|Their first album was a total Floyd rip-off, and quite neo-prog, yet has its moments.|
|French band, heavily influenced by mid-period Pink Floyd, with some Camelesque and Oldfieldian hints as well. The sound is rich and warm, with fluid acoustic / electric guitar and keyboard work, and a keen sense of atmospheric presense, in many ways akin to Pulsar's newest Gorlitz. The vocals are quite good, sung in french. Start with Labyrinthe, Floyd fans will not be disappointed.|
News (2/11/04): Phaesis guitarist Dominique Vassart wrote to fill in the remaining
discography (see above) and to let me know that they are in the process of preparing a new
album which should have been ready by the end of 2003 ... but I haven't heard if it was
released or not. Thank goodness for Babel Fish ... Vassart wrote me in French!
News (2/3/06): Phaesis released Puzzle in mid-2005. I have a copy but haven't had a chance to review it yet. But I did like it, and I don't recall it being a particular Floyd rip-off, either. More when I get a chance for a real review. -- Fred Trafton
Phantom Band (80), Freedom Of Speech (81)
Collaboration between Jaki Liebezeit (Can) and Michael Rother (NEU!).
[See Can | Neu!]
Dream Runner (87)
|Wall-of-keyboards pomp-stadium-rock, comparable to Asia. Included are appearances by Don Airey, Cozy Powell, Scott Gorham, and Brian May. Dream Runner is melodic, keyboard-rock with vocals by John Wetton on one track, and Max Bacon on some more.|
|Dream Runner (Parachute Music PARAVP002CD) was a second release from Phenomena, a studio project run by producer Tom Galley with a supporting cast of session aces and a few hardrock heavyweights, has-beens and never-will-bes. The album is typical mid-1980's AOR with booming drums, thin guitars and wispy digital synths, all performed tightly and skilfully but with little evidence of any real passion or ambition. This wouldn't be disastrous if the songs were any good, but for most part the writing is really uninspired, piling cliche upon cliche and heading for instant oblivion. Tellingly, the album's best song is its minor hit single "Did It All for Love" which features John Wetton on vocals and sounds like something from Asia's reject pile (as it happens, this song also features guitarist Scott Gorham and drummer Michael Sturgis who later that year joined Asia for their South American tour, where the band had to include the song in their set list due to popular demand). Elsewhere Max Bacon's vocals give the atmospheric "It Must Be Love" a bit of boost, but otherwise this is a substandard album and certainly of no interest whatsoever to progressive rock fans. We know what they did it all for and it wasn't love ... -- Kai Karmanheimo|
|Links||[See Asia | Wetton, John ]|
Fiendish (03, as Phid3aux)
Ghost Story (04)
The Great Leap (06)
Doomsday Afternoon (07)
Number Seven: a post-pythagorean presentation (09)
7 1/2 (Unreleased)
Original Entry, 8/2/07:
Phideaux' first album (where Xavier spells the band name as Phid3aux) is Fiendish. I'll admit that when he sent it to me, it took me a while to even give it a spin. With the cover art that looks like it was drawn by the girl who sat next to you in the third grade and some photos on the back that make Xavier look like some redneck wandering aimlessy in the woods, I thought, "here's another cheezy DIY in the garage album, do I really want to put this on?" And that name ... I mean, it's obviously a misspelling of "Fido", right? How good can this be?
Well, pretty darn good as it turns out. This isn't your traditional "prog" sounding album at all. In fact, one might say it's got more in common with folk music, due to the importance and dominance of the lyrical content. But while folk tends to be upbeat storytelling or ballads of heroic or tragic happenings, the lyrics on Fiendish tend to be more ... uhm ... challenging. As in "What the heck are we talking about here?" This is actually more in the category of what I call "art rock" than "prog rock", but the dividing line between the two is admittedly blurry. And since the GEPR covers both ends of that spectrum anyway, it would just be splitting hairs to try to categorize it. Suffice it to say that this is a good album in its own right, even while being merely the first shot in a barrage of album releases that just keep getting better over time.
Rather than try to describe each album in detail, I'll just say what they all have in common, to my ears at least. First off is an obvious obsessive focus on studio technique, reminiscent of Todd Rundgren and Brian Eno, making the sound quality as much a part of the album as the individual musicians. Careful equalization, compression/limiting and judicious use of sound effects along with perfect tuning and timing make each instrument or voice stand out in crystal clarity from all the others, setting these albums way apart from the all-too-frequent loosely-timed, poorly-tuned, muddy mush I hear in many self-produced efforts. "Good enough for rock and roll" is, to me, not good enough for prog rock. It's obviously also not good enough for Phideaux Xavier.
Next is the musical composition, which is "modern" in the sense of having been influenced by the kinds of chord progressions and guitar treatments favored by the so-called "edgy alternative" bands. It's easy to draw comparisons to bands like Porcupine Tree in this aspect. Most albums are very guitar-oriented, though studio equalization and effects and use of acoustic and electric styles keep the sound from getting stagnant. Vocals are also important, and Phideaux keeps these interesting with the use of effects on his own voice and by inviting many guest performers to record with him. But there's also an undercurrent of '70's psychedelic sound, in both the guitars and vocal content, though darker and "doomier" than most of the famous '70's psych bands. "Uplifting" isn't the first word that comes to mind when describing Phideaux's albums. "Intellectual", "dark", "artistic" and even "gothic" are more close to the mark, yet it's not much like other bands for which I might use the same words. Phideaux has found a unique voice, and continues to develop it as he continues to produce complex albums at about the same rate that Stephen King produces novels.
Finally, the lyrical content. Xavier's vocals always figure prominently into the albums, which are usually to some extent "concept albums". Or maybe "themed albums" would be closer to the mark, since I frequently have problems figuring out exactly what the "concept" is for most of the albums. Even his latest two releases (The Great Leap and Doomsday Afternoon), which are parts I and II of a trilogy, has lyrics more opaque than T. S. Eliot, but which might as easily be dissected ad nauseum by interested intellectuals for hours while under the influence of their favored beverages or chemicals. Nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean?
Now for the differences. Fiendish can be considered the "baseline" album, debuting the "Phideaux sound" upon an unsuspecting public. Ghost Story is more of a concept album, and has several guests and improved artwork for an even more satisfying overall experience. Chupacabras is probably even more strongly themed, and was the "proggiest" sounding album up to that point. 313 accentuates the psychedelic influences on the band, right up to the Peter Max-like cover art. The Great Leap begins a trilogy including lavish themed insert artwork depicting vacant or crazed humans being tortured by invasive machinery, vampiric cats and demonic foxes (hey, I'm not making this up!). The latest album as of this writing is Doomsday Afternoon, which continues with the lyrical themes and artwork begun in The Great Leap, but with a much more symphonic sound due to the use of both orchestra and synthesizers. It also features a huge cast of guest artists playing various instruments and singing (including IQ's Martin Orford and Discipline's Matthew Parmenter). Doomsday Afternoon may be the most "traditionally proggy" of the releases so far, but it still doesn't sound like anything but Phideaux.
The bottom line is that Phideaux may not be for all GEPR readers, but for those who are looking for something that's truly new and innovative but sounds nothing like Yes, Genesis or ELP (or anyone else for that matter), will find a lot to like in Phideaux. I'd advise starting with The Great Leap and Doomsday Afternoon and then working backwards from there. Thought-provoking and challenging, yet also strangely accessable. -- Fred Trafton
Sometimes when I hear a new release, I can immediately tell if I'm going to like it or not. That's never been the case with a new Phideaux release. I always know it will take a few spins before I really know how I'm going to feel about it. On the first listen to Number Seven, my initial thought was, "Wow. With all these synths and Mellotrons, I should be able to figure this one out more quickly. It's more prog than the last album." Well, yes and no. As usual, I didn't know what to make of this album. It's true there's more synths and Mellotrons ... more keyboards in general, as a matter of fact. And also celt-rock violins, singers that sound like they should be singing backup to a Partridge Family album, acoustic guitar plucking, and some of the most off-the-wall lyrical content you ever wanted to hear, about door mouses (meeses?) and thermonuclear melted cheese. But it didn't really register. It got shuffled to the back of the line for later perusal.
Months later, I finally picked it up again. Perhaps it was because it was my second (or third?) spin. Perhaps I was just in the right mood for it. But this time, it clicked into the right brain cells. Yes, this is a very cool album. A concept album about ensnarement, escape and enlightenment. Or about the struggle between marine and land-based creatures evolving together. Scratch that, it's about being involved in a cult of personality or ideology and how to break free of it. Yeah, it's about all that and more. Or less. Who knows what it's about? It turns your brain on and makes you think about things you normally wouldn't take time to think about. And that's the sort of lyrics I like the best.
Musically, it's all over the map. Xavier decided to keep the line-up "in-house" this time rather than using outside guest musicians, but there are still 10 names listed as being "in the band". There's a huge diversity of styles and instrumentation. There's classical-styled acoustic guitar plucking. Harmonized vocal workouts. Violin, sax and even a lap steel guitar. Odd-metered strangeness and straight-ahead 4/4 classic rock. Lots of keyboards from synths to Mellotrons to organs and pianos acoustic and electric. There's even an Italian prog epic ("Storia Senti") sung in Italian (English translation provided in the CD insert)! You know any other non-Italians who can claim that? Actually, that's probably my favorite cut on the album so far, but that's mainly because it was the easiest to penetrate my preconceptions. I can already tell that some of the less proggy rock sections will start to become favorite parts too, given a few more spins. Which I'm sure this CD will finally receive on my player.
Number Seven is split into 3 sections. I think of them as 3 "sides" of an LP, each "side" being a long movement where all the sections flow together with repeating themes and variations. There is a follow-up album in preparation, to be entitled 7 1/2, which looks like it will be a "side 4" to this suite. It was due to be released at the end of 2009, but this hasn't happened yet as of this writing. I'll let you know when it does. In the meantime, if you haven't heard Number Seven yet, pick it up and let it start seeping into your subconscious. -- Fred Trafton
I recently talked to Phideaux via e-mail, asking specifically about 7½, and he told me this:
"As for the next one 7½ , it is a full length album. We've sort of stalled in the middle of finishing it up, but I have hopes it can be resurrected. This album was begun as we were in the middle of Number Seven and although nothing directly picks up, there are similarities, but approached from a slightly less dense perspective. There is more of a 'band' playing quality to some of the parts. The whole album is a bit like the bronco ribs served to Fred Flintstone so that his car tumbled over. One of the songs, "Star Of Light", is nearly 32 minutes -- which doesn't leave much room for the rest of the pieces. We estimate that there will be either 3 or 4 songs on the album: "Star Of Light", "Out Of The Angry Planet" (which we performed live in France and Pittsburgh) [and] "Strange Cloud" (the song which we have contributed to the Dante's Purgatory project for Musea [See download link below - Ed.]). The fourth song is called "Have No Fear" and is a direct link to Number Seven. However that may be bumped from the album due to time issues."
So there you have it. No firm date for release yet, but I suspect it will happen at some point. I actually have the Purgatory compilation, but haven't listened to Phideaux's contribution yet. I'll need to give it a spin. -- Fred Trafton
7½ is no longer on Phideaux' album list, but a new album Snowtorch has just been released. I don't know if this album is what 7½ morphed into or not ... it does have 3 long songs on it, though none of them are quite 32 minutes in length (see above entry), plus a short "hidden" instrumental at the end, simply titled "." None of the song titles are the ones mentioned for 7½ either, so I'm assuming that 7½ has been back-burnered for the time being and Snowtorch is something else entirely.
