, you will not be disappointed. -- Julio Lopez
|Links||Click here to order Pererin titles from Syn-Phonic Music|
Gualberto Garcia Perez is a Spanish guitarist/Sitar player and composer. He first rose to
fame as guitarist for one of Spain's first 'underground' bands Smash which played hard-rock
with some folksy elements, his solo albums however are a different story. Vericuetos
which came out in 1976 and featured several guest players, such as
Imán Califato Independiente's future
keyboard player Marcos Mantero and others is a MASTERPIECE.
Gualberto mixes Indian, Spanish and Arabic music influences with European chamber music and prog and does it brilliantly!!! All of the musicians are great and very capable and the result is a mindblowing complex and beautiful prog album; I can't recommened this enough. -- Gil Keltch
|Links||[See Imán Califato Independiente]|
En El Ombligo De La Luna (81)
Mexican new-age artist, very spacy synth music with help from prehispanic percussion instruments and like that. Not very interesting from my POV.
In ogni luogo, in ogni tempo (00)
Un Milione di Voci (02)
Periferia del Mondo - (Not in photo order) Claudio Braico (bass),
Alessandro Papotto (vocals, woodwinds), Max G. B. Tommasi (guitars),
Bruno Vegliante (synthesizers), Tony Zito (drums) and Alberto
Perifera del Mondo means "Periphery of the World", which is evidently PDM's view of where they live in Italy. They definitely consider themselves to be on the outskirts of the music scene, and seem to have a bit of a complex about it judging from the amount of time they spend bemoaning the state of the music scene in Italy on their web site. Haven't they heard that Italy is a hotbed of prog music? Well, woodwind player Alessandro Papotto should certainy be aware of it, since he also plays with Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. In fact, Banco members Francesco Di Giacomo and Rodolfo Maltese guest on the opening track, of In ogni luogo, in ogni tempo, "L'Infedele". Well, I understand ... it's hard to find an audience for forward-thinking music anywhere, but we should all be happy these guys are breaking the mold to make an album that flies in the face of convention, because this is a truly great album!
In ogni luogo, in ogni tempo ("In every place, in every time") has tracks both vocal and instrumental. Lyrics are in both Italian and English, split about down the middle, perhaps with a bit more English. The opening cut, "L'Infedele" is a prog masterpiece in the tradition of Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, Le Orme or even PFM, but more fusiony, with lots of sax soloing from Papotto. Other memorable cuts include "Meltémi", a spacey almost Gongish, piece, with a short section of Italian vocals, and the title cut "In ogni luogo, in ogni tempo", featuring a heavier sound that almost gets into prog-metal, but then relaxes into softer breaks in the middle of the piece. Great screaming sax solos here too.
"Brand-y" is another nice cut ... almost Dave Brubek light jazz. Is this supposed to be an homage to/poking fun at Brand X? The album closes with "The Ghost in the Shell", with parts that sound a lot like Genesis, right down to the vocalist who sounds like Peter Gabriel singing in Italian. String synthesizers convincingly replace Mellotron to create the mood of this piece. It also segués into parts much more heavy than anything Genesis ever did. This is just excellent stuff!
I should also mention the packaging ... this comes in a nice "mini-LP" sort of package with a cardboard bi-fold in CD size, complete with album insert and an inner paper sleeve to hold the CD. Great artwork, too ... this really harks back to the days of progressive rock on vinyl.
PDM is supposed to have a second album in the works now, which was tentatively titled Un milione di voci with special guests Mauro Pagani, Vittorio Nocenzi and Alessandro Corsi of Il Balletto di Bronzo and Luca Sapio of Area (making it hard to believe once again they're unaware of Italy's prog rock scene ... but I digress). It was supposed to be released in March of 2002, but near as I can tell it's not out yet as of 4/17/02. I'll be looking forward to hearing it when it does come out. In the meantime, I highly recommend In ogni luogo, in ogni tempo. -- Fred Trafton
[See Area |
Balletto di Bronzo, Il |
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso]
Click here for Periferia del Mondo's web site.
