Anti-Matter Poetry (10)
t - Thomas Thielen
Naive is the Galileo Records debut release of "t", a solo album from Scythe's Thomas Thielen. It is a collection of mostly piano-oriented pieces encased in a gelatinous mass of reverb-drenched string synths and organs, peppered with electronic percussions and unnerving synthesizer clanks, groans and creaks. This is topped off by Thielen's angst-filled lyrics delivered in an emotional vocal style reminiscent of Marillion's Steve Hogarth. Though lushly orchestrated, the melodies are really quite simple and repetitious in most of the compositions, making the vocals stand out as the most important aspect of them. In this way, the pieces sometimes remind me of So-era Peter Gabriel tunes such as "Red Rain" or "Mercy Street".
Nothing against Thielen's vocals ... he's actually an excellent and emotional vocalist ... but his dark and depressing lyrics just start to grate on me after awhile. My favorite cuts are the instrumental ones, particularly "Do Not Come Back". This is orchestrated in a similar way to the other album's cuts, but is more complex in terms of an odd chord progression which seems to wander off to somewhere unexpected every time you think you know where it's going.
Overall, an interesting album, but like Scythe, it really didn't do that much for me. It sounds like it has too much in common with '90's "everything sucks and aren't I really dark and moody about it" variety of alternative bands for my liking. Not bad, but it wouldn't be near the top of my recommendation list. -- Fred Trafton
t has jumped labels from Galileo to Progrock Records for his latest album Anti-Matter Poetry. I'd describe this album as being like dark, alt-rock-ish Floyd with a fair dose of rave techno electronica thrown in. It seems like I should like this, if I could just listen to it when I'm in the right mood. But I just never seem to be in that mood. Not my cup of t. Sorry. -- Fred Trafton
It'll All Work Out In Boomland (70)
T2 (??, Compilation including tracks from unreleased 2nd album)
Fantasy (00, Japanese version of T2)
|Early prog, a classic [It'll All Work Out In Boomland]. Landberk covered T2's "No More White Horses" on Lonely Land (but not Riktig Äkta).|
|There is a CD titled T2 including tracks from unreleased second album. The same tracks are on Japanese version titled Fantasy (2000) -- Ryszard Ryzlak|
Mr. Green (00)
Live at Poitiers (Mendes France) (02)
Taal - (not in photo order) Anthony Gabard (electric and acoustic guitars), David Stuart
Dosnon (bass), Loic Bernardeau (acoustic drums, lead vocal), Igor Polisset (electronic
& acoustic drums), Sebastian Constant (keyboards), Helene Sonnet (flute and vocals),
Manu Fournier (violin and sax), Gaelle Deblonde (violin), Manue Bouriaud (viola) and
Mehdi Rossignol (cello)
After four years of reviewing prog CD's for the GEPR, it's not very frequently these days that my jaw drops when I hear a new band. But upon hearing Taal's Skymind, I had to reel my chin in from the floor. Not because of any incredible displays of lightning-fast playing ... incredible musicianship is practically the price of admission for being in a prog band, though Taal has incredible musicianship in abundance (ten band members!). No, Taal moves me with the compositions ... weaving string quartets (occasionally with one of the "strings" being electric guitar) with hard-rocking guitar/bass/drums and a heavy dose of French cabaret music ... or is that Russian folk music? Who knows? By the time Taal is done with it, they've made it into something altogether different anyway.
Heavy, almost prog-metal sections swap over to eastern european violin music in a heartbeat, and then someone tunes the shortwave radio for a moment and something completely different comes out. Two drummers insure that the rhythms are complex and varied, and the string quartet and flute occasionally remind of Jethro Tull circa War Child. Sometimes the music becomes like the march anthems from Pink Floyd's The Wall. There's even a few hints of Zappa in Skymind's attitude and musicianship.
But ultimately, Taal doesn't sound much like anyone else. They've managed to put those twelve little notes in an octave together in yet another new and fresh way, and these guys (and ladies!) are one of the most innovative, expressive and exciting bands around today. Skymind is nothing short of a masterpiece, and I hope I get to see this band perform some day. They've played at a couple of festivals in Europe including ProgSud and Crescendo festivals, both in 2003 in France, but haven't been to the U.S. yet to my knowledge (the logistics of getting 10 people and their equipment on a tour must be staggering!). My highest recommendation for Skymind! -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Taal's web site (in French)
Click here to order Mr. Green or Skymind from Musea Records
Tabula Rasa (75), Ekkedien Tanssi (76)
Finnish prog, mostly on the mellow side, but very enjoyable melodic stuff. Symphonic, if you like; pathetique in a positive sense. Lyrics are in Finnish, but those who don't understand them aren't missing much... Jukka Gustavson from Wigwam guests on and co-produced the second album.
Ekkedien Tanssi was the second album by this Finnish five piece who created a type of mellow, melodic prog not unlike the music of Camel. Indeed, this album is comparable in both style and quality to Camel's Moonmadness or Rain Dances. The instrumentation here includes guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, and vocals; a pretty standard lineup and thats exactly how it is used. There is some nice multi-tracked acoustic guitar along with the more aggressive, bluesy electric guitar which serves as the main melodic instrument. The keyboards stay in the background for the most part, serving up organ and string-synth pads along with piano and elctric piano backing. The bass anchors the chord changes, the drummer keeps time, and the vocalist is there, singing in Finnish; nothing spectacular, yet nothing distracting either. So basically there is nothing terribly original, complex, virtuosic, or flashy to be found here, but nevertheless the music is quite good and strong enough so as not to be at all boring, save for one or two rather unengaging tunes. There are nine tracks, all pretty much in the 5-6 minute range, and the mood remains fairly mellow and laid back throughout. There is the occaisonal guitar solo, but for the most part the playing will remind one of Andy Latimer or maybe some Steve Hackett, utilizing melodic leads rather than blistering solos. Fans of mid-period Camel or other melodic prog groups would probably enjoy this very much, while those who seek highly intricate music (like me :-)) might want to take a listen to Tabula Rasa before putting down the money to get this.
I was a little worried when I found out that the only keyboard instrument on the first Tabula Rasa album was an acoustic piano (Actually, there's a taste of string-synth at the very end). Surprise! I actually like it. Nonetheless, don't plunge into this album expecting complex arrangements and wild solos, because you won't find it here. You will find, however, a pretty, melodic type of progressive with prominent piano, flute, and Andy Latimer-esque guitar. A number of the songs ("Gryf" in particular) are a touch rockier, but most are somewhat Nordic folk-orientated, overtaking you with beauty, in particular, the eight-minute "Vuorellaistuja." Vocals are all in Finnish, no great problem for me. I find them quite charming. The flute player left before Ekkedien Tanssi, the second album. Here they added a full-time keyboardist, but the style hadn't changed at all. Actually, not as good as its predecessor. Established fans will want it, though, for the song "Omantunnon Rukous." It may well be the most beautiful thing they ever recorded. The melody is unforgettable. -- Mike Ohman
Predator Score (86)
Another one-man electronic project (aka Dale Stevens) from Euclid, Ohio. The album features ten song length tracks that range from very simple spacy excursions to more complex rhythmic developments. Some hit the mark, others miss, but overall it's a fairly interesting, albeit low key album.
Taï Phong (75)
Last Flight (79)
Taï Phong - Jean-Jacques Goldman (guitars, vocals), Khanh Mai (guitars, vocals),
Tai Sinh (acoustic guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals), Jean-Alain Gardet (keyboards),
and Stephane Caussareiu (drums, percussion)
Taï Phong was founded by Vietnamese brothers Taï Sinh (vocals, bass, a.guitar, keys) and Khanh Mai (vocals, guitars) and they went on to make three albums (plus a reunion album in 2000), which apparently did rather well in France, if not elsewhere. The band also featured guitarist/vocalist Jean-Jacques Goldman who would later forge a lucrative career for himself with a more mainstream music. Apart from these things, Taï Phong seem to be one of the more obscure French prog bands these days. Based on their second album, Windows (WEA 4509-96266-2), I don't see why this should be, as this album is full of very harmonious and beautiful symphonic rock. Ringing acoustic guitars, swirly string-synths and stately piano create a kind of floating atmosphere similar to Novalis' Sommerabend, but the overall sound is warmer and richer, with electric guitar leads and harmonies closer to Camel, yet if the melodic material owes debt to someone, it's King Crimson more than Novalis or Camel. Delicate, almost androgynous male vocals are prolific, occasionally rising to slightly over-dramatic heights, while wordless harmony vocals are used to add to the luxuriant harmonic cushion of keyboards. There are some bursts of more frenzied drumming and guitar work, as at the beginning of "When It's the Season", and "Circle" has some truly gorgeous guitar/synthesizer harmonies that rival the best of Camel's, but the overall style remains mellow and fragile. The highlight must be the ten-minute "The Gulf of Knowledge", which starts with distinctly Asian melodies performed by tuned percussion and wordless vocals, and flows unhurriedly into an exquisite ride through trilling melodies and lush harmonies that is pretty much indescribable. There is something about this kind of combined manipulation of warm melodies and rich tone colour that to my ears is uniquely French, and even there only comparable to some of Pulsar's works. This, more than any pretense of technical virtuosity, is the album's main selling point - and I certainly am sold. Its the icky little ballad "Last Chance", which seems to have been recorded with francs foremost in mind and which doesn't fit in with the rest of the material. Nevertheless, Windows is an excellent choice if you are looking for romantic and sumptuous symphonic rock. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|French symphonic rock that is quite unimpressive, actually. Neo-prog fans might like it though. Includes two Vietnamese members.|
[See Alpha Ralpha]
Click here for Taï Phong's web site
S/T (78), U Vreci Za Spavanje (80)
A truly outstanding band, easily the best I've ever heard from Yugoslavia, possibly the best in all of Eastern Europe! Their debut contains an absolutely amazing 16-minute track called "Druga Strana Mene." The rhythm section riffs like possessed maniacs, while guitar solos spew forth like fiery magma spurting out of a volcano. String-synth is the dominant instrument, and keyboardist Dorde Ilijin wields it like a flamethrower. He also plays some incredible flute, and adds a touch of harmonica. There are some incidental vocals on a couple of tracks, but it's by and large instrumental. Their belated second album, U Vreci Za Spavanje, is totally instrumental, and is if anything even more mindblowing. Taking the cue from "Druga Strana Mene," this album includes still more tortured, blowtorch riffing on tracks like the breathtaking "Senke Proslosti" and the 10-minute epic "Price o Leni." Also important, this album adds Mellotron to the mix. Two undeniably important classics by a band by which others will be judged. -- Mike Ohman
