Per.... Un Mondo Di Cristallo (72)
Raccomandata Ricevuta Ritorno's Per....Un Mondo Di Cristallo is one that I've found very difficult to get into personally which intrigues me to no end. Crimson is evident here, especially with some of the dissonance that resounds throughout the album, but again this album is unquestionalbly Italian.
When the band dissolved, Luciano Regoli (Vocals, Guitar) and Nanni Civitenga (Guitar) went on to play in Samadhi.
Very italian, this six-piece blends some elements of Jazz, King Crimson type rock (although I'm seldom reminded of KC while listening), the early folk sound of PFM, some north African/Arabic influences, classical, and a little of the type dissonance found in the music of Area. Very tasty, with lots of dynamic stretch, excellent vocals, flute, sax, piano, this is possibly one of the best italian reissues around, certainly one of my very favorites, I'd put them right up there with classics like Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Area, Arti+Mestieri, Opus Avantra, and others. I don't know of anyone who was aware of this albums existence back in the seventies, seems like its reissue came right out of nowhere.
Music for Egon Schiele (94)
The Sea and the Bells (94)
Full On Night (00, split EP w/ Matmos)
Yet another band that's often found in the alternative section and labeled as post-rock. I've never quite gotten the meaning of that term as it includes bands as diverse as Tortoise, Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Low. Tortoise is a lot like jazz, Godspeed has long complicated sound structures and Low has songs which sound a lot like Tool on valium. Where's the similarity?
Case in point here, as Rachel's are seemingly an alternative band that eschews standard rock instrumentation for classical instruments. Guitars are present in abundance, though mostly as a texture element, and drums ensure that the music is never confused with classical fare, but the bulk of the instrumental work is performed here by piano and string instruments. The core of the group is Rachel Grimes (piano), Jason Noble (guitars) and Christian Frederickson (viola). They are accompanied by a mini-orchestra of about 14 individuals playing mostly brass, strings and woodwinds.
For people into prog the albums Handwriting, Selenography and Full on Night would be time well spent but ultimately sound just like an alternative band playing with classical instruments. The compositions themselves aren't really headbending. Two of their releases do stand out, however. Music for Egon Schiele is a near-classical work using just piano, cello and viola. It's the music for a play and actually has no leanings towards rock whatsoever but the compositions are top notch and very emotional.
Without a doubt however the concept album The Sea and the Bells is a masterpiece of progressive writing and song structure. It was inspired by the book of the same name by Pablo Neruda. It is by turns pastoral, rousing, emotional, teeth grinding and is always engaging. As with most of their work it's entirely instrumental but does include a book of poetry which loosely lays out the thoughts of a mariner dying at sea after a shipwreck and dwells on the subject of love, regret, lost hope and salvation. Although this is not a set of lyrics it clearly is meant to accompany the music on the disc. Elements of classical, jazz, rock and ambient music are all present from the first track "Rhine & Courtesan" but don't actually stand out as separate components. Every facet joins together to form a larger whole. Two tracks "Tea Merchants" / "Lloyd's Register" form a ~15 min epic, the first part being a piano / vibraphone duo that starts as bare whispers of sound and becomes something majestic. With the second part slow strings enter the mix and tempo begins the pick up as the drums begin to dominate the pace. Then with the introduction of horns the piece suddenly becomes a fanfare full of bombast and sudden stops before collapsing back to a more ambient state. Many of the compositions flow from one into the other, some are just ambient drift between the more melodic tracks: the sole instrument on "To Rest Near to You" is "fireworks". One moment on the CD is used to great effect, but unfortunately it's very grating: the song "Sirens" uses way too many screeching violas to simulate a siren song (a part that lasts over a minute). Drums are quite sparse on the second half of the album giving tracks like "Cypress Branches" and "The Blue Skinned Waltz" a very classical feel, albeit still with ambient stretches. Without a doubt the crowning achievement of this recording is the final track, "His Eyes". It's everything you'd expect the ending of a concept album to be: grand, majestic, emotional. It conveys a sense of longing that's hard to forget even after the CD has finished playing. This is really one of those CDs that won't leave your player for weeks. -- Markus Derrer
... an important correction. You have a band listed called "The Rachels." The actual name of
this group is "Rachel's" (i.e., no "The" and an apostrophe).
See: [their all-music
guide entry]. As minor as this difference may seem it is important: there is another band
called "The Rachels" w/ a different musical style. See:
Amazon.com entry]. -- Bill Pernell
Thanks, Bill! I've corrected the entry as you recommended. Interestingly, the Amazon entry indicates that "people who bought The Rachels also bought Rachel's". I doubt it ... I think their database program is confused. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Rachel's web site
An Invitation to ... (96)
|Compare to Echolyn and Spock's Beard.|
Frozen North (95)
Burned and Frozen (97, CDR)
Knutsford In May (97)
Diabolica (97, CDR) Organ Harvest (97)
Gulf (98, CDR)
A Bridge Too Far (98, CDR) Borrowed Atoms (98, 2CD) Bothered Atmos (99, CDR)
Been There Done That (00, CDR) Upstairs Downstairs (00)
Zabriskie Point (00)
The God Of Electricity (00)
Planets In The Wires (01)
Startide (01, CDR)
Maelstrom (02, CDR)
Greenhousing (03, CDR)
Solid States (03, 2CD)
People Would Really Like Space Rock If They Would Only Give It A Try (04, CDR)
E-Live 2003 (04, CDR)
Walking On The Sea (04)
Hog Wild (05, CDR)
Emissaries (05, 2CD)
Lost In Space (06, 6CDR Box Set)
Rain Falls in Grey (07)
Blacker (07, CDR)
Antisocial (08, CDR)
Fast Forward (08, CDR)
Philadelphia Air Shot (08, CDR)
Rain Falls in a Different Way (08, CDR)
E-Live 2008 (09, CDR)
Lost in Transit (Discs One through Seven) (10, CDR's, 7 separate discs)
Time and Motion (10, 2CD)
Radio Massacre International - Gary Houghton (guitar, synthesizers), Duncan Goddard (keyboards,
electronics, bass) and Steve Dinsdale (keyboards, electronics, drums)
Original Entry, 10/15/07:
Rain Falls in Grey is dedicated to the memory of Syd Barrett, the infamous former Pink Floyd guitarist who passed away in 2006. I would describe the sound as a mix of early Floyd and early Hawkwind with a fair amount of Rubycon-era Tangerine Dream (because of the way they use Mellotron) and Gong thrown in as well. Only the recording is far better quality than any of these guys could muster up in the late '60's and early '70's, which makes this album a real treat for those of us who love this kind of music. But it's all instrumental and highly improvised. The lack of vocals will be a problem for some and a plus for others, but I must say the instruments alone are plenty to hold my interest. And don't let the "highly improvised" part throw you ... this isn't a bunch of pointless, aimless noodling, but well worked-out songs with lots of room for improv, but always moving the listener forward in a particular direction. The direction is always somewhere in the neighborhood of the Andromeda galaxy, but you can't say it's directionless. Simply superb!
As a slight aside, the reason this album reminds me of Gong is because of the excellent Daevid Allen type glissando guitar which makes many appearances on these pieces. But, Allen writes in some of the promotional material for this album that he learned this technique by watching Syd Barrett play guitar this way at a concert when he was young. Barrett used a zippo lighter as his slide to create the glissando effect, and Allen used metal implements he found in an old gynecologist's medical kit (I wouldn't make that up!), but the technique is essentially the same. Allen pays homage to his one-time teacher by creating the artwork featured on the album cover of Rain Falls in Grey (right). It will look very familiar to those who've been following Gong for as long as I have.
For those who have been following RMI for a while, it should be noted that this album is a radical departure from their previous synth-based albums. This album is based around guitar, bass and drums in the typical late '60's psychedelic style, though there's plenty of electronics to be had on top of that. I really want to know more about this band, so I'll be looking into some of their earlier, more electronic output in the near future. I'll let you know when I do. In the meantime, Rain Falls in Grey is a must for any space rock fan's collection, or for anyone who thinks Pink Floyd was never really the same after Syd Barrett left the band. -- Fred Trafton
After hearing Rain Falls in Grey, I wanted to hear what some of RMI's more "usual" style sounds like. I noted that they had put their second album Republic online for download (also Zabriskie Point, see link below), so I bought it. Republic was described as being one of the "Three R's" ... no, not "Reading, 'Righting and 'Rithmatic", but Rubycon, Ricochet and Republic. If those first two titles don't mean anything to you, they're among the more famous of Tangerine Dream's albums. But if you've read this far into an RMI entry, you already knew that, didn't you?
... and Republic is frighteningly close to them in sound and quality, only the recording quality is better on Republic, notably the lack of tape hiss. Maybe a bit more like Phaedra, but then you wouldn't have been able to do the "Three R's" gag. If you like '70's Tangerine Dream, you'll love Republic. It's got all the same stuff ... spacey electronic timbres, Mellotron choirs and jamming over rhythmic sequencer patterns. Much better than recent Tangerine Dream albums, and just about as good as Rubycon, which is one of my all-time favorite albums (I'm not actually familiar with Ricochet).
... AND not very similar to Rain Falls in Grey at all. -- Fred Trafton
I just heard that RMI will be playing at NEARFest X in 2008! Man, I hope I can be there. -- Fred Trafton
Before getting on with the review of the new album Time and Motion, I'll just mention that I was there for their NEARFest X performance. Let's just say it wasn't the highlight of NEARFest X. They weren't terrible, but for heavily improvised music like this, some nights you're inspired and some nights you're not. The fact that audience members were getting up and leaving all during the performance doubtless didn't help to inspire the band, but the "magic" certainly wasn't there that night. I was not blown away. But I was polite enough to stay until the end.
But on to a pleasanter task ... reviewing their new official 2CD release on Cuneiform, Time and Motion. WOW! I'm a major Tangerine Dream fan, and all I can say is that this album is as good or better than anything Tangerine Dream ever did, and only sounding the tiniest bit like TD in the process. This is music most space rockers can only aspire to, with slowly unfolding aural landscapes that makes me feel I'm orbiting with the other chunks in the rings of Saturn. Oh, I really hate the "space" analogies ... they're so overused. It could just as easily be a slow walk along your personal spiritual path deep inside your mind, floating with the clouds over the Himalayas, or drifting over the deep ocean trench watching the tubeworms vent. Introspective music that opens your mind to explore places it wouldn't otherwise ever consider going. And never once did the phrase "new-agey" ever come to mind. If this was a drug, it would be criminalized by the government immediately.
In short, WOW. A masterpiece of space music (due to the rhythmless nature of this album, it's actually wrong to call it space rock). Absolutely nothing like Rain Falls in Grey. But it's hard to believe this was released by the same band I saw at NEARFest X. A must-have for space music fans. Watch a gentle rainstorm with this on while enjoying your favorite wine, and you might just solve all the problems of the world ... or make contact with the less silly inhabitants of the planet Gong. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Radio Massacre International's
Click here to order Emissaries, Rain Falls in Grey or Time and Motion from Cuneiform Records
Click here to download most older releases in MP3 or FLAC with album graphics from MusicZeit
Tesseract and Monuments (92)
|These guys may have several albums on cassette or LP, but I'm only familiar with Tesseract and Monument, which was recently released on CD. Three piece of dual keyboards and drums, mostly instrumental, their music might be described as three parts Canterbury, three parts Zappa, and four parts totally original. Some of the album's 17 tracks are well developed, others just seem like noodling with an idea but not taking it anywhere - which isn't necessarily bad in this case (Edhels' Oriental Christmas is guilty of this, but it works also ...) because the songs are short enough to hold your attention. A very satisfying album overall.|
|This was released by ZNR (who released Mastermind and Easter Island), and marks a departure of sorts from other bands on the label. The music on Tesseract and Monuments is on the fusion edge of progressive rock, with strong influences from the Canterbury style, updated with the eighties-keyboard sounds. Mostly instrumental, the compositions are possibly comparable to Hatfield, National Health and the like, with oblique passages and variant time-signatures. The dominant instrument is the keyboard, manned by two of the three members, plus percussion. However, this does not limit their style in any way, and the result is a well-crafted example of the genre.|
|Radio Piece III are another contemporary US band released by ZNR. The 17 songs packed into the 56 minutes of music on this disk are a slightly varied form of jazz fusion with only two songs with vocals. The opening song, "Walking Through Filters" reminded me of Steely Dan. The remainder of the songs hint at various times at ELP, Roger Powell, Zappa, and The Residents. Unfortunately Makucevich and Benigno apparently do not explore their synths beyond the factory presets resulting in a sameness in sound from song to song. The best spots on the disk are "Chimerical Crustacean," "#12 from the Old Book," and "Wes' Wonder of the Week" where they emulate The Residents' quirky song titles, rhythms, and zany instrumentation. Even the CD inset photo of Radio Piece III jumping down steps in tuxedos brings to mind The Residents sans giant eyeballs. Not a bad release, but the uniformity of the music failed to excite my interest beyond one or two listenings.|
|Radio Piece III are a three piece (no, not radio) band from somewhere in the US. The apparently have several albums but only Tesseract and Monuments has been released on CD. The band consists of two keyboardists and a drummer. As you'd expect with four hands playing the 'boards, Radio Piece III have a relatively lush sound with several layers of different keyboard textures. The seventeen (!) songs average about 3.5 minutes each which doesn't allow for much thematic development. There is a Canterbury feel to many songs and a fusionesque edge to some. The keyboards used are all digital. Combining these last bits of information, you might guess that Radio Piece III sound a bit like a fusiony National Health playing adult contemporary music. You wouldn't be far off. There are a few nice moments but out of seventeen songs that's not enough. Look elsewhere.|
|Links||[See Sonic Music]|
Arc Measuring (88)
Severe Test(93, as Geoff Serle)
There Is No Peace (95)
Radius 1992 - Geoff Serle (Electronics, Drum Machine, Percussion, Keys, Samples),
David Cross (Electric violin, ZETA midi violin), Simon Murrell (Bass), Sheila
Maloney (Keyboards, Synths, Samples), Tim Crowther (Guitar)
Radius--formed in 1988, after Low Flying Aircraft, a promising project by two ex-Crimson virtuosos Keith Tippett and David Cross, had been disbanded--can easily be called the most obscure among the great bands. During the past twelve years the band led by all but the best-known electric violinist in the prog world and his friend, an outstanding multi-instrumentalist Geoff Serle, was issuing an album every second year, and still it had remained in the shadow next to complete oblivion. AMG and UBL seem to know absolutely nothing about this band. It is very rare for music catalogues to even mention the name. It is hopeless to try and find their music at CDNOW or Amazon.
Once a year on average one of their albums appears at eBay, and then it is sold for the starting bid of a buck unless the seller is one-cent-CD's. To be brief, if it is permissible to rank a band according to music quality/promotion rate, Radius has no competitors as their corresponding value approaches infinity. The closest runner up, Keith Tippett, is half way back.
Although I firmly share Frank Zappa's opinion that writing on music is much like dancing on architecture, I will try to put together a couple of words on their music. There can be no two opinions on the fact that this is prog. Definitely and undoubtedly! Generally, it varies in quality from very interesting to brilliant. At the initial stage it was entirely instrumental, more or less melancholic mixture of jazz, ambient and oriental tunes performed on mostly electric instruments with a slight but discernible hint at Canterbury style. Their first issue, Arc Measuring (Ear-Rational Rec, ECD 1006), reminds me of a fresh autumn evening: sun is already down but it's light is still there, it's going to rain but you don't have to open an umbrella (if I add a word about fog, it will be an almost exact depiction of the first album cover).