Abbiamo tutti un blues da piangere (73)
La valle dei templi (75)
Non è poi così lontano (76)
Attraverso il Perigeo (77)
Fata Morgana (77)
Live in Italy (76)
Effetto D'Amore (81)
Perigeo live in Italy (90)
Perigeo live at Montreux (93)
|Italian fusion ensemble.|
|A jazz-rock band whose best album is La Valle Dei Templi. From the LP Alice the band became more commercial.|
|Italian jazz-rock band with a very full sound, featuring bass, keyboards, drums, guitar and saxes. The style is pretty much straight fusion, tightly arranged with lots of dynamic stretch, driven by bassist Giovanni Tommaso. Most of their albums were originally released domestically, titles of the imports are different, but the music is identical.|
|Pioneers of Italian jazz-rock, Perigeo included some of most talented musicians in the jazz area, like Giovanni Tommaso (bass), Franco D'Andrea (keyboards), Claudio Fasoli (wind instruments), together with two younger like Bruno Biriaco (drum) and Tony Sidney (guitar). At first, their innovative sound featuring fresh rhythmical themes and good guitar solos, wasn't appreciated as right by some purist critic. Then, a fantastic album sequence, from Abbiamo tutti un blues da piangere (1973) to La valle dei templi (1975), gained them the right fame. The best Perigeo effort, in my opinion, was Genealogia (1974), a masterwork full of sophisticated and mature atmosphere. A very mediterranean flavour riches their unique sound, especially on tracks like "Genealogia" and "Via Beato Angelico", while "In vino veritas" is a powerful fusion cut, guitar dominated. Although they play a instrumental music, without lyrics, anyway many tunes show clear melodical lines, like in La valle dei templi album, realized with famous drummer Toni Esposito as guest. The last album of the golden period, Non è poi così lontano (1976), was realized in Toronto. -- Armando Polli|
[See Esposito, Toni |
Sunset Wading (76)
Seabird (77, previously unreleased, recently released on CD by Voiceprint)
|Bassist for Caravan in the period after Sinclair left. He released one solo album titled Sunset Wading in 76, sort of a roundabout attempt at fusion, involving Mike Giles, Roger Glover, Geoff Richardson, Morris Pert and others.|
|Caravan/Quantum Jump's bass player. His solo album is an intriguing combination of fusion, Canterbury prog and electronics/tape-collage effects. Impressive list of guest musicians: Morris Pert (Brand X), Elio D'Anna, Corrado Rustici (Osanna), Roger Glover (Deep Purple), Rupert Hine (Quantum Jump) Geoff Richardson (Caravan), Simon Jeffes (Penguin Cafe Orchestra) and Mike Giles (King Crimson). -- Mike Ohman|
to order these albums from Voiceprint
Evening Mirage (97)
Pyre of Dreams (07)
Pan: An Urban Pastoral (10)
Persephone's Dream (2001 line-up) - John Tallent (percussion), Karin Nicely (vocals),
Chris Siegle (bass), Kim Finney (keyboards), Rowen Poole (guitars) and Ed Wiancko (drums)
Original Entry, 7/31/02:
Musical styles on Moonspell range from dark gothic power ballads ("Millenium Moon" and "Euphoria") to more industrial/techno cuts reminiscent of Laurie Anderson's Big Science ("Electronic Exotic"), but always with a heavy rock edge, and the exploratory piece "Earth Dreams". I would hardly call this album heavily progressive in a "challenging to listen to" way, though it does definitely have its own style which isn't exactly easy listening, though I would say it's accessable to anyone who likes heavier rock. Some of guitarist Rowen Poole's guitar effects do remind me of Steve Hackett from time to time.
Opposition is their first album as a six-piece. It is simultaneously a more mature album and, perhaps, less inspired than Moonspell. Where Moonspell seems to be in search of a sound for the band, Opposition has found it, and in spite of the band's talking about different styles of music on this release (that's part of the reason it's named Opposition), to my ears the songs all sound very similar. The sound isn't really what I would usually categorize as prog, but it is what I would call "classic rock" in the sense that they sound like a '70's (or even late '60's, if you ignore the synthesizers) band. Karin Nicely's vocals are reminding me more and more of Grace Slick's, though with a more modern "alternative" feel. The compositions are also '70's style, but with a lot of that doom-ridden "goth" flavor mixed into the sound as well. "Atmospheric" is the usual term for this, though the "atmosphere" here is heavily laden with sadness, guilt and angst. Although I wouldn't call this the most progressive album I've ever heard, I would say that the music would appeal to the prog rock fan in the same way that Mostly Autumn does, though MA's tunes tend to be a bit more upbeat than PD's.