Voices Beyond My Curtain (91)
The music of Tale Cue is hard driving and complex, twisting and undulating through frequent signature and tempo changes, yet without losing sensitivity for the listener. Out front is singer Laura Basla's haunting and seductive voice, backed with the dark and jagged lyrics of the band's two main writers keyboardist Giovanni Porpora and guitarist Silvio Masanotti. Behind it all is the top notch rhythm section of Filippo Oggioni on drums and and Davide Vicchione on bass guitar. Although the music ranges from violent to ethereal, the overall mood is definitely progressive, and some comparisons could be drawn between Basla's voice and say Bara Basikova of Stromboli or Sonja Kristina of Curved Air, although the very feel of the music could elicit similar comparisons. The voice, music and lyrics all work together to conjure up a dark dreamscape that works on the subconscious level, pulling you into Tale Cue's foreboding musical vision. All taken together, this is some very compelling music. The album opener is the 15 minute "The Knell," which sets the stage for all the tracks that follow, including "Prisoner of Cutting Light," "Flying to Fade," and the albums shortest cut, the seven minute "Choices." The topper is the dark and apocalyptic "Pale Light of the Morning." This band has definitely produced an outstanding first album, and one that I strongly reccomend. -- Peter Thelen
Phew! What an album! Tale Cue is not just another of those new Italian progressive bands. If I didn't know better, I could swear Voices Beyond My Curtain was a lost progressive masterpiece of the '70s! This band evokes Pulsar and the German progressive bands such as Jane. Tale Cue's debut CD has six wonderfully crafted songs and they maintain complete control of their musical journey. The music is outstanding! Much thought went into these compositions. Tale Cue is a band that knows how to control the use of Laura Basla's soaring voice and Silvio Masanotti's fiery guitar to release the tension that builds during Tale Cue's quiet passages. At times Ms. Basla goes through vocal gymnastics similar to Siouxie Sioux or Lenya Lovich. And on "Choices," Basla and Masanotti have an inspiring voice and electric guitar duet. Laura Basla's wide vocal range and incredible treatment of Tale Cue's surreal lyrics greatly enhance the six songs. Voices Beyond My Curtain is an excellent suite of progressive music guaranteed to please the most discriminating music lover. -- Henry Schneider
Although I had heard several good things about Tale Cue, I was dissatisfied with Voices Beyond My Curtain, ultimately an album of neo-progressive rock, albeit rather good for the style. The album features six songs between 7-15 minutes in length. This five piece band consists of Laura Basla (vocals), Davide Vicchione (bass), Giovanni Porpora (keyboards), Filippo Oggioni (drums) and Silvio Masanotti (guitar). The album opens up with the 15 minute "The Knell." After a brief classical guitar statement, the album moves squarely into Twelfth Night/IQ territory where it remains for the entire album. The electric guitar that swirls between the speakers is not unlike the main guitar riff of Twelfth Night's "East To West" from Live at the Target, and the overall flow is similar to "Sequences," also from Live at the Target. In fact, Masanotti's style throughout the album often reminded me of Twelfth Night's guitarist, Andy Revell. To Tale Cue's credit, they create a very good atmosphere, dark and somber, that pervades Voices. The enigmatic lyrics, and Basla's mid-register voice, fit well with the mood. To Tale Cue's discredit, did little, if anything, to distinguish it from the many other neo-prog bands that have already done this bit. The musical writing is not overly complex and usually predictable. For example, at only seven minutes, "Craven Smiles" seems to go on way too long and the "climactic" guitar and keyboard solos happen right on cue. In the end, Tale Cue are basically Twelfth Night with a female vocalist. Tale Cue is very good neo-prog but only average when considered against the prog scene as a whole. No doubt, fans of Twelfth Night, IQ and so forth will find much to enjoy when listening to Tale Cue. -- Mike Taylor
This quintet form the usual group with vocals (in English), guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. The result is a melodic rock that alternates between soft and heavier parts where the rhythms and electric guitar get busy. The compositions on Voices..., fairly simple, take advantage of the singer's expressive and dramatic style. She shares the melodic role with the guitarist and keyboards provide symphonic textures. Modest but solid rhythms take on a support role. A sound that ranges from bands like Pendragon to bands with a harder rock edge. -- Paul Charbonneau
In Concert (93)
|Four-piece instrumental jazz outfit that features bass guitarist, percussionist (sometimes playing hand percussions), pianist/keyboardist AND (now for the standout) one of the best flautists you'll hear from the 1980's and 1990's. I am constantly reminded of Gotic's Escenses album from Spain. So if you like that album, you should like this album. No Mellotrons though but the flautist (he won awards across Europe including everyone's beloved Italy for the best flautist in competitions). He plays a teardrop style flute at times. A good example of what I mean by "teardrop" is the flute style on Jacula's Tardo album or on Rovescio Della Medaglia's Contaminizione album. -- Betta|
I would like to find out what became of Tall Dogs. I saw them live in Syracuse in 1977ish. They had a sparse sound, with bass, violin, and brass often playing melodies in unison. The melodies were sweet and distinctive, flowing through the rhythm section. It was quite a nice effect. I believe Tall Dogs had one album. Their logo looked like a wood-block cut of three or so great danes but I can't remember if I saw the album cover or concert poster.
Goolutionites and the Real People (70)
Morning Of The Earth (72, Soundtrack, 3 cuts)
Permanent Culture (94)
Tamam Shud, photographed by Alby Falzon during the rehearsals for "Morning Of The Earth".
(L-R) Larry Duryea, Nigel Macara, Peter Baron (front), Tim Gaze, Lindsay Bjerre.
Australian band from the late '60s and early '70s named after the poem Tamam Shud from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam. They produced two albums: Evolution (a surfer album, I havent heard it but believe it's quite psychedelic) and Goolutionites and the Real People (which combines early acid rock, psychadelia and progressive rock). Much more guitar-based prog similar in style to other Australian prog bands from this era such as Kahvas Jute and Dave Miller/Leith Corbett with a range of accoustic, melodic and heavier tracks.
Goolutionites is well worth trying to get hold of and contains some great tracks - from the sublime "Heaven is Closed" to the acoustic "Take a Walk". A strong album with a great mix of tracks generally around the 4-minute mark. Understand the vinyl fetches for quite a bit but they have re-released on CD. -- Mark Hermitage
Click here for a Tamam Shud web site
The Music That Died Alone (03)
The World That We Drive Through (04)
Pyramids and Stars (04, Live, Limited edition)
A Place In The Queue (06)
Going Off On ONE (07, Live, DVD and 2CD versions)
Not as Good as the Book (07, 2CD or "Special Edition" with 2CD's + Graphic Novel)
A Place On The Shelf (09, Out-takes)
Down and Out In Paris and London (09)
Going Off on TWO (10, Studio Live DVD)
The Tangent (in Satzvey Germany on their Autumn 2004 tour) - Sam Baine, Andy Tillison, Roine Stolt, Zoltan Csorsz and Jonas Reingold
Original write-up, last updated 5/20/05:
Their first album, The Music That Died Alone was supposed to be a one-off, but it was popular enough that a second album featuring Theo Travis (Gong, Porcupine Tree, Cipher) replacing Jackson on wind instruments was released in 2004. A live album, Pyramids and Stars, from their concert tour for the second album is available only from their web site. A third studio album is currently in preparation. -- Fred Trafton
Meanwhile, a "lite" version of The Tangent featuring only Andy Tillison, Jonas Reingold and Jaimie Salazar will be performing concerts as a trio as well as the 5 (or maybe 6)-person standard line-up which also includes Theo Travis and Krister Jonsson (and maybe that as yet unknown keyboard player at some point). The 3-man line-up is called The Tangent presents: Tillison, Reingold, & Salazar. A bit unwieldy, but there it is. They're threatening to perform a "major, well loved Progressive Rock Classic" in this format. Would you believe "Tarkus"? That's only a guess ... they're not talking until "Andy has decided whether he can actually play it or not!"
Furthermore, 2 more recordings are in the offing. The first, being recorded under the pseudonym of a fake Italian prog band La Voce Del Vento, composed of Andreas Tillisoni and Guy De M'anningi (groan!) will be performing "The Bad" movement of a concept album based on the old spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The other planned release (in early 2007) will be a double live CD of The Tangent's performances in the USA and UK in 2005-6, including much of their show at ROSFest. -- Fred Trafton
In addition, the band is working on their fourth studio album, entitled A Crisis in Midlife, which will feature guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, stepping in to replace former guitarists Roine Stolt and Krister Jonsson. -- Fred Trafton
Perfectly good if somewhat uninspired prog with both a classic and updated sound something like IQ but with distinct Selling England-type Genesisms and Emersonian noodling. Pleasing CDs and live performances but probably not worth purchasing new unless you crave derivative music. -- David Marshall
Since my last update, the fourth studio album mentione above was renamed Not as Good as the Book, and it did indeed feature Jakko Jakszyk on guitar. Said to be written by then-homeless Andy Tillison about a number of "intensely personal" subjects, including his split with former keyboardist Sam Baine. The album is 2CD, the first being of shorter songs, and the second with two 20-minute epics. It is also available in a "Special Edition" which includes a short sci-fi graphic novel written by Tillison with illustrations by Antoine Ettori.
A Place on the Shelf is an album of out-takes from earlier projects, originally released as a fund-raiser for Down and Out ..., but was re-released a year later by popular demand.
Down and Out in Paris and London is the first Tangent album to feature an all-UK line-up. The Swedish influence has all gone back to their other bands at this point, and Tillison fills out his line-up with a new rhythm section comprised of Jonathan Barrett on bass and Paul Burgess on drums. Jakko Jakszyk also returns on guitar, but only on one track. Guy Manning also returns on acoustic guitar and vocals, as does Theo Travis (Cipher, Gong) on flute. A fan-financed DVD Going Off on TWO of the new line-up (with Tony Latham replacing Burgess on drums, and without Manning) performing live in their studio should be shipping as of about now.