As for my impression of the album ... well, it's certainly prog, with interesting organ work, very long songs, oddball studio work, strange lyrics and some sort of concept I'm still wrestling with (click here for the Snowtorch Bandcamp page where you can preview songs, do digital downloads or check out the lyrics ... mouse-over a song title to see the "lyrics" hot spot). Like most Phideaux albums, it will probably take me a few listens before it sinks in. It's definitely promising, but I haven't quite reached any conclusions yet. But I wanted to update the Phideaux entry to include it before the next big GEPR upload. I'll add to this entry when time allows, and once Snowtorch has started to sink in a bit more. -- Fred Trafton
[See Discipline |
Click here for Phideaux's web site
Beau Soleil (90)
Les Elephants Carilloneurs (93)
The Last Word (Le Dernier Mot) (99)
Philharmonie (Le Dernier Mot line-up) - Bernard Ros (Warr guitar),
Volodia Brice (drums) and Frédéric L'Épée (guitars)
Philharmonie is the guitar trio led by Frédéric L'Epée, perhaps better known as the leader of the 70s King Crimson-inspired French band Shylock. He is joined by Bernard Ros and Laurent Chalef in what is essentially a highly energized music developed through improvisation. A comparison to Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists might be in order, yet L'Epée and company take a more subtle and fluid approach and generally tend to eschew Fripp's academic tendencies. The first Philharmonie album from 1990, Beau Soleil, released privately in France and hardly noticed across the water, was a more introspective and gentle effort, utilizing an almost live production with heavy reliance on psychoacoustics. The new album, Les Elephants Carillonneurs ("The elephant bell-ringers") continues on in the same general style as the first, but with a bit more fire and authority, and in general shows a lot of further growth, both in writing and playing style. The compositions are more developed and refined, yet still carry that improvisational feel. Highly recommended.
Philharmonie, for Nord and Rage, are a quartet of Frédéric L'Epée (guitar and fretless guitar), Laurent Chalef (guitar), Bernard Ros (Chapman Stick) and drummer Louis Boutin. On earlier albums, Ros played guitar but his contribution to these albums is purely Stick. Many of you will recognize L'Epée as the former guitarist for the French prog band, Shylock. With Shylock, L'Epée's guitar style was obviously influenced by Robert Fripp, though the band had their own unique voice. Fripp's influence is still evident but, with Philharmonie, L'Epée has made this much less obvious. After Robert Fripp, L'Epée entered a conservatory and studied harmony and counterpoint, among other compositional techniques, the results of which he brings to this band. The eight songs on Nord from 4-16 minutes in length. In this space, Philharmonie explore a wide variety of textures and interwoven themes, which also suggests the manner in which this album should be heard. I think the way to approach this disc is the way you would approach, say, Bach's fugues. Though you can derive great pleasure by just listening to the music, greater insight and enjoyment can be had by studying the arrangement of the contrapuntal "subject and answer" voices, unravelling each guitarist's melody line. The subtleties of the music required many listening sessions to fully understand and appreciate each musician's contribution. Each of those sessions was very pleasurable for me. If this style of sublime guitar interaction is to your taste, then Nord will satiate your appetite.
As for Rage, if I saw an album with this title and knew the band had been compared to King Crimson, I would think of live Crimson circa Red and bands like Anekdoten. That is not at all what Rage is about. If you have heard Nord, you would already have a good idea of what Rage sounds like. The band is unchanged. The most "raging" song is the 4.5 minute "Ouigaa," in which all four members take an aggressive tone and L'Epée turns in some searing guitar work. In contrast is the 5.5 minute "Thesis", in which two quiet guitar lines weave around the brushed snare drums, only occasionally interjected with low growling from Ros' Stick. The remaining five songs songs are 6-7 minutes in length and fall between these two extremes. Deftly intertwined guitar and Stick lines move through several distinct passages in each song, exploring the territory and then moving on to new turf. While songs like "Ouigaa" weren't present on Nord, Rage is not much different than Nord in style. Anyone who enjoyed that album, or guitar work comparable to King Crimson circa Discipline and Beat, the League of Crafty Guitarists, or Prometheus should find Rage to their liking. -- Mike Taylor
Philharmonie is a French quartet that plays in a style strongly influenced by Robert Fripp's recent productions. Nord consists of improvisations on melodic and rhythmic sequences with complex interactions. You can recognize Fripp's "discipline" but also a looser and more sensitive melodic touch. The guitars, essentially electric, go for a sober sound with chorus and echo. A different sound with a flavour that gets tastier with every listen. Rage suggests a more aggressive sound. The improvisation on superb melodic and rhythmic interactions is still present but the guitars now a more raging electric sound. This sound brings them closer the present King Crimson (instrumental version) but maintains the melodic sensitivity that sets them apart. The effectiveness of this peculiar music increases with every listen. -- Paul Charbonneau
Le Dernier Mot (The Last Word) was the fifth and final release for Philharmonie. The group had disbanded in October 1997, but original members Frédéric L'Épée (guitars) and Bernard Ros teamed up with drummer Volodia Brice (Lord of Mushrooms) to record one last album between March and August 1998. -- Fred Trafton, condensed from François Couture's review on the AMG
Though I have not heard their first few albums (like many artists in the GEPR, this is not a band who's complete discography is easily available), both Nord and especially their last, Le Dermier Mot (The Final Word), are superb. Delicately crafted but aggressively executed modern instrumental rock of the highest caliber, these guys are serious, pretentious and absolutely incomparable musicians weaving a tapestry of some of the tastiest progressive music on record. Yes, yes, they have Frippian influences, but in a way, they surpass the master and create a more subtle, more challenging repast. Like an aged Gouda or ripened Brie, Philharmonie may appeal most to a slightly more refined palette. -- David Marshall
[See Lord of Mushrooms |
Click here to
order Philhamonie albums from Cuneiform Records
The Geese And The Ghost (77)
Wise After The Event (78)
Private Parts and Pieces I (79)
Private Parts & Pieces II: Back To The Pavillion (80)
Private Parts & Pieces III: Antiques (82)
Invisible Men (83)
Private Parts & Pieces IV: A Catch At The Tables (84)
Private Parts & Pieces V: Twelve (84)
Harvest Of The Heart (85, Compilation)
Private Parts & Pieces VI: Ivory Moon (86)
Private Parts & Pieces VII: Slow Waves, Soft Stars (87)
Slow Dance (90)
Missing Links Vol. I: Finger Painting (91)
Private Parts & Pieces: New England (92)
Missing Links Volume II: The Sky Road (94)
Sail The World (94)
Dragonfly Dreams (97)
Gypsy Suite (98, w/ Harry Williamson, originally recorded 1978)
Live Radio Sessions (98, Live)
Living Room Concert (98, Live)
Archive Collection Vol. 1 (98)
Missing Links Volume 3 (99)
Radio Clyde (03, Radio show originally recorded in 1978)
Archive Collection Volume Two (04, 2CD, Previously unreleased tracks recorded from 1971-88)
Field Day (05)
1984 (08, Remastered re-release, includes second CD of bonus material)
Anthony Phillips in 1980, during the recording of 1984
Phillips was the guitarist in the original lineup of Genesis, and is featured on their first two albums From Genesis to Revelation and Trespass. His solo music is difficult to describe, as it changes from one album to the next; no two releases are alike. His music ranges from "English" sounding pop to long orchestrated pieces, Electronic music, piano and guitar solos, and so on. Some albums are 100% instrumental, others have various singers including Phillips himself.
The Geese And The Ghost was his first album with Genesis bassist Mike Rutherford co-producing. The sound is on the quiet side, mostly extended instrumentally oriented tracks for two guitars and mini-orchestra. Phil Collins croons on a couple tracks, Phillips on one. Connects nicely with the early Genesis sound.
Wise After The Event contains mostly mid-length cuts and vocals on every track (by Phillips himself). The sound is more of an electric progressive, features John G. Perry (Ex-Caravan) on bass and Michael Giles (Ex- King Crimson) drumming throughout. Also one of the best album covers I've ever seen! Phillips' vocals do get a little annoying at times, though.
Private Parts and Pieces, Back To The Pavilion and Catch At The Tables are all collections of guitar and piano solos, duets, quartets etc. mostly low key instrumental stuff, some very good tracks among them, but for the most part these albums were just assembled from odds, ends and leftovers.
Sides is more Electric Progressive much like Wise After the Event, but a little more Poppy and Accessible. Again features Perry and Giles on Bass and Drums. Dan Owen (Ex-Happy The Man) contributes vocals on two tracks, Dale Newman on another, and the remaining vocals are by Phillips. A very good one.
1984 is a primarily an electronic keyboard album by Phillips with help from Richard Scott and percussion by Morris Pert (Brand X). The whole project has an Oldfieldian quality about it, extended side-long tracks, etc. but the lame drum machine gets a little annoying at times.
Antiques is an album of guitar duets recorded in '81 with Enrique Berro-Garcia. Outstanding.
Invisible Men was an attempt (with Richard Scott again) to create a very intelligent and accessible pop sound, and the result is for the most part quite good - tracks like "Golden Bodies," "Traces" and "Going For Broke" as pop songs work quite well, but a few, like "The Women Were Watching" and "Guru" fall flat lyrically, although the music is still good. A second Invisible Men album was recorded, but has never been released, it's sitting in Phillips' vaults, along with several more unreleased tracks he recorded with Collins on vocals, and tons of other stuff all collecting dust.
Twelve is a collection of 12 twelve string guitar tracks. Not his best.
Ivory Moon is a full album of piano pieces written between 1971 and 1985, and recorded in 1985. No guitar at all! Nice stuff, recommended, but quiet.
Slow Waves Soft Stars is mostly electronic, impressionistic synthesizer music - although some guitar tracks break it up nicely, including two with Enrique Berro-Garcia. Nice, but slow and soft, just like the title says.
In Tarka, composed and performed with Harry Williamson, a mini-orchestra is used to augment the four extended pieces, producing a sound that is reminiscent of Geese and the Ghost. No vocals. Very good, one of his best.
Slow Dance contains two long (25+ minute) pieces with full orchestration; occasionally some guitar surfaces here or there. Very quiet and relaxing, new-agey to the hilt.
Fingerpainting features mainly short electronic based pieces written for television and other electronic odds and ends, a little like Slow Waves, but this one is much more interesting with more variety.
New England is his latest, mostly acoustic guitar or electronic based tracks with soprano sax and guest percussion, very nice, low key.
|I have Sides. A couple of poppish tracks, but mostly lyrical, folkie ballads. There are a couple of monster prog instrumentals, like the chamber music-influenced "Sisters of Remindum" and the Genesisoid "Nightmare" make this one worthwhile. A pleasant diversion from regular Genesis. -- Mike Ohman|
The above two entries were already in the GEPR when I inherited it, but I had never heard any of
Philips' solo works personally. But Voiceprint has recently re-released 1984 in a
2-CD set which includes music that Phillips recorded for a television special called Rule
Brittania at about the same time.