Persephone's Dream, if photos of their Halloween performance in 2001 are any indication, must be amazing to see live. Vocalist Karin Nicely also contributes to the band's live show with Gabrielesque costume changes and "artistic movement" in addition to her sultry and sombre vocals. They use lots of theatrical techniques, innovative stage lighting, and the afore-mentioned costumes to augment their shows. This band is more than just musicians ... Rowen Poole also writes fantasy stories and did the computer art which is on the cover of Opposition, and this overall artistic bent is evident in both their live show and their music. The lengthy "Earth Dreams", for instance, is an artsy exploration in hand drums, slit drums and various other percussion that every other reviewer I've read has panned as "long and boring", but personally I love it.
All in all, a pretty cool band, and easy to recommend to classic rock buffs as long as they don't have a need for any of the usual progressive wierdness, rhythmic gymnastics or Mellotrons. There are plenty of soul-searching and vaguely spiritual lyrics, though, and even a break for some Gilli Smythish "beat poetry" on Opposition. -- Fred Trafton
Persephone's Dream (2007 line-up) - Top row - Scot Harvey (drums), Rowen Poole (guitars), John Lally (4 & 5 string bass, Chapman Stick). Bottom Row - John Tallent (percussion), Heidi Engel (vocals, lyrics), Jim Waugaman (keyboards, backing vocals). Not Pictured - Kelly Fletcher (vocals, backing vocals, percussion, lyrics), Colleen Gray (vocals, backing vocals, lyrics), Jonathan "Strobe" Fleischman (lighting, visual effects, costumes, props, performance art design).
GEPR: So I'm guessing that Pyre of Dreams has been in the works for a while now, with performances by band members that have since left the band (in or around 2005?). I see NEWS entries on your site back to 2006, but I'm guessing that the album was in the works well before that, right? Is that why Chris, Ed and Steven are on PoD but not in the "current members" roster?
Poole: You have guessed correctly - for the most part. :-) Some of the songs on Pyre of Dreams go back to right after we released Opposition in August of 2001. The songs on Pyre were written over the time period of September 2001 through March of 2005. The most recent of those being "Synesthesia" and the "Temple in Time" sequence of songs. "Android Dreams" is the oldest of the collection (from September of 2001).
Now, as for the various members ... Chris [Siegle] left the band in April of 2005 when he became a father for the first time. Parenting and job duties took too much of his time and he could not devote as much time to the band as he wanted to. Totally understandable! Chris was the co-founder of the band in 1993 with me and his presence has been missed.
Ed [Wiancko] left the band in the summer of 2002 for personal reasons. Ed has a guest appearance on the song "Camlann" on Pyre but he hasn't been directly involved in the band since July of 2002.
[Former drummer] Steven took over the drumming duties from Ed in July of 2002 and was with the band until June of 2005 when he quit to pursue other interests.
Chris, Ed and Steve were all involved in some - or all - of the writing aspects of Pyre of Dreams. Hence why they appear on the CD but not the current band roster.
GEPR: I note that Kim Finney doesn't have a photo or bio in the "Band Members" page (under "Former Members") [Note: this section has since been removed from their web site -Ed.] on your web site. Any particular reason for that? I'm also wondering why Kelly and Colleen don't appear in the band photo?
Poole: Kim does not have a photo or bio on the band page because she was a stand-in/extra player for live shows. Chris and I could not play the keyboard/synth stuff we did in the studio while we were playing our guitar and bass parts live.
As for the band photos ... Well, Colleen lives in San Diego, CA. It's not easy getting her here to sing with the band, let alone be in a picture done in a studio. Unfortunately. When Heidi joined the band last summer and started doing live shows with us, we figured it was time to do a new band portrait anyway.
Kelly is my wife. She's a percussionist as well as a writer and plays percussion with JT on a couple songs and wrote the lyrics to a few others on CD. She's not really a band member - at least not at this time. She did not want to be in the band picture.
As it is right now, the new version of PD - myself, JT, Jim (keys), Scot
(drums), Chuck (bass) and Heidi (vocals) - is working on several new songs that will
become our next album as well as stuff we will do in live shows.
As for the new album ... well, I'd desribe it a lot like Opposition. "Classic Rock", like something from the '70's. Like a darker, more gothic, less acoustic version of Mostly Autumn? I said that before, and I still think it's a valid comparison. I haven't seen any of their theatrical stage shows, but one day I hope I get the chance to. My guess is that this really makes the music come alive in ways that a CD just can't do. Pyre of Dreams is OK, but not my favorite style. If you liked the previous albums, Pyre of Dreams should also satisfy. -- Fred Trafton
Whether it was my lackluster review of Pyre of Dreams, the increasing irrelevance of web sites like the GEPR, or just an oversight, Persephone's Dream didn't send me a promo when their new album Pan: An Urban Pastoral was released. So, when I saw it on sale from ProgRock Records as a "Christmas Special", I decided I needed to order it. Maybe it's just that you appreciate an album more when you buy it. Maybe it's that Persephone's Dream has just outdone themselves on this album. Maybe I was just in the right mood. But I have to say Pan: An Urban Pastoral is far and away the best thing PD has ever done.