And, as you may have discerned from my "just the facts" write-ups above, I still haven't managed to hear this band. I hope to rectify that soon, as the last three studio albums (at least) sound very appealing to me, despite David Marshall's above review. -- Fred Trafton
[See Cipher |
Flower Kings, The |
Jakszyk, Jakko |
Manning, Guy |
Parallel or Ninety Degrees |
Porcupine Tree |
Secret Green |
Stolt, Roine |
Van Der Graaf Generator]
Click here for The Tangent's web site
California rock/psych (ala Byrds, Jefferson Airplane) mixed with small influences of Canadian prog bands such as Harmonium and Beau Dommage.
Electronic Meditation (70)
Alpha Centauri (71)
Zeit (Largo in 4 Movements) (72)
Green Desert (73)
Ricochet (76, Live)
Encore (77, Live)
Sorcerer (77, Soundtrack)
Force Majeure (79)
Quichotte (80, East German releasse only, later released as Pergamon)
Thief (82, Soundtrack)
White Eagle (82)
Logos - Live at the Dominion (83, Live)
Poland - The Warsaw Concert(84)
Flashpoint (84, Soundtrack)
Le Parc (85)
Underwater Sunlight (86)
Pergamon (86, Re-release of Quichotte)
Live Miles (88, Live)
Optical Race (88)
Lily On the Beach (89)
Miracle Mile (89, Soundtrack)
Quinoa (92, Fan Club release only)
220 Volt Live (93, Live)
Turn of the Tides (94)
Tangents 1973-83 (94, box set)
Tyranny of Beauty (95)
Dream Mixes 1 (95, available in 1CD or 2CD versions)
Goblins' Club (96)
Dream Mixes 2 - Timesquare (97)
Tournado (Live in Europe 1997) (97, Live)
Ambient Monkeys (98)
Atlantic Walls (98, Compilation)
Atlantic Bridges (98, Compilation)
Dream Encores (98, Compilation)
The Hollywood Years 1 (98, Soundtrack)
The Hollywood Years 2 (98, Soundtrack)
Oasis (98, Soundtrack)
Quinoa Extended (98)
Valentine Wheels (Live in London 1997) (99, Live)
Sohoman (Live in Sydney 1982) (99, Live)
What a Blast! (99, Soundtrack)
Architecture in Motion (99, same as What a Blast! minus 2 tracks)
Mars Polaris (99)
Great Wall of China (99, Soundtrack)
Tang-Go (00, 2CD Compilation)
Soundmill Navigator (00, Live)
Antique Dreams (00, Compilation)
The Seven Letters From Tibet (00)
Dream Mixes 3 - The Past Hundred Moons (01)
Inferno (Dante Alighieri - La Divina Commedia) (02)
The Melrose Years (03, 3CD, Re-recordings of Optical Race, Lily On The Beach and Melrose)
Mota Atma (03, Soundtrack)
Dream Mixes 4 - DM4 (04)
Rockface (Live in Berkely 1988) (04, Live)
Purgatorio (Dante Alighieri - La Divina Commedia) (04, 2CD)
East (Live in East Berlin 1990) (04)
Goblin's Club (04, Re-issue)
Arizona (Live in Scottsdale 1992) (04, Live)
Vault 4 - TD live in U.K./U.S.A 1986 (04, 4CD, Live)
Rocking Mars (05, 2CD, Live)
Jeanne D'Arc - La Révolte Éternelle (05)
Phaedra (05, Remastered from 1974)
40 Years Roadmap to Music (06, Compilation)
Paradiso (06, 2CD, Live)
TD Plays TD (06, re-recordings and re-mixes)
Metaphor (06, Limited Edition EP)
Springtime in Nagasaki (07, Limited Edition, Part I of "Five Atomic Seasons" suite)
Sleeping Watches Snoring in Silence (07, Live, Limited Edition)
Cyberjam Collection (07, Compilation)
Ocean Waves Collection (07, Compilation)
Bells Of Accra (07, Limited Edition)
Summer in Nagasaki (07, Limited Edition, Part II of "Five Atomic Seasons" suite)
Tangines Scales (07, Compilation)
Silver Siren Collection (07, Compilation)
One Night In Space (07, Limited Edition)
One Times One (07, EP)
Booster (07, 2CD, Compilation)
Purple Diluvial (08, EP)
The Anthology Decades - The Space Years Vol. 1 (08, Compilation)
Hyperborea 2008 (08, re-recording of Hyperborea from 1983)
Tangram 2008 (08, re-recording of Tangram from 1980)
Views from a Red Train (08)
Das Romantische Opfer (08, Live EP)
Fallen Angels (08, Limited Edition EP (15 minutes!))
Autumn in Hiroshima (08, Limited Edition, Part III of "Five Atomic Seasons" suite)
Booster Vol. 2 (07, 2CD, Compilation + New or re-recorded tracks)
Choice (08, Limited Edition EP)
Flame (09, Limited Edition EP)
The London Eye Concert (09, Live 3CD)
Chandra - The Phantom Ferry Part I (09)
A Cage in Search of a Bird (09, Limited Edition EP)
Winter in Hiroshima (09, Limited Edition, Part IV of "Five Atomic Seasons" suite)
The Epsilon Journey (09, Live 2CD)
Booster III (09, 2CD, Compilation + New or re-recorded tracks)
Izu - Tangerine Dream Live in Japan (09, Live 2CD)
DM V (10, Remixes)
The Island of the Fay - Edgar Allen Poe (10)
Booster IV (11, 2CD, Compilation + New or re-recorded tracks)
Tangerine Dream in 1974 - Chris Franke, Peter Baumann, Edgar Froese
Tangerine Dream, held together by Edgar Froese, are the founders of the Berlin School of Celestial Studies. Much of the electronic space music of the '70s was created by artists from the Berlin area. Tangerine Dream were the pioneers who started it all. They have too many albums to cover in detail (and I don't have them all, anyway) but I'll cover several that I do have. The earliest album I have is Zeit, which is a two record set (both LP and CD versions). The music on this set is a a very nebulous blend of VCS3 synthesizer, organ, glissando guitar, moog, vibraphone and four cellos (!). The moog on the first (of four) tracks is played by Popol Vuh's Florian Fricke. Various synth tones shimmer amidst the aural layers much as the northern lights shine in the night sky. Very soothing and relaxing; also one of my favorite electronic albums. In 1974, Klaus Schulze, who was a member of Tangerine Dream for Electronic Meditation, released his landmark Timewind. Schulze's album was to have a major influence on the next several T-Dream LPs. Phaedra was the first of these and in many ways is a landmark album itself. Whereas Zeit was a dreamy, arhythmic soundscape, Phaedra was a haunting series of mutating, pulsating sequences overlayed with other VCS3 patterns, spacy Mellotron, flute, guitar, eerie sound effects and more. The direction of the music is well-defined as the pulses quicken and rest, flow and ebb. "Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares" is one of the spookiest pieces of electronic music ever written! Phaedra is an excellent introduction to both Tangerine Dream and the spirit of the Berlin celestial electronics. Rubycon and Ricochet develop on the sequential patterns of Phaedra. Each of these albums is a single 40 minute -- broken only by the LP side -- triple synth improvisation in real time. The usual thick tones of VCS3 and moog are supplemented with prepared piano and ARP 2600 on Rubycon. Ricochet was the first of many live recordings. (One concert of improvisation could easily lead to two or three LP releases, although it never did.) Ricochet is also a good T-Dream starter, a engaging and inventive design in musical thought and process. A year later, Tangerine Dream would release a soundtrack to "Sorcerer," the first of many such movie soundtracks. A few others have included "Thief," "Legend" and "Firestarter." Cyclone is a different direction from previous albums. In retrospect, it can be seen as the first brick in a long road toward their commercial, new-agey sound of the '80s. On Cyclone, the band includes a fourth member on drums, the first of any real percussion ever used by the band, and vocals. The five minute "Rising Runner Missed by Endless Sender" seems an attempt for a single but the 20 minute "Madrigal Meridian" is prime T-Dream, albeit with drums. The guys are armed with a large arsenal of keyboards, guitar synths and woodwinds. The clarinets add a new dimension to their sound and Cyclone is still full of the cosmic foundation around which the Tangerine Dream name is built. If it weren't for the occasional vocals and drums, this would be another classic. Still enjoyable despite a few flaws. Force Majeure, like Cyclone, has just three songs. The band is back to a trio but they lost a keyboardist and still use a drummer. The engineer contributes a little bit of cello. At the opening of the album, though, we're treated to a little bit of acoustic guitar. Combine this with some Richard Wright-like synth and you have a song reminiscent of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. This reference quickly evolves into synth sequences and guitar. With Cyclone and Force Majeure, Froese starting featuring the guitar much more, taking extended solos against the rhythmic patterns provided by the myriad synths. There are many good atmospheric moments on this album and there are no vocals, but Cyclone is the stronger of this pair. Tangram find the band back to three synthesists and the single, two-part song idea of Rubycon and Ricochet. It sound to me like the improvisational work of those two albums but with the slightly more accessible version heard on Cyclone and Force Majeure. One of the themes in "Tangram Part 1" would later be expanded on the follow-up album Quichotte. Overall, Tangram is a pretty decent album. Instead, though, I would recommend Quichotte or Pergamon. Though the latter was released in 1986, I believe it is the same as Quichotte. The song (single, two-parter) is called "Quichotte." This is a live improvisation on one of the themes first heard in Tangram. There is excellent interplay of the three sets of synths and Froese takes off on an excellent extended guitar improv. I'd recommend Pergamon as a good representative of their late '70s/early '80s sound. Finally, the last two albums of which I can speak are Exit and Melrose. Recorded the year after Quichotte, Exit marks a turn toward short, concise songs that marked (marred?) most of their '80s material. Most of the songs are in the 4-5 minute range. Only two are 8-9 minutes long and none are longer. Most of the songs sound like commercial (relatively speaking) attempts at singles. Not a very interesting album, as far as I'm concerned. Even worse is Melrose. Gone are invention and imagination. Replacing them is commercial, new-age drek that I don't find even remotely engaging. To get started both with Tangerine Dream and electronic space music in general, I'd recommend Phaedra, Ricochet or Pergamon, particularly Phaedra. -- Mike Taylor
|The best-known German synth ensemble, and why not? They perhaps perfected the synth-space rock genre. Surprisingly, their first album contains NO synthesizers. I've heard Electronic Meditation described as "Pink Floyd playing the Stockhausen songbook", and that may well be nearly accurate. At this point the band consists of Edgar Froese (guitars, bass, organ), Conrad Schnitzler (flute, cello) and Klaus Schulze (drums). The sound consists of spacy guitar-driven improvisations, not unlike the sort of thing Schulze would subsequently do with Ash Ra Tempel. Only Froese remained for their sophomore outing: Alpha Centauri. Synths make it sound more sophisticated technically, but the music is group improvisation of the most diffuse kind, hard to appreciate when not under the influence of mind-altering substances. Zeit is a considerable step forward, with the band using almost nothing but synths to create dark, otherworldly colours and slowly shifting sound shapes. "Birth Of Liquid Plejades" includes a cello quartet and a guest appearance by Florian Fricke of Popol Vuh. But at an hour and fifteen minutes in length, it may be hard-to-take in all one sitting. Atem perfects their sound texturing prowess, adding Mellotron to their keyboard banks. The side-long title suite is the focal point of this one. The best track probably is the ten-minute "Fauni-Gena," a hypnotic mix of artificial bird-sounds and disembodied whispers set to Mellotron and organ background that is like being blindfolded and led by hand through an extraterrestrial jungle. I remember Phaedra and Rubycon as being better still, but haven't heard these in a long time. -- Mike Ohman|
|German space rock pioneers, basically three synthesizers. Early albums have sidelong tracks (or close to it), and slow developing themes, can be boring if you're not in the (ahem) "mood" for it. Later ('80s) albums got more poppy and new-age sounding, overly synthetic. Here's the ones I like Best: Phaedra, Sorcerer, Stratosfear.|
|They have some records with acoustic instruments (violins, saxes, flutes, real drums, guitars, many with electric guitars). Here are some of these albums that may fit to the progressive rock listener's ears: Force Majeur (guitar and drums make this album a fine space/classic prog rock album), Cyclone (many wind-instruments in a kind of Bolero. Vocals in German and English), Ricochet (a good live performance with guitars, some drums and samples), Underwater Sunlight (lots of electric guitars on the strong main track, good electric drums) and The Best Of Tangerine Dream, a nice double collection.|
Whilst walking on the boardwalk on vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey, I happened
upon a recycled CD shop. Since we all know that CD's are soon to be relegated to
the same "has-been" category as vinyl, I decided to stop and see if they had anything
interesting. Though their prog content was pretty sparse, they did seem to specialize
in '70's and '80's "Classic Rock". I found a few albums that I thought sounded
interesting, and finally left with Tangerine Dream's Tangram and
Hyperborea albums, neither of which I had ever heard. The originals, not
the new re-recordings (see last paragraph).