1984, as mentioned by the previous contributor, is an all-electronic album, and the statement that "the whole project has an Oldfieldian quality about it" is a pretty good summary. The main instruments are Polymoog and ARP 2600 for those of you who are into vintage keyboards. Analog keyboards and multi-tracked analog recording techniques ... this is my idea of how electronic albums are supposed to be recorded! Of course, it's tremendously difficult to do, and nobody in their right mind does this any more, but 1984 is a fine example of the art, even if it lost Phillips some of his fans who had considered him to be primarily an acoustic guitarist. The complaint above about the drum machine sound does make a valid point, but I've heard much worse, and this does also feature Morris Pert on real drums in addition to the electronic "boom-chicka-boom" sound of the 1980-vintage drum machine. This album may not be for all prog rockers, but if you like Mike Oldfield or Larry Fast, the quality of this is right up there with them. Good stuff!
The second CD in this re-release includes some early/alternate mixes of the 1984 material, a 16:39 demo entitled "Poly Piece" (mostly a classically-influenced solo piano piece with a bit of string-like synthesized sweetening) and the "Rule Brittania Suite". This "suite" consists of 6 synthesizer snippets, each about one minute long (the longest is 1:43). While interesting, they sound very unfinished ... heck, in my own collection of stuff I recorded on multitrack in the late '70's, I've got short snippets of unfinished work every bit as interesting. Was this stuff actually used on air? I can't quite figure it out from the liner notes ... suffice it to say that this could be a really excellent work if it was more fleshed out. As it is, it's about 7 minutes of filler on a bonus disk. Considering that, I'm willing to say it's pretty cool.
So, a remastered album of excellent electronic symphonic prog plus a bonus disc of related material that sounds a bit primitive. Is it worth it? Heck yeah, this is a great re-release, and if you're a fan of this sort of music at all, by all means you should look into it. One warning: if you think this is going to sound even the slightest bit like Genesis, then forget it. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Anthony Phillips' web site
The White Album (86)
Lawn Boy (90)
A Picture of Nectar (92)
A Live One (95, Live, 2CD)
Billy Breathes (96, Studio)
Slip Stitch and Pass (97, Live)
The Story of the Ghost (98, Studio)
The Siket Disc (98, Studio)
Hampton Comes Alive (99, Live, 6CD)
Farmhouse (00, Studio)
Live Phish 01 through 06 (01, 6 separate live albums)
Live Phish 07 through 16 (02, 10 separate live albums)
Live Phish 17 through 20 (03, 4 separate live albums)
Live Phish 2.28.03 (03, Live)
Live Phish 7.15.03 (03, Live)
Live Phish 7.29.03 (03, Live)
Live Phish 4.2.98 (05, Live)
Live Phish 4.3.98 (05, Live)
Live Phish 4.4.98 (05, Live)
Live Phish 4.5.98 (05, Live)
New Year's Eve 1995 (05, 3CD, Live in Madison Square Garden NY)
Live in Brooklyn (06, 3CD or DVD, Recorded live in 2004)
Colorado '88 (06, 3CD, Recorded live in 1988)
Vegas 96 (07, 3CD MP3 format, Recorded live in 1996)
Joy (09, Studio)
|All the following reviews were inherited from the original GEPR in 2000. I've recently updated their discography, but I've never heard them. -- Fred Trafton|
|Primarily a live band, Phish has the musical innovation and experimentation of a Frank Zappa, but with a sillier and somewhat less cynical sense of humor. They play a very broad range of styles, among them jazz, fusion, bluegrass, salsa, funk, reggae, heavy metal, hardcore, barbershop quartet, and anything you might find in between. The sound that's uniquely their own takes the form of an epic rock song a la early Yes or Genesis, but with wicked and sophisticated polyrhythms and chord changes that are so demented as to be actually harmful to the unprepared ear, alternating with uplifting, almost naively optimistic ten-minute jams. The range of emotions in a given song can be astonishing. All four members (bass, organ/piano, guitar, drums) are great soloists, and the music reflects their love of improvisation by weaving together very intricate lines, and also allowing for constant experimentation on everyone's part. There is a great deal of feedback and chemistry between the players, often resulting in jams which wander off into strange, uncharted territory. The audience's response also plays a significant role in the evolution of a performance. This is a good reason to hear Phish live rather than on tape. They've also been known to cover Frank Zappa, ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Parker, Neil Diamond, Syd Barrett, Led Zeppelin...|
|Phish is a relatively new group that was formed in the mid 80s and has grown in cult stature to be one of the best known underground bands today. Despite their popularity in today's commercially oriented music scene this band is one of the most overtly progressive groups to perform since Gentle Giant! Phish is composed of a guitarist, a keyboardist, a drummer, and a bass player. However, there is no hint of neo-prog here. Trey Anastasio plays through an old tweed covered fender amp and the keyboardist uses all analog keyboards. In fact, they sound so 70's at times it is easy to compare them to Hatfield with a MUCH better guitar player. Phish's stunning performances include songs that seamlessly switch from G-Deadish country to metal to acapella to bebop all in one song! Their compositions are comprised of very dense chord changes, dauntingly intricate counterpoint, fugues, and dissonance. However, the music is always dancable. Phish can, at times, be as intricate as Gentle Giant ever was (no kidding!). They currently have 3 albums all now on CD. Lawn Boy is the first, then came Junta, and recently A Picture of Nectar was released. All three are extremely highly reccommended but start with A Picture of Nectar and you'll NEED the others. Even better, see them live. They have been known to bounce on trampolines while playing and the drummer sometimes plays a vacuum cleaner solo! I saw them once in a roller rink where the guitarist donned a pair of rollerblades and ripper through a solo while skating through the crowd!! Lots o' fun.|
|The lyrics don't make sense most of the time, the keyboard player won't go near a synthesizer, and the music doesn't fit into any category, yet Phish is fast on its way to becoming a Great American Band. (R.E.M., your reign is already in decline-though you may not know it yet.) Phish hail from New England, have been together almost ten years, and their first release on a major label (Elektra) last year confirmed what their fans have been telling everyone for years: this band is hot. Like the Grateful Dead, Phish has built their following on their incredibly exciting live shows. The music is a mixture of rock, jazz, and country, with a heavy emphasis on improvisation. These guys play *really* well together, yet are relaxed enough that they can laugh at themselves while doing it. (They make a religion out of being goofy.) If you like American-oriented country-rock fusion and aren't afraid of silly lyrics (even Gabriel threw some of those at us a long long time ago), and especially if you like the Dead and Dixie Dregs, A Picture of Nectar is a worthwhile CD to get. Nektar is ten times better than their previous Lawn Boy-and their next album should be even better yet. But for a real treat, see if you can track down some live tapes. Phish's latest album, Rift, is their best to date. This band has really matured. No longer is one song "jazzy," another "country-influenced," and yet another a kick-ass rocker (like so much of their wandering albeit finely honed previous album A Picture of Nektar). The many disparate stylistic threads of the music have finally been brought together into a cohesive whole. Adopting a rather loose approach to the concept album structure, Rift follows the strange and often unrelated dreams of a protagonist who is approaching a "rift"-the potential breakup of a love affair. The album features (among quite a few songwriting gems) the incredible "Maze," a progressive tour-de-force that reminds one of classics like Pink Floyd's "Money" and Yes' "Roundabout"; very trippy iconographic cover art which mirrors the wide array of psychological themes presented in the lyrics; and enough irreverent humor to prevent you from ever taking the whole thing too seriously.|
|An very talented band with a sense of humor and extraordinary musicianship. Perhaps not progressive in the stylistic sense, they are in the definitive sense. The meld jazz, rock, bluegrass, country, avant-garde, and nearly anything else you can think of into some of the most dynamic and engaging rock that can be heard today. These guys can boogie better than the best. In concert, they are said to be improvising wonders. Start with A Picture of Nectar.|
|Well, I've only heard one album by these guys (A Picture of Nectar), and I'm not sure that I could call it progressive as such, but it is nonetheless very interesting. They don't seem to have any style of their own, but instead do a pretty wide range of styles, from pop to jazz to salsa to almost country... I can say this: Everything they do they do very well, with a lot of attention to arrangements. They are all excellent musicians, and their songs are full of tight starts and stops and hairpin turns. Busy and complex.|
|I have to concur with general recommendation: See them live! Fabulous players, not above throwing in a few goofy covers, like "Purple Rain." I've also heard Rift, which is pretty good, standing out undeniably progressive on "Maze," a must-hear for those who exaggerate prog's demise. Imagine elements of eighties Crimson, vocal Gentle Giant, perhaps a smidgin of that band's complexity, and a refreshing, post-punk lack of pretension. That sums up Phish's attempts at prog. Not all of it is progressive, but it's still an enjoyable release.|
Click here for Phish's official web site
Click here for Phish's MySpace page
Click here for a Phish fan web site
Vremuri (68, EP)
Floarea Stincilor (69, EP)
Cei Ce Ne-au Dat Nume (72)
Mesterul Manole (73, EP)
Mugur de Fluier (74)
Cantofabule (75, 2LP)
Transsylvania (81, as Transsylvania-Phoenix)
SymPhoenix Timisoara (92, 2LP, as SymPhoenix)
Evergreens (93, Compilation)
Vremuri, Anii 60 (96, Compilation)
Aniversare 35 (97, Compilation)
Ora - Hora (99, maxi CD)
In Umbra Marelui Urs (00)
All I have is Cantofabule and some will say that is their best while
others will say that Cei Ce Ne-au Dat Nume is their best.
Cantofabule is a very good album that blends hard rock w/some nice
bass licks and emotional vocals. Their vocalist is much like that of
Metamorfosi so fans of
vocals may find some similarities. Cantofabule opens up with an
excellent 15 minutes (covering 2 tracks) of material that takes you to the
darkest castles of Carpathia with it's Romanian folk sound and powerful
vocals. The album closes out strong too with it's last 2 tracks.
My only problem is that much of what is in-between (this is a double LP) is unmemorable and very western-sounding in a hard-rock sort of way and the band does not do much that we have not already heard before. Nevertheless, Phoenix is one of the few bands from Romania (Sfinx is another one that crosses my mind) and they are definitely worth checking out. Vocals in Romanian. -- Betta
Phoenix was influenced by several British/Western European bands, but managed
to create its own unmistakable style by extensively/intelligently using elements of
Romanian traditional music. Phoenix was the best, or at least the best known,
Romanian rock/progressive rock outfit. The band was highly popular in the 1970s, and
then developed a huge cult following in the 1980's, after most of its members emigrated
to West Germany and the Romanian communist authorities banned their music.
Phoenix was one of the very few Romanian bands that managed to, or was allowed to, produce three albums in only a few years in the 1970's. The band's music on these three albums was a mixture of rock/progressive rock and Romanian traditional music (the latter notable in the rhythms, melodies, the use of traditional instruments, percussion and unison singing). Their style influenced several other Romanian bands, especially Celelalte Cuvinte in the 1980s.
The beginnings of Phoenix can be traced back to the 1960s. Two EPs were released during this period, featuring several original compositions, hardly memorable in my opinion (altough quite successful), and two covers of (I think) Beatles' songs. The band fully developed its trademark style on the first LP. Cei Ce Ne-Au Dat Nume (translation: "Those Who Gave Us A Name") is probably the hardest of the three albums. The album opens with "Ciclul Anotimpurilor" ("The Seasons' Cycle"), a long suite that includes five adapted Romanian traditional pieces, and three more or less rock songs in between symbolizing the seasons. After "Nunta" ("The Wedding"), a 4-minute rock hit, comes "Negru Voda" ("King Black"), a 15-minute monster song, probably their best known piece. It starts with a traditional-sounding theme played on violin, which is then developed into a full song when the band joins in. The violin returns after a couple of minutes, and the whole cycle is repeated a few times and further developed. Some great soloing is also featured. The album closes with "Pseudo-Morgana" ("Pseudo-Mirage"), a "meditative" instrumental piece subsequently used in a Romanian movie, along with a couple of tracks from the next album.