By the time of Elevation (Ear-Rational Rec, EAR 1036) their music became more energised but never to the point of aggressive. Oriental tunes are even more discernible, even dominating as on their classical piece "Pagoda". To be frank, Geoff Serle's drum machine programming at times approaches the point of obtrusiveness. Luckily the sequence of tracks was chosen properly. Sheila Maloney on keyboards, the third permanent member of the band, came closer to the front being allowed to rule the scene occasionally. The almost ten minute long track "Ultramarine", in my opinion, would be the number one ambient mega-hit if the band was promoted in the way the Spice Girls are.
Their fourth album, Severe Test (Systems Collusion, SCCD 8001) for reasons known only to the Radius members came out as a Geoff Serle solo effort (on a different label), although the line-up and musical style matched Radius closely enough. Although there are slow pieces on this album, the preceding melancholy has disappeared without a trace. This album is best described as avant-garde prog, like Keith Tippet's Mujician, but developing in another direction. Severe Test was their first work to feature vocals or rather voices for which purpose a French singer Francine Luce and a Japanese performer Chiemi Nagata had been recruited to utter unexpected but nice sounding monologues and whispers. The album also contains eccentric sound effects. Another point is an audiophile nightmare, a DIGITAL (sic.) guitar by Mark Hewins. How did it sound in reality? A rhetorical question, of course, but it sounds not too bad after all. (If you listened to this album you might judge differently but you have to believe me. Your chances to obtain this album are less than to stumble upon a golden sovereign on Oxford Street. However, I believe in miracles ...)
The following album, There Is No Peace (VP155CD) was issued on a comparatively "major" label, Voiceprint, so the chances of obtaining this album are relatively high. The music on this album is an amazing fusion of minimalist jazz, prog and... (please, sit down if you are standing up) rap. Rap sucks, as they say. Even mentioning this music -- if it is music altogether -- style seems inappropriate here, right? Wrong! Progressive rap? Yes, even rap may sound brilliant and be progressive when it comes from a talented composer. Two versions of the title track included on the album are evidence. But please, don't take me wrong, there are only two tracks of this kind. All in all, the review of this album is the most complex dance on architecture. To be brief, this album had been long my fav: until their sixth album appeared.
I've listened to Civilizations (Noisy 002) five times before attempting to write, still ... I don't see how I can describe it. You'd better listen on your own, especially as it is generally available from David Cross's Noisy Records. -- Eugene Poliakov
[See Cross, David |
King Crimson |
Click here for David Cross' Noisy Records
Mascaras Urbanas (92)
Let's say you take Fish era Marillion and tell them to write bonus tracks to Genesis' Selling England by The Pound and you'll have this album! Another Genesis-type band out of South Amercia who also bring in many elements of thier own. Very strong Tony Banks keyboards and Mellotron, Steve Hackett guitar and even stronger lyrics (some in Spanish), The song Icarus is especially impressive! If you're into Genesis sound-alike bands (like I am) check out Rael! -- Phil Slatterley
Very good symphonic prog band.....well worth the hunt.
The only prog band from New Zealand that I know of. Ragnarok's Nooks shows a variety of influences, ranging from Yes to David Bowie to the Beatles. Some comparisons could also be drawn to Australia's Sebastian Hardie. There's ample moog work and plenty of Mellotron and enough complexity to delight the average Prog fan. There's also electric guitar (including classical guitar) and some folk-like vocal harmonies. Some of the synth work is spacy ala Eloy or Pink Floyd. Between some songs you'll hear a variety of sound effects, including planes crashing into flushing toilets or waves lapping the beach with seagulls wheeling overhead. Overall, a unique symphonic outlook and not too bad.
Fjarilar I Magen (79)
Fata Morgana (81)
3 Signs (83)
Ragnarok circa 1976
Swedish band that combine folk, fusion and symphonic prog. Bits of King Crimson, Gong and other Scandinavian bands can be pointed to has possible influences, but Raganrok don't really sound like any of the above overall. They take a very pastoral approach to fusion/prog, eschewing high-tech studio trickery, using just pianos, gently tolling electric guitars, flute, bass and percussion. The first album is beautiful mood music, great to drift off with at night. Fjarilar i Magen surprises everyone with its leading track: "Adrenalin". True to its name, it's a metallic hunk of blazing guitar that nearly makes King Crimson's Red look tame. The rest of the album is much more subtle, but in its own way is more like "Adrenalin" than the first album. All right, that's taking the analogy a bit far, but the band do inject more intense passages neatly interwoven among the gentle fantasias. Overall, probably better than the first. -- Mike Ohman
One of the first concerts I saw in my life was with Ragnarok, and I recall that I liked it. Nevertheless it's not a band I'm overly enthusiastic over. I've got one album. Pleasant listening, and although not cliche-ridden, like much other instrumental music a bit anonymous.
Fairly well known Scandinavian band with several albums to their credit. for the latest album Well, they are down to a trio of woodwinds, drums and keyboards, and have assumed a more low-key new agey feel to their music, while still remaining provocative and inspired.
Absolutely brilliant LP [Ragnarok from '76] from Swedish jazzy, folk-progsters Ragnorok. A beautiful LP full of great instrumental pieces all dominated by an acoustical setting and chilled out jazzy electric pianos. Track Two "Promenader" is incredible, a lovely Mahavishnu-like Rhodes piano but with a Scandinavian twist (like Bo Hansson) erupts into a Frippian sustained guitar riff. It really needs to be heard to be believed. The whole LP is instrumental and rightly so as vocals would have taken away its purity. It's hard to try and find other bands who are similar as Ragnarok are so original. "Dagarnas Skum" is an 8-minute jazz folk beauty complete with prog-ish flute. It reminds me of British folk guitar genius Davy Graham or Bert Jansch. I suppose the best similarity would be fellow Swede Bo Hansson but this is wide of the mark really as Hansson was basically a one-man show where as Ragnarok were a band of veritable virtuosos. Really I have never heard such a genius blend of pastoral prog rock, folk and jazz, a truly awe-inspiring record. BUY IT!!! -- David Abel
I haven't heard Ragnarok's earlier works, but I have heard their 2008 reunion album Path. It's a nice album. Not excessively exciting, but nice. I guess I might compare it to Camel somewhat, but Path is a bit more on the "easy listening" side, and it's an instrumental album. If you want something intelligent that can easily go to the background if something else attracts your attention, Path is for you. You won't be that torqued off by the distraction. Strange but true. -- Fred Trafton
[See Bryngelsson, Peter |
Click here to order Ragnarok, Well or Path from Musea Records
|One of French obscure zeuhl-influenced bands led by an Algierian guitarist Mahamad Hadi. Rahmann made only one self-titled album in 1977, but an excellent one! Overall, it's a jazz fusion similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra, with Middle-Eastern melodies and drums. But not only. I've written "zeuhl-influenced", because Rahmann's music has a lot in common with zeuhl: Didier Lockwood from Magma plays violin on this album, Liza Deluxe sings and Gerard Prevost from Zao plays on bass guitar. Musically it's an amazing hybrid album: imagine ethnic melodies connected with Present or Art Zoyd time divisions, polyrhythmic patterns prepared by piano (like in "Abu" track) - all made by perfectly prepared musicians. Among that thick, deep bass, complicated drummer rhythm - those are zeuhl touches. It is worth listening to avant-progressive fans certainly. Musea reissued this album in 1998 with four additional tracks (alternative versions) and this edition sounds very good. -- Dominik Kawa|
[See Lockwood, Didier |
Click here to order from Musea Records
Cerulean Blue (04)
Cerulean Blue is one of those albums that isn't progressive by virtue of the quantity of notes or ultra-complex music. The songs are all relatively simple from a purely musical standpoint, but with lots of emotion, variation and symphonic orchestration to keep it interesting. This is among the best albums I've heard this year, and it has spent far too much time in my CD player while I've been ignoring other promo CD's. As several other reviewers have said, "This doesn't really sound like [name a famous old prog band], but it gives me the same feeling I had when I first listened to [name a famous old prog album]." Yeah, that's right. It's the feelings, not the actual sound of the music, that makes Cerulean Blue definitely progressive rock.
For starters, this is a concept album. It's the story of a man who's following in the footsteps of a young man named Rick, who sent post cards during a spiritual journey he took "across the big pond" in the United States, where he had a number of transformational experiences. The post cards are read by an English voice actor with a string quartet playing in the background (this reminds me of the beginning and ending narrations from The Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed). The songs themselves are about the particular experiences Rick had, or maybe the experiences of the guy who's following him. There's a mystery involved which resolves itself in a surprise ending. It's well thought out and nicely executed.
Rain's progressive background is obvious in several of the very different sounding songs. One of them is a clear homage to Pink Floyd, complete with Gilmouresque languid guitar solo, while another uses the opening two Mellotron chords from Genesis' "Watcher of the Skies" as the backbone of one section of the song (and, in case you thought it was an accident, a voice-over culled from the '50's sci-fi movie The Thing ominously advises the audience to "Keep watching the skies" at the end of the song).
But Rain obviously has been listening to more than prog. Influences as far ranging as string quartets to modern post-rock are also in evidence on the album, making Cerulean Blue an album full of surprises. Each song has its own style, and it's this very variation that unites the songs into a single concept album. And just so you know that Rain is an artist and not just a musician, he's included a 5-minute movie called "Ashes" on the CD featuring the same voice actor as on the album and reprising many of the same themes. (Listen to the album first before watching the movie ... if you're observant enough, the movie could spoil the surprise ending for you). There's also a long discussion (in an RTF document) about the story line of the album and the philosophical questions raised by it, plus all the song lyrics and the script to "Ashes". These will keep you busy for quite awhile after you've listened to the album. And when you're done with that, you can play "find the picture of Rain" on the CD sleeve. It's there. Keep looking.
Rain is evidently offering most or all of the album on his web site (see below) so you can download it for yourself. But if you do this, you'll miss the extra goodies on the CD and the excellent artwork on the innovative CD cover (it has the look and feel of an old LP cover more than a CD cover). They're also lower audio quality then the CD, so do yourself a favor and order the full CD from Rain. Hopefully, it will encourage him to produce more of this sort of thing, and I'd certainly like to see that happen. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for further information,
to order Cerulean Blue or download songs from the Telos Music web
Rain Tree Crow (91)
|Rain Tree Crow is a one-shot album, but excellent to say the least. What was supposed to be a reunion between the members of Japan, turned in to a super group of the "Who's Who" in '90s Progressive Rock. Members are Mick Karn, Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree), Steve Jansen, David Sylvian, Michael Brook, and Bill Nelson. The members of Japan realized they were performing entirely different material from what they were previously covering in the 80s; thus, the name Rain Tree Crow prevails. Here's a quote from the liner notes: "The majority of the material on this album was written as a result of group improvisations. There were no pre-rehearsals; The improvisation took place in the recording studio and much of the finished work contains original elements of those initial performances." Need I have to say anything?! This CD would appeal to fans of Porcupine Tree, Bark Psychosis, and '80s King Crimson (the ambient works such as "Nuage" & "The Sheltering Sky"). Highly recommended! -- Julian Berlanger|
|Links||[See Karn, Mick | Nelson, Bill | Porcupine Tree]|
The Armada (75, Reissued on CD w/ bonus track in 2006)
Fantasy of Horses (76, Reissued on CD w/ bonus track in 2006)
Rainbow Theater (Fantasy of Horses line-up) - Martin West, Graeme Carter, Ian Relf,
Julian Browning, Keith Hoban, Ferg McKinnon and Frank Graham
Rainbow Theatre keyboardist and band leader Julian Browning e-mailed me in September 2005 to let me know several things I passed along to GEPR readers. Firstly, he wanted me to update the discography, which I did. Secondly, he wanted people to know he wasn't happy about having recently discovered both German and Japanese pirate CD copies of their two albums circulating worldwide. Finally, he wanted to have me pass along news that both The Armada and Fantasy of Horses was to be re-released in a legitimate, remastered CD version in the near future. I passed this information along at the time, and promised to update you when more information became available.
So, here's the update. In April, 2006, Fantasy of Horses was re-released on CD by an Australian label, Aztec Music. It's a beautiful release, in a 3-panel digipak with the original artwork, a nice insert with historical information and a bonus track. For those of you who believe pirate copies are justifiable if the artists haven't reissued the albums on CD themselves, you now have no excuse. If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing this album on either the original vinyl or one of the pirate copies, then let me tell you that you need to order the CD re-release! This is a wonderful work.
Fantasy of Horses mixes jazz, classical (especially the vocals) and prog rock stylings in a way all its own. The original album contained three long pieces on side one and the side-long "Fantasy of Horses" suite on side two. The CD re-release adds a new piece by Browning that doesn't even pretend to be rock ... this is a modern melodic classical piece, reminding me a bit of Groffe's Grand Canyon Suite* (or for those of you without much classical music experience, the new Star Wars movie soundtracks). The original material is said (by Browning) to be heavily influenced by King Crimson, but I don't find the influence to be very heavy at all. There are some Court of the Crimson King-like Mellotron parts in some places, but especially within the "Fantasy of Horses" suite, the slow, phased Mellotron sounds more like Tangerine Dream's Rubycon. There's loads of real brass, woodwinds and strings in these arrangements, to the point that Browning was unable to keep a performing group together to play this music, and the band dissolved shortly after this album's original release. But it sounds great on the CD. This is truly unique and not derivative of anybody, in my opinion, and is a now-found lost treasure.
Browning has said in the CD insert notes that he's of two minds about the piracy issue. On the one hand, he didn't get a penny for all the pirate copies sold, which is unfair to him and the other musicians who should have received a percentage for their work. On the other hand, the popularity of the pirate copies is what led him to believe that a CD reissue might be appealing enough to sell well, and thus they served as an advertising campaign of sorts. Either way, whether you own or have heard a pirate version or not, this CD re-release comes highly recommended and is a must for any collector of TRULY symphonic (played by real symphonic instruments) prog. Their first album, The Armada is scheduled to be reissued later this year as well. -- Fred Trafton
* Thanks to Claire Panke for pointing out my gaffe ... Edward Grieg was not the composer of the Grand Canyon Suite, but Ferde Groffe. My comparison is still right ... I had the composer wrong, not the piece of music I had in mind. As an aside, Claire would also like to point out that elsewhere in the GEPR, people have referred to madrigals as "Medieval" music, when they are in fact inventions of the Renaissance era. Thanks for the music history education, Claire!
Click here to order CD reissues of
The Armada or Fantasy of Horses from Aztec Music
The Ice House (86, unreleased?)
The Album of Herbs (93)
One (??, also known as Alone, solo album by Maxim Pshenichny, perhaps unreleased?)
Rainy Season (1990) - Maxim Pshenichny, Alexej Petrov, Alexej Zubarev, Marc Shliamovitch,
Here's a concept ... Russian Space Rock. And an excellent concept it is, too. The Russian Boheme Music label has recently re-released the Return LP on CD, and it sounds great. The leader of this band was Maxim Pshenichny who went on to record at least one solo album, but I am unable to find information on this or any of the other Rainy Season LP's.