Tangram turns out to be the first album released by Tangerine Dream after the departure of longtime member Peter Baumann and the addition of new member Johannes Schmoelling. I had stopped listening to TD, one of my all-time-favorite bands, after the release of Force Majeure and Cyclone because I thought these were getting too predictable, and even "poppy". Now I would say "New-agey", though that term hadn’t really come into vogue yet. But it seems I stopped one album too early, because Tangram is right up there with the best of Tangerine Dream's earlier albums, even my favorites Rubycon and Phaedra. If you're not into this sort of thing, Tangram won't convince you otherwise. I saw one review of this album saying it’s the first album that "points the way to their newer, more accessible sound" or some such statement. Not to my ears ... I hear two side-long compositions that bring to mind Rubycon far more than anything else. Personally, I was mentally teleported back to the good old days of the '70's. Never mind that this album was released in 1980, it still has that '70's vibe. Well worth the six bucks I payed for it.
Hyperborea was released in 1983, with the same line-up as Tangram and a couple of other albums in between. The sound has changed since Tangram and is starting to move further into the areas I didn’t care for. But I would say it's still a good album, perhaps a bit like Stratosfear, which I still liked. Not so many sequencer passages (too bad, I like TD's sequencer passages), but still containing some of the more atonal soundscapes I also like. A pretty good album, though not their best (in my opinion, of course). Still, at six bucks, it's hard to say anything bad about the album. It’s still classic TD and not techno dance music.
So how about a full-priced digitally-mastered re-recorded version? Maybe not. There are such things, of both of these albums. Tangram 2008 and Hyperborea 2008. I've heard pieces of both of these. Don't bother. The originals are far better, to my ears. I can handle a little tape hiss to get those amazing analog sounds. -- Fred Trafton
[See Agitation Free |
Froese, Edgar |
Haslinger, Paul |
Popol Vuh |
Schulze, Klaus |
Click here for the official Tangerine Dream web site
Improvised DropOuts (83, Cassette, re-released 1990)
Live in the Presence of Aphrodite (86, Cassette)
Radio Stroganoff 1986 (86, Promo cassette)
In Search Of A New Dawn (90, LP, CD remix released in 1994)
Entangled Scorpio Entrance (92, 2CD & 3LP)
Eulogy (93, CD & LP)
Sumerian Kings And Joyful Doubts (02, CDR)
Cosmorama (05, CDR)
Serpentary Quarters (06, CD & LP)
Tangle Edge - Ronald Nygård, Tom Steinberg and
Touted as Scandinavia's answer to Ozric Tentacles, I personally find as many differences as similarities. Tangle Edge, by comparison, sounds like an early seventies band, both in instrumental style and production qualities. Maybe more like early Amon Düül II, and they seem incapable of limiting even the most simple musical ideas to less than half an album side, which gets a little tiring at times, but overall they are a good band.
Tangle Edge are a relatively new Norwegian psych band that like to go off on extended guitar excursions. They have made quite a stir among psych fans. I have two albums, In Search of a New Dawn and the live, 2CD set Entangled Scorpio Entrance. In Search... is a good blend of acoustic and electric guitars, flutes, bowed guitar (sounding like an electrified hybrid of violin and sitar), moog and a variety of percussion (such as bells and bongos) weaved together into a cerebromorphing series of songs. The eight minute "A Secret Inside Clopedia" is a celestial blend of bongos, acoustic guitar and the bowed electric guitar; other songs, such as "Caesar's Integrated Flaw" and the 15 minute "Solorgy" are mind-bending electric jams. Most of the songs are in the 2-5 minute range. This album is a solid doses of psychedelia! Entangled Scorpio Entrance finds the band down to a trio (they had been five members) in a live setting so their sound is parred down relative to In Search.... On this outing, you can hear the band's propensity to go off on long guitar jams. The longest track is nearly 30 minutes and four others are between 14-20 minutes. Heck, the remaining two songs are each more than nine minutes in length and the total set runs just shy of two hours. None of these songs appear on In Search of a New Dawn. The trio is just electric guitar, bass and drums. The long (relatively speaking) songs tend to run on a bit but I don't mind so much when I have a buzz on. It's not the recommended starting place though. Tangle Edge are recommended only to psychedelia fans. Most prog fans will find it boring, I'm sure. -- Mike Taylor
|Norwegian band that was heavily influenced by Amon Düül II circa Yeti. In fact, if you didn't know otherwise, you'd swear In Search of a New Dawn was made around 1972 in Germany. Even the song titles ("Mushy Shadows "From A Lost Caravan", "Isis At The Invisible Frontispiece") are attempts at the druggy non-sequiturs of Dance of the Lemmings. All this said, there isn't much on In Search Of A New Dawn that wasn't done better before. Not bad, but I'd rather listen to Dance Of The Lemmings. -- Mike Ohman|
Click here for Tangle Edge's web site (Dream Box)
Child of Never Ending Love (72), Saddle Soap (76)
Laid back psych w/ West Coast feel; for Dead and Jeff. Airplane fans.
Misterios e Maravilhas (77)
Humanoid Flesh (81)
Live Ritual (02, Live, recorded in 1977)
Tantra - Humanoid Flesh line-up
This is an amazing band! Their first two albums are an extraordinaire progressive experience! They have just the basic setup of keys/drums/guitar/bass/vocals, but they have some quite good compositions! They have a very melodic kind of prog, with lush keyboards (limited thou), good guitarist, and an *excellent* bass/drums section! You won't believe the drummer. He simply is amazing! I'm not sure, but I've heard this guy (name is Toze Almeida), toured with Peter Gabriel! The vocals, in Portuguese, are surprisingly good. Their Portuguese is different from Brazilian Portuguese, much better, IMHO. :) On the second album they really show all they can do. The drums/bass are furious, the new keyboardists pulls up some better sounds (Mellotron, VCS, etc), making a hell of a nice record! An instant comparison to be made is to Yes, but if you think over it, you won't find any big similarities. This band is on my TOP 10, but I know some people that don't like this guys at all, so.... -- Luis Paulino
Tantra have re-banded and released two albums in 2002; Terra, a new studio album,
and Live Ritual, a recording of their first-ever concert in 1977. I've heard
their new studio album, recorded with what's evidently a mostly-new line-up ("Tantra
Second Generation"). I haven't heard their '70's/'80's stuff for comparison, so I can
only comment on Terra, and my comment is that this is an excellent album! The
compositions are not about being flashy or highlighting any one musician, they're about
the music and interplay between instruments. Very symphonic, occasionally becoming
dissonant just long enough to feel the relief wash over you when a section suddenly
becomes harmonious. The main vocalist (Manuel Cardoso) is male, but there is also a
female vocalist used to good effect in many places. He sometimes sounds like
Peter Gabriel singing in Portugese, and other times
not at all.