Mugur De Fluier ("Shepherd's Flute Bud") is their mellowest album, featuring mostly shorter songs, with folk influences. Romanian traditional music influences are also abundant. The longest tracks are particularly notable. "Strunga" ("The Sheepfold") is an amazing, ethereal piece that opens with a beautiful melody played on shepherd's flute. The band joins in and the song slowly grows in intensity until the release comes several minutes later in the form of a very short, angry, but effective guitar solo. The intensity then decreases and the shepherd's flute melody returns to close the track in a perfect circle. Amazing. I would include this piece in a best-ever list without hesitation. "Dansul Codrilor" ("Forest Dance"), another long piece, closes the album. It is a heavy, angry song (featuring an insane backward violin solo) that probably would have fit better on their next album. Mugur De Fluier also includes several short beautiful ballads, one of which ("Andrii Popa") was still getting a lot of air time on Romanian radio in the 1980s, but to circumvent the official ban was being credited to the band's lead vocalist (who actually wrote the song, and had not left the country).
The third album was Cantofabule ("Chanted Fables"), a 2LP now available on one CD. The Romanian traditional music influences seem to be less obvious here, but they are still present (better blended in the music I guess). An amazing example is the 2-minute intense, melancholic "Stima Casei" ("The Pixie of the House"). The album's opener, "Invocatie" ("Invocation") is yet another 12-minute classic, featuring a Romanian actor (who supported many Romanian underground bands) reciting a portion of the song's words to a great effect (he was also featured on other Romanian bands' albums in subsequent years). Other notable pieces are "Cintic-lu A Cucuveaua-liei" ("Owl Song"), an 8-minute heavier song, complete with backward violin, "Zoomahia" ("The War of the Beasts"), a mostly instrumental experimental piece, and "Delfinul Dulce Dulful Nostru ("Our Sweet Dolphin").
After leaving Romania, the band released an album in West Germany (see Transylvania-Phoenix), which I have not heard. They returned to Romania in the 1990s, after the fall of communism, for some live work. They also released two original albums, SymPhoenix Timisoara (arguably, the band's name was SymPhoenix on this one) and In Umbra Marelui Urs ("In the Shadow of the Great Bear"), which in my opinion lack the vitality of their '70s albums (also, some tracks are new versions of old songs). That being said Phoenix remains the most important chapter in Romanian rock music and its influence will hardly be surpassed.
The first three albums have been re-released on CD in the 1990s, the first two by Electrecord, the old Romanian (formerly?) government-owned recording company, and the third by the band's leader. These albums are now also available in North America from one U.S. Internet website. [see link below]. -- Vlad Sasarman
Phoenix (76), In Full View (80)
The Adventures of the King (01)
Phoenix Eye - Mic Myette (guitars, a bit of bass), Julien Valiquette (keyboards, vocals
and a bit of flute)
I read a review of Phoenix Eye (on their web site) which called them "neo-prog". This made me mad enough to almost go off on another of my tirades against the term "neo-prog", but I've decided to spare you that for this review. Let's just say that, according to any definition I've ever heard of "neo-prog" (other than "a band that put out prog music after 1982"), this band is not that. Phoenix Eye would be much better described as a '70's style power keyboard band, though this one also has an excellent guitarist.
Phoenix Eye is just two Canadian guys, Julien Valiquette (keyboards/vocals) and Mic Myette (guitars), and on this album they're augmented by two excellent guest musicians, Martin Maheu (although the credits omit the final "x", this is drummer Martin Maheux from Spaced Out) credited with "some" drums and Denis Labrosse on fretless bass. These guys have created a stunning concept album of high-energy prog entitled The Adventures of the King. The "concept" here is relatively loose, ostensibly being about a king who's persecuting an artist who painted his portrait with "hands that aren't so clean". However, there's not much of a plot here ... it's not a "storytelling" kind of concept album ... but the lyrics are all about the abuse of power by politicians and the effect this has on people.
Musically, it's fairly obvious that Julien Valiquette is a fan of Keith Emerson (need I say "of ELP and The Nice"?), and his mix of ELP keyboard bombast, jazzy fusion stylings and also some Canterburian leanings are reminiscent of his countryman Guy LeBlanc (Nathan Mahl). The guitar stylings also borrow from a number of sources, most notably Allan Holdsworth and Frank Zappa, plus the usual assortment of power chords and hard rock riffs. Both players are excellent, smooth and energetic.
Every cut on this album has its charms, but my favorites are the Zappa-like "Just the Same", "Contrasts II" (containing "forbidden harmonies") and the finale, "Land of Reality" with a very Zappaish spoken section, like on Apostrophe. The ELP-derived cuts are also among my favorites, including "A Thousand Years" (reminiscent of "Bitch's Crystal"), "Promises" (which has Hammond in the vein of "Living Sin") and finally "Contrasts II" which doesn't sound like any particular ELP tune but just has that sound. There's also a great fusion piece, "Contrasts" that shows off guest Denis Labrosse's talents on fretless bass with a cut that could be off a Bruford album except for the organ parts.
All in all, a spectacular debut album. If I had to say something negative, if I had my way in producing it, I would have made "The Other Side" more spacey and had a guest (female?) vocalist sing this one. This is the only song where Valiquette's voice seems too harsh for the composition. Still, this is a minor quibble for a totally fantastic album. Highly recommended! And definitely not just for fans of Pendragon! -- Fred Trafton
[See Spaced Out]
Click here for Phoenix
Eye's web site
Concerto Delle Menti (73)
A really interesting band where the originality is that they didn't sing but acted the songs.
Sheer Profundity (82)
Fusion prog with a funk touch.
Boost The Signal (94)
Crossing the Sound (98)
Also several MP3.com DAM releases, though Phreeworld doesn't consider these to be "real" releases
Phreeworld - Dave Wheeler (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Mark Phraner
(vocals, electric, slide, and acoustic guitars, keyboards), Don Freeborn (drums,
vocals) and Brian Phraner (vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards)
Phreeworld wins the prize as both one of the most underrated prog bands working today, but also may win for the largest MP3.com web site I've ever seen from a prog band [... now a moot point since MP3.com is defunct -Ed.]. You can spend about three and a half hours just listening to all of it (that's what Brian Phraner told me at least, and I'm inclined to believe him). I've heard both their latest studio album, Crossing the Sound and a collection of live material that Brian sent to me, much of which is available on MP3.com. In a word, "excellent"!
"Freeworld" is the opener, full of guitar synths and vocals singing the wierdest harmonies you can imagine without ever being harsh ... the harmonies are very beautiful, just unexpected. This is a great signature song for the album, setting the mood for what is to come with the lush vocal harmonies and "American Canterbury" sound, reminding me of such other American purveyors of the art such as Happy the Man, Underground Railroad and even French TV. "China" starts out with a heavier, almost Prog Metal strum before moving to double-guitar counterpoint arpeggios and more vocal harmonies. It's amazing how these songs use fairly simple "song" type structures and with no overly gymnastic rhythms or dissonances, and yet they scream "PROGRESSIVE!" with every bar. This is all about finesse instead of just being wierd for the sake of it.
"Perfect Prison" is the lament of a sailor (or cabin boy?) trapped on a sailing ship and being forced to go where the Captain commands. The style here is mostly acoustic strumming and harmonizing voices reminiscent of America (yes, I do mean the folk-rock band that did "A Horse with No Name"). "Gates Walk" reprises this style, but alternates between that and King Crimsonish dark and heavy guitar with a Frippian solo. A seemingly stark contrast that nonetheless works perfectly for this song. Don't let the America comparison throw you ... these are both spectacular tunes.
Three songs are named after major arcana of the Tarot cards: "The Hermit", "The Empress" and "The Chariot". The lyrics don't seem to have much to do with the cards, though each of these seem to have particularly meditative and abstract words, reminiscent of Jon Anderson at his most Tales from Topographic Oceans-ish opacity. "The Hermit" is in 7/8, but it sounds so natural that you have to count it to notice it's in an odd meter. It has some 80's King Crimson type guitar/bass sequences going on in the background, but the foreground part of the music keeps it from sounding like KC at all. "The Empress" actually has a bit of "Seattle Grunge" sound to the melody line (Phreeworld is a Seattle band, so this may have been done on purpose), though the dense vocal harmonies and orchestration make it pretty hard to hear this. "The Chariot", in 6/8 time, is arguably the highest energy piece on the album with interlocking counterpoints that make it sound like Fripp playing Bach, until it comes to a screeching halt in a beautifully alien and delicate garden of soft and beautiful melody. This last part is super thick in a Hackettish way, very symphonic and lush but all done with sustained guitar timbres instead of keyboards. Prog rock at its best.
I've named most of the cuts on the album, but that's not to say the other tunes are any less excellent. I must say there's not a bad song on the whole album. Crossing the Sound is no less than a modern progressive rock classic, and you'll be the poorer if you miss it. I've heard that it was recently remixed, though I don't know if I have the original or the remix. Whichever, I give this album my highest recommendation!
Oh, I do have to say one thing about the live cuts too. These guys manage to sound as almost as good live as they do on their studio album ... perhaps a bit of looseness in some parts and the mix isn't quite as good, but everything in the lush studio orchestration and vocal harmonies exists in the live performance as well. Wish I could have caught them at The Progman Cometh Festival in 2002. Word is they were great. Check out some of their live stuff on their MP3.com site [... too late ... -Ed.]. My only gripe: come on, guys, isn't it about time for a new studio album? It's been four years now! I want more of this! -- Fred Trafton
Eureka!! This is progrock at its finest! Move over Yes.
Dream Theater, step aside please. I am going to
attempt the impossible as I cannot possibly say enough good things about Phreeworld. I
came up admiring Yes, adoring Chris Squire's Fish Out of
Water, awed by Canadian spacerock legends FM at the Cellar
Door in Georgetown, D.C., and adulating Steve
Hackett's mastery of infinite guitar. And above all remains
Happy the Man. Filling my head now is an amazing blend
of ALL the best of those aforementioned heroes and more. Dave Wheeler is vocals and
guitars. Mark Phraner is vocals, guitars and keys. Brian Phraner is vocals, bass, more
guitars and keys. Don Freeborn is the heartbeat drums and yes, more vocals. Polished,
compelling, angelic vocals abound, like Jon Anderson
reborn, like Cameron Hawkins of FM back again, and even
Queensryche's Geoff Tate styled delivery appears.
"Freeworld", "China", "Solar Spectra" and "Gates Walk" have a wonderfully strong FM/Black Noise and Surveillance feel. "The Hermit" was very Fish Out of Water with that Steve Hackett sensitivity. "The Empress", oh so much Yes, but better? -- absolutely slayed me emotionally. Yeah, the vocal harmonies made this old reviewer's heart melt and tears welled up. Absolutely majestic work here. "Wardrums" is phat-progrock, heavyweight progression balanced by sweet airy ballad "Perfect Prison". The big Happy the Man meets Happy Family meets Magma surprise was the whole-tonal, frenzied, 78 rpm intro on "The Chariot". Yowza, what an end of the CD wake-up call! When you think your disc player is about to melt they space out into a Close to the Edge introspective, meditative, quicksilver-quiet sea as etheric vocals peel away reality. I sailed away wanting more . . . more . . . more . . . Highly recommended. Even the CD's packaging is art-rock, superb, and spares no expense! -- John Patterson (of the Eclectic Earwig web site, used with permission).