Return consists of three long cuts. The first two were obviously Side 1 of the original LP, and the third was a side-long cut on Side 2. The first two cuts might be described as Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour playing lead guitar with Daevid Allen doing spacey background chords using his "glissandoz guitar" technique and Pierre Moerlin playing percussive (marimba?) ostinatos. So it sounds a bit like Pink Floyd meets Gong. There's also a crazed guitar-synth solo on the first cut which doesn't sound like anything I've heard before ... very cool.
The third 20-minute long cut is far more electronic in its sound. Moody dark synths burble away as a backdrop to improvs over the top of both guitar and synth (or maybe that's an organ, though not a Hammond). It's mostly pretty hypnotic/melodic, though it does sometimes break up into atonal cacaphonies which slowly crystallize into melodies again. Very nicely done.
This album turns out to be one of my favorites from the Boheme collection. Highly recommended. -- Fred Trafton
The band was formed by Boris Bardash (keyboards, guitars, voices), Andrei Lavrinenko
(bass, percussion) and Alexei Petrov (drums, percussion) in St. Petersburg in 1979.
The "space-rock" aesthetics was adapted to their music much later, somewhere in 1986
with the appearance of a new member, Maxim Pshenichny (guitars, keyboards, flutes,
percussion). In this format the band recorded one (unpublished) studio album and played
a number of excellent concerts, combining long instrumental suites with the light show
and some theatrical elements.
In 1989 Bardash and Lavrinenko unexpectedly left the band to form a new group (their Ole Lukkøye is highly recommended to all fans of Ozric Tentacles or Korai Öröm!) The following three years were, perhaps, the most interesting in the history of the band; Pshenichny and Petrov were joined by Alexei Zubarev (guitars, keyboards, flutes, percussion). The most of the music of that period was built around the interplay between Pshenichny and Zubarev, supported by percussionist and other invited musicians. The Return album was recorded in 1992 in Vilnius (Lithuania) and produced on LP. This is a very solid conceptual work with many compositional elements to be developed on their next album, The Album of Herbs.
By that release Zubarev had left the band, and Pshenichny had to do the most of the music alone. He was accompanied by Alexei Petrov (percussion) and guest musicians - Dmitry Gusakov (bass), Oleg Degtyarev (acoustic guitar), and Alexei Ratzen (programming). I would say that with the departure of Zubarev the music has lost its intensity and complexity, though acquired very personal dramatic taste ... In fact, it was the first solo-album by Maxim Pshenichny. In 1997 he left for Sweden (I know nothing about his second solo, perhaps it was issued abroad).
Nostalgia, published independently by SoLyd Records label in 1997, is a retrospective collection of tracks recorded live in the period of 1988-1989. Very interesting release from the best times of Sezon Dojdei, unfortunately the quality of recording is rather poor. -- Igor Gorely
Click here for Boheme's web site
You can mail order Boheme titles by e-mailing to email@example.com
Click here for Maxim Pshenichny's Rainy Season web site
Space Hymns (71), Glass Top Coffin (75)
Early Vertigo band, a male/female duo making the sort of music you'd expect to hear on a hippie commune. "You're The Only One Joe" is one of those songs which sticks in your head for all of eternity. Members of 10cc played on Space Hymns, the one I heard, which is housed in an impressive poster cover. Novel, but definitely not essential. -- Mike Ohman
Il Lungo Cammino Dei Raminghi (71)
La Leyla (76)
Eternity Rise (78)
Light Fantastic (81)
Control Me (00)
|German semi-commercial prog rock band who made a few albums in the late seventies, and were then topped by the excellent Anyone's Daughter with whom they share some similarities. Close in style to the late seventies German bands a la Eloy, Grobschnitt, etc.|
La Leyla has some of the same simultaneously gruff and spacey aura as fellow Hanoverian bands
Eloy and Jane. However, Ramses'
guitar-keyboard team, the Langhorst brothers Norbert and Winfried, distinguish
the band from their bigger brothers with the kind of vivid and melodic interplay between the bluesy
lead guitar and synthesizer which Anyone's Daughter
would perfect a couple of years later. String-synthesizer assisted stretches of spacey lyricism
("Garden") alternate with angry organ riffs and Teutonic stomp ("War"), held together with overall
strong, though not exceptional songwriting that gives this a bit of tentative soft-rock egde over
the hard-rock air typical of those earlier groups. The tender melancholy of
Novalis comes to mind at places, though Ramses are never
as resplendent with their spacey moodiness. There is also a whiff of sweaty velvet in the combination
of lead vocalist Herbert Natho's rather deadpan rock delivery and Winfried Langhorst's
campy falsetto contributions, as well as in the streak of downright lechery intruding upon Natho's
now hopelessly naïve-sounding sermonising (especially "Someone Like You"). A very direct and engaging
album of unexceptional style.
Eternity Rise is a more polished album in sound and arrangements, even incorporating a string-section as a colouring agent. "City Life" and "Windy" employ more acoustic textures, are closer to conventional pop-rock and work quite well as a result. Elsewhere, however, the brawny immediacy of La Leyla tends to be mired by spaciness of the wrong kind, i.e. compositional hollowness which the sonorous Genesisoid cadences and sonic lustre cannot completely camouflage. "Agitation Play" picks up the reins with some surprisingly vigorous, organ-led instrumental spacerock, and the 11-minute title track redeems the album with its passionate symphonic progressive rock. Its closing section, the grand Hackett-like guitar line soaring and spiralling over a Banksian organ march, is probably the group's single greatest musical moment. Those unwilling to choose between the rough and concise La Leyla and the more sophisticated but fickle Eternity Rise don't have to do so, for both are available on a single CD (Sky CD 32/101-102).
By Light Fantastic the pop-rock streak of Eternity Rise had become the dominant strand in Ramses' music. Most of the songs are built on standard rock-guitar riffs, simple drum rhythms, light-weight pop melodies and catchy choruses. The Langhorsts and the second keyboard player Matthias Möller get to lay down a few interesting instrumental lines and solos, especially on the longer tracks "Force of Habit" and "Earth in the Dark", but this is unlikely to appease many progressive-rock fans. The one instrumental, "Across the Everglades", is a stereotypical German synthesizer instrumental: a pulsing synth bassline, monotonous 4/4 rhythm and spacey synth effects frame a droning, minor-key harmonic progression and an unremarkable solo synthesizer line. This has been done better by countless others. Same could be said of the album itself. The CD (Sky CD 3050) has a bonus track, "Noise" - which is in fact a US version of "War" with new lyrics (apparently the Vietnam reference in the original was deemed unsuitable for sensitive American ears).
A mere nineteen years after Light Fantastic, Ramses released Control Me as a comeback album. Sadly, the only real development has been in the production department. The kind of homogenised, early-1990s AOR sound permeates this, and the music its power guitars and sprightly synth pads convey is unfortunately no more distinctive. Even the relative innocence and charm of Control Me has been lost in the flood of new technology, even though the musicians are still quite proficient. Still, Ramses' one-time rivals and victors Anyone's Daughter didn't fare much better on their own comeback album Danger World. -- Kai Karmanheimo
Random Hold (79, EP)
The View From Here (80)
Avalanche (82, Compilation of the first two + others)
Burn the Buildings (82)
Over View (01, Compilation)
The View From Here (01, 2CD, re-release with extra live material)
View With Suspicion (09, Compilation + preview of upcoming CD)
Differing Views (09, 2CD, Compilation)
|Straight out of the Roxy / Eno / Manzanera / Gabriel school of progressive pop-rock, i.e. quirky yet polished and professional. Featured David Rhodes (Gabriel) on guitar and Bill McCormack (Manzanera, Quiet Sun) on bass. Produced by Peter Hammill (Van Der Graaf Generator), and his influence is felt.|
Warning: The following entry was inherited from the original GEPR, and has
been reproduced here as it was in the original version, in spite of the fact that it
contains some disinformation. See the last entry for clarification. --Ed.
Random Hold is a person and a group, the person being Ian McCormick, the band composed of many of his mates from Phil Manzanera's 801, aside from Manzanera himself. Not surprisingly, the music is not unlike some of the artistes for whom Manzanera played over the years: Eno, early Roxy Music, et al. The band's first release was a self-titled EP in 1979, followed the next year by a full-length album The View From Here, produced by Peter Hammill. His influence can be heard in McCormick's overdramatic vocals, also perhaps influenced in part by Eno. There is some excellent synth playing here, and bits of good guitarwork. Best track is probably "With People Out Of Love," which builds slowly to a vicious climax. Etceteraville is a compilation of tracks from View and the EP. -- Mike Ohman
|Discography updated 4/18/05 to include Over View|
Random Hold has gone through 10 different line-ups over the years ... I know this because they are enumerated in the liner notes from their new (2009) compilation CD View With Suspicion. The history of the band is convoluted and confusing, at least in part because it's hard to define exactly what "the band" is. View With Suspicion, for instance, contains works from founder David Ferguson's other project, Nine Ways to Win, here presented as Random Hold pieces. I believe at least one of the ten Random Hold line-ups is actually the Nine Ways to Win line-up, the only constant in all variants being Ferguson.
The previous entry describing Random Hold as Ian MacCormick's band is way off the mark. First of all, it's not Ian but Bill MacCormick who was a member of Random Hold (and also 801, Quiet Sun and Matching Mole among others). Bill's brother Ian was the vocalist for Quiet Sun, but not 801, and was never involved with Random Hold.
Random Hold's founders were David Ferguson and David Rhodes, who met at an 801 concert. They were diappointed, calling them too "mainstream", and decided they could do better. Some of the songs on View With Suspicion do have a bit of an 801 feel, and I certainly like them better than 801's sole studio album Listen Now!. It was only later that Bill MacCormick joined them (and is, I believe the only member of 801 to have done so, in spite of what the previous entry implies). As long as we're dropping names, Rhodes went on to become well-known supporting and collaborating with Peter Gabriel while Ferguson became a writer for film and TV, and was chaiman of BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) from 2002 to 2008.
Voiceprint has released a couple of new Random Hold compilations in 2009. Both View With Suspicion and Differing Views are compilations of old material, some previously released, some previously unreleased, some demos and a bonus video on CD2 of Differing Views. The lack of any real cohesive albums, musical styles or line-ups doubtless contributed to the fact that Random Hold is virtually unknown in the music world in general or the prog world in particular (they don't even have an entry over at ProgArchives). The whole first side of Differing Views is a re-release of Burn the Buildings, the Furguson-led version of Random Hold that sounds more like a mix of Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and Gary Numan with the chick from Berlin singing than 801 or any other prog act you could name. That doesn't make it bad ... in the '80's, I really liked this kind of music, and this is a pretty cool album for that style (but it does explain why there's no entry over at ProgArchives).
Ferguson died of pancreatic cancer on July 5, 2009, but it is rumored that he had recorded some new music under the Random Hold name, and that Voiceprint may release it in the coming months. Until then, the combination of View With Suspicion and Differing Views will provide an excellent overview of the output of this enigmatic band. If you like 801 and the better, more "dangerous" '80's New Wave music, you may find that Random Hold is your new favorite "lost band". -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See 801 | Gabriel, Peter | Hammill, Peter | Manzanera, Phil | Matching Mole | Quiet Sun]|
Places We Go (01, 2CD)
Hammering on Moonlight (02)
A Parade of Dusty Hobos (03)
The You Tomorrow (04, CD/DVD)
The Elegance of Falling (05)
Alchemy (07, CD/DVD)
A True Conductor Wears a Man (07)
A Box and a Word (08)
Random Touch - (not in photo order) Christopher Brown (drums, percussion, processed
vocals), James Day (keyboards), Scott Hamill (guitar, banjo, slide guitar, mandolin),
Matthew Ebbin (video cameras)
Original Entry, 2/29/08:
Random Touch can't really be called "melodic" since there's little in the way of "melodies" in their 2007 album A True Conductor Wears a Man. But I would call it more "harmonic" than a lot of other albums in the Avant Rock category, with notes from each instrument that harmonize with each other while also wandering randomly around in a way that tells me this music is probably highly (or totally) improvised. There are no "lyrics" in the sense of words that are sung as melodies, but there are some processed vocal "poetry" sections that add to the eerie atmospheres being conjured by the instruments. Random Touch also works with pictures, using their music as the soundtracks to disturbing, artsy video projects, many of which are available for viewing on their web site (see below).
I like this sort of thing in small doses, and one album of a band who does it as well as Random Touch doesn't exceed my patience. A somewhat back-handed way of saying I liked A True Conductor Wears a Man, I guess, but I did like it. I just wouldn't want to listen to more of this genre again today. -- Fred Trafton
Duolog is a bit different. It seems to be a side project of Christopher Brown and Scott Hamill, so the album is pretty much drums and guitar (thus Duolog, get it?), with Brown also contributing some bizarre vocals run through a harmonizer/delay. No prog-metal guitar here, though. This is very spacey, sound-effecty guitars with lots of echo, reverb and other studio treatments applied. I'm guessing the "synthesizer" sounds are guitar synth. It's pretty tough to tell the difference, after all. The drums are also treated in the studio, and the whole thing sounds like an acid trip. I'd be surprised if this wasn't 100% improvised in the studio. Pretty cool.
I must be more in the mood today for some reason ... I just listened to these back-to-back and I'm still not bored. Recommended for fans of bizarre, atonal music with limited melody. No, really, I mean that in a good way ... -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Random Touch's web site
Morte di un Amore (02)
Morte di un Amore is an album that straddles the fences between movie music, progressive rock and adult pop. It is very slickly recorded with a real "big studio" sheen, emotional vocals (in Italian) and flirtations with lots of styles including reggae, ambient, night club entertainment (think '70's Tom Jones or maybe Neil Diamond), and even some Simon and Garfunkelish folk (must be the recorders, sounding like "El Condor Pasa"), all backed by thick string (mostly keyboards, though there seems to be some real strings too) orchestrations and acoustic guitar strumming. Actually, some of it reminds of Pink Floyd a bit, though not as bluesy (and missing Dave Gilmour's guitar solos). Songs are frequently separated by sound effects like breaking surf, screeching cats or radio broadcasts of Hitler.
The main instrument here is clearly Randone's vocals, with nothing too startling happening in the other instruments. Randone calls himself a "psycho-existential" artist (whatever that means), and making CD's is only one of the art forms he utilizes. He also works with odd photographic images and collages. In fact, it may be easier to understand this CD as the output of an "artist" rather than a "musician". It follows, then, that this would be more categorized as "art-rock" than "prog", at least by my pideonholing. I can't even tell from his artistic (but confusing) web site whether this is his only CD or if he's released other music.
There are some nice but not too threatening guitar solos here, but this is mostly a vocal album. Too bad I can't speak Italian ... this seems as if it must be a concept album telling a story, but if so I don't know what the story is. My admittedly poor Italian translates Morte di un Amore as "Death of a Love", and if this is a concept album, that would explain the photo of the beautiful naked young woman on the inside cover, who in spite of being beautiful, looks dead. Or at least as if she's about to lose her lunch. Or perhaps she's simply bored witless.
"Morte di un amore" is also the title of the last song, a piece which continues beyond the 6:58 listed on the CD jacket, proceeds into a thunderstorm, and continues with ... uhm ... is it the entire piece played again backwards? It's certainly some piece played backwards. I do like that sound, it always sounds so surreal. If you let your CD player repeat back to the beginning, the backwards part nearly merges with the opening backwards part, making the CD close in a loop. Interesting, and it seems as if this must be done on purpose.