Oh, yeah, the cone-head guy (as in the photo above) appears in a surreal CD insert showing him and others of his race carrying egg-shaped gadgets across a hallucinogenic computer-generated landscape suitable for publication in Heavy Metal magazine. The Portugese lyrics have kindly been translated into English in a second insert, but they are even more obscure than anything Gabriel or even Jon Anderson ever wrote, so if you're hoping to make sense of what the cone-heads are up to from the lyrics, I doubt this will help much. In other words, perfect prog lyrics, forcing you to think and create your own interpretation. A perfect complement to wonderful compositions ... prog doesn't get any better than this. Highly recommended, and welcome back, Tantra! -- Fred Trafton
|Sometimes it's nice to hear a prog rock band with a rough edge, it shakes the dust off and reminds us of our roots. The retention of an unpolished sound also provides contrast to an otherwise precise and demanding musical form allowing one to better hear and appreciate the actual flavors, like salt enhancing a brownie recipe. Tantra provides this special quality. Their sound also has real space-rock influences that vaguely remind me of some old Gong I heard years ago. A treat for those who still like a good dose of rock in their prog. -- David Marshall|
|Links||Click here for Tantra's web site|
Tarántula 1 (76), Tarántula 2 (77)
Tarántula was part of the first wave of Spanish progressive band from the 70's. A five-piece of guitars, keys, drums and bass, fronted by capable lead vocalist Rafael Cabrera, who often changes from a near folksy familiarity to an operatic vengeance in a matter of moments. The sound tends to be keyboard driven, although not overly complex, and is supported well by the rhythm section and good writing. Their style is fairly original, elements of rock, classical, blues, folk and other forms in various extended arrangements, with changing tempos and rhythmic textures. Some rudimentary comparisons might be made to some of the Italian bands of the same period (the 4-piece Le Orme, for example), but an occasional hard-rock outburst lends the band a different character beyond the progressive realm, giving them a truly chameleon feel. But it's not the musicianship that stands out here (although it does stand strong), but the excellent writing coupled with Cabrera's powerful vocals. These two factors, taken together with some clever arrangements, give the music a strength far beyond what might typically be expected, yet at times the arrangements tend to become a little overbearing and thwart some excellent possibilities within the music, offering little more than simplistic melodic keyboard riffing - but somehow these episodes never seem to last long and things quickly get back into good balance. In short, the keywords here are powerful and tasty.
Tarántula had been described to me as some of the best prog to come out of Spain. I'd say that was hype. In my opinion, there were much better bands such as Iceberg, Atila, Mezquita, Crack, Gotic, Granada...well, the list goes on. Tarántula, under the leadership of Vicente Guillot, released two albums of which I'm aware, unimaginatively named Tarántula 1 and Tarántula 2. Tarántula 1 is the most progressive which is probably why I think it is the better of the two albums. The first contains strong presence of both vocals and keyboards, as well as a good dose of guitar and some flute. Only one short song is entirely instrumental. I don't know what it is about this album but I just can't get completely into it. There are some nice melodies, decent (but not outstanding) musicianship, and a fair amount of complexity but I'm never drawn in. Maybe it's the dramatic vocal style that I don't like. Maybe it's an average rhythm section. I guess I just expected more after listening to the likes of some of the bands mentioned above. Tarántula 2 has all new members except for Guillot. The album is a heavier, more rock-oriented album with both male and female vocals. It sounds like they're trying to do the Uriah Heap combination of hard rock and art-rock. The female vocalist is positively sinister sounding. I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley! As far as I'm concerned, Tarántula are not a very good representation of good Spanish progressive. -- Mike Taylor
Tasavallan Presidentti (69)
Tasavallan Presidentti (70)
Lambert Land (72)
Milky Way Moses (74)
Still Struggling for Freedom (01, Live)
|The Tasavallan Presidentti of 1969-1971 was like a totally different group from the later outfit. The first (eponymous) album was recorded and released in 1969 by Love Records (LRLP-7S). In 1990, it was re-issued on CD (LRCD-7) by Siboney. This first album is sophisticated pop - with a hint of jazz - and more melodic (and, to my mind, far better) than the later "progressive" stuff. This LP (as well as the second one) features Frank Robson, a British expatriate, on keyboards and lead vocals. Robson is rumoured to have been a member of an early line-up of the Small Faces, but I never have been able to confirm this! However, it is certain that in 1968 he had replaced Jim Pembroke as the lead vocalist of Blues Section (another remarkable Finnish group) which split into Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti in late '68/early '69. After the Finnish album and a further single, the boys were taken interest in by the Swedish EMI/Columbia. This resulted in the second album also called Tasavallan Presidentti. This LP (Swedish Columbia 4E 062-34264) was recorded in August 1970 in Stockholm, Sweden, with Bob Azzam producing. The album included a couple of re-recorded songs from the Finnish album and singles, along with a bunch of brilliant new material from mainly Jukka Tolonen, Groundstroem and Robson. Somewhere in the process EMI and/or Azzam lost their interest and the album was given virtually no promotion. Too bad because I think it is their finest moment! The Columbia album has apparently never been re-issued and now easily fetches the equivalent of $250. Robson was eventually replaced by Eero Raittinen and the band went REALLY progressive (and almost conquered the world), but that's another story. -- Jari Hartikainen|
|This Finnish band features the good guitar work of Jukka Tolonen, as well as the sax and flute of Pekka Poyry. Showing jazzy/Canterbury (at least on Lambertland, the only album I have by this band) tendencies, Tasavallan Presidentti can be thought of as a guitar version of Soft Machine or, more accurately, Wigwam. As a matter of fact, Eero Raittinen's vocals remind me a bit of Jim Pembroke of Wigwam. Tolonen and Poyry guested on Wigwam's Fairyport (Poyry was also a guest (member?) on Being). There are no organs or other keyboards. One short song (3+ minutes) but most are in the 7-8 minute range so there is plenty of extended soloing from both Tolonen and Poyry. If you're looking for a guitar version of Wigwam or a fan of that general style, then I highly recommend this band. Canterbury/Soft Machine might also like this a good deal.|
|Jazzrock band featuring some of the leading lights of Finnish music: fusion guitarist Jukka Tolonen, the late jazz sax virtuoso Pekka Poyry. Milky Way Moses exudes a sort of Roxy Music feel with the raucous rock feel and heavy emphasis on sax. But Tasavallan Presidentti have a truly jazzy bent to them, centered mostly in Tolonen's fine guitar solos. Poyry blows a mean sax here and there, also adding flute and piano. Vocalist Eero Raittinen for the most part is a typically blustery rock belter, but always keeps his vocal intonations appropriate to the mood of the song. The wacky lyrics are by Wigwam mainstay Jim Pembroke. Very unconventional and lots of fun. -- Mike Ohman|
|Links||[See Tolonen, Jukka | Wigwam]|
Illusions of a Night (81), Works 1976-1981 (81)
Taurus's music was strongly influenced by UK prog rock bands such as Genesis, Yes, etc. Works is a collection of some of their material that was reworked, and provides a good overview of the band's style. The vocalist operates on a higher octave, like Jon Anderson, and the music is solidly in the "progressive" vein, combining influences from Genesis and Yes. There are long instrumental interludes in the classic style, with moog and guitar leads over string backgrounds accompanied by variant drums and percussion. For those who prefer their progressive rock in the melodic, symphonic style, this CD should have a good deal of appeal.
Taurus was a progressive trio, their sound was very colorful and melodic, but simple in style and not overly complex, and very accessible. Dominated by keyboards, some parallels could be made with Machiavel's Mechanical Moonbeams or Differences' The Voyage. Given that, Works is very solid and offers the listener a wide range of dynamics and mood shifts, with striking melodies driven by soaring synth leads and a generous helping of Mellotron, reminding sometimes of Genesis' Selling England By The Pound. The vocalist is okay, but sings with a very strong accent and may annoy some, and the English lyrics are pretty stupid sometimes. Unfortunately, the second album is far less inspired, I can't put my finger on exactly why, but it just doesn't measure up in terms of originality, and is far more commercial.
Cheshire Tree Suite (99)
You can expect anything when a new CD arrives in the house, particularly if
the CD presents as a demo from an artist as yet unknown. I was trying to
expect everything possible when I pressed the play key, but I didn't expect such
a lucky turn of fate. The most important thing first: This album is a
masterpiece, a pearl, a wonderful discovery - I am grateful that the luck befell
me to have heard this unusual, singular album, to own this unique album. The
music on this album pursues me - no, it is my companion from the very first
time I have heard it - even in my dreams, reaching my very own deepest
emotions. This is an album that is truly able to create a close connection
between the passive listener and active musician, an album that can make these
usually separating boundaries insignificant.
Too enthusiastic? No, not too enthusiastic - the music on this album is really wonderful - and my enthusiasm for it is certainly not yet spent.
What makes me so enthusiastic? Well, the great strength of this album lies in its integrity: One never has the impression that Taylor strives to be somebody other than himself. What one hears in Cheshire Tree Suite is original, inimitable, not imitating. It is, first of all, unbelievably beautiful music and this is the result of many individual factors, which were joined in this work in such a wondrous way by Lou Maxwell Taylor: The recording and production are highly transparent and professional, supporting the total concept of the album (as it should be); the melodies on Cheshire Tree Suite are very appealing, never trivial but rather exciting and moving, always appropriate to the song; the arrangements are unusual, original and imitate no large model; they do not need to hide behind large names; the instrumentation is surprising, suitable and always avoids the cliches of progressive rock. Unusual instruments (cello, mandolin, bodhran, clarinet, etc.) and never-heard instruments (sintharmonia button accordian, Tar, Kendang, Dombek,etc.) are used, in order to create a non-standard music. This, if one doesn't want to remain on the surface, cannot be compared to the music the progressive rock-giants, as prog-reviewers easily do. All in all this instrumentation underscores the folk elements of the compositions, which interact with the electronic elements in Cheshire Tree Suite.
The supporting musicians were altogether previously unknown at least to me, yet some of the musicians are comparatively well known: Michael Masley is an eminent cymbalom player and multi-instrumentalist. He has worked with Zakir Hussain, Garbage, Chris Isaak, and Levi Chen, among others, as well as with the great Ry Cooder on the soundtrack to the film Geronimo. The Czech-born Radim Zenkl is an internationally known mandolin player. Barry Cleveland has enjoyed some fame and critical success as a composer and guitarist. He has worked with many musicians, including Michael Plutznick, the guitarist Carl Weingarten, the poet Craig Van Riper, Michael Masley and Michael Manring. Dan Reiter, the cellist that gives some tracks on the Cheshire Tree Suite such a colorful and dreamlike character, has worked with many extraordinary musicians, including Ali Akbar Khan. He is also the Principal Cellist of the Oakland (California) Symphony Orchestra. Barry Cleveland, Mike Masley and Dan Reiter are all members of the ensemble Cloud Chamber. Lygia Ferra, Taylor's duet partner in The Living and the Dead, is active as a solo artist.