Click here for the Phreeworld web site
Click here for Phreeworld's page on the ProgRadio web site
Click here to see some pictures of Phreeworld playing at The Progman Cometh festival in 2002
Picchio Dal Pozzo (76)
Abbiamo Tutti I Suoi Problemi (80)
Camere Zimmer Rooms (01, recorded in 1977 live to tape)
Picchio dal Pozzo
I have Picchio dal Pozzo's self-titled release which is, at least in part, an excellent blend of jazz and progressive rock ala Celeste. The similarity to Celeste is no surprise as two members of Celeste guest on a couple of tracks. Also, Picchio dal Pozzo's keyboardist guested on Celeste's beautiful Principe di un Giorno. However, that's not adequate to describe their style. There is evident Gong-like space fusion in some songs with swirling moog, xylophone and other percussion, space voices and even horn fading in and out of the background. Combine this with miscellaneous voices, sounds, small dashes of RIO and a Canterbury sense of humor. Thus mixed, you have the unique (and difficult to describe) sound of Picchio dal Pozzo. You'll also hear flute, sax, guitar and electric piano throughout. You'll only hear Italian vocals on one song. Excellent Italian prog for those with a sense of humor and adventure. -- Mike Taylor
I managed to provide myself both Picchio-albums, although this is not the
easiest task on this planet. More about availability later, more important
is to say that these two albums rank very high among the best creations in
PDP epoynimous debut is heavily Cantebury inspired prog-fusion. I’ve seen this band written-off as a Hatfield clone. Well, things are not that simple. Their debut is a pleasant blend of first Hatfields and Trilogy-era Gong, salted with some Heldonish pyrotechnics and peppered with few RIOisms. Instead of Gong, it may be better talk about Celeste comparisons, with whom Picchio’s shared members, but having in mind throngs of gnomes heading into center of town on front-cover, Gong seems more appropriate comparison. At least on A-side, band holds the offset of both mentioned Cantebury powerhouses. With the closing numbers they drift weightless through the spacescapes out into nowhere. I must admit that is A-side one of the best A-sides in prog. Me is also very pleased with hella cool sax-led parts of "Napier". This is pretty indispensable piece of art for any prog-fan. Perhaps PDP encountered some of the critics mentioned earlier, because ...
... their farewell album proves to be their own and much less easy to digest. This could be lost classic of RIO, because rock-elements are put in severe opposition. The whole thing is a revelation of sound, which was appraised by Tipographica in 90’s, though less complicated and quite listenable (when compared to Tipographica). Odd meters shift and so does different themes. Harmony and color are both well-utilised. Dissonances are not that present, but they can be caught here and there. Some Hatfield, Zappa and Henry Cow may be felt through the sonic molasses but for the most time this is PDP’s very own brilliant release. It's coming somewhat close to Dün in category of effectiveness of the performance and it is definitely a complementary release to Stormy Six' Macchina Maccheronica from the same year. The CD I possess is from Japanese source, sadly none other exists. As liner notes are written in Japanese I can't tell you anything more about it. Purchased through ReR this is probably the most expensive item I had ever bought, but it is definitely worth every penny. Let the price not thwart your purchase ambitions. Both are warmly recommended. -- Nenad Kobal
The Bones of All Men (98)
|Of interest primarily to those who enjoyed the first Gryphon album or who are obsessive Fairport Convention / Richard Thompson enthusiasts. Pickett, an early music specialist with connections to the British folk community, took some Renaissance tunes and arranged them for period woodwinds and keyboards and modern guitars, bass and drums, and drafted several past and present members of Fairport Convention for the recording. I'm not sure that this can really be called "progressive rock," but I don't know any other category where such a Renaissance/rock hybrid could fit. It's pleasant listening but a little too well-behaved. It's saved from blandness by Thompson's stinging guitar, and the best moments are those in which he cuts loose and plays like Richard Thompson. -- Don McClane|
|Links||[See Fairport Convention]|
In Progress (00?)
Picklelegaz - Philip van der Mark (Keyboards),
Marc Brobbel (Keyboards), Marcel van den Berg (Bass), Harry Steen (Guitar),
Jan Willem Meijer (Drums), Ernst Brobbel (Vocals). Not pictured - Wilco Duijverman
who will take over vocals while Ernst is away for awhile.
By the way, "Picklelegaz" doesn't mean anything, it's a nonsense word. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Picklelegaz' home page|
Pierrot Lunaire (74)
Pierrot Lunaire represent the lesser-known, avant-garde wing of Italian progressive rock.
Of the band's original line-up of Arturo Stalteri (keyboards, flute, percussion, vocals),
Gaio Chiocchio (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and Vincenzo Caporaletti (guitars, bass, drums),
Stalteri has in fact continued making music that has more to do with modern classical
and avant-garde than with progressive rock. Pierrot Lunaire's two albums, on the other
hand, have lot to do with the essence of progressive.
Pierrot Lunaire (M.P. Records MPRCD 007D) is essentially a folk-based cycle of shortish compositions, full of pearly acoustic guitar, lush and lambent piano and affable vocal melodies with a typically Italian profile. Yet a progressive feel is ever present in the arrangements, from Caporaletti's infrequent, screeching distortion guitar stabs to Stalteri's omnipresent and richly inventive keyboard arrangements, which suffuse everything with nimble and beautiful piano and sparkling synthesizer. The album highlights include the superimposed pianos and guitars that spell out the stern mediaeval melody of "Ouverture XV"; the gorgeous symphonic cavalcade of "Sotto i ponti"; and the hide-and-seek between spinet, hyperkinetic piano and a hazy female voice in "Arlecchinata", a song that swings effortlessly from romantic rhapsodising to Tom and Jerry chases. This is an album that will quite probably strike the listener as tuneful but shallow on first listen, but further exposure will reveal it to be just as intricate and experimental as the big-name Italian progressive bands in their prime, just far less bombastic and flashy in its execution.
Gudrun (M.P. Records MPRCD 008D) is far more avant-garde a work, supposedly a conceptual suite about the Second World War as seen through the eyes of some cosmic female being called Gudrun, who was created by the same collision of astrological forces that caused the War (straight history book stuff, then). Vocalist Jacqueline Darby had replaced Caporaletti, and she provides both classically pure operatic singing, as well as often very tortured sprechgesang of the kind that reminds of the Schönberg song cycle the band took their name from.
The album is staggering collage of diverse musical ideas ranging from atonal voice/synthesizer duets to Satie-like piano minimalism; from shimmering, Popol Vuh-like guitar and synthesizer drones to passionate if perturbing symphonic rock with anguished operatic vocals; from mediaeval harpsichord recitations to the alien ether where jeering synths ricochet dissonantly from distortion guitar slashes under near-independent vocal meditations. Found sounds abound, from radio announcements to street noises, but there is tuneful material as well, only presented in the most unusual juxtapositions. For example, "Plaisir d'amour" takes the grandiose melody of an 18th century chanson, has it first solemnly sung by Darby against a wall of undulating synthesizer noise, then gives it a presto reprise on a piano over what sounds like a tabla solo and a subdued rendition of an Algerian folk melody. Other bits of popular music history are appropriated and mangled with the usual avant arrogance, as the album crosses boundaries of musical genres and epochs with a stream-of-consciousness ease. Perhaps only Franco Battiato's Fetus and Pollution have managed such a creative and still almost completely successful amalgamation of eclectic styles. One of Italy's weirdest and best. Unlike the earlier Japanese CD pressing (Edison ERC-32008), this one has two alternate, instrumental versions of album tracks as a bonus, but they add little to the actual masterpiece. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Pig Farm on the Moon - the only picture I've been able to find
I'm ashamed to admit that this is one of the gems that has been languishing in my "to do" stack for the last five years. It's really unfair because Pig Farm on the Moon is a really excellent band. Or maybe "were" an excellent band is closer to the mark, because 2002's Orbital is the only work by them I've been able to locate, and the band has no web presence at all aside from the CD Baby offering, and even that's out of stock at the moment. Their label Musical Mind also seems to now be defunct.
I've read many other reviews of this band, comparing them to everyone from Marillion to Porcupine Tree to Dream Theater. I say "nonsense". PFOTM doesn't sound like any of them, nor much of anyone else either. This is a really unique style of melodic, analog synth-heavy and occasionally guitar-powerful prog rock. I hear a lot of '60's guitar stylings mixed with more metallic timbres, a keyboardist who has more than a passing knowledge of "electronica" synth music and a lyricist who must have dabbled in mind altering chemicals. Orbital is really a sort of rock opera, though the story is about as warped as it can get (and sung in perfect English too!). Check out this story line (from the album liner notes):
"There's a huge farm on the moon, where pigs live peacefully, sheltered under the beautiful image of The Blue Sphere. Once they were speechless, they tried over and over again to communicate their thoughts and feelings without any success. It wasn't until the Harvesting Age when they found sense by combining sounds and silence. The Magic power was brought to the moon by a chosen kid, owner of the gift of making music just by looking at the movement of the stars. This is how they learned to talk, the way they chose to rediscover their past, and how they were ejected from their Blue Home forever. Orbital is only an approach to an inner world that seems so far, but we can assure is not." Wow. Pass that doobie over here, willya? And the song lyrics are even further out. I'm not sure what they're talking about really, but this would be a great album to discuss to death with someone who enjoys these sort of lyrics as much as I do.
But all joking aside, Orbital is a real masterpiece. I've seen some complaining about the studio work ... but I think everything sounds just the way the band wanted it to. I really liked this album, and if I had a "stars" rating system, I'd give them five out of five. Or maybe I'll just watch the stars go by and hear the music in my head. Hey, who's bogarting that doobie anyway? -- Fred Trafton
PFOTM's former domain name http://www.pigfarmonthemoon.com appears to be for sale.
Click here to order Orbital on CD Baby when it comes back into stock.
Piirpauke 2 (76)
Birgi Bühtüi (81)
Live in der Balver Höhle (81)
Soi Vienosti Murheeni Soitto (82)
Live in Europe (83)
Ilahu Illalla (84)
The Wild East (86)
Global Servisi (90, comp.)
Tuku Tuku (91)
Terra Nova (93, aka Muuttolinnut)
Metamorphosis (Live 1977-1995, 2CD) (95)
Live in der Balver Höhle (96, CD release of 1980 live album)
Ave Maria (??)
Laula Sinakin (??)
Kalevala Spirit (??)