Though the band members have remained fairly stable since Pyre of Dreams (with the exception of yet another new female vocalist, Ashley Peer and new bassist Roman Prokopenko), Pan sounds very little like the previous albums. Gone is the reverb and goth feel. Gone, too, is what I was calling the "Classic Rock" feel. This album is certainly prog rock, though of a unique kind. It's a concept album about a young man who lives in the gray, overpopulated city. Sad and depressed, he enounters the god Pan in a series of ... uhm ... visions? Hallucinations? Teleportations? Even he's not entirely sure. The encounters with Pan and his wild Maenads in nature settings are odd ... just when they become obviously homoerotic, the lyrics appear to step back from this and females become involved ... somehow. I'm guessing they were afraid of putting their audience off if they were too transparent on this "touchy" subject (he says with tongue in cheek). The story is chaotic and lusty, and perhaps the primary message that comes through clearly is that we've become so mired in our daily controlled techno working lives that we've forgotten how important it is to feel the grass between our toes, dance naked in the sunshine and abandon ourselves to pleasure. Surely, this must be Pan's message to us in the 21st century.
Musically, the instrumentation is stark and crystal clear. There isn't much of instruments playing simultaneously or washes of string or horn sweetening; instead each instrument stands out individually in sharp relief against the musical equivalent of a black background. Synth passages tend to be single-note lines, perhaps with some crunchy electric guitar chords to set these off, or picked acoustic guitar patterns. In several places, a bass, drum and chord sequence starts, but when the vocals come in they seem to be singing the lyrics to a different song in a key only vaguely related to the chords. On a more poorly produced album, I would say the singer can't find the right pitch, but here both the male and female vocalists sing with compete authority and control ... it's very clearly supposed to sound this way. I imagine in a few more listenings, the harmonies will "click" and I'll be saying, "Oh, of course! It's not wrong, it's just not what I was expecting."
Time will tell whether this album will be judged a masterpiece by the prog rock community. It's already on the top-5 album list from the ProgRock Records label, so it's doing well as far as sales go. As for my opinion, it's by far the best Persephone's Dream album thus far, and is also way better than the vast majority of prog releases, in this year or any other. I'm still getting used to the sound on this recording, which is both extremely professional-sounding and also very odd-sounding in its starkness. I read in an interview that the whole thing was recorded on Mac PC's using Garage Band (the free recording software that comes with a Mac). If so, I must say this album is a fine example of what can be done with this free software, and makes me want to try it out myself.
In conclusion, Pan: An Urban Pastoral is likely to make my top-10 list for 2010, and is a must-hear for everyone this year. Great stuff, and a giant step for Persephone's Dream. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Persephone's Dream's
Click here for the Persephone's Dream page on the ProgRock Records web site
Constellation (81), Continents (83), Points of the Compass (86), Forlian (88)
Peru are a Dutch electronic group, consisting of three core members, augmented by a fourth in recent releases. Continents, Points of the Compass, and Forlian are their 3rd, 4th, and 5th releases respectively, and are very representative of the group's formative years. They have, to date, released 6 albums, all of which are available on CD. Continents, released in 1983, consists of five tracks, two of which exceed 10 minutes in length, seemingly influenced by Klaus Schulze of the late seventies/early eighties, with melodic arpeggios over minor chord backing, and then breaking out into the fuzz-guitar-like leads that Tangerine Dream used in the mid-to-late-seventies. Their influences are quite apparent, but the music is enjoyable in its own right. I should also point out that the first track sounds as if it would be at home on Double Fantasy's "hit," Universal Ave., and, in fact, similarities to that release show up at various points. Points Of The Compass was released in 1986, and showed a progression from Continents, in the use of more varied song structures and synth timbres. The music is similar in style to Tangerine Dream of the mid-eighties, circa Le Parc, and possibly the "Heartbreakers" soundtrack. The pace is much more uptempo, and melodic, making this probably the most accessible of the Peru releases. In 1988, Peru released Forlian, which combined the accessibility of their previous release with a slightly subdued mood, with a result that is reminis- cent of some of Johannes Schmoelling's solo works. This will be an enjoyable disc for those who like Schmoelling, and, to some extent, the early eighties version of Tangerine Dream.