I don't know if most GEPR readers would find this to be a particularly interesting release, but I liked it. Recommended if you like vocal-oriented entertainers, and this one has a proggy edge to make him more interesting. But this isn't a highly experimental or challenging release, so if that's what you like, this one's not for you. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Nicola Randone's web site.
Randy Pie (73, aka Sightseeing Tour), Highway Driver (74, aka Randy Pie), Kitsch (75), England England (76), Fast Forward (77)
Composed of Hamburg's leading lights, Randy Pie take a very dated approach to fusion on Highway Driver. Their apparent desire is to mix jazz-rock a la Kraan with a more straightforward funk style like the Olympic Runners. Unfortunately, much of this is treading perilously close to the dreaded D-word, using staccato high-end strings, falsetto vocal harmonies and wailing horns as well as relentless thumping bass drum on songs like the title track and "Microfilm." But the musicianship is obviously of a high calibre, singer Bernd Wippich has a great punchy, soulful rock voice, and there are good moments. One in particular of interest to prog-heads: the mostly acoustic "Winter Song", which has some good flute playing reminding of Jethro Tull, and some interesting scoring for strings. It doesn't sound like you'd expect. -- Mike Ohman
No albums released as of 2006
Rapid Eye Movement - Dave Stewart (keyboards), Rick Biddulph (bass), Jakko Jakszyk (guitar)
and Pip Pyle (drums)
No, not that R.E.M. This was a group formed in the U.K. by Dave Stewart after his departure from Bruford. The band never released an album, but guitarist Jakko Jakszyk says there were some studio recordings made and several fair-quality live recordings. He is talking to Stewart about the possibility of releasing these, but as of this writing (1/3/07), this has not yet happened. It is said to be very Canterbury-sounding.
When Rapid Eye Movement never really made it, Stewart decided to give up on prog and create adult pop albums with one-time Northette Barbara Gaskin. Jakszyk contributed on several of those albums as well. But Stewart and Jakszyk have recently reunited on a solo album of Jakszyk's, which has a large amount of prog content along with some nice adult AOR (see entry for Jakszyk, Jakko). -- Fred Trafton
[See Bruford |
Hatfield and the North |
Jakszyk, Jakko |
National Health |
Pyle, Pip |
Stewart, Dave |
Click here for a bit of info on Rapid
Eye Movement from Jakko Jakszyk's web site
Hard to Beat (87)
Space Piper (91)
|Rock with bagpipes and flutes, sometimes funky, sometimes spacey. Pat O'Gorman, flutes and pipes, and Grier Coppins, pipes and synthesizers, were the core members, joined on the first two albums by Dick Murai, bass and guitar, and Trevor Ferrier, drums. The music on Hard to Beat and Primeval ranges from a bagpipe march with ominous synthesizer harmonies to a vigorous version of Roland Kirk's "Volunteer Slavery." Throughout Murai and Ferrier's energetic bass and drums keep the music lively. Christian Frappier and Richard Greenspoon replace Murai and Ferrier on Space Piper, which is a little more polished than its predecessors, a little more spacey, a little less eccentric and a little less interesting, though still quite listenable. -- Don McClane|
for a brief bio on the Canadian Music Encyclopedia web site
Rare Bird (69)
As Your Mind Flies By (70)
Epic Forest (72)
Somebody's Watching (73)
Born Again (74)
Rare Bird (75)
Sympathy (76, Compilation)
|I have their first album from 1969. Heavily organ dominated music, there are no guitars or flutes, just drums, bass, and organ. The opening cut, "Iceburg" sounds very similar to Highest Bidder era Supersister. There are vocals on nearly all, if not all, songs. For this album anyway, the music is song oriented and there isn't much development within a song. There also doesn't seem to be much change from song to song across the album. There are some nice moments here and there, e.g., "God of War," and the entire album has a nice underground feel to it. I've not heard later albums, so I don't know how the band matured over the years. If you like the organ, you may want to check out their compilation, Sympathy. But, given this style, I'd just as soon hear Supersister which has much more variety and ultimately sustains my interest more than this band.|
|The first album has its moments, but really only rises above mediocre songs a couple of times. The two singers' voices and instrumental ideas show promise, which is much more in evidence on their second release, As Your Mind Flies. This has better developed songs and a side-long progressive suite full of great riffs. No guitars which was fairly unusual for the time. Epic Forest showed a great maturing of song writing, playing and composing ability. Somebody's Watching and Born Again were also excellent, although they were gradually tending more towards the standard song format. Still, their harmonies and instrumental ideas were excellent. These are albums I don't get tired of listening to. The Sympathy CD is merely the same material that appeared on an LP of the same name pressed in 1976 that included songs from their first two LPs. It only runs about 30 minutes and is a ripoff if you pay more than about $10 U.S. for it. Frankly, on the strength of this collection alone, you don't get a very impressive view of what this band was capable of. -- Tim Scott|
|Aside from Julian Jay Savarin and the big names (Yes, Van der Graaf, King Crimson) Rare Bird's debut was one of the first albums of real audible evidence of British prog rock. A quartet composed of a bassist/singer, two keyboardists (one on organ, the other on electric piano) and a drummer, their sound was built around the haunting organ work of Graham Field and the passionate vocals of Steve Gould. Not surprisingly, the long tracks are the standouts: "Beautiful Scarlet" and "Iceberg" emphasizing the band's aforementioned strong points perfectly. The rest of the songs are short and often poppy, "Sympathy" became something of a hit single in the UK. As Your Mind Flies By is their finest hour, including a sidelong piece that varies from symphonic to spacy to heavy. Epic Forest adds guitar and percussion, and subtracts Graham Field, leaving American Dave Kaffinetti their only keyboardist. The music is for the most part folkier and more subdued, with the nine-minute title song and "Title No. 1 Again (Birdman)" being the best songs. The emphasis is shifted from organ to dual-guitar interplay. Later albums are for the most part faceless pop/rock with folky tinges. Somebody's Watching does include a prog piece, an interpretation of themes from Ennio Morricone's "A Fistful Of Dollars" soundtrack. Born Again isn't really prog at all, though "Last Tango In Beulah" has some Supertramp-esque keyboard work, "Peace of Mind" and "Redman" are nice, and "Harlem" has a powerful, affecting vocal by Gould. -- Mike Ohman|
Freaks Obscure (80, Cassette/Reel To Reel)
We're God (80, Cassette/Reel To Reel, re-released on CD 97)
Riding On A Bummer (84, LP, re-released on CD 05)
Happy Accidents (88, LP, re-released on CD 96)
Purple Entrapment (95)
Riding on a Lavender Freak (98, 2CD Compilation)
Holly's Biaural Curiosity (98, CD Compilation?)
The Foul-Tempered Clavier (01)
The Mind Boggles (06?)
Steve Kretzmer Solo:
Steve Gore Solo:
Rascal Reporters 2000 - Steve Gore and Steve Kretzmer
Wells of progressive music will never run dry. And it is fine so. I thought for years, that RR have only one album out. As it seems now, this number will soon rise to twenty times that [a huge boxset of 12 discs or so is said to be planned for this or next year!!!] Their formula of melting Zappa, Canterbury, RIO and Residents is assuming rather lethal dimensions. Presumably all are not essential, but one will have to try 'em all sooner or later. -- Nenad Kobal
|Links||Click here for Rascal Reporters web site|
The General Statement Of The Problem (89)
The Square of Salvation (90)
Suite T (92)
|Unusual Russian synthesist.|
Walking a Fullmoon Dog (94)
Fistful of Iffy (98)
Rattlemouth - Paul Watson (?), Danny Finney (saxes, vocals), Robbie Kinter (drums),
Tom Brickman (bass)
Hamsa (76), Hamsa Music (81), Feel Good At Last (84), Under the Magnolias (89)
Richard Raux was sax player on Magmas first LP. Hamsa is his first solo recording featuring an African rhythm group. On this one (wich is quite rare) you find fusion with African influences, very good (not zeuhl!). -- Achim Breiling
[See Delired Cameleon Family | Magma; First two albums are by Hamsa Music, second two are Raux solo.]
Raw Material (70)
Time Is Rare (71, aka Time is ...?)
|Time is ... is a good example of the British early prog scene. A five-piece of drums, bass/a.guitar, keys/vox, guitars and sax/flute/vox, Raw Material have their roots in a blusey and often hard-rocking ground, but they branch out into interesting directions. The blaring sax work and the almost gothic vocal melody on the opening track "Ice Queen" evokes the spirit of King Crimson, while the second track "Empty Houses" is mostly a straight-ahead hardrocker but contains a calmer middle section with an interesting-sounding saxophone solo. "Insolent Lady" and "Sun God" are both longer (9 - 11 minutes), three-part compositions with folky acoustic moments, hard rock sections and then some keyboard-assisted (mainly organ and piano) pomposity that hints at the nascent symphonic rock sound of the time. Two quite straightforward rock tunes round out the album. Hardly an essential album, but certainly of interest to those wishing to explore the development of the genre. Raw but potent material. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Constructing Scenes From the Memory (??)
Raymaker is a Boston-based progressive rock band comprised of: Pat Raymaker - keyboards and vocals, Pete Zacco - guitar, Mike Mallory - bass, occasional keyboards, Geoff Chase - drums and percussion. They have a single CD release entitled Constructing Scenes From The Memory, available at Tower Records in Boston, and a promo tape of a 15-minute song entitled "Descent Into Loneliness" available from the band. The band is comprised of former and current Berklee School of Music students. Pat Raymaker has also composed a rock opera entitled "Portrait Of A Hero" as a soundtrack project. Their musical style could probably best be described as a far more progressive Dream Theater.
Reale Accademia Di Musica (72), Adriano Monteduro (74)
Another great Italian band.
Two albums of romantic rock.
[See Fholks, I | Uovo Di Colombo, L']
The Path (92)
|Here's a band that sounds more like Yes than Yes itself. These guys have focused in on CttE and ToTO period Yes, studied every composition, styling, nuance, and generally have assumed the character of that band, and in fact have done it quite faithfully, with the only notable exception being Squire's bass stylings. To my ears, vocalist/guitarist Darrel Studna sounds *exactly* like Jon Anderson, and keyboardist Steve Vail sounds enough like Wakeman to fool all but the most discriminating listeners. If you liked Yes in those old days and wish they still sounded that way, wish no more ... pick this album up and imagine it's 1973 again.|
|Realm is released on Syn-Phonic, is very much Yes influenced, and, as with all Syn-phonic releases, full of instrumental virtuosity. Vocal duties are carried out by Darrell Studna who has learnt his lessons well at the altar of Guru Jon Anderson, and, interestingly enough, two of the three members of the band acknowledge Rick Wakeman with Special Thanks! Unlike most Syn-phonic releases, this is all new music, recorded in 1992, though prominent use of Moog and Moog Bass by keyboardist Steve Vail help turn back the clock. In conclusion, this is sure to please followers of Yes, who may not have quite adjusted yet to 90125.|
|Wait a minute! Do my ears deceive me or is this a long lost Yes release? No, it is the debut release by the mid-western group Realm and could easily be the best Yes release they never recorded. Hailing from Kansas City, Missouri Realm is Steve Vail (keyboards and synths), Lake Furney (drums and percussion), and Darrell Studan (guitars and vocals). Studan's voice is a dead ringer for Jon Anderson and Vail has his Rick Wakeman chops down pat. In fact, both Studan and Vail extend a special thank you to Rick Wakeman for his help with this album. Most of The Path is a tribute to God and nature. Off by itself is "Little Bottle," a protest song about Tianamen Square. The high point of the CD is the title track, an upbeat song about death and the afterlife making use of unusual timbres. The beautiful artwork (akin to the psychedelic guru contemplation art of the late 60s), full color picture disk, and the CD booklet with nature photographs, lyrics, and band photos makes for an artistic and pleasurable package.|
|I can't allow this charade to go on. This is NOT a 90's version of Yes! Everything they do is amaturish, sloppy and uninspired. The vocalist does NOT sound anything like Jon Anderson, seeing how Darrell Studna of Realm is constantly flat, totally lacks personality, and sings in a stupid falsetto voice which makes this sound like some novelty comedy project. The drummer even makes several major mistakes, but that sort of blends nicely with this whole half-assed output. Generally an awful 80's production complete with synthdrums, lined guitars (as opposed to putting a mic in front of them), and a Kurzweil synth! This guy even listed the different sounds he used on the Kurzweil synth (as if that would make him a versatile keyboard player?). I figured I like Gentle Giant in the 90's shape of early Spock's Beard; Genesis in the 90's shape of early Flower Kings; why not a pseudo Yes? Well, these guys aren't it. Yes weren't just a sound (something these guys don't come close to anyway), they also wrote some of the best music there ever was; Realm couldn't write a decent song to save their third-rate wannabe hinds. Stay clear!!! -- Daniel|
|Links||[See System | Vail]|
Nothing Is Lost (88)
Letting Go (89)
Sea of Glass (92)
Sacred Space (01)
Kaleida Visions (01)
The name Sea of Glass becomes this album: it slushes with wave after wave of polished textures that reflect the multi-coloured clouds drifting above. Coupled with the fact that the pleasant enough but simple melodies and patterns tend to run on the spot rather than spin out, this puts it closer to new age sedative than progressive stimulant. Still Reaves' exquisitely honed soundscapes often manage to evoke emotive responses by the strength of rich layering and delicate contrasts between timbres. The build-up of thundering drum sequences and textures behind the solemn, monophonic melody of "Evolutions" and the simple modulation from crystalline harp-tones to weepy pads on "Aurora" are the two most salient examples to emerge from this glittering but a bit inconsequential musical sea. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Good nashville electronic musician.|
|Links||Click here for Giles Reaves' web site|
|German symphonic band from the early 80's, highly touted. Both extremely rare.|
|Rebekkaís first album Phoenix is archetypical symphonic rock, sounding like a cross between Illusion-era Renaissance and Camel. The soft female vocals and the heavy use of acoustic guitar and piano remind of the former, while the prominent and melodic electric guitar and synthesizers bring to mind the latter. Melodic, folky, often beautiful, the music is well-written and performed, just not terribly fresh or original (even for 1982). Still worth an audition if you like the above-mentioned bands. The CD re-release is by Musea (FGBG 4083.AR) and features a 12-minute bonus track "Lotos", which shows heavier Eastern influence, though retaining the overall symphonic style, and apparently reflects the bandís more improvisatory live performances. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
As Crianças da Nova Floresta (77)
|A re-recording of an out-of-print album. The new album sounds like a mixture of neo-prog and new age with a Brazilian touch of folk. Why didn't they simply put the vinyl on CD ? -- Jean-François Cousin|
Don't Open (70), Music or Not Music (71)
Crazy band. On Music or Not Music you find, as the title may imply, a weird mix of everything (styles, voices and noises) baked with a strong rhythm group. Sometimes you are reminded of Gong or a Canterbury kind of fusion. Very good and higly recommended. I don't know anything about their first. -- Achim Breiling
Comparable to Brand X with a little Mahavishnu Orchestra thrown in?