Laulu Laineilla (??)
|Finnish all-instrumental folk band. I have Birgi Butui and Vienosti .... They mainly do adaptations of traditional Finnish folk songs. However, they also cover several Turkish folk tunes and even some South American ones. Birgi Buhtui is the best of the two and combines folk, prog and jazz with interesting results. At times, it sounds similar to fellow Scandinavians Secret Oyster, but not as good. Vienosti is almost straight ahead Finnish folk, plus a cover of a Colombian song which fails to keep my interest. If you have never heard them, you are not missing a whole lot. Overall rating: nice but no cigar. -- Juan Joy|
|Piirpauke's main claim to progressive fame appears to be the guest-starring role of Wigwam guitarist Jukka Tolonen on the Zerenade album. Their web site gives album titles mot not release years. -- Fred Trafton|
[See Tolonen, Jukka]
Click here for the Piirpauke web site
Dym (Smoke) (82)
Tanets Volka (Dance of the Wolf) (84)
Rodom Nietkuda (Come from Nowhere) (88)
Nemnogo Ognia (Bit Fire More) (94)
Vampirskie Pesni (Vampire's Songs) (95)
Zhen'-Shen' (Gin-Seng) (96)
Steklo (Glass) (97)
Pit' Electrichestvo (To Drink the Electricity) (98)
Egyptianin (Egyptian) (01)
Choozoy (Another's) (02)
Govorit i Pokazyvaet (Speaks and Shows) (03)
Ten' Vampira (The Shadow of the Vampire) (04)
|Piknik has been described as a hardrock band reborn as keyboard-reliant new-wavers. I have only heard half a dozen songs from various albums, but they would seem to corroborate the description. Longish, minor-dominated songs in mid-to-slow tempos, built on glum vocals, heavily chorused guitars and slightly "gothic" walls of keyboards (to go with the band's vampire-filled image), occasionally interrupted by an odd solo or riff of metallic ancestry. Quite competent music, but nothing strikes as particularly progressive here. Most of their early albums were re-recorded for CD release in accordance with 1990s sound standards. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Der grosse, rote Vogel (71)
Swirling organ-based prog.
Abducting the Unicorn (01)
Variations on a Dream (04)
10 Stories Down (05)
Little Man (06)
What We Have Sown (07)
Tightly Unwound (08)
3000 Days (09, 2CD Compilation)
The Pineapple Thief
The Pineapple Thief was started by Bruce Soord in 1999, initially as his solo effort. The name is derived from an obscure American film called Eve's Bayou, in which there is a scene where a young girl steals a pineapple. The debut album Abducting the Unicorn rose from the ashes of Bruce's former band, Vulgar Unicorn and was released on Cyclops Records. Bruce released the follow up, 137 in 2001 and Variations on a Dream in 2003. The desire to perform live led to the formation of a full band, which originally consisted of Jon Sykes (bass), Wayne Higgins (guitars), Matt O'Leary (keyboards) and Keith Harrison (drums).
Two further albums followed, 10 Stories Down (2005) and Little Man (2006). During this period the band line up shifted around with Wayne Higgins and Matt O'Leary leaving and Steve Kitch stepping in to replace Matt on keyboards. In 2007, the band fulfilled their contractual obligations to Cyclops with the release of What We Have Sown, and then switched labels to Kscope (a division of Snapper Music). The band then recorded their seventh album, Tightly Unwound in 2008, the inaugural release on the Kscope label. In 2009, Kscope released a 2CD compilation from the band's 10-year history, remastered by Soord, including some alternative versions and mixes.
The Pineapple Thief will be touring, its latest announced gig being at NEARFest in the USA in the summer of 2010. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for The Pineapple Thief's web site
Click here for The Pineapple Thief's page on the Kscope web site
Click here for The Pineapple Thief's Facebook page
Fossil Culture (99)
Schizotrope: Life and Death of Marie Zorn (99)
Event and Repetitions (02)
Metatron (06, 2CD)
De l'Un et du Multiple (08)
Keio Line (08, w/ Merzbow)
Metal/Crystal (10, 2CD, w/ Merzbow)
Rhizome (11, w/ Merzbow)
Paris 2008 (11, Live, Limited edition (500) vinyl LP only, w/ Merzbow)
Chronolyse is a wonderful CD full of both an incredible Crimson like jam as well as some very interesting keyboard experimentation. Very moody. Entire CD is based around the book "Dune."
Richard Pinhas and Heldon are nearly synonymous, in fact the lineup on the solo albums often involve people from Heldon, I suppose the difference is that on the solo albums Pinhas writes all the material. Refer to Heldon for a description of the sound. The first half of Chronolyse contains some pretty lame sequenced electronic garbage, but the last half is a sidelong masterpiece of sonic intensity. East-West contains shorter, more accesible trax (if you could consider anything by Heldon/Pinhas poppy, this would be it) L'Ethique is an excellent one that screams with intensity. His latest DWW is also very good, mixing electronic compositions with other tracks featuring a full band sound: Features P. Gauthier, B. Paganotti, J.P. Goude, and others.
L'Ethique is a release by the leader of Heldon, from the early eighties. The influences that pervaded their earlier releases, moody electronic sound collages, still persist, though to slightly more accessible effect. On this release, he is assisted by some members of Magma.
I heard this sounded like Crimson. I bought Chronolyse and East/West, and didn't really get into either of them much. I still don't see the Crimson comparison.
Pinhas was the guitarist and creative force behind the legendary French band, Heldon. In many ways, his own solo work is no different from Heldon and, in fact, many songs on Pinhas' solo albums are performed by Heldon. I have five Pinhas albums, from Rhizosphere through L'Ethique.
Rhizosphere is a departure from his Heldon work. On this album, Pinhas never touches the guitar. All compositions are performed on Moog 55 (the big moog) and ARP 2600 synthesizers. Except for drums (by Francois Auger) on the nearly 18 minute title track, all music is performed by Richard. Pinhas creates a variety of timbres and tonalities: bird-like chittering; sounds vaguely reminiscent of vibraphones or echoey tubular bells; thin, sinuous and reed-like notes; and, of course, fat and low pulses like only the moog can do. The obvious comparisons are to Tangerine Dream circa Phaedra (or some of Edgar Froese's solo work such as Epsilon in Malaysian Pale) and Klaus Schulze's mesmerizing work on the monumental Timewind, also Mirage or Body Love. "Rhizophere" is a duel between Pinhas' pulsating moog textures and Auger's non-stop drum riffing. At the beginning, Pinhas plays blasts of cold, sterile noise while Auger emphasizes the bleak textures with shimmering cymbal work. Soon, Richard kicks in with pulses of bass while the upper register slowly mutates through different tonal palettes. Auger eases among tom-toms and cymbals. Without rushing, Pinhas picks up the pace and Auger keeps step until both musicians are fending off each other with furious intensity. These are classic, inventive electronic works of thick texture and rich sonic variety. Additional material recorded at this time was released on Chronolyse.
Chronolyse contains a side of thematic variations performed by Richard on a Moog (the large console variety) and Revox tape machine. The rhythmic experiments sound perhaps a bit like Tangerine Dream in a rut. While this is nothing to get excited about, the second side is a killer 30 minute track, "Paul Atreides," performed by one version of Heldon: Didier Batard (bass), Francois Auger (percussion) and Pinhas (guitar, Mellotron and ARP synths). Here we have all that is Heldon and Pinhas: dark and haunting textural layers of synth and Frippian guitar pierced by steely blasts of Mellotron. (It should be noted that Pinhas was a huge fan of Robert Fripp / King Crimson, titling songs after or dedicating songs to King Fripp and his band.)
Iceland followed a few years later (the tracks on Chronolyse were recorded in '76 but released much later) and is quite different from Chronolyse. The music is all guitar and electronics by Pinhas except for the closing track which features the Heldon trio again. Envision Iceland (the country) at the midnight of winter and you've imagined this album. Icy blasts of synth are intertwined with guitar over dark and despairing layers of more synth. It's easy to imagine a frozen tundra where cold winds reign and life struggles to survive as the music here is very stark. "Greenland," the track performed as a trio, is closer to Heldon / Pinhas in style but, like the country, is still very cold. The CD release offers a 25 minute bonus called, in keeping with the theme, "Wintermusic." An excellent piece, "Wintermusic" is very ambient with Frippertronics-styled layers of sound. East/West is a mixed bag, ranging from Heldon-like pieces (the two part "Houston 69" are, by far, the standout tracks) to ambient pieces written by David Bowie to techno-pop territory. The uneven nature of this release makes it a poor introduction to Pinhas.
L'Ethique, however, finds Pinhas back in fine form with furious doses of his Fripp-influenced guitar (on "Dedicated to K.C." for example) and his layers of pulsating moog. Guests on various cuts include members of Heldon (as usual) and Weidorje. We find simple melodic experiments ala side one of Chronolyse, more icy works ala Iceland, and aggressive blasts of guitar and synth ala Heldon.
Finally, Live, Paris 1982 is 37 minutes of previously unreleased live material included on Cuneiform's reissue of Rhizosphere. Recorded live at Bobino, Paris, this recording documents the final concert of the Richard Pinhas band. In addition to Pinhas, long-time Heldon / Pinhas associate Patrick Gauthier contributes moog, ex-Magma bassist Bernard Paganotti plays bass and Clement Bailly is the drummer, all of whom performed on L'Ethique. A dynamite performance in all ways, the Weidorje-like bass heavy rhythm provided by Paganotti and Gauthier is scorched by Pinhas' searing Frippoid guitar. Most of the material on this live performance is derived from and expanded upon songs of L'Ethique plus one track from D.W.W. ("1992: Iceland: The Fall") and a short "Polywaves Intermed." Of particular note is the 15 minute "Last Coda from the Western Wail" which expounds upon the two part track on L'Ethique. Paganotti pours forth some fantastic bass playing reminiscent of Weidorje and Magma while Pinhas slashes with guitar. Bailly is all over the drumkit. Outstanding!
Because of the merging of both aspects of Pinhas (quiet and intense) on Cuneiform's Rhizosphere re-release, I recommend this as the starting point to get into Pinhas' solo work. You get his quiet and meditative Moog work followed by the intensity of his Heldon-styled work. Follow this with Chronolyse and you have a wonderful insight into the uniquely French vision of Richard Pinhas. -- Mike Taylor
This recent Rhizosphere/Live, Paris 1982 re-issue combines what is essentially two albums on a single 78-minute compact disc. Rhizosphere is typical minimalist Pinhas material, with only two synths (Moog 55, ARP 2600) used throughout. The first four tracks are not much more than simple sequences doused with electronic effects and analog delays, perhaps to mask their lack of musical depth. Heldon drummer Francois Auger joins in on the title track, injecting a bit more life to the sound but this is still not up to par with the Heldon material. Essentially this is just Pinhas giving lessons on a Moog, and most puzzling is the complete absence of the electric guitar. The live material from 1982, however, recalls some of the glory days of Heldon. Joining Pinhas are legendary Zeuhlsmen Patrick Gauthier (keys) and Bernard Paganotti (bass) with Clement Bailly on drums. Here the music is energetic, almost frantic in spots. Paganotti turns in a jaw-dropping performance on "Last Coda," with some of the most rapid fingerwork of his career. More proof of his status as a legend is hardly needed. The rest of the live half of the CD is middling, and less than fascinating, but at least Pinhas gives the guitar a trademark workout which should satisfy the completionist. Thanks to Cuneiform, the live material presented here for the first time makes the disc worth the price. -- Dan Casey
Pinhas' 2004 release Tranzition (that's either a backwards "Z" or an "S" that looks like a backwards "Z") is really pretty easy to describe, if you know the references ... imagine that Robert Fripp did an album of Frippertronics with a drummer whose rhythms are independent of the tape delay's rhythms, creating icy spacescapes of processed guitars with a pulsating beat going on all around it. The drummer on this album is Antoine Paganotti, current vocalist and sometime drummer for the current incarnation of Magma (and also the son of former Magma bassist Bernard Paganotti), and his drum work is very fluid and loose ... it sounds like he's using brushes a lot rather than sticks, though this may be an illusion of the recording process or very loose snares.