Exclamation Mark (79)
[See Black Widow]
Gusliar (80, re-released on CD in 2000)
|Ten-man Soviet band that combined White Russian folk music with prog. Supposed to have Jethro Tull, Yes and ELP influences.|
The person who wrote the above entry obviously never got to hear any of Pesniary's
music. I have, thanks to a Russian GEPR reader who was kind enough to send me a
CDR of what he considers to be Pesniary's "most progressive" tunes and hearing the
new Boheme Music release of Pesniary's
Gusliar. To say that Pesniary bears much resemblence to
Jethro Tull, Yes or
ELP is a huge stretch, unless you just think anything
with a percussive Hammond organ in it sounds like ELP.
So what does Pesniary sound like? Well, basically this is a band that was sanctioned as "acceptable" folk/rock music by the former Soviet Union. Most of their music is pretty much in the folk vein (particularly slavic folk and more ancient and traditional music), though there are occasional outbursts of electric guitar, bass, synthesizer and Hammond organ to be heard among the gypsy violins and accordions. The vocal stylings are more like '60's vocal folk bands like the Limelighters or the Kingston Trio than what prog rockers are used to hearing. Still, given the restrictions they were under, they did manage to get experimental every once in awhile.
But that simply describes what Pesniary is usually like. Their album Gusliar might be considered their crowning achievement, and has by far the most progressive elements of any of the Pesniary I've heard. Re-released on CD by the Russian Boheme Music label, this definitely has the folk/rock sound they usually had, but for this album they are backed by an orchestra. They have gone deep into "epic prog" territory with an adaptation of Yanka Kupala's Byelorussian poem "Barrow". The entire CD is one 37-minute cut, and in various parts you'll hear brass sections that sound like a cross between Zappa in The Grand Wazoo and the brass section of Chicago, schmaltzy broadway show tunes (or maybe TV theme songs), Gypsy violins, a Russian a capella chorale, and reminders of Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Center of the Earth or maybe The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed. There are also some vaguely Emerson-like Hammond sections, with the orchestra doubling the notes using the string section, sometimes accentuating the percussiveness with pizzicato violins. Lots of sections and changes in mood, tempo and time signature give this CD a very "Classical Music Prog" feel, and they do keep returning to the same motifs over and over to give the overall piece a feeling of cohesiveness.
Another reviewer (outside of the GEPR, see link to EER below) has said it sounds like a high school theater group doing "Hair". Well, that's a bit much, but I certainly see what the guy means. There is an element here of self-important seriousness while playing something that frequently sounds pretty cheezy. Still, this wouldn't be the first prog album to have that problem. Overall, I would have to say this album has plenty of prog touches to keep most symphonic proggers interested, while still keeping a very ethnic folk feel going throughout. There are even a few blasts of brass noise for the avant-garde lovers to listen to. And, though I have no idea what the subject matter of the poetry is, I'm left with the feeling that I've just heard something profound. This CD is not to be missed! A definite recommendation. -- Fred Trafton
|Gusliar contains only one self-titled epic and conceptual composition, stylistically close to the genre of Rock Opera. It was created by the well-known in USSR / C.I.S. composer Igor Lutchenock on the basis of the "Kurghan" poem by the remarkable writer Yanka Kupala (his name sounds almost like Yankee, yet both aforementioned authors are Byelorussians) and arranged within the frames of Rock Music by Pesniary leader Vladimir Mulyavin. From the first till the last note Gusliar is a true "child" of Progressive Rock, as both the vocal and instrumental thematic palettes of the album amaze with richness of colours, and especially of varieties of them. That said, Gusliar definitely induces me to think about its relation to Rock Opera, though already in the fact of creation of such a monolithic epic musical piece on a text basis lies the same idea. First of all, though, it's connected with vocal themes and arrangements, whereas instrumental canvases are so intensive that listening to them I clearly see these are arrangements of the pure Classic Symphonic Art Rock, full of varied and sometimes totally unpredictable breaks and time signatures. Besides typical progressive structures, there are some sonatas of classical music, as well as motives taken from Byelorussian folk music clearly audible, too. Arrangements, made by Vladimir Muliavin, are brilliant. The main instrumental parts are prolonged, in compliance with "the laws of the genre", and the majority of them are sustained in up-tempo with cascades of surprisingly masterful "crossing" solos from all the band's instrumentalists, including some really amazing interplays among both the lead violinists. Vocal themes are also magnificent: composed and sung on the whole in an obvious dramatic key of singing, they practically never repeat themselves, carefully reflecting each emotion of an appropriate text episode, and so they're in constant development all throughout the album. -- Vitaly Menshikov|