All the supporting musicians, the professional and the non-professional, are brilliant; they set the nuances in this work. With but a few brush lines they clarify the purity and beauty of the presented music, but above all it is Taylor gleaming, showing up as the multi-instrumentalist who is responsible for the solid musical basic structure of the album--he lives this music, his playing animates this music, brings it to life. Crowning everything is Taylor's wonderful vocal work, which interprets colorfully the character of the lyrics: expressive, technically skilled and full of warmth - and although I would actually like to avoid comparisons regarding Cheshire Tree Suite, I permit myself to say that sometimes Taylor sings expressively and picturefully like Peter Hammill, then again passionately like Greg Lake, but then - in reality Taylor does not imitate anybody.
No, Taylor's voice is not plagiarized from another, but the perfect vehicle for the expression of his lyrics and oh, what lyrics! Artful, full allusions, full wordplays, at times highly transparent and unique, then in the next line mystical, relating to the previous. These are lyrics which one would like to study (or have to study, although I have not had a chance not to do it)- lyrics which one has to explore, because they do not reveal everything, they do not want to reveal everything. These are lyrics full of complex elaborations and poetic talents, the intended meaning of which may remain locked to the listener, but which on the other hand wake associations in the listener, creating a subjective reality, which in turn allows this album quickly to become a personal album.
I would not like to bore the bent reader now at all with the single analysis of the pieces. Only the last note is permitted to me that I am almost enchanted by that wonderful duet with Lygia Ferra, "The Living and the Dead", a piece that indeed can pull one into its spell, and all that I said before about the album generally applies to this breath-robbing high point in particular. -- Sal Pichireddu
|Links||Click here for L. M. Taylor's web site|
The Båndbix Tapes (85, re-released on CD in 2000)
Cloze test terror (92)
Heart Disc (99)
Edge of Darkness (00)
X Position Vol. 1 (04)
X Position Vol. 2 (05)
Deutsche Schule! (06)
Isle of Black (08)
Two-Pack (10, 2 mini-CD's, one is Taylor's Free Universe, the other is Robin Taylor)
The original entry, last updated 9/26/05:
Close test terror is the earliest of Taylor's solo efforts, and was originally my favorite (but see the review of Deutche Schule! below). It might be called an ambient album, with its repeated synth sequences and odd soloing over the top, but it's far from the "new agey" type of ambient music we hear so much of these days. "My fake persian carpet" is a weaving (it's a carpet, get it?) of an arabic/oriental sequence in a major key with strange minor-key synth noodlings over the top with lots of pitch bending. Very nice. Very proggy in an Eno's Another Green World sort of way, though without the Frippian guitars. Other songs follow in a similar vein, with an interesting ostinato sequence over which oddball melodies and sound effects play. If you had to guess by the first half of this album, you wouldn't know that Taylor plays the guitar at all. Except for a brief flurry of 2-chord garage band guitar recorded with a two-dollar microphone at the beginning of "Mermaid theater", it's all synths, drum machines and samples. Very electronic. But midway through the album begins the 5-part "A day in some kind of life" where Taylor's guitar takes the forefront. In subsequent sections, smooth jazz bass lines compete for sonic space with more synth bleeps and crazily chaotic real drums, followed by what could be a symphonic soundtrack to Lawrence of Arabia. There's just no telling what you'll hear next, making this an interesting and highly recommendable album.
Heart Disc is the closest to a Taylor's Universe album, featuring Hugh Steinmetz on trumpets and Karsten Vogel (Burnin Red Ivanhoe, Secret Oyster) on sax. Still, the focus here is on Taylor's multi-instrumental backbones over which he and guest artists solo using instruments and gregorian-style latin chanting (at least in "Vatican Heartbeat"). This album has the negative feature to me that will be positive to free jazz afficionados ... the soloing seems chaotic and pointless, with several soloists stepping all over each other's solos and only vaguely even agreeing upon what key they're playing in, much less where a musical phrase begins and ends. Not particularly my cup of tea, but obviously very well done for those who like this sort of experimentation. The more straight-ahead jazz arrangements like "Worm", which I normally wouldn't really care about much seem like a breath of melodic fresh air among the chaos, making this one of my favorite cuts on the album. I wouldn't recommend this album to most prog fans, but if you like experimental fusion with lots of chaos and don't require a lot of melodic content, then you may find this to be spectacular.
Samplicity is more along the lines of Close test terror, with each song being a synth (and sampler) sequence with soloing over the top. But here, the instrumental soloing is more melodic and less chaotic than on Heart Disc. Like Close test terror, this album is heavily electronic with many of the "solos" being collages of strange synth and sampler noises (for some reason, I find this to be completely acceptable, while strange non-melodic noises from trumpet and sax are annoying. Go figure). Vogel guests on sax again, though the sax solos here are more melodic, which I like. This album has real drums (I think so ... if it's a drum machine, it has been far more carefully prepared than on Close test terror) and this is a welcome addition. Other songs definitely fall into the ambient category, particularly "BTI" and "Ambient Isles" just to give some calm, hypnotic respite from the more upbeat songs. The 12:37 "Burnt Forest Island" is my favorite cut, starting off with hypnotic, mellow chords and ending with melodic sax soloing.
November was released in 2004, but recorded beteen November 2002 and July of 2003. This one is a true solo album, with all instruments played by Taylor. Though he proudly proclaims "No synthesizers, no drum machines!", he does use a Crumar Stringman (similar to an ARP String Ensemble) and drum samples, so the dividing line is a bit hazy. Some of the songs are melodic, in fact this album is more reliant on guitars and bass than his previous solo releases. Others are not melodic at all, as Taylor makes use of prepared natural instruments (i.e. "wrecked" piano), percussive whacks and thuds and string squeaks to create very 20th-century classical noise collages. I happen to like this kind of stuff in small doses, so I find this to be pretty cool. The song "Waiting for something to happen" is aptly titled ... it consists of a bass drone with a little 3-note piano motif playing slowly and reverbed. This is the "waiting" part. Then, the song suddenly acquires a cadence which lasts for only two measures, which leads you to believe that something is about to happen. But then the rhythm stops and becomes just a drone again. This repeats for 6:18. You'll either find it interestingly hypnotic or totally frustrating. Personally, I like it. -- Fred Trafton
Deutche Schule! is the newest "solo" offering from Mr. Taylor, in that it's released under his name rather than Taylor's Universe. "Deutche Schule" means "German School", as in the "German school of prog", more commonly known as Krautrock. This album is "inspired by some of the freakier German Krautrock artists of the '70's", though except maybe for the last song, "Das Experiment", Taylor isn't talking about the "Ash Ra Tempel, Cosmic Jokers, Guru Guru and Tangerine Dream" spacey variety, but instead the "more rhythmically insistent, post-psychedelic experimentations of Faust, Neu!, Kraftwerk and Can". Deutche Schule is certainly "rhythmically insistant" and reminds me a lot of Kraftwerk in places, though not as "pretty" as some of their stuff tended to be. But, to tell the truth, the illusion of this being an album of Krautrock is destroyed by Karsten Vogel's sax soloing on almost every cut ... and the album is much better for it! In fact, this new release is my favorite of Taylor's solo albums at this point because of this ingenious juxtaposition. Just as you're starting to say, "OK, it's Krautrock already, and it's got the same problem as I have with Krautrock, namely it's starting to get boring now" ... but just then, Vogel's sax rises up from the insistent ostinato of synths, electronics and drum machines and starts to play incredible solos, from straight jazzy sounding to pure noisy freak-outs and any concern of being bored is dispelled. Maybe I've just finally figured out how to listen to Vogel's solos, but I don't ever think of the word "pointless" when listening to this album, as I accused him of on Heart Disc. "Chaotic" is still a good word to use for some of it, but even the chaos is tightly controlled and meaningful. The album closer "Das Experiment" is a drug-induced (I'm only guessing) sax and drum freakout of epic proportions, with a dissonant synth chord that drones and phases into and out of reality throughout the piece. It clocks in at 9:15 and heads straight out of Taylor's Universe and into some alternative audial dimension where music doesn't follow the same rules as it does on our plane of existence. Really great stuff, and if you like either Krautrock or excellent jazzy yet crazed sax work, you should find a lot to like about this album. Highly recommended. -- Fred Trafton
Taylor's latest solo album Isle of Black is out on a new (for him) label, Record Heaven / Transubstans. Taylor is still a bit in his Deutche Schule! (Krautrock) mode on this album again, which is fine with me. However, he also adds in a lot of influence here from both Fripp and Eno's early collaborations (No Pussyfooting and Morning Star), particularly in Tracks 1 ("Confession") and 6 ("Izmit") and also some generally Frippian guitar without Eno (track 5, the 9:13 "Mind Archaeology"). These are my favorite tracks on the album, though all the tracks are good. By the way, Track 6 is a "Bonus" track you'll have to wait for ... there's about 45 seconds of silence after "Mind Archaeology" finishes before this cut appears. Wait for it ...
Taylor's solo albums get better (for my taste) with every album, and I like this one even more than Deutche Schule!. I love that Frippian guitar sound, and the non-Frippian tracks are also very good. Since it's the same line-up that's played on all his most recent "solo" albums (and, indeed, the pre-Denner Taylor's Universe albums), it has the same advantages ... Karsten Vogel's amazing sax solos, Rasmus Grosell's insistent drumming and Louise Nipper's ethereal "ooh"s and "aah"s. All from the mind of Robin Taylor who obviously likes a lot of the same '70's prog styles that I do. So what's not to like?
Though his more recent albums have a lot of their sound in common, historically Taylor's solo albums are very diverse. I wouldn't necessarily recommend any of them to prog fans who think Yes, King Crimson and Genesis are what the genre is all about. Earlier albums are more along the free jazz lines and on into improvised wierdness, while newer ones hark back more to the '70's Space Rock, Krautrock and experimental music icons. For my recommendation, I'd suggest you start with Deutche Schule! and Isle of Black, then Cloze test terror and Samplicity. Try the others if you like these. -- Fred Trafton
Taylor's new "solo" release is Disk 1 of two mini-discs that come together titled as Two-Pack. Disc 2 is a Taylor's Free Universe CD, and the review can be found at the end of that entry. Sorry for the confusion ... makes me wish I'd just kept all of Taylor's prodigious output under one entry. But never mind that ...