Spacey, hypnotic and quite a good listen, though if you're looking for ground-breaking, this album isn't. I'm looking forward to hearing Pinhas playing some of this stuff at NEARFest 2004, where he'll be doing a half-hour "solo" set ("solo" in quotes because he'll have someone helping him out using a laptop). It should be very cool ... -- Fred Trafton
Merzbow (Masami Akita) and Richard Pinhas
Pinhas has been doing a lot of collaborative work since I last talked about him, primarily in his last several albums with Japan's Merzbow. He also worked with members of Djam Karet Chuck Oken Jr. and Gayle Ellett in their side-project Ukab Maerd. I got to hear the Ukab Maerd album (see entry) and also the two latest Cuneiform releases Rhizome and Paris 2008.
Rhizome is pretty easy to describe. I compared 2004's Tranzition to Robert Fripp playing Frippertronics ... so if we add an electronic musician to the mix, it's bound to sound like Fripp and Eno, right? Well, yes, definitely. That's the closest reference point. But not the later, mellow Fripp and Eno like Morning Star, more like the frantic, noisy sound of No Pussyfooting. Only more so ... that's because of Merzbow's "industrial noise" style of electronic music. Pinhas pretty much sticks to guitar for this album, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that he twiddled a few synth knobs here and there as well, perhaps while waiting for the long-delay guitar echoes to die out. This album isn't for those that are into standard prog rock, but if you like Fripp and Eno, Pinhas and Merzbow are as good, and in many ways a positive evolution of the style. I loved this album. If you order the CD's first pressing from Cuneiform, you'll also get a DVD of their performance at the 2010 Sonic Circuits Festival plus a download coupon for the electronic version of Paris 2008.
Paris 2008 is a live recording of the same style of music as Rhizome. It's the first album Cuneiform has released as vinyl in over 20 years, and they warn that there will be ony 500 copies made and no repress. Clearly a release for collectors, though it also comes with a "download card" allowing you to get it electronically as well. But what fun is that? This album is worth it just to hear how much sound this duo can create live, and how little in the way of overdubs there needs to be for an album like Rhizome. Side one consists of two longish compositions while side two is all just a single composition. The true "side long" composition is back!
Cuneiform's promo records say I got sent a copy of Keio Line as well. I don't remember it, but given the huge number of promos I get, it's certainly possible it got stashed somewhere. Given how much I liked Rhizome and Paris 2008, I'll need to make a concerted effort to locate it. If I do, I'll add my impressions of that here too. In the meantime, I highly recommend Rhizome to those for whom this sounds interesting, and Paris 2008 for those who like vinyl (since you get the electronic version of it with Rhizome anyway). -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Fluence | Gauthier, Patrick | Heldon | Magma | Merzbow | Ose | Paga | Ukab Maerd | Weidorje]|
Never Never Land (71)
What a Bunch of Sweeties (72)
Kings of Oblivion (75)
Flashback (75, Compilation)
Live At The Roundhouse (82, Live, Recorded on July 13, 1975)
I have their Never, Neverland release. It's a typical early '70s
proto-prog heavy psych band, similar to Nirvana, Gravy Train, Mayblitz,
etc. Plenty of extended guitar solos for the air guitarist. There are
also bluesier/mellower moments. For example, the song "Wargirl" is has a
feel *very* much like Argent's "(Have Another Hit of) Fresh Air."
Basically, the first side of the album album ranges from Hawkwind-like
heavy riffing to breezy country-tinged (ala Steve Still's Manassas) to
the bluesy numbers such as "Wargirl." The second side of the album is a
non-stop heavy psych jam winding up in "Uncle Harry's Last Freak-Out."
Like Nirvana and High Tide, if you're into the heavier end of the
progressive scene or the early UK scene, give this album a listen. This
band also shared a member with Hawkwind, so Hawkfans may also want to
check them out.
Note: Martin Laplante of Montreal wrote to the GEPR to point out that "(Have Another Hit of) Fresh Air" was a song by Quicksilver Messenger Service, the San Francisco psych band, not Argent as mentioned above. Thanks, Martin.
|Links||[See Deviants, The | Hawkwind | Tomorrow | Twink]|
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (67)
A Saucerful of Secrets (68)
Atom Heart Mother (70)
Obscured by Clouds (72)
The Dark Side of the Moon (73)
A Nice Pair (73, first two albums repackaged)
Wish You Were Here (75)
The Wall (79)
A Collection of Great Dance Songs (81, Compilation)
The Final Cut (83)
Works (83, Compilation of early material)
A Momentary Lapse of Reason (87)
A Delicate Sound of Thunder (89, Live)
Shine On (92, boxed set)
The Division Bell (94)
Pulse (96, Live)
Is There Anybody Out There? (00, The Wall Live, recorded in 1980-81)
Pink Floyd, 1968 - I think it's Rick Wright, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Syd
Pink Floyd is probably the most well-known psychedelic band, although most of their output can't really be considered psychedelic. Their music is, by turns, surrealistic, lush, rockin', avant-garde, quirky, mellow, abstract. The original lineup featured Syd Barrett on guitar, Rick Wright on keyboards, Roger Waters on bass, and Nick Mason on drums. After the first album, Barrett's drug use rendered him into a state of total disfunctionality. The others recruited David Gilmour to reinforce the band, to give them a reliable guitarist. After a short time in a five-piece Pink Floyd, Barrett left. Later, during the 70's, Roger Waters gradually began asserting more dominance over the band. By the time The Wall was being recorded, Waters was ruling with such a heavy hand that the album is sometimes spoken of as one a solo album; Gilmour had to fight tooth-and-nail to be allowed to co-write a handful of songs. Wright was gone for The Final Cut; depending on which story you believe, Waters fired him; or feeling completely stifled, Wright quit. At any rate, it wasn't long before the others got fed up with Waters, and it became impossible for the band to work together any more. Amid much fighting and unseemly insults and contemptuous remarks about each other in the press, Waters and Gilmour came to a parting of the ways. Gilmour, having ended up with the legal rights to the name Pink Floyd, continued with Mason and the returning Wright under the name (much to Waters' displeasure). Since each album is distinctly different, I'll offer what I hope will be brief comments about each one:
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn - Nice, dreamy, surrealistic, storybookish, childlike (but not childish) type stuff. Syd Barrett was the band's leader for this one, and it has a distinctively different touch from anything that followed.
A Saucerful of Secrets - Barrett's gone now. This music continues in sort of the same vein, but harder-edged. The showcase of the album is the title cut, a sort-of avant-garde type piece everyone needs to hear.
Ummagumma - A two-record set. The first record consists of live performances, all of which are, in my opinion, improvements over the studio versions. The guys stretch out with some psychedelic jams. The second record gives each member of the band a half-side to do anything he wants, all by himself. Kind of interesting to see what they did--some of it's pretty off-the-wall stuff, especially Waters' "Several Small Species..." - but the live record is what justifies the album.
Soundtrack to More (not sure of date, but pretty sure it belongs here). Something a completist would want, but the casual listener could put it at the bottom of his music-to-buy list.
Atom Heart Mother -- the title track is a side-long suite, complete with orchestra, a bluesey guitar solo, electronic effects, a section that could only be described as (and I know how ridiculous this sounds) a choir scat-singing, and ... well, the kitchen sink. In terms of pure inventiveness, probably their standout piece.
Meddle - Another side-long epic, "Echoes." It's not the large-scale composition the AHM Suite is; rather, "Echoes" is more like an extended song: intro, two verses, bridge with solos, third verse, and they're off to lunch. The other side is mostly accoustic-type stuff, very nicely done, and also contains the rather intense "One of these Days."
Obscured by Clouds - See comments for More; however, this album would be slightly higher on your list.
Dark Side of the Moon - I suppose this is the "turning point" Floyd album. Waters' domination over the band began to really kick in here. For the first time, we see a whole albums' worth of lyrics that show a sad, cynical outlook on the world. Fortunately, Waters still had some poetry in him at this point, and the music itself is gorgeous.
Wish You Were Here - Their tribute to Syd Barrett. Poignant, even sad, this album captures in its lyrics and music the sense of life's quiet tragedies. The only negative thing is that there are a couple places where the music seems to ramble on a bit too long. If not for that, I could almost consider this a perfect album.
Animals - In my opinion, their most "progressive" album. What I particularly like about this one is that Waters and Co. managed to get some fascinating, innovative, evocative music recorded without doing anything that was truly weird. (Oh, yeah, some barking dogs. Big deal.) Weird is okay, actually, but to get the same effect without weirdness is a major accomplishment. The poetry I mentioned that Waters had in him four years earlier is now wearing thin; the metaphor of people-as-animals isn't exactly fresh. And he puts the idea across with "the subtle touch of the sledge hammer," as some of my writer friends sometimes say. What saves the album, lyrically, is that this idea just happens to be one that's possibly better off treated this way.
The Wall - Overblown, self-pitying "World War II was a world-wide conspiracy to deprive me of my father' BS. This is not to belittle the tragedies of war and/or the loss of fathers. It can make for compelling subject matter. But notice I said "can." Any subject matter, no matter how important or compellingly tragic, can be given a treatment that would make even the most indulgent listener want to slap the songwriter around and shout, "WHO CARES???" To be honest, I don't see much effort on Waters' part to actually write lyrics; many of the songs seem not to be much more than notes for an autobiographical story or an essay. To be fair, though, it does have some nice moments--mostly on the songs Gilmour co-wrote - but I can't imagine listening to all four sides at once.
The Final Cut - more of The Wall, only not as interesting. Wake me when it's over.
A Momentary Lapse of Reason - Waters is gone now, leaving the leadership role to Gilmour. This album has some nice Pink Floyd style pop music, which puts it ahead of most of what you hear on the radio. Unfortunately, many of us who were seriously into the band in the mid-70's or earlier have to just shake our heads and mutter, "Surely they can do better than this.."
Delicate Sound of Thunder - The live album from the Momentary Lapse tour. I didn't bother with it.
|The Division Bell shows little recovery from the Momentary Lapse decline and is of little interest to those not in the grip of the Floydian dogma.|
OK, then, count me as one of those "in the grip of Floydian dogma". Although I do like the early and mid-era Floyd the best, Momentary Lapse of Reason has its charms, particularly "Learning to Fly" and "The Dogs of War", which I think are as interesting as anything on Dark Side of the Moon. But then I'm a sucker for Gilmour's guitar solos. And just look at what it lacks ... namely Roger Waters' angst-filled lyrics about the death of his father in WWII. I loved The Wall, and I have no trouble sitting thru all four sides at once when I listen to it, but really, did we need another dose of this same Watery angst in The Final Cut?
The Division Bell does have a fair number of yawners on it, but "Keep Talking" and "What Do You Want From Me?" are vintage Floyd style, and these two songs alone are worth the price of admission. It was also an incredible tour they gave for this album, and recorded for Pulse resurrecting some of my favorite old stuff, including really old stuff like "Astronomy Domine". And, how can you not love all of Dark Side performed live, in the same order as the album? I wish they would do another new CD ... I guess they aren't poor enough yet. Personally, I hope to hear from these guys again.