Parable of Arable Land (67)
God Bless the Red Crayola and All Who Sail with It (68)
Corrected Slogans (76, w/ Art & Language)
Kangaroo? (81, w/ Art & Language)
Black Snakes (83 w/ Art & Language)
Three Songs on a Trip to the United States (84) Malefactor, Ade (89)
The Red Krayola (94)
Amor and Language (95)
Coconut Hotel (95, Recorded 1967)
... more releases
|Father of Pere Ubu. I have very little info on them and only one LP (they made a couple I believe). The LP I have is a reissue (again I'm not sure, it's been 10+ since).|
|I have their first two on one CD. There are about a billion tracks as these guys are way weird and like short songs. Not a good production job and the music is mainly really out there psych with an undercurrent of sinister weirdness. VERY strange ... avoid if you like nice things.|
|Links||[See Pere Ubu]|
Red Dirt (70)
Sting In The Tale (90)
Action Replay (92)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (93)
A Winter's Tale (94)
|This band from Wales includes five members on vocals/flutes, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. The style on A Winter's Tale is common to a bunch of British bands who produce simple symphonic rock based on fantastic themes. In fact, it's the strong presence of the singer (deep voice) and a bit of folk inspiration that set the tone of a music that uses a very familiar formula. The instrumental performances are solid and involve the usual arrangements. A quality production of most interest to unconditional fans. -- Paul Charbonneau|
|From what I have heard, Red Jasper's early works carried a strong folk vibe. Anagramary (Cymbeline Records CYMPL 5082-2), however, is squarely entrenched in the British neo-prog sound, its simpler and harder end. The opener "Perfect Symmetry" is a perfect example: Fish-influenced vocals and lyrics and a Steve Rothery school guitar solo in what is otherwise a pretty simple pomp rock tune. There is some detectable folk influence, especially in the guest violin solo of "In the Name of Empire" and the Celtic/Arabic fusion of "Babylon Rising", but it's mostly icing on the cake and does little to distract from the well-worn hard rock and neo-prog mannerisms. The melody count is equally unexceptional, with few truly affective melodies that the masters of the genre distinguish themselves with. The two ballads sung by the drummer, "In Her Eyes" and "Through the Dawn", carry the best hooks but are stylistically different, almost MOR. It's the album's two instrumentals that stick out: the infectious "Flag" has lots of sizzling synthesizer and melodic guitar, while the sequenced percussion on "Waterfalls (Rhaedreau)" momentarily makes it sound like a tribal version of "Phaedra", before the solemn guitar solo comes sweeping in to close the album.|
|... that is [the] complete [discography] because the band split in 1997 ... -- Frank Blades|
Death of the Red Masque (01, EP)
Victoria and the Haruspex (02)
Beggars and Thieves (03, 40-minute EP Promo)
Feathers for Flesh (04)
Stars Fall On Me (09, Live at Orion Studios)
The Red Masque (2004 Feathers for Flesh line-up) - Vonorn (drums, keys, theremin, guitar,
bass, vocals), Brandon Ross (bass, acoustic guitar, keys, vocals), Lynnette Shelley (vocals,
erhu, psaltery, the conundrum, objects) and Kiarash Emami (electric and acoustic guitars,
mandolin, keys, vocals).
The Red Masque have an EP that is available from Musea named Death of the Red Masque. Or, you can do what I did and download all three cuts from the MP3.com site and build your own version of the EP. [Well, you can't any more ...]. It's worth the work, or if you don't have a CDR burner, it's well worth the pittance they're asking for the DAM CD.
This music is a mixture of avant-garde anarchy, metallic guitar (in a Crimsonesque sort of way) stylings, and a dash of space-rock improv. Imagine the early noisy guitar-oriented music of Daevid Allen (Camembert Electrique era Gong or Bananamoon), but without the glissandoz guitar; add some early Hawkwind space metal (e.g. Doremi Fasol Latido) to the mix. Finally, add Lynnette Shelley's alto-range vocals which can switch from breathy, wordless operatic loftiness to Janis Joplin growl at any moment. Add a dash of gothic feel (a particularly interesting pipe organ section) and you have the vaguest of ideas about what this band sounds like. Heavy, chaotic, dense and quite captivating. I'm sure they're a blast to see live ... too bad I missed their pre-NEARfest concert in 2001, but I got to Allentown too late to see them. -- Fred Trafton
In 2002, The Red Masque's first full-length album Victoria and the Haruspex was released. It's both similar to and different from Death of the Red Masque. The first cut, "Haruspex" is more than 20 minutes long. It's part "sound collage" (music boxes, toy pianos and other odd sound sources) mixed with vaguely musical guitar, bass, drum and concert harp musings. The only vocals in this piece are Lynnette Shelley's Gilli Smyth-like moaning and breathy wordless vocalizing. This is the least "traditional" piece on the CD, and will undoubtedly be the most difficult going for those interested in vocals, harmony and melody. However, I loved it ... of course, I'm the guy who thought "Earth Dreams" on the second Persephone's Dream album, Moonspell was the best piece on the album, though most other reviewers panned it as "pointless noise".
Actually, Persephone's Dream isn't too bad of a reference point for the rest of Victoria and the Haruspex, with the female vocals and gloomy "goth" vibe. But Victoria is darker and less accessable (what can you expect from a band who prints "The Red Masque would like to thank and hail Cthulhu" on the back of their CD?). The rest of the pieces remind me a band I had only one EP of ... Moev (sort of a dark ambient new-wave band), who also had a female vocalist (Madeline Morris) and sang songs about rotting geraniums and other nasty stuff. Victoria and the Haruspex is an excellent second outing for this up-and-coming avant-garde band. But if you play it just before bedtime, you may suffer from dark dreams. Noit Noit. Kiss Kiss. -- Fred Trafton
Well, it's about time I finally got around to mentioning The Red Masque's newest offering, Feathers For Flesh. It's a logical next step from Victoria and the Haruspex, especially showing the growth in the core members Lynnette Shelley's vocals and Brandon Ross's bass. Both are more varied, complex and just plain professional-sounding than in previous albums. Shelley displays a huge range of growls, hisses, angry vexation, searing pain and dulcet sweetness in her voice. Her style straddles the line between poetry reading, alternative rock vocals and operatic soprano. The drum/bass interplay frequently reminds me of Magma's (earlier non-jazz-tinted) works, especially with some of the counterpoint vocal blasts punctuating the music. There's also foreboding gothic organ, electronics that float in the bleakest reaches of cold, uncaring space, black doom-ridden metal guitars and vocal ensembles that sound like Hell's answer to Gregorian chants.
If all this sounds like a downer, well ... it is, in a way. It's a little like reading an H. P. Lovecraft story, full of mystery, insanity and fear, but also full of awe and wonder at just how strange, how beyond our everyday experience the real universe out there can be. It's all so well done that you can let all the gloom wash over you and come up feeling refreshed on the other side rather than depressed. At least, that's the effect it has on me. But then I'm also a Lovecraft fan. Can you tell?
Not for the faint of heart! But I now say that I must retract my comment about their last album, calling The Red Masque an "up-and-coming avant-garde band". They're not up-and-coming ... they've arrived. Look out, Philadelphia! Look out, Universe! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!
Further, I can report that The Red Mask are almost done with their next album. Lynnette Shelley tells me, "this album is more heavy that the last (not in a metal way but in a more intense way) and we've incorporated some new sounds (like accordion). We also have a lot of insect and nature imagery (used as metaphors). The songs will also push boundaries more, in my opinion. The rhythm section is definitely more prevalent on this as well." The new album doesn't have a title yet, but they will be changing labels for this release. Though The Red Mask had no issues with their former label Big Balloon Records, and in fact appreciates the support they have received from the company, they feel that the new label will be a better fit for their musical style. Though they've asked me not to publicly announce the name of the new label yet, I must agree. I'll try to give an update when more info is available. -- Fred Trafton
Well, the new Red Masque album Fossileyes still hasn't been released yet. I don't know why. Chances are good I'll run into Lynnette and Brandon at NEARFest in a couple of weeks, and I'll ask why that is. In the meantime, Lynnette sings a stellar guest vocal on a new release from Ethereal, so you may want to pick that up while you wait. -- Fred Trafton
About time I got around to updating The Red Masque again. They've released two albums since I last updated their GEPR entry, and both of them are excellent. The first is their long-awaited studio album Fossileyes, and the second is a Live album, Stars Fall On Me, which has excellent sound due to the fact of it being recorded live at Orion Studios. I'll focus this review mostly on Fossileyes, especially since the live album takes much of its material from there.
Fossileyes, as Lynnette told me about four years ago now, is more aggressive rhythmically than previous albums. It's still got that dark, gloomy, strange, otherworldly, "end-of-the-universe and wish-I-wasn't-here" feel to it. Gritty "King Crimson-meets-the-Sex-Pistols" rock passages vie with accordions, disturbing overdubbed vocalizations and odd-noise-soundscapes for ear time. If these folks have never heard Robert Fripp's League of Gentlemen album, I'll bet they'd like it. But Fripp's got nothing on The Red Masque when it comes to dissonances and noise.
But don't take the King Crimson comparisons too much to heart. If I had to pidgeonhole The Red Masque in any particular category, it would be RIO, a fact borne out by the fact that both ReR and Wayside Music carry this title in their catalogs. Actually, like most modern prog bands, they probably do more download business than actual hard media ... I downloaded both Fossileyes and Stars Fall On Me from emusic, and the quality of both is quite good (though they still incorrectly name the live album as Stars FELL On Me). Stars ..., in fact, is download-only.
Fossileyes is good stuff, and if you're a fan of The Red Masque's previous albums, you'll already know this is a must-have. For those of you who aren't yet in on The Red Masque's cult, this album might be your entry ticket. Hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride. But, in the end, a rewarding one. A very interesting, rule-breaking band that actually doesn't like to be called "prog" because they don't like being pigeonholed into even this broad category. They're just doing what they like, and would be happy if you like it too, and want to come along for the ride.
Stars Fall On Me features "Carbon 14", "Das Snail" and "The Spider is the Web" from Fossileyes, plus "Passage" and "House of Ash" from Feathers for Flesh and "Birdbrain" from Victoria and the Haruspex. The album ends with a nearly 20-minute improv. The recording quality is excellent, sometimes it's hard to be sure if you're listening to the live or the studio versions of these songs, particularly the Fossileyes cuts. If you're a Red Masque fan, you're going to really want this album, available only as a download. For those not yet in the know, go with Fossileyes first.
You can also check out video of this concert. But I'll warn you, the sound on the video is not the quality of the Stars Fall On Me download ... I'd say the sound on this was picked up on the camcorder's microphone. The video's not exactly pro quality, but hey, what do you want for free? Links below. -- Fred Trafton
[See Ethereal |
Click here for The Red Masque's web site
The following links are for video of the concert performed live at Orion Studios from which Stars Fall On Me was recorded:
Carbon 14/Das Snail, Passage, House of Ash, The Spider Is The Web, Birdbrain, Improvisation/Tidal.
Unique experimental/electronic band with influences as diverse as Frank Zappa and Syd Barrett. No relation to Bill Nelson's Red Noise.
Experimental/underground prog featuring Patrick Vian and John Livengood.
[See Alpha Du Centaure | Spacecraft | Vian, Patrick]
Mirror of Insanity (04)
Gentry (05, Limited edition of 3000 CD's, currently sold out)
Human Trafficking (07)
Red Sand - (Standing) Mathieu Gosselin (bass), Pierre Massicotte (keyboards), Simon Caron (guitar),
Jean-Louis Croteau (drums), (Seated) Stéphane Dorval (vocals)
Original entry, 7/11/06:
Red Sand likes LONG songs, in the 18-minute range, though both albums are relatively short for CD's (about the right length for LP's, around 40 minutes). If I had to register a complaint, I'd have to say it's that the texture of the songs stays fairly consistently slow and melancholic. They rarely rise to the faster, rockin' out tempos that Marillion would sometimes do, and this makes the music a bit on the sleepy and depressing side. Still, if you're looking for a band that can scratch that itch for more "Genesis-Lite" (as Marillion is sometimes accused of being), then rub some Red Sand on that itch for instant relief!
One other thing I have to mention is that I really like the cover art on their two CD's. It harks back to the days of "I'm sure these paintings are trying to tell me something, if I could only figure it out!" from both Whitehead's Genesis album covers and Wilkinson's Marillion covers. I haven't been able to listen carefully enough to the lyrics to see if they're related to the cover art, but I know that I want to do so!
Gentry was originally released in a limited edition of 3000 copies, and these are currently all sold out. Still, something tells me that if they got the idea they could sell another batch of them, they might be convinced to make another run. So go to their web site and tell them! The original run of Mirror of Insanity sold out too, but it is now available in a remastered version. -- Fred Trafton
Red Sand is working on a new album for release in 2007 (maybe late 2006) entitled Human Trafficking. A reissue of Gentry may happen in 2007 as well. -- Fred Trafton
Human Trafficking was released in June of 2007. Sonically similar to the previous albums, it's full of sustained-forever guitar solos and thick keyboard washes. It still sounds a whole bunch like Fish-era Marillion, except that the vocalist doesn't sound much like Fish, just the music. I've only heard it once, and though I liked it, I think I liked the previous albums a bit better. So far, at least. I need a few more listens before I'll pass judgement. But I wanted to get this news into the GEPR before the next revision. I'll amend it later.
That previously-mentioned reissue of Gentry hasn't happened as of this writing. They've also changed their web site URL (corrected below) and gotten on the MySpace bandwagon (also now listed below). -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Red Sand's web site
Click here for Red Sand's MySpace page
Tristes Noticias del Imperio (77)
Quentos del Subsuelo (79)
Get Off the Phone (93)
The Redfins are an Australian quintet that have been around since about 1991. They have two cassette releases (as Billy and the Redfins). Get Off the Phone is their first CD release. The Redfins create an eclectic instrumental blend of jazz, world music, and hints of progressive rock to sometimes danceable rhythms with catchy hooks. Please don't let that scare you, though; were regular top-40 this good you'd be listening to the radio far more often than you do. The stand-out musicians are guitarist Julian Barnett (who also wrote the majority of the songs) and Mark Kraus on sax. Over a background of Martin Boyd's rolicking keyboard rhythms, Barnett and Kraus generally alternate solos, occasionally dueling in tasty showmanship. Barnett's guitar ranges from burning fusion licks to slow, Gilmouresque solos. Kraus' sax style seems to range from Wayne Shorter to Mel Collins, as he alternates between short, thoughtful phrases with tasteful use of space and longer, sinuous solos. The rhythm section (bass and drums) gets a little monotonous. I would prefer a more involved style rather than simple rhythm keeping. For more information, contact Martin Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Down Time (99)
Faultline (04, CD+DVD)
Turning Toward Us (08)
Original entry, 12/31/02:
Of all the bands for whom the above statement has been partially true many have not fallen into the progressive realm. Spheres II by Delerium (of Karma fame) is a good contender, but doesn't really qualify as progressive. Lifeforms by the Future Sound of London is an excellent ambient techno album that often has the same statement made about it.
Enter Redshift founded in the mid-90s by UK electronic musician Mark Shreeve along with members Julian Shreeve, Rob Jenkins and James Goddard. If there was ever a piece of music that captured the essence of the Berlin School sound and managed to infuse it with a new kind of life it's the album Ether. An almost perfect recreation of the instrumental setup of TD's Rubycon, supplemented by elements of early Klaus Schulze and mid-70s Pink Floyd guitar work, this album lays forth an impressive mixture of laid back ambience and driving sequencer rhythms. The instrumentation used here include Moog 3C modular synth, Mellotron and other early analog gear, in addition to modern sampling technology. What makes this album so impressive is the fact that about 80% of it is recorded live, a feat that would have been impossible at the time Rubycon was created.