The key here is to talk about Disc 1 as sort of a standalone "EP" of about 22 minutes long. And holy smokes, what a new solo album! In spite of it being on the short side (not really, when coupled with Disc 2, but anyway ...), every minute is the best thing Taylor has ever released under his own name. The first cut, "Heavy Friends" tries to fool you into thinking it's the TFU disc with its wild atonal opening freak-out. But it soon hits a cadence and is a nice heavy mini-epic clocking in at a bit over five minutes. My usual gripe about Taylor ... that the songs can get a bit repetitive ... never once enters my mind on this song, since the backing instruments tend to change up a lot more instead of mutating slowly as they usually do on Taylor's albums. Totally excellent with great sax solos over a solid drum groove and understated guitar improv underneath.
The second cut, "The Ghost of Goran" lays back and gets more jazzy, and more similar to some of Taylor's other jazzy output. Much thinner in texture than "Heavy Friends", but this only gives you the opportunity to hear the instruments for its nearly ten-minute duration. Also a good song, and if I hadn't just heard "Heavy Friends", I'd be tempted to call it Taylor's best yet.
The last cut, "Stoned Mushroom" is the weakest on the album only because the first two are so strong. By itself it's as good as anything else Taylor has done, and is quite a bit busier than some of the more laid-back electronica he's done previously under his own name. A bit of lounge jazz feel to it, but not bad for all that. Overall a reasonable closer to the half-album.
As a matter of fact, it really has more the sound of a TFU album, with overdubs making up for the fact that most of the instruments are played by Taylor. This half-album may be slightly thinner than the TFU half, but not by much. To be honest, if Taylor himself hadn't divided it up and named it this way, I'd be perfectly happy with naming the entire 2-disc set as TFU and releasing it on a single disc. It wouldn't be jarring at all, just give a bit of the old "Side 1/Side 2" feel of an LP that's been remastered for CD.
The bottom line is that both discs are excellent, and if you haven't yet tuned into any of Robin Taylor's music, this would be the ideal entry point. Go for it! Just don't stick one of these mini-discs into a slot-loading CD player. You'll be sorry! -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Art Cinema | Burnin Red Ivanhoe | Secret Oyster | Taylor's [Free] Universe]|
Taylor's Universe (94)
Experimental Health (98)
Special Alloy (00, as Communio Musica)
File Under Extreme (02, as Taylor's Free Universe)
On-Plugged In Elsinore (03, as Taylor's Free Universe)
9 Eleven (04, as Taylor's Free Universe)
Once Again (04)
Family Shot (05, as Taylor's Free Universe)
Oyster's Apprentice (05)
Manipulated by Taylor (06, as Taylor's Free Universe)
Certain Undiscoveries (06)
Terra Nova (07)
Return to Whatever (09)
Artificial Joy (09)
Two-Pack (10, 2 mini-CD's, one is Taylor's Free Universe, the other is Robin Taylor)
Taylor's Free Universe - (L to R) Kalle Mathiesen (drums), Johan Segerberg (bass),
Pierre Tassone (violin), Karsten Vogel (saxophone/reeds) and Robin Taylor (guitar)
File Under Extreme is a pretty remarkable recording. Not since my first encounters with the music of Roger Trigaux' Present, Univers Zero and Art Zoyd have I heard such a distinctive and seamless blend of jazz, metallic progressive rock, free improv, and late 20th Century European classical music. Yet – unlike the malevolent and highly orchestrated sounds of the Belgian dark wave – Taylor's Free Universe seems, at times, almost gleefully unhinged (though no less brooding and dark).
Fans of European progressive rock will surely recognize saxophonist Karsten Vogel's name. Now an elder statesman of the Danish jazz scene, the multi-reed player figured prominently in Burnin Red Ivanhoe and Secret Oyster: two of Denmark's best-known psych / progressive rock groups. In the context of Taylor's Free Universe, Vogel is clearly "the jazz guy". His full-throated tone and melodic inventiveness on various saxophones is reminiscent of Elton Dean's. Guitarist Robin Taylor, by contrast, is clearly more conversant with the outer reaches of avant-progressive rock / noise stylings (exemplified by players as diverse as Terje Rypdal, Robert Fripp, and David Torn) than he is with jazz. Nominally the leader of the group, Taylor is quite generous with solo space, and shares composing credits (where applicable) pretty much equally with violinist Pierre Tassone and Vogel. Despite playing "processed violin", the classically-trained Tassone often sounds as if he's playing with no effects whatsoever, and his well-articulated lines and clarion tone speak for themselves. Bassist Johan Segerberg and drummer Kalle Mathiesen [Kalle's World Tour] both possess mega-chops, but use them judiciously.
Taylor's electronics and treatments play a key role throughout. Even the most conventionally jazz- or fusion-sounding moments on File Under Extreme (and there aren't many of those) seem to be filtered through a bizarre alien haze. Though the high-energy pieces, such as Vogel's aptly-titled "Free Bop" and the drum machine driven "More Germanism", are my favorites, the group's atmospheric, brooding soundscapes have a lot to offer as well. "Germanism" and "Less Is More" are highly-focussed studies in tension and more tension. Only during Vogel's "Aspects of a Myth" does the band seem to lose its focus – the result is well-played, but somewhat less compelling than the rest of the disc. Despite this slight lapse, File Under Extreme is a fine CD, largely cliché-free, and with a lot to offer fans of challenging jazz / rock / new music fusion.
The follow-up to File Under Extreme, On-Plugged in Elsinore is a bit less gripping as the quintet's restless interplay and apparent desire to work with a zillion different electronic sounds and approaches leads to a certain lack of focus. For this live set, TFU's regular bassist Johan Segerberg is replaced by Peter Friis Nielsen, a veteran of the Danish new music scene and a frequent collaborator with saxophonist Peter Brotzmann. He is an amazingly propulsive player whose jagged lines simultaneously suggest multiple tonal centers and superimposed rhythms. Strangely, there seems to be almost no chemistry between Nielsen and TFU's combustible drummer Kalle Mathiesen. To Mathiesen's credit, his reticence behind the kit implies a certain immunity to free jazz / prog rock styled clichés. He actually uses his brushes more than his sticks, and demonstrates a finely honed sense of percussive coloration. On the minus side, his use of the sampler tends to be maddeningly lacking in substance. At times, he uses stock sounds such as children's laughter, cat's meows, music boxes, and clocks chiming; each initially recognizable, and then digitally slowed down, or sped up. Cute, but none of it adds up to very much in the context of the group's improvisations.
Taylor, Tassone, and Vogel, however, are in fine form: though Taylor's leads are brief and intense (as on the CD's final track), his shifting harmonic / timbral contributions set the group's primary soloists (saxophonist Vogel and violin virtuoso Tassone) in an eerie aurora-like light. While Tassone seems particularly well-adapted to edgy prog-rock tendencies of the group's sound, Vogel wears his jazz heart on his sleeve. His cutting alto sound is somewhat reminiscent of Jackie McLean's, though a strong Ornette influence is palpable during several of his solos. On the whole, however, On-Plugged In Elsinore (unlike File Under Extreme) seems to fall prey to the same musical excesses – a lack of focus, and a tendency to noodle – that have dogged free improvisors since the 1960s. -- Dave Wayne
I haven't heard any of the albums recorded as Taylor's Free Universe, but I have heard most of the albums recorded as simply Taylor's Universe, namely Taylor's Universe, Pork, Experimental Health, Once Again and Oyster's Apprentice. Taylor's Universe and Pork both have their moments, but I really liked Once Again and Oyster's Apprentice much more. And I just love Experimental Health.
Taylor's Universe features crisp, tight drumming with an overall fusion or electric jazz feel to it. There are a lot of synths and guitar synths from Jan Marsfeldt and Robin Taylor respectively. Taylor has guest artists helping out that change from song to song, including trumpeter Hugh Steinmetz. This is mostly highly improvisational jazz set against composed backbones, but there are sections that remind of ELP and even PF's The Wall mixed amongst the jazz. I like this album better than the next one ...
Pork is basically an album of jazzy noodling. The music is largely interplay between veteran Danish trumpeter Hugh Steinmetz and guitar by Robin Taylor. This seems to be almost completely free improv, and for my taste seems a bit on the aimless side. There's no denying the chops of any of these musicians, however, as they blast fast note runs all over the sonic scenery like machine guns. It never seems to quite gel, though, and leaves me feeling that they should have prepared something before they came into the studio.
Experimental Health is a whole different animal. Abandoning trumpeter Steinmetz and replacing him with Karsten Vogel (Burnin Red Ivanhoe, Secret Oyster) on saxes, they keep the jazzy improv of Pork, but this time the pieces interplay against a composed backdrop of very nice harmonic and rhytmic backbones. This really helps to move the music forward and give some structure to the pieces. Taylor uses several guest musicians that are the same as on Pork, notably Jan Marsfeldt on keyboards, though on Experimental Health, Taylor handles much of the keyboard work himself. I would call this album fusion if you would be willing to call National Health fusion. Lots of the guitar and keyboards remind me of the interplay between Phil Miller and Dave Stewart. But Taylor really pushes the envelope, also sometimes playing Pat Metheneyish jazz licks, a sudden left turn into Frippian guitar synth wailing, followed by Frithoid noisemaking. But while sounding like all these guys, he really sounds like none of them. A very unique sound, and it stays interesting throughout the album. For fans of studio gimmickery, there's also lots of backwards drums, processed voices and harmonizer creating chords out of monophonic lines from both guitar and sax. For this album, even the parts that decay into non-melodic noise still seem to be moving towards a point rather than simply playing notes at random.
In 2004, Taylor dropped the "Free" from the band name again, and released Once Again, and like Experimental Health, the band name is suffixed by "with Karsten Vogel". This leaves me to wonder what the difference is between the "Free Universe" and "Universe" albums. Perhaps it's the amount of "free jazz" content on the album? Well, I don't know about that, since Pork has plenty of "free jazz" and is still a Taylor's Universe album. Oh, who cares? Unlike those albums that are too rife with "noodling" for me, this is another highly composed offering. Not really fusion in a Bruford or Spaced Out high-energy way, though it is fusion in a Weather Report or even Return to Forever sort of way, though a good deal less flashy than those bands. In other words, more jazz and less rock, but with lots of experimental synth and sampler racket to go along with the traditional jazz stylings. All in all, very good, and those GEPR readers who are more into the jazz end of prog should find it to be excellent.