Since this time, there have been persistent rumors of another reunion, which all Floyd members have denied have any validity. In fact, on February 3, 2006 Gilmour said in an interview in the Italian magazine La Repubblica that Pink Floyd would no longer tour or produce any new material, although various members still plan on producing solo or collaborative material. In March of 2006, just in time for his 60th birthday, Gilmour released a solo album, On An Island, which is said to have a very Floyd-like sound. The possibility of another Floyd appearance similar to Live 8 has not been ruled out. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Barrett, Syd | Gilmour, David | Wright, Richard]|
In Action (71)
Into Synthesizer Sound (73)
|ELP-influenced keyboard prog. Supposed to be quite good despite being composed of members of Lucifer's Friend.|
|Links||[See Lucifer's Friend]|
Pirana (71), II (72)
Prog. Pirana II is supposed to be one of the rarest Australian prog albums.
Code III (74)
Electronic concept album.
Planet P (83), Pink World (84)
I would classify PPP as Rock; they are heavily keyboards, but not as bad as ELP, Gary Wright or Kansas was during their guitar-less stint. Lots of techno-tricks and overdubs, and all to the good. This bands history goes back to the second Richie Blackmore's Rainbow album, Rising, which included Tony Carey on keyboards. Tony started this album's first song, Tarot Woman, with an incredible keyboard solo that I believe was technically ahead of the times in 1976. I also think that Tony was probably a bit too strong for Blackmore and did not appear on anymore Rainbow albums. Seven years later Carey showed up as the driving force behind "Planet P Project," featuring the radio hits "Static" and "Why Me?." He later released a "Tony Carey" album for the masses, including a supporting video on MTV. The MTV hit from this album was more pop than rock, so I didn't bother picking it up at the time. That's the last I've heard of him. The Planet P album was released in early 1983 on Geffen Records. All music and words were written by Tony Carey. It was produced by Peter Hauke for Rockoko Production Inc., recorded and mixed at Hotline Studios, Frankfurt, Germany.
Planet P was a progressive project directed by Multi-Instrumentalist and songwriter Tony Carey, involving some other musicians along the way. The first album is brilliant electronic based rock, in a short song format, with sci-fi lyrics and riveting guitar work. The sound was vaguely comparable to Pink Floyd, but with a more secure pop sensibility and less of the space. it had a no-nonsense approach which was firmly rooted within the technical pop of the early 80's, yet evoked the feel and mysticity of 70's spaces. Unfortunately, the second album Pink World (a double LP) was nothing more than a copy of the style of Wall period Floyd, and pales by comparison.
Melodic, keyboard-rock by Tony Carey, probably comparable in parts to Barclay James Harvest in their later years.
Tony Carey's band. The first, self-titled album generated a hit song, "Why Me?," here in the States. Their name was changed to Planet P Project for the 2nd release, the double album Pink World, which was amazingly similar to Pink Floyd's The Wall. Probably too much so for many, but I really enjoyed it. Carey's vocals are more gruff than Roger Waters'. Pink World hasn't seen a CD reissue yet, unfortunately, but the first album has.
Planet X (99, Derek Sherinian solo album)
Live From Oz (01, Live)
Planet X (Universe line-up) - Virgil Donati (drums), Tony MacAlpine (guitar)
and Derek Sherinian (keyboards)
Original entry 8/27/04:
Planet X started as a solo album from Sherinian, named Planet X. Though this is not really a Planet X album, I've included it in the band's discography because of the title and the fact that this is where Sherinian and Donati started working together. After this, they recruited guitarist Tony MacAlpine and made Planet X into a band. The 2004 line-up has replaced MacAlpine with T.J. Helmerich and added Rufus Philpot on bass.
Rarely, maybe every ten or fifteen years if you're lucky, a band appears that stuns you with their undeniable skill and vision. They are beyond good or even great. They push the limits of what is considered possible in music and they shame contemporaries by reaching further in a way no one before had dared to attempt, quietly becoming legends among particular musicians and music lovers. Such is the case with the progressive rock-fusion project known as Planet X (no doubt named for the home of Ghidrah, the three-headed Japanese monster). Like a band you fantasize about one day in an stoned haze of musical intoxication, this three-piece keys/drums/guitar (with guests on bass) thrills with impossible meters, soaring theatrics, and technical chops that make the over-inflated "neo-prog" bands look like junior high school kids doing Black Sabbath covers. No real comparisons, but if bands like Colosseum II or Mahavishnu Orchestra had continued to evolve, eventually becoming unrecognizable juggernauts, you might get a sense of this group. Both the first and second albums on Inside Out are musts for lovers of virtuoso instrumental rock, though the second - Moonbabies - is a fusion masterpiece. -- David Marshall
Planet X is well into the recording phase of a new album to be released in 2006. It will feature the legendary Allan Holdsworth taking over guitar duties. Stay tuned for updates! --Fred Trafton
In my last update, I mentioned that Allan Holdsworth would be "taking over guitar duties". This was either a misunderstaning on my part, or plans changed as the new album evolved. Either way, 2007's Quantum only features Holdsworth playing guitar solos as a guest on two cuts. Guitarist Brett Garsed handles guitars for most of the songs, while bassist Jimmy Johnson takes over for Rufus Philpot on all but two songs (no, not the same two that Holdsworth played on). All but one song is penned by drummer Virgil Donati rather than Sherinian. Unfortunately, I haven't heard the album, so I have no opinion about the music or its relationship to previous albums.
As of this writing, Planet X as a performing unit appears to be defunct, though the members continue to work together. Donati and MacAlpine have teamed up with bassist Billy Sheehan (Niacin) to form Devil's Slingshot, while MacAlpine and Jimmy Johnson assist Sherinian on his latest solo effort, Oceana. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Black Country Communion | Devil's Slingshot | Dream Theater | Holdsworth, Allan | Platypus | Sherinian, Derek ]|
Instrumental organ-based prog, few cheesy sound f/x.
[See Cosmic Jokers]
The Plastic Cloud (68)
Early psych band from Canada. Their '68 LP is definitely in the pure psychedelic vein, with lots of fuzz guitar, and (nice) vocal harmonies that are supposed to "get inside" your head. If you are a fan of psychelic rock from 1967-1968, you might want to find this. If you don't like psych, don't bother. The LP is said to be super rare and the limited edition CD is now gone and out of print.
When Pus comes to Shove (98)
Ice Cycles (00)
The Jelly Jam (02, as The Jelly Jam)
Original article 3/12/02:
Another of the so-called "progressive supergroups". This one is the brainchild of bassist John Myung (Dream Theater), and includes drummer Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs), vocalist and guitarist Ty Tabor (King's X) and Derek Sherinian (Planet X, ex-Dream Theater and Alice Cooper). Music is said to range from straight ahead rock to fusion. Many proggers are down on this band, but I'll have to reserve judgement since I haven't heard them.
Sherinian departed after Ice Cycles and the remaining band members released a new album in 2002 under the band name The Jelly Jam. It is supposed to be heavier and more guitar-oriented. -- Fred Trafton
[See Black Country Communion |
Dream Theater |
Dixie Dregs |
Planet X |
Headphone Gallery (07)
The Last Placid Days of Plenty - Mike Mulhall (bass, voice, Taurus pedals), Eric Domander (drums,
percussion, voice, theremin), Rick Kasmirchuk (piano, synth, organ, voice, percussion), Doug
Stevens (electric and acoustic guitars), Jeff Morrison (lead vocals, percussion, theremin, Taurus
It's not very often that I would say, "This band isn't really prog" and in the next breath say "This is one of the coolest bands I've ever heard", but that's definitely how I feel about The Last Placid Days of Plenty. First, let's get one thing out of the way ... Eric Domander says about the band name that while The Last Placid Days ... is "the FULL name of the band ... most folks seem to just refer lovingly (and yell out at our shows!) to us as PLENTY!", so that's why they're filed under "Ph" in the GEPR. But I'll add a link here from the "L" index too, just in case someone tries to look them up there.
Drummer Eric Domander leads the band, which has been around since 1989, though Headphone Gallery is their first album release, containing songs they have been writing and performing for many years with several changes of musician line-up. In fact, the band photo here is the latest line-up, and isn't quite the same as the line-up that recorded Headphone Gallery. The album was recorded by Eric Domander, guitarist Doug Stevens and keyboardist Jamie Robinson. They auditioned several vocalists to sing the songs for the album in the way Domander envisioned. They finally settled on Al Webster, who not only sings but plays bass on Headphone Gallery, making the band a four-piece for the album. They have since had a "friendly changing of the guard", replacing Robinson and Webster with Rick Kasmirchuk (keyboards), Jeff Morrison (vocals) and Mike Mulhall (bass). Domander says that Morrison actually sounds quite a bit like Webster, so they still sound a lot like the album when they're playing live.
Another reviewer I read made a statement something like, "After hearing Plenty, you'll never need to hear any of your Pink Floyd albums again", which is an excellent description. Note that he didn't say that Plenty sounds like Floyd (though they sometimes do a little), but they sorta scratch the same musical itch, and I must agree. They're as professional-sounding, as accessible without selling out to get radio airplay, and have lyrics that talk about subjects as interesting as Floyd ... well, maybe more down-to-earth than Floyd.
But enough about Floyd ... Plenty have just as much "adult pop" influence (think Toto or Steely Dan) or "edgy alternative" (comparisons might be Porcupine Tree or Man on Fire) in their sound, while somehow sounding nothing like any of these example bands. Overall, I'd call them more "Classic Rock" sounding than "Prog", but I would think most people that would be readers of the GEPR will find these guys as fabulous as I do. One of the best albums I've heard so far this year (2008), though Headphone Gallery has a 2007 release date. Highly recommended if you don't need a CD to be too "old-school prog". -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Plenty's web site
This band from Greece recorded one album in 82, which was almost immediately banned due to its blasphemous lyrics, and all unsold copies of it were destroyed. Apparently the master tapes were destroyed as well, because the CD is mastered from an LP. The sound is very powerful and compelling, with strong psychedelic underpinnings, very melodic and rhythmic, in some ways comparable to Aphrodite's Child 666. Lyrics are in English and Latin (I think). This is an excellent album that most would enjoy.
Armageddon is a psych/prog conceptual album. The concept deals with the final battle as described in the Book of Revelations: Armageddon. It's roughly the same concept as that on 666 by Aphrodite's Child, a Greek psych band from a decade earlier. Musically, though, Armageddon is quite different from 666. Some songs are layers of synth and spacious electric and acoustic guitars, ala Pink Floyd or Omega. The vocals and guitars are often given a slight echo, to create a spacey atmosphere. The English lyrics tell the story of the concept. At least one song, though is spoken in what sounds to me like Latin. Regardless, the are more instrumental sections than vocal sections. One musical oddity is that the music remains kind of spacey. I would expect that the end of the earth would warrant some tumultuous music, but that is not the case here. In fact, it ends on an uplifting and hopeful note. Though I would call this mostly psychedelic, there is a progressive vibe throughout. -- Mike Taylor
|I struggle as I listen to this LP to see why its included in the GEPR at all. Pluto are a very average sub- Free/Purple mix. A big collectors item apparently due to it being first issued on the DAWN label (DNLS 3030). Pluto was the work mainly of Paul Gardener and Alan Warner who wrote the material. A very pedestrian rock LP, certainly not electronic or prog. There's hardly any keyboards on the LP. One track, "Mister Westwood" stands out a little but really Pluto is a no-goer. The See For Miles re-issue on LP collects all their material together for anyone whose interested including some early singles. -- David Abel|
The Seven Deadly Sins (69)
Proto-concept band that put out one album The Seven Deadly Sins, a mix of pop songs, rock and orchestrated bits, choral overlays and other weirdity. Very old, interesting, but not very progressive in the current sense.