One of the things about early Tangerine Dream was that they tended to explore new areas with almost every album. This was a good thing, but there are times when a listener wants music in a similar vein and can't get enough out of just one recording. For me Rubycon was always that kind of an album: it was a perfect continuation of [Edgar Froese'] Phaedra yet something entirely new within itself. Afterwards, TD tended to rely almost too heavily on sequencers instead of achieving the balance of ambience and sequencers they had on the first two Virgin releases. At 65+ minutes, Redshift's Ether is not only a perfect companion to Rubycon but actually achieves an entirely new level itself.
The tracks "A Midnight Clear" (24 min) and "Ether" (28 min) were recorded live in December 1996 at a planetarium concert. Two shorter tracks "Bombers in the Desert" (8 min) and "Static" (5 min) were recorded in studio in 1997. The studio tracks have a slightly more intense feeling to them than the live ones, mostly due to shorter running time. Overall, it's an album that produces a good sense of nostalgia in addition to painting a bright future for progressive electronic music. -- Markus Derrer
Click here for the Redshift web site
Click here for an interview with Redshift's Mark Shreeve
Reform (79), Der Löwenzahn (81), Uhren Ohne Zeiger (85)
Described as Deep Purple meets Pink Floyd.
Live in Concert - Newcastle City Hall 1974 (07)
Refugee - Lee Jackson (bass, vocals), Brian Davison (drums) and Patrick Moraz (keyboards)
This is better than anything that The Nice ever did. Moraz's dynamic experimental sounds are fantastic.
A must have for Patrick Moraz's keyboard work. Lee Jackson's vocals are annoying as usual (has a worse vocalist ever existed?) but he doesn't sing all that much. Just listen to Moraz play.
A few years ago, Refugee drummer Brian Davison found a live tape (cassette) recorded at a Refugee concert in Newcastle City Hall in 1974. He called Patrick Moraz, and the two of them worked with Voiceprint to release it on CD. There had been bootleg copies of this concert circulated, but this release has been cleaned up and remastered.
According to Voiceprint, "Tracks include 'Ritt Mickley', 'Papillon', 'Grand Canyon Suite' and 'Someday', all of which featured on Refugee's debut studio album. Other tracks include the previously unreleased 'Refugee Jam' and the Nice classic 'The Diamond Hard Blue Apples Of The Moon'." -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Emerson, Keith | Jackson Heights | Mainhorse | Moraz, Patrick | Nice, The | Yes]|
Piano Phase (67)
Violin Phase (67)
Four Organs (70)
Phase Patterns (70)
Music For 18 Musicians (76)
Music For a Large Ensemble (78)
Variation for Winds (79)
Vermont Counterpoint (82)
The Desert Music (84)
Sextet/Six Marimbas (86)
The Four Sections (87)
Different Trains (88)
The Cave (92)
City Life (95)
Works 1966-1995 (97, Compilation)
Triple Quartet (98)
Reich Remixed (99, Remixes of Reich compositions by various remix artists)
Cello Counterpoint (03)
You Are (04)
Daniel Variations (06)
Steve Reich (from around 1970)
I was on the fence about including Steve Reich in the GEPR, but heck, Philip Glass and Jean-Michel Jarre are here, so a Reich listing is really quite begged. In fact, Mr. Reich has incorporated much more rock and true progressiveness in his music than the other two.
Credited with changing the direction of music history, he is one of America's finest 20th century composers. Take "Electric Guitar Phase" from the Triple Quartet CD (Nonesuch 2001) for example. Maybe the only minimal composition in history that I would recommend to rockers, this is a crunchy counterpoint with four layers of electric guitar played by Dominic Fransca from Reich's 1967 Violin Phase. "As the piece progresses, one may become aware of the many melodic patterns that develop from the combination of two or three electric guitars playing the same repeating pattern one or more eighth-notes out of phase with (each) other." (Steve Reich, 2001). That's a good description of this astounding, challenging composer's perspective and his world of subtly repeating yet ever-changing phrases of expression. A listening experience like no other and beautiful stuff if you're ready. -- David Marshall
Click here for Steve Reich's web site
Die Gruene Reise (71)
A.R. 3 (73)
A.R. 4 (73)
Autovision - A.R. 5 (74)
|Reichel was formerly the guitarist in Germany's most popular "Beat-Club" band, the Rattles. Die grüne Reise is a guitar-based album of rather primitive tape-loop experiments. Most of it is enjoyable, spacy rock with decent vocals, and guitar overloaded with echo. But the final track goes too far: it's ALL echo, like an early Stephen Reich experiment gone out-of-control. It takes SO long to die down, you keep asking yourself, "Has it really ended, or did the sound just go down again?" Your head will be echoing after hearing this album. -- Mike Ohman|
Mighty, mighty space-kraut monster-piece from 1972. This band led by Achim Reichel (now an actor) were masters of echo-plex guitar and phased-out drums. The LP is a double (over 80 minutes long) and is an incredible sonic journey to undertake. Layers of phased, echoed guitar and ghostly mellotron choirs. A full orchestra is used at times (though in a minimal manner as Schulze did on his early LPs) and Reichel sings about various mystical things like "truth-seers" and "6,000,000,000" years ago or something. It's the music that impresses most though - the mellotron and real choral work is great. For a fuller (and madder) review visit kraut-fan extroadonaire Julian Cope's site - and look in the album of the month section. Its an absolute travesty that this LP remains unreleased on CD by Polydor - don't hope for an original copy - I've yet to see one for sale in 15 years of buying prog!!!! - at least a $300-er!!!!!!! -- David Abel
Wichlinghauser Blues (73)
Erdmännchen (77, w/ Achim Knipsel)
Buben (78, w/Rüdiger Carl)
The Death of the Rare Bird Ymir (79)
Bonobo Beach (81)
Kino (86, w/ Eroc)
The Dawn of Dachsman (87)
Coco Bolo Nights (88)
Angel Carver (88, w/ Tom Cora)
The Return of Onkle Boskopp (97, w/ Eroc, an expanded CD re-release of Kino)
... several more solo, duo & compilation releases
|Hans Reichel plays guitar-like instruments which he builds or modifies himself. His main axe/idea is that if there is a substantial amount of string length on the "other" side of the guitar's bridge you can play on that side and generate notes on both sides of the bridge. The phantom notes generated on the left hand's side of the bridge have a strong overtonal/harmonic component. This may sound cold and theoretical and it would be if HR weren't also a first rate musician. I only have 2 of his albums; Kino and Coco Bolo Nights. Kino is definitely the more accessable of the two. He plays with a percussionist Eroc and plays many different instruments. The sound often represents various kinds of European folk interpretations and is quite eclectic. The songs switch between bluegrass with farm sounds to heavy stomping Celtic "metal" in the blink of an eye. This is definitely a progressive album though. The compositions are all harmonically well concieved and developed. Coco Bolo Nights is a more "art" oriented solo album. At first listen it might sound like he is just making stuff up but the whole album is very coherent harmonically. This is not immediately apparent as is is a very avant garde CD. Hans improvises through dense and subtle chord changes masterfully. This is a very listenable album that will grow with the listener and get better each time you hear it. The effects are sparse (a little reverb and chorus) and it is recorded live (in the studio) with acoustic and undistorted electric guitar-things. Several of the songs on the CD are played more than once so you can hear two separate interpretations of the same song. Very Highly Recommended.|
Reign Ghost (69), Reign Ghost Featuring Lynda Squires (69)
Canadian psych. Most of the songs were written by Bob Bryden, who went on to form Christmas and The Spirit of Christmas. The songs are squarely in the psych vein, with plenty of fuzz guitar and other late-60's psychedelic stylings. Lynda Squires is the vocalist on both albums. She attempts to sound dramatic, but comes off sounding weak, particularly on the first album. Overall, their first is pretty much a yawner, unless you're a die-hard psych fan. The second release, the better of the two, is more polished and moves into a West Coast psych feel. Lynda's voice has matured somewhat. Ken Golden, of The Laser's Edge, upon whose label the CD was released, states that her voice sounds like "Janis Joplin after singing lessons." I can hear what he is talking about, but I still don't go for it. Should you choose to purchase the CD, it is for this album. But it's still not real exciting.
[See Christmas | Spirit of Christmas, The]
Grander Vision (94)
The Teething Fashion (96)
Last Man On Earth (99)
American band with a little Yes in them. Not what Iīd call neo prog; itīs more hard rock than that, but never metal. A little immature, but the songs are already there, but if it was only a bit tighter it would be great. What sticks out are the songs. A Musea / Angular release. -- Daniel
Click here for
Relayer's web site (by the way, the e-mail address on their site is broken)
Click here for Angular Records web site
Life (74), Garuda (75), Get the Ball (77), Beyond the Limit (78)
German fusion band formed out of the ashes of Tomorrow's Gift. Get The Ball is apparently typical of the early albums. Decent fusion spoilt by a poor female vocalist/percussionist (Margit Haberland). But the jazzy, Joe Zawinul-influenced keyboard playing of Manfred Rürup is very good, and this forms the basis for the much better, all-instrumental Beyond The Limit. Günther Reger's mellow sax work provides some much needed counterpoint for Rürup's keyboards (earlier albums had a series of session guitarists, trumpeters, and sax players, none of whom really meshed well with Rürup's style). For the most part on the lighter side, with the occasional intense, percussive workout (e.g.: the middle section of "Up By The Riverside"). More in line with American fusion bands than any European band I can think of, except perhaps Passport, and not unlike what Weather Report was doing at the time. -- Mike Ohman
[See Tomorrow's Gift]
El Reloj (74, a.k.a. Blues for Atadecel)
El Reloj II (75)
La Esencia Es La Misma (83)
Santos y Verdugos (94)
Hombre de Hoy (99)
Cronología (00, Compilation)
Cronología II (00, Compilation)
Mercado de Almas (02)
|The second El Reloj album is a masterpiece!! -- Tom (AshRaTemp)|
Illusion (74, Recorded 1970)
Ashes Are Burning (73)
Turn Of The Cards (74)
Scheherezade and Other Stories (75)
Live At Carnegie Hall (76, Live)
A Song For All Seasons (78)
In The Beginning (78, Compilation of Prologue and Ashes Are Burning)
Azure D'Or (79)
Camera Camera (81)
Tales Of 1001 Nights - Vols. 1 & 2 (90)
The Other Woman (94, Michael Dunford's Renaissance)
Blessing In Disguise (94, Annie Haslam's Renaissance)
Da Capo (95)
Live at the Royal Albert Hall (Parts 1 & 2) (97, Live)
Ocean Gypsy (97, Michael Dunford's Renaissance)
Songs from Renaissance Days (97, Compilation/Previously Unreleased)
Trip To The Fair (94, Compilation, Michael Dunford's Renaissance)
BBC Sessions (99, 2CD, Live in the studio, Recorded in the late '70's)
Day of the Dreamer (00)
Unplugged Live at the Academy of Music (00, Live, Recorded in 1985)
Can You Hear Me (01, Live, Re-sequenced re-release of Disc 1 of Live at Royal Albert Hall)
Mother Russia (02, Live, Re-sequenced re-release of Disc 2 of Live at Royal Albert Hall)
In the Land of the Rising Sun - Live in Tokyo (02, 2CD Live from Tuscany tour)
Dreams and Omens Live at the Tower Theater (09, Live, Recorded 1978)
The Mystic and the Muse (10, EP, Download only from iTunes or Amazon MP3)
Editor's Note: The GEPR Renaissance entry hadn't been updated since I inherited the GEPR back in 2000, because there was not much to say that hadn't already been said. But recently there has been much news on the Renaissance front, so it's high time to update their entry. I'll start with the following entry from the pre-2000 GEPR that brings you up to the first dissolution of the band, written by an unknown but clearly knowledgable author. I'll take it from there and bring you up to date. The remaining entries below that are the remaining pre-2000 GEPR comments.
From the pre-2000 GEPR:
The lineup of the first album features most members of the final Yardbirds lineup before they became Led Zeppelin. Keith Relf and Jim McCarty were set on doing something in the folk music vein, and formed the duo "Together" which released one single. Later Keith's sister Jane was brought in on vocals, and two classically trained musicians John Hawken (piano,keyboards) and Louis Cennamo (bass) were recruited in an effort to incorporate some classical elements into the sound, and former Yardbird Paul Samwell Smith would be the band's producer. The first album was released in 69 and stands even today as one of the finest fusions of folk, classical and rock that's ever been done; the band toured extensively, and a live document of this is available in the Off Shoots bootleg, recorded at the Fillmore West in 69, although the recording quality is fairly dreadful.
In 70 the band began recording the follow-up album, but before recording was completed the band started falling apart - McCarty leaving to join the first lineup of Cactus, and Keith Relf leaving to form Armageddon, and the others left shortly after. Before the lineup had completely fallen apart, McCarty brought in guitarist/songwriter Mick Dunford to carry on and recruit new band members. He brought in vocalist Terry Crowe, drummer Terry Slade and bassist Neil Korner to finish up the second album. Illusion ranks overall as one of the band's less spectacular efforts, probably due to the internal turmoil (and probably the reason for its delayed release in '74). By late 71, Terry SullivanSlade, John Camp had replaced Korner, and John Tout had been brought in on keyboards and vocals. Dunford even replaced himself with guitarist Mick Parsons, so he could concentrate on the songwriting and production.
The most stunning change, though, was the recruitment of seamstress-turned-singer Annie Haslam. Work was started on a new album. Just before the album was to be recorded, Parsons was killed in a car crash, and guitarist Rob Hendry was brought in to replace him. Prologue showed a new direction for the band - the rock and piano based classical elements were still there, but the folk influences had been replaced by touches of jazz and a strong symphonic turn, becoming even more pronounced on the 1973 follow-up Ashes Are Burning. By this time Hendry was out and the band was again a four-piece.
Turn Of The Cards, released in 74, may be the band's strongest effort, it received a considerable amount of FM airplay on the east coast, and would attract the loyal following that buoyed the band to near stardom in the mid-70's. For this and all subsequent albums, Dunford would be a regular member of the band, on acoustic guitar and vocals. Two more strong very progressive studio albums would follow (Scheherezade and Novella), plus a double live set recorded at Carnegie Hall in '76, before the band began to turn in a more poppy direction - first noticeable on Song For All Seasons, becoming more pronounced on Azure D'Or and then hitting an all time low on 1981's Camera Camera, a pathetic failure by either the progressive or the pop yardstick. By this time the band had gone through some significant lineup changes, and only Dunford, Haslam and Camp remained from the previous lineup. Surprisingly, though, the tour that followed that album was outstanding. The final album was 1983's Time Line, a fairly decent pop album that wouldn't bother me so much if it wasn't a Renaissance album too. There was a significant effort here to create a solid album of good pop songs without trying to hang on to their old sound at the same time. This one worked. The band hung on a few more years until about 1987, but no new records were released in that final period.
By far, the best introduction to the band would be the Tales of 1001 Nights Volumes 1 and 2, which together contain most of the band's best material from 72 through 80. Also the very first album from '69 is essential. -- Author Unknown
Haslam and Dunford began working together again on new songs, and in 2000 they released Tuscany, their first new studio album since Time-Line. In addition to Haslam and Dunford, this incarnation also included drummer Terrence Sullivan from the classic line-up, with keyboardist Mickey Simmonds filling in for John Tout on most songs, though Tout does guest-star on piano on a few cuts. Bass duties are split between Roy Wood and Alex Caird. This release was followed up by a tour that resulted in a live album In the Land of the Rising Sun - Live in Tokyo with pianist Rave Tesar also joining for the tour. After the tour, this line-up also dissolved, and nothing much was heard about Renaissance for many years.