to read Vitaly Menshikov's full review on his
ProgressoR web site
Click here for Michael Askounes' review of Gusilar on the Eclectic Earwig Reviews web site
Click here for Boheme's web site
You can mail order Boheme titles by e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org
Mallevs Maleficarvm (88)
Consvming Impvlse (89)
Testimony of the Ancients (91)
|As another and very original example of "extreme-fusion", Pestilence were formerly tightly into pure death metal sound. First two albums are quite brutal even today. But in 1990, the majority of the band decided to continue in more adventurous waters. Tradionally oriented vocalist/bassist went out. For the recording of Testimony of the Ancients, band "hired" Tony Choy, which was at that time still member of Cynic, while recording in Morrisound studio, in Tampa-Florida. Testimony of the Ancients is spawned deeply in dark, symphonic realms (death metal symphony with jazzy (fusiony) rhythms). It is comprised of 16 tunes, 8 longer tracks, and 8 shorter, which lean on experimental with contemporary new musics touch. This may still prove too sour ground for many of GEPR readers, but the next and sadly, the last Pestilence album, Spheres, should be tried by all progsters and at all costs. This may be the sharpest of all but still very fine extreme-fusion album. What I hear on Spheres, is like a mixture of harsh, menacing metal with classic fusion (Cotaiuta, Holdsworth), new jazz (a la Wolfgang Muthspiel), contemporary classical (Bartok, Shostakovich) and horror-atmospheric prog (Goblin). Band also cited Chick Corea, Miles Davis, etc. as their influences. As band has utilized all-sorts of electronic equipment in the studio (which many of their influences could not), they manage to create something frighteningly grandiose. All mentioned elements have fairly molten in the pot, and result is unique "one of a kind" album. But their fans have not much patience for such efforts (they certainly thought it's pretentious, but couldn't express themselves within the meaning of this word) and Spheres (ahead of its time) ended in low selling-rates, too low for the band to continue. Leader and guitarist, Patrick Mameli, has founded new band, Gestalt, for short time, this was less edgy, but nothing was ever released even if it was recorded. So if you like what you have just read, don't hesitate to try at least Spheres. Essential!!! -- Nenad Kobal|
|Links||[See Atheist | Cynic]|
Ascenção E Queda (78)
Petrus Castrus was a symphonic rock band from the progressive scene in Portugal in
the 1970's. Their first album was called Mestre (Master). The music sounds like
Procol Harum, The Beatles,
Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Pink
Floyd. The lyrics are from Portuguese poets. Ballads, guitar solos, humor in the
lyrics and good vocals make this album unique.
The second album, Ascenção E Queda (Arise and Fall) was released in 1978. It has been released on CD as well by a progressive rock label [I have seen some indications that it was released by a Korean company, but I don't know how to tell you to order a copy. -Ed.]. It is a concept album about the history of a new politician and his good leadership of a obscure nation and its ending (in the end he become a dictator). It is a complex album full of piano, narration and effects. -- Arnaldo Pata (heavily reworded by Fred Trafton)
Illustrative Problem (85)
PFS are a trio of reeds, percussion and piano/keyboards/tapes, with help on violin and other instruments. Their music is a very colorful mix of avant-garde stylings, classical, bits of jazz and taped sounds. The sound varies in intensity, sometimes pleasant, sometimes very tense with no release, but always extremely creative and original. Be prepared for something wildly unusual and fairly experimental, and you shouldn't be disappointed. On the other hand, if things that are not metric and highly structured disturb you, then maybe PFS are not what you want to hear. PFS is home-based in San Francisco, and are former members of the group Cartoon. To date they have two releases on Cuneiform, the first from '85 is Illustrative Problems, and while it's a bit more lively, the second release 279 shows more refinement of style and technique. Both are excellent, recommended especially for those musically adventurous folks not bound by the requirement of a standard rock / progressive rock beat.
|I saw this band live: a trio of piano, saxophones and drums. Though a small band, they posess a surprisingly large sound. Their style fits in perfectly among the other Cuneiform bands, so if you like that kind of music, you may well enjoy this band too. -- Mike Ohman|
|Links||[See Cartoon | Trap]|