... until 2009, when the band announced that Haslam and Dunford together with several members from the Tuscany line-up would be touring for the band's 40th anniversary. This was to be called Renaissance 2009, but the 2009 was soon abandoned, and this simply became the latest version of Renaissance. In 2010, they toured the east coast of North America and Japan. No live releases from this tour are available as of this writing, but they have released a 3-song EP of new studio material called The Mystic and the Muse downloadable from iTunes or Amazon MP3. All three songs are good, with the title track actually being excellent, calling to mind the band from their heyday. The current incarnation remains active and there are rumors of another studio album in the offing. -- Fred Trafton
The remaining entries are from the pre-2000 GEPR
Great!!! The most classical of any of the prog groups that I've heard. Most of their songs are highly orchestrated, which give the classical feel to their songs. This is the only group I've ever heard with a female singer that I actually liked. I might even go as far to say that she's the best singer I've ever heard. Annie Haslam's got a tremendous voice. My favorite albums of theirs are Novella, A Song For All Seasons, and of course Scheherezade. I would suggest starting with either of the Tales of 1001 Nights compilations though.
Wonderful stuff. It's hard to really classify them as progressive rock. The quick description I usually give is they are sort of like the old Moody Blues with a an incredible female vocalist (Annie Haslam). Some of their music has a Russian peasant kind of feel to it if you know what I mean. My favorite is Scheherezade which feature a fully orchestrated story of Scheherezade on one side. Much of what they do has a heavy classical influence. Everytime I listen to Annie's voice on the closing passage I get chills. The Live at Carnegie is a good album as an introduction but is a little down the list for being my Renaissance favorite. It does contain "Scheherazade" but the performance is much better on the studio album. It contains a very good version of "Ashes are Burning" and a good version of "Mother Russia."
Azure D'Or and A Song for All Seasons are both good. Annie Haslam's voice is great, even your mother would like it. The music on these two albums is good; largely acoustic, plenty of classical influences.
Classical influence - a lot of piano playing, full symphony orchestra backup. Annie Haslam (lead vocal) has a strong voice (she aspired to go into opera). Many pieces start with instrumentals (sounding like a classical piece) and then "melt" into a rock beat with electric bass and drums.
Very symphonic sounding group, the keyboard player is a great classical pianist. Female singer is also excellent. Kind of like a complex version of early (Days of Future Passed) Moody Blues. Some of their long pieces get a bit tedious though. Tales from 1001 Nights Vol. 1 and 2 seem to be good places to start, seem definative enough that I probably won't buy any of their regular studio albums.
One of the best. Elegant arrangements, stunning vocals, if there is a heaven, they'll play Renaissance music there. One of the few bands technically capable of writing arrangements that approach classical music. Recommened: A Song for All Seasons, Novella.
Renaissance and Illusion are from the version of Renaissance that preceded the arrival of Annie Haslam, fronted by Keith (ex-Yardbirds) and Jane Relf. However, both these, the first two releases by the band (1969 and 1971 respectively), feature the dramatic piano and keyboard work of John Hawken, who had similar responsibilities in Haslam-era Renaissance. The music is also quite comparable to Curved Air and other similar bands, who incorporated classical music structures in their compositions.
My favorite is Scheherezade and Other Stories. A long convoluted story exists about the start of the band (involving ex-members of the Yardbirds, and an entire (!) band change between the first and second albums). The band with Annie Haslam on vox is very good, somewhat symphonic in feel.
I've only heard Tales Of 1001 Nights Vol. 1 and part of Vol. 2. I wouldn't call this progressive ROCK, because I have yet to find anything remotely rock-ish about it. Good points, Annie Haslam 's voice -- certainly! -- the musicianship is top-notch and some tracks ("Mother Russia", "The Black Flame", "Ashes Are Burning") are certainly bewitching. Bad points, what I said before, not rock. I guess it's okay if you need something you can play around Grandma without offending her. One big gripe I have against them is that stylistically, they remind me of the Moody Blues, a band I dislike. Still, they are not a bad band, but many other bands have done the idea of "acoustic prog" better. -- Mike Ohman
|Links||[See Armageddon (UK) | Haslam, Annie | Illusion | Intergalactic Touring Band, The | Simmonds, Mickey | Stairway]|
Paraphrased from their web site:
Reportaz was established in 1982 in Poznan, Poland by Andrzej Karpinski and Piotr Lakomy. The group emerged from the society of young visual artists, with punk and new wave roots of the 80's. The music evolved throughout time, but never followed any specific trend or had any commercial connotations. The musical and lyrical formula of the group concentrated on creating reports from daily life, not art.
During the socialist period of Polish history the group's music was promoted behind the iron curtain with some help from independent labels from Great Britain, USA, Belgium and Italy. Some of the music was recorded and is being promoted even now by Chris Cutler from Recommended Records. Reportaz performed live with the American duet Skeleton Crew. In the 80's Reportaz was the best known Polish avant-rock group in the west.
In the 90-ties Reportaz took a break from music. In 2000 there was an effort to reactivate Reportaz with a few of the original members, but they failed. Since July 2002 Reportaz exists as a "one man band" (Karpinski).
|Links||Click here for Reportaz' web site (mostly in Polish)|
Cosy Square (75)
Santa Dog (EP) (72)
Meet the Residents (74)
The Third Reich and Roll (75)
Duck Stab! (EP) (77)
Duck Stab!/ Buster and Glen (78)
Not Available (78)
Commercial Album (80)
Mark of the Mole (81)
The Tunes of Two Cities (82)
Intermission (EP) (83)
George and James (84)
Residue of the Residents (84)
Whatever Happened to Vileness Fats? (84)
The Big Bubble (85)
The Census Taker (Soundtrack) (85)
Stars and Hank Forever (86)
The Thirteenth Anniversary Show (Live in Japan) (87)
The Mole Show Live in Holland (87)
God in 3 Persons (88)
The King and Eye (89)
Cube-E: Live in Holland (90)
Freak Show (91)
Our Finest Flowers (92)
Gingerbread Man (94)
Have a Bad Day (96)
Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses (97)
Live at the Fillmore 1997 (98)
Wormwood Live (99)
The Residents - They've never shown
their faces or given their names
According to legend, the Residents were school friends from Shreveport, Louisiana, who hopped into their car and high-tailed it to California in the late '60s, making it as far as San Mateo. Abandoning their car, they established their first residence and set about doing what they wanted to do. Not easy, since they wanted to make music, but had no idea how to play their instruments.
The music that they did make can best be divided into three periods. The first is from about 1969-1980, in which the band actually matured into something listenable. The first four releases (Rusty Coathangers for the Doctor, The Ballad of Stuffed Trigger, The Warner Bros. Album and Baby Sex) still remain unreleased as a whole. What has been released is heavily influenced by Frank Zappa, and made musical only by the presence of English guitar virtuoso Phil "Snakefinger" Lithman.
The Warner Bros. Album gave the group their name, since it was rejected by Warner Bros. and sent back to "Residents", due to the fact the group had not included a return name. The concept of anononymity was helped along by N. Senada (thought by some to be avant-Jazz composer Harry Partch), and the group decided to forever hide their identity. The early '70s albums used this mystique to hide a blatant amateurishness, even though the music is endearing in itself. Santa Dog and Meet The Residents are extensions of the unreleased Baby Sex, though a bit more cohesive and less offensive. The Third Reich and Roll features mutilated '60s radio nuggets thrown together into side-long suites. Fingerprince is probably the most progressive, originally intended as a three-sided album, featuring a number of shorter songs and the side-long percussive workout "Six Things to a Cycle". Duck Stab!/Buster and Glen stuck to more "normal" song structures, while Not Available, originally recorded in 1974 and intended to be unreleased until it was completely forgotten, is some sort of concept about souls and porcupines, etc. Eskimo featured mainly sound effects and "tribal" music, meant to be listened to while reading the stories in the liner notes about supposed Eskimo life. The culmination of this period was Commercial Album, a disk consisting of 40 one-minute songs.
The second period, from 1981-1987, is more chaotic. The Residents truly started the new decade with the Mole concept albums, meaning to release them as a six-part series, of which only parts one, two and four have been released. It dealt with the contact, war and ultimate forced integration between the Moles, a race of work-obsessed underground dwellers, and the hedonistic Chubs. The first record, Mark of the Mole, tells the story of the war, while the second, The Tunes of Two Cities, contrasts the musical styles of the two cultures. The Big Bubble is part four, supposedly a record released by a half-breed rock band for political reasons. The records resulted in an artistically successful, but financially disasterous world tour, documented best on 1987's The Mole Show Live in Holland. The second concept of the decade was the "American Composers' Series", of which George and James and Stars and Hank Forever are the only two full releases. The former, featuring selections by George Gershwin and James Brown, is one of the few Residents records to truly disappoint. Stars and Hank, featuring music by Hank Williams and John Philip Sousa, is better, at least on the Hank side. Vileness Fats is a soundtrack album to a short version of a video movie the group was working on in 1984, while Residue is an interesting compilation of outtakes. Heaven? and Hell! are also great compilations, including a number of hard-to-find singles, that would be of interest to beginners.
The third stage is that of a full concept band, and a trend toward more synthesized sounds after Snakefinger's death in 1988. God in 3 Persons, released along with an instrumental "soundtrack," tells the story of a huckster coming in contact with Siamese twins who have a true power of healing. The Cube-E performance, together with The King and Eye, is a show based on showing the roots of American music. Freak Show, which was later made into a CD-Rom, features stories about the participants and audience in a carnival sideshow. Gingerbread Man and Have a Bad Day are similar, both being tied to CD-Roms, and both featuring stories about tortured souls in the FS vein. Wormwood, the most recent release, features a number of violent and disturbing stories from none other than the Bible.
The reason for not reviewing each single album in its place is that Residents music must be taken as an entire body of work. The first period is probably the most interesting and adventurous, and the group has never sounded better than when working, or trying to work, with real instruments. Snakefinger was also a wonderful guitarist, and his best work is with the Residents during this period. Most of the '80s output is chaotic, a lot of it instrumental, and quite a bit unsatisfying. During this time half the group left, leading to a loss of creative direction, and Ralph Records, the record company that released everything, was going under. As for the third period, the group had trouble adjusting to life without Snakefinger. God in 3 Persons and the Cube-E related stuff was great, and Freak Show showed what the group could do with new digital technology. However, they got too involved in CD-Roms, and both Gingerbread Man and Have a Bad Day generally fall flat. Live at the Fillmore features performances from FS, GB and HaBD, all of which are much better than what was released. Also, a new direction was seen in the last part of the Fillmore performance, "Disfigured Night". The group has begun adding real instruments back into the mix, making the Wormwood project accessible, but still musically challenging.
The Residents' residence is currently thought to be in San Francisco. But who really knows? -- Eric Wincentsen
|These guys did too much acid. Typical Ralph Records "I'm weirder than you are" fare. No chops.|
|Experimental rock. Bizarre. Good for getting rid of uninvited guests.|
|Possibly the most unique band anywhere, what they do can't really be easily compared to any other artists. Everything they do seems to defy convenient categorization, but the spirit in which they approach their music (and everyone elses) might be comparable to the early Mothers of Invention with Frank Zappa. Their sound is definitely odd, maybe strange or even weird, they often do mutant interpretations of pop songs, sometimes beyond recognition, or cloudy musical montages of voices, noise, music and dialogue. These guys are definitely too bizarre to appeal to the masses, but if you give them an open minded chance, they'll grow on you quickly. Best place to start: any of the late 70's albums, incl. Duck Stab, Fingerprince, Eskimo - even Not Available, but don't get them all at once - may result in overdose.|
|I was actually frightened by The Residents the first time I heard them. I'm sorta familiar with everything up to Eskimo, and I'd recommend buying *one* Residents album if you're adventurous. It probably doesn't matter which one. Really, I don't see that you'd sit and listen to them repeatedly; they're more like a band you'd just play occasionally for friends who haven't heard them.|
|Mysterious ultra-experimental band whose identities remain hidden behind enormous eyeballs. All their early stuff is excellent. Third Reich and Roll is a stream-of-conscience collage of a bunch of sixties songs, everything from "Light My Fire," to "Good Loving" to "In-a-gadda-da-vida," to "Iíve got love in my tummy," totally warped into another dimension, and many totally unrecognizable. Not Available is a bizarre rock (?) opera in four parts, totally alien and creepy and opaque. Eskimo uses homemade instruments to create an ethnic forgery much more fully realized than any of those by Can, and through the processed voices you can occasionally make out commercial jingles for stuff like Coke Cola. The other albums from this period are just as excellent, all sounding very different from each other and yet all sounding very much from the same unique band. Sometimes youíll wonder if the Residents are from another world or something. Even the more song-oriented albums like the high energy Duck Stab/Buster & Glen and the first side of Fingerprince are utterly weird. The Commercial Album is a little less satisfying, with its concept of 40 one-minute songs. After that, they started working on longer concept projects (The Mole Trilogy, the Composers Series) but the actual music is slightly more conventional, almost approaching normal synth pop at times. Iíve also seen a couple of their rare live shows, which were very visual, more like experimental theatre, with other performers and elaborate sets. -- Rolf Semprebon|
Click here for the Official Residents web site
Return to Forever (72)
Light as a Feather (73)
Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (73)
Where Have I Known You Before (74)
No Mystery (75)
The Leprechaun (76)
Romantic Warrior (76)
RTF Live (78, released as both a single album and a 4LP set)
The Best of Return to Forever (80, Compilation)
Live from Elario's (First Gig) (96, Live, Released in Japan only)
Return to the 7th Galaxy (96, Compilation, 2CD)
|The Earliest albums (RTF, Light As A Feather) (usually listed as Chick Corea albums) are very jazz with a South American feel brought in by Airto Moreira and Flora Purim. With the third and fourth albums Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy and Where Have I Known You Before, they assumed a harder fusion sound with a lot of twists, turns and pyrotechnics provided by Corea's synths and the guitars of Al DiMeola. No Mystery held the status quo, but offered nothing really new. Later albums lacked direction, although Romantic Warrior did have its moments.|
|Another classic fusion band from the mid-70's. Like Weather Report and Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea's band split off from fusion-era Miles Davis and developed the fusion ideas seeded by Davis. In actuality, the first two RTF albums are more in the pure jazz realm, though I still highly recommend them. They are incredible and include some excellent bass work by Stanley Clarke. By the third album, Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy, Chick moved the band into the fusion arena. This features Bill Connors on electric guitar and Lenny White on drums. Though not as well known as later albums, this is an excellent work and probably my favorite. Connors left and was replaced by Al Di Meola, a fiery guitarist with latin influences. They remained in this formation for the next four albums, which vary in quality. A funk groove started to pervade throughout the music, particularly on No Mystery. The most popular was Romantic Warrior. After this, the band reformed into an acoustic format for some rather boring drek that isn't recommended at all. The live album, which just came out on CD, is this last formation. Needless to say, don't bother with this one either.|
|Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, Lenny White, Al Di Meola. Just a damn good fusion band. The best I've heard is Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy. That's just one hot album.|
[See Corea, Chick Elektric Band |
Davis, Miles |
Di Meola, Al |
Click here for Chick Corea's web site
Stairway to Heaven (77)
|Gian Piero Reverberi, Italian keyboardist/producer.|
Hidden Vibrations (00)
Rey is actually Danish/Spanish synthesizer and ambient musician Ulrik Rey Henningsen.
The music on Hidden Vibrations is a mixture of electronic soundscapes, some very
harmonious and others quite noisy. Most of it is reminiscent of later
Tangerine Dream, but there's the occasional dash of
Techno/tribal rhythms also. One song, "Silver", could have come from Tonto's Expanding
Head Band, very poppy and featuring a really bad electronic drum kit. This is quite
jarring, but is the only song of its kind on the CD.
The CD is heavy on atmosphere and sound-sculpting, but short on melody. This makes it very hypnotic, trancy and relaxing. This would be a good CD to put on while you're doing Yoga or meditation. I would recommend this CD if you're looking for that sort of music. Not very challenging, but well done for its genre. (If you're really doing Yoga or mediation to this music, you might want to program your CD player to skip "Silver".)
Rey has also been featured on two Tangerine Dream tribute CDs with his own intepretations of their music. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Rey's web site, you may also order the CD from there (Internet distribution only)|
|Mexican space music artist.|
|Links||[See Chac Mool | Roach, Steve | Zepeda, Antonio]|
Venezia 2000 (83)
|Absolutely dreadful instrumental orchestral rock from Italy. Rondo Veneziano peddle a kind of 80's version of The Nice's orchestral rock that is devoid of any kind of aesthetic quality whatsoever! Production is typically liavish in the 80's manner. All the rock sounds buried beneath horribly clean sounding drum programming. Hate to be harsh but this group have no redeeming qualities at all. I only paid £1 ($1.50) and still felt ripped off. Avoid At All Costs!!! -- David Abel|
Prog mixing zeuhl stylings with Corsican influences.
Dioptria 1 (69)
Diotria 2 (70)
Jo, La Donya i el Gripau (71)
Electroccid Accid Alquimistic Xoc (75)
Dioptria (78; 1st and 2nd packaged together)
Amarga Crisi (81)
Disc Dur (93)
De Riba a Riba (93)
Astrarot Universdherba (98)
|The Spanish Daevid Allen. Very popular in Spain. I recommend Licors and Electroccid... (what a cool title) for the curious. - Juan Joy|
Click here for Pau Riba's web site (in Spanish)
Sunyata (81, Cassette)
Trances (83, Cassette)
Drones (83, Cassette)
LIVE (84, Cassette)
Urdu (85, w/ Urdu, Cassette)
Inner Landscapes (97, Live Rec. in 1985, Cassette, re-released on CD 1999)
Numena (87, LP, re-released on CD in 1991 & 1993)
Strata (90, w/ Steve Roach)
Geometry (91, originally recorded in 1988, re-released in 1994)
Soma (92, w/ Steve Roach)
Eye Catching (93, w/ Amoeba)
Trances/Drones (94, 2CD re-release of original cassettes, re-released w/ new cover 2000)
Yearning (95, w/ Lisa Moskow)
Night Sky Replies (95, limited edition 3"CD)
Stalker (95, w/ Brian Williams (Lustmord))
A Troubled Resting Place (96)
Watchful (97, w/ Amoeba, re-released 1999)
Fissures w/ Alio Die (97, w/ Alio Die)
Below Zero (98)
Seven Veils (98)
Liquid Planet (99, CD-Rom w/ ACID loops for sequencing software - not an audio CD)
Humidity (00, Live rec. 1998, 3CD)
Pivot (00, w/ Amoeba)
Sunyata (00, Remastered CD re-issue w/ 2 of 3 tracks from the original 1982 cassette release. The missing title track already appears on Trances/Drones)
Somnium (01, DVD-V, 7 hours)
Outpost (02, w/ Ian Boddy)
Temple of the Invisible (03)
Calling Down the Sky (04)
Open Window (04)
Echo of Small Things (05)
Lithosphere (05, w/ Ian Boddy)
Electric Ladder (06)
Atlas Dei (07, DVD, with a CD Music from Atlas Dei available separately)
Eleven Questions (07)
Excellent SF electronic musician a lot like Steve Roach. Get anything by him.
[See Roach, Steve]
Click here for Robert Rich's web site
En Forme (81)
En Avant (83)
Dropera (91, w/ Fred Frith as Fred and Ferd)
Enclume (91, as Ferdinand Et Les Philosophes)
Ensableur de Portugaises (94, as Ferdinand Et Les Philosophes)
|Richard was the bass player in the great Etron Fou Leloublan. He published so far 5 releases, the last two under the name of Ferdinand et les Philosophes. This is typical French RIO, similar to Etron Fou, comparable to Art Bears and the like. En Avant is maybe the best, featuring Tom Cora on cello, and showing some nice longer tracks of perfect musical interplay. Richard prefers the Fender six-string bass, with which he creates a broad range of notes, somehow combining bass and electric guitar. Dropera was a project together with Fred Frith, published under the group name Fred and Ferd. -- Achim Breiling|
|Links||[See Fred Frith | Etron Fou Leloublan]|
Time Actor (79), Tonwelle (81), Plays Megatone (84), Miditation (86), Trancelation (94)
A Klaus Schulze project that at times was aided by Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane (Atomic Rooster, Crazy World Of Arthur Brown), Manuel Gottsching (Ash Ra Tempel, Ashra), and Michael Shrieve among others. Rather average electronic music and a let down with all of those great musicians in it.
Richard Wahnfried was Klaus Schulze's pseudonym when working on collaborative efforts. Time Actor features the "awesome" vocal talents of Arthur Brown, against the electronic backbeat of Schulze. The sound is very rhythmic, at times almost like Magma. Tonwelle is a collaboration featuring Klaus Schulze, Manuel Gottsching, and Michael Shrieve, and is a non-vocal work. The music is very much in the vein of early- to-mid-80s Schulze, with many touches that are reminiscent of his other collaboration with Shrieve, Transfer Station Blue.
[See Ash Ra Tempel | Schulze, Klaus]
Richter Band (92)
Listening to the first track of this Czech ensemble's debut album, I had the feeling that it was leading up to something - a sudden leap in intensity, an eruption into a wild and busy jam section, or some form of energetic musical statement (Gong's "A Sprinkling of Clouds" comes to mind). Well, the second track picks up a little, but throughout the entire 70 minutes of this disc, the music remains subdued and mysterious. Thats not necessarily bad, just a bit surprising. The overall mood and atmosphere is not unlike some of the mellow '70s German space/psych bands such as Popol Vuh or Yatha Sidhra; a sound rarely, if ever, evoked by today's progressive outfits. Richter Band is a three-piece, and their instrumentation includes electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and a variety of percussion (no standard drum set). The percussion is especially interesting; aside from some African drums, it consists almost entirely of "homemade" instruments - pots, pans, bowls, and other such items, used to surprisingly good effect. Much of the music on this album is created by the superimposition of several slowly shifting rhythmic patterns and melodic ostinatos. In fact, the rhythmic ideas they use are quite similar in style to an Indonesian gamelon orchestra, with the pitched percussion parts being played by guitars and bass. An example closer to home might be the minimalist work of composers like Steve Reich, who has been influenced by the strong rhythmic nature of both Indonesian gamelon music and African drumming. Two of the ten tracks are percussion only, and in addition to the mesmerizing sound of all three members weaving a sinuous rhythmic trance, feature interesting, or at least creative, sound effects such as spinning pot-lids on a cement floor, all recorded with a healthy dose of reverb. Another track is created using only guitars, with spacey E-bow drones drifting through various pick and slide effects. Especially for a contemorary progressive ensemble, Richter Band performs a highly original and creative style of music. Relaxing, peaceful, and meditative, it may not appeal to listeners who want searing guitar leads and driving drum and bass riffs constantly bombarding their ears. But the mellow nature of this music does not preclude it from containing a certain degree of rhythmic sophistication, a fact which should find this album an audience with many a prog fan.
Io Uomo (73)
|I don't know who plays in this band. The album has some vanguard songs and some hard rock songs.|
With No Apparent Reason (76)
Idiots On The Miniature Golf Course (79)
Amputees In Limbo (82)
Music Sucks (82)
Can You Smell My Genitals From Where You're Standing? (83)
The Diseased Confessions of Moamo Milkman (84)
Kiss My Bleeding Dork (84)
Interim Resurgence (85)
Island Of Living Puke (86)
Looser Than Clams (86, Compilation)
The Transients Bootleg (87)
Water II: At A Safe Distance (87)
Son of Puke (87)
Murdering Hell's Happy Cretins (88)
United We Fall (88)
Fuck God, Fuck Your Mother, Fuck All Your Bullshit and Fuck You (89)
Die, You Cretinous Bastards! (89)
War Zone (90)
Europe 1990 (90)
Nutritionally Sound (91 w/ Marc Mylar)
War Zone 1992 (92)
None of Your Damn Business (95)
Electroaquaticities 1972-1977 (95)
This is the Music Your Parents Warned You About, Vol. 1 (95, Compilation)
This is the Music Your Parents Warned You About, Vol. 2 (95, Compilation)
This is the Music Your Parents Warned You About, Vol. 3 (96, Compilation)
Five Billion Pinheads Can't Be Wrong (96)
Sanitized For Your Protection (98)
School For The Criminally Insane (99)
Bohemian Buddha (00)
Sunken Treasures: The Very Best of Zoogz Rift (00, Compilation)
Demons are Stabbing Me With Pitchforks (00, Compilation)
Universal Fartknockers (00, w/ Richard H√É¬§ss, Recorded in 1975)
Old School (00)
Born In The Wrong Universe (01)
Zoogz Rift - 1990
Sort of like a crude Captain Beefheart (no - really crude!), but the guy plays with a passion and fire that the magic band only hinted at. He does get a little repetitive at times, and this is the music's weakest point. The lyrical humor often evades me as well. Has a lot of albums out.
For anyone who wonders who could possibly carry the
Zappa torch for experimental weirdness and
humor this is the only true bearer I have found.
Zoogz Rift is a self proclaimed dadaist who started
out as an artist and moved into music during the late
seventies coming out with his first release Idiots on
the Miniature Golf Course on the fledgling SST label
His musical influences are indeed Zappa and more importantly Beefheart whom he meet in the late 70's. In fact Robert Williams, former drummer for the Magic Band plays in Zoogz' band. The outrageous sense of bizarre crude humor is the first thing to strike any first time listeners. The humor is where the dada comes in. Anyone who has a taste for surreal humor (Monty Python etc..) and likes it even more when it's X-rated will take an instant liking to much of his 80's material. Underneath it all is a contempt for idiocy of the majority and much of his verbal material is ruthless satire in a desire to awaken people out of idiocy to become thinking individuals. Album titles like Murdering Hell's Happy Cretins and Five Billion Pinheads Can't Be Wrong say it all really. Whether his message succeeds or not is another story.
Musically it's hard to describe containing both elements of Beefheart and Zappa while being very much it's own. When you hear "SST", punk and alternative spring more to mind than progressive and indeed there is an edginess to the sound which fit in well with those genres. The vocals also have punk tendencies. However the musicianship is always tight and excellent sometimes leaning towards avant garde jazz.
The place to start for anyone daring to tread these waters would be with 1986's Island of Living Puke. It has all the Zoogz trademarks including one of many versions of "Secret Marines", a humorous surreal spoken word story piece. Ipecac('84) is more synthesizer orientated than other albums but has some of his best surreal comic stories, namely "Santa's on a Diet" and "I was the only boy at the Teen Girls slumber party". It also has a version of "Secret Marines" on it. Nonentity is mostly instrumental tending towards jazz though very quirky. The humor is toned down here. Torment and the half live half studio Murdering Hell's Happy Cretins('88) are a mixed bag and are also recommended. -- Anton Winkelhan
[See Captain Beefheart and
his Magic Band]
Click here for Zoogz Rift's web site
|Ring of Myth's Unbound album sounds very much like Yes circa The Yes Album, minus much of the keyboardery (the band is a power trio). Danny Flores' bass work, in particular, is extremely Squiresque. Even the vocals, also provided Mr. Flores, attempt to mimic Jon Anderson's. And therein lies the real problem with this disc: Flores does not have the high range of Anderson, and the vocals come off sounding like a falsetto'ed parody version of Yes. It is funny at first, then transforms quickly to "grating". When he keeps his mouth closed, or is singing some of the quieter and/or lower parts, the album is not bad, but those vocals render most of Unbound unlistenable. Avoid this one. -- W. B. Henderson|
Click here for the
Ring of Myth home page on the Kinesis web site
Summer Suite (83)
A one-off 5 piece project led by guitarist Teja Bell, very ethereal and new-agey, with plenty of acoustic 12 string guitar backdrops filled with beautiful synthesizer melodies, vibraphone, flute, piano and lyricon. No drums and no vocals. Something this might be comparable to is Ammerland by Führs and Fröhling, or Geese and The Ghost by Anthony Phillips.
[See Bell, Teja | Kindler, Steve and Teja Bell]
Stizemo (78, w/ Ipe Ivandic)
Vojnicki Dani (84)
Roses for the General (84, may be alternate title for Vojnicki Dani)
Necista Krv (97)
Ritual (95)(ProgressoR review)
Did I Go Wrong (99, EP)
Superb Birth (99)
Think Like a Mountain (03)
|A 1995 sensation. Many elements from folk and a lot of forgotten struments (mandolin, mandola, violin, bouzouki, hammered dulcimer, tin whistles, mallets, jaws-harp, harmonica) with strong melodic base that create an ibrid form of music that drag you. One of the best album of 1995. -- Ricardo Deidda|
|This band features four young musicians on guitars, keyboard, bass and drums. They use the usual rock instruments but also rely on rich vocal harmonies and numerous traditional instruments like mandolin, dulcimer, flutes, violin, harmonica, accordion, etc. The musicians are versatile and solid but rely on theoriginality and variety of arrangements rather than virtuosity. The compositions on Ritual are text-based (in English) and their very actual rock sound incorporates a tasteful folk touch. An excellent production that blends an impressive variety of influences into an accessible format. -- Paul Charbonneau|
Al Sur del Sol (99, Demo)
There's no possible progressive rock movement without a healthy doses of Tolkien-inspired names.
Dwalin and Rivendel are the reasonable quota for Chile. Rivendel
is a five-piece playing not quite prog-metal (i.e: heavy metal with a superior degree of musical
complexity) but rather a harder-edged progressive rock. Built around a basic song structure, most
compositions feature prominent keyboards and relatively elaborate arrangements.
The mandatory references paragraph: Rush seems to be the dominant influence, but there are similarities to Kansas and Dream Theater, and they owe something to neo-prog, basically on the structure of compositions. As of September 2001, I don't know the current status of the band, since they released a demo in 1999, and apparently nothing else happened, which is quite suspicious. -- Rodrigo Farías M.
|Links||Click here for Rivendel (Chile)'s web site|
The Meaning (96)
|Awful new neo-proggers with drum machines.|
|Sounds like some Marillion wannabees with a really annoying singer. Occasionally their neo-prog interpretations burst into something interesting, but I just can't get comfortable with the singer, who sounds like Fish on quaaludes with a mouth full of marbles. Vocals are in English.|