Probably even better is their 2005 offering, Oyster's Apprentice (you think this title may have something to do with Karsten Vogel's former association with Secret Oyster?). The song listing makes a point of mentioning when the songs were composed, 3 from 1976, one each from '79, '89 and '94, and the first and last cuts from 2005. All songs were recorded Feb-Apr 2005, however, and the songs hold together as a cohesive album with no problem ... the 2005 tunes blend perfectly with the 1976 compositions. Once again an instrumental album, but this one sounds less jazzy, less improvised and more "prog" than their earlier music. For my ears, this is a good thing, but jazz afficionados may feel a bit left out on this album. The album is dedicated to "Claus [Bohling], Kenneth [Knudsen], Jess [Stæhr], Ole [Streenberg] - and Karsten [Vogel] of course!", the original members of Secret Oyster. Unfortunately, I've never heard any Secret Oyster, so I can't speak to how well the apprentice has learned from the secrets. But I do know that this is my second favorite Taylor's Universe album, barring only Experimental Health.
My bottom line: Experimental Health is a classic, and is an essential addition to any prog collection. Oyster's Apprentice, Once Again and Taylor's Universe are my next favorites (in decreasing order), and while they may not be classics, they're excellent and can be easily recommended. Pork might be OK for free jazz afficianados, but didn't do much for me. But if you're really into improvised jazz, you might reverse my ordering. -- Fred Trafton
Above all, it must be said that the first flight of Robin-and-the-crew to Taylor's Universe was very successful and, by the way, they entered it without any turbulence. Featuring varied, yet, mostly easy-tempered interplay between passages & solos of acoustic guitar, solos of synthesizer and bass, and those of drums, "Entering Universe" (1) is one of the two compositions on the album that are about a guitar-based Art-Rock with elements of Symphonic Art-Rock. Surprisingly, the only stylistic 'compatriot' of "Entering Universe", "Feel" (14), is located in the very end of the album. It consists of the interplay between passages of piano and solos of slide guitar. Although both of these pieces are very good on the whole, they, along with "Pulling Icon", to which I'll return a bit later, surpass any of the remaining eleven tracks on Taylor's Universe. The stylistics of the excellent "Emmadusa" (2) represents an original Symphonic Art-Rock with elements of Jazz-Fusion and the bits of Prog-Metal, which, though, is not of a high complexity, as well as both of the boundary tracks of the album and "Pulling Icon" (6). The latter of them is about a blend of Art-Rock and some old-fashioned music. A few of the solos that are present here remind me of those of hand organ. As you can see above, though, almost all of the described pieces are the shortest tracks on the album, which, in this very case, is a positive factor. Especially since all ten of the remaining compositions that, taken together, last almost 50 minutes, are outstanding. Two of them, "Secret Wedding" and "Joie De Vivre" (4 & 9), are the Classical Music-like pieces, both of which feature also the elements of somewhat of a symphonic Space Rock. A general definition of the style that the remaining eight compositions are about should, in my view, be explained this way: a highly innovative, intricate, and eclectic Art-Rock, which is both symphonic and guitar-based, with elements of Jazz-Fusion, Prog-Metal, and Avant-garde and bits of Free Jazz. However, instead of operating with bulky terms, I prefer to define any polymorphous and highly innovative manifestations of progressive music as Fifth Element, though, of course, I admit that this term is more generalized than those of the other main genres of Prog: Art-Rock, Prog-Metal, Jazz-Fusion, & RIO. So, the following eight compositions: "Strange Meetings", "Hearing Noises & Imagining Things", "Saturday Night", "Trick Or Treat", "Flemming Junker", "Mr. Garlic", "Jeff's Office", and "Meetings" (3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, & 13), are the representatives of the only Progressive Rock genre that just cannot be related with anything commercial. Each of the said eight compositions represent somewhat of a journey to the world of diverse and unusual musical dimensions filled with lots of different events, which is both highly intricate and intriguing. Since both of the aforementioned Classical Music-like pieces are practically of the same story, in my view, it would've been much better if "Meetings" would have located on track 6, instead of "Pulling Icon", and vice versa. Then all of the core compositions of Taylor's Universe would've been the real core of it. Though, as I said above, while both of the boundary tracks of the album aren't masterpieces, they, nevertheless, are very good compositions. In any case, the eponymous Taylor's Universe debut is very close to the status of a complete masterpiece. -- Vitaly Menshikov
For the last couple of new Taylor's Universe albums, I've done a re-write of my original entry to fit them in to the "overall view" write-up I have above. But with the release of two more albums (Certain Undiscoveries in 2006 and Terra Nova in 2007), this has grown too cumbersome. So, I'll just add this addendum to my previous write-up. By the way, I should mention here again that Robin Taylor's rationale for whether an album will be a Robin Taylor solo album, Taylor's Universe or Taylor's Free Universe is still obscure to me ... his last "solo" album (reviewed under Taylor, Robin above) seems to fit right in with these new Taylor's Universe albums musically and even with respect to who's playing on them, so if these reviews sound good to you, don't miss the "solo album" Deutsche Schule! either!
Certain Undiscoveries sees Taylor's Universe stripped down to the bare essentials ... Karsten Vogel on saxes and bass clarinet, Rasmus Grosell on drums, and Robin Taylor handling everything else, including guitars, various keyboards, glockenspiel and electronics. The songs aren't monstrously complex ... some of them are very simple structurally, down to an 8-bar ostinato with jams played over the top (i.e. "Little Vic"). Even the more complex pieces (i.e. "Majestæten, Ministeren og Forsvarchefen") are just sections of acoustically-similar passages stitched together with solos going on over the top. Of course, odd time signatures abound, and the instruments used are interesting-sounding. There's also a few short flirtations with noise/sound-sculpting type songs and passages (i.e. "Majesty 7", which is only 42 seconds long). But what makes or breaks music like this are the solos being played on top of the repeating structures ... and for Certain Undiscoveries, these are spectacular! Both Vogel and Taylor shine when it's their turn to take the spotlight, with solos that are emotionally gripping, technically precise and a simple joy to hear. Certain Undiscoveries may be the best Taylor's Universe album yet, with more elements of symphonic prog than usual, yet still with TU's unmistakable stamp. Very good stuff! This album is available from both Musea Records and the Russian MALS label, and is also downloadable from Mindawn (see OGG and FLAC links in discography above).
Terra Nova is the latest release from Taylor's Universe as of this writing. The core members of the band are the same as Certain Undiscoveries, though trumpeter Hugh Steinmetz from the first couple of albums makes a return here on track 4, "They Usually Come at Night". Overall, the album sounds quite similar to Certain Undiscoveries, though perhaps remaining at the simple end of the compositions more than that album. Not that the simplicity is a problem, it just gives the solos more room to breathe on top of the main ideas of the song. As usual, the "main ideas" aren't monstrously complex, but they do keep you guessing ... the chord progressions don't progress where you expect them to go, and so the harmonic movement is very odd and intriguing. Of course, the solos have to follow these off progressions, so that makes them unusual too. Terra Nova, of course, is latin for "new ground", and while the ground covered on this albums isn't that new, it's certainly novel enough to stay interesting. Some of the melodic lines are a bit reminiscent of the opening canon of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, if that helps you to imagine the kind of note movements, but it doesn't sound like Tubular Bells because this is much jazzier, and of course Oldfield never had Karsten Vogel or Robin Taylor soloing on woodwinds or guitars, respectively.
Both albums are very good, and easily recommended to those who like the jazzier end of prog. If you're looking for RIO strangeness or epic lyrics, you'll need to find those elsewhere ... those aren't the dimension in which Taylor's Universe exists. -- Fred Trafton
Robin Taylor e-mailed me to check whether or not I'd reviewed the above two albums for the next GEPR. I sent him the above as proof that they would be uploaded soon. He answered my question about how how he decides whether an album is solo, Taylor's Universe or Taylor's Free Universe. I thought you might be interested in his answer:
So there you have it, straight from the man who knows! To tell the truth, I'd sorta suspected this was the case, but I actually haven't heard any of the Free material, so it was only a guess. And as I said, Taylor's newest solo album as of this writing, Deutsche Schule!, falls right in line to be a Taylor's Universe album, so don't miss it just because it's a "solo" album! -- Fred Trafton
The prolific Robin Taylor has just released another new album entitled Soundwall, this one as Taylor's Universe with Denner. Many of the Taylor's Universe albums have included the phrase "with Karsten Vogel" (in fact the Musea Records album listing lists these separately from the titles which only say Taylor's Universe), but don't read too much into this, since Mr. Vogel still plays on this new album as well, along with TU veteran Rasmus Grosell on drums. Denner is guitarist Michael Denner, a Danish heavy metal guitarist who is currently in a band named Force of Evil. His heavy but melodic soloing is a nice addition to Taylor's guitar style (Taylor credits Denner with "melodic" guitar solos on this album, while calling his own solos "thrash". I'm not sure either one of those is 100% fair, but that's what Taylor calls them).
When I got this CD, there was a little handwritten note in the package from Taylor, saying simply, "I'm quite sure you'll like this one ...", and he was absolutely right! Denner's guitar solos add interest and power to Taylor's already interesting compositions, and the result is what must be my favorite album yet from TU. I know I just said that about Certain Undiscoveries, but I believe the addition of Denner on this album has made it even better. The first song in particular, "Tag Attack", is simply excellent, and all the songs are topnotch. If you haven't heard Taylor's Universe yet, it's time to take the plunge and buy this album! This album is available on CD Baby (see link below) and will soon also be available via the Swedish Record Heaven distributor. If you already know TU's work, I hope you'll agree that this is the best yet. Highly recommended! -- Fred Trafton
There's nothing startlingly new on this release if you're familiar with Taylor's Universe, and that's OK with me, since I've really enjoyed the last few albums. This is more of the same, though perhaps with more psychedelically weird sections and a bit of a thicker sound with more instruments playing at the same time. But it's Taylor's Universe all right, with hypnotically repeating instrumental backdrops and instrumental soloing and improv playing over the background pattern. The definition of this music over at ProgArchives as "RIO/Avant-Prog" is baffling to me, since I usually associate that sort of thing with difficult, chaotic noise, lots of heavy dissonance, or at least a modern classical bent. And Taylor's Universe has little or none of that. If you're not familiar with Taylor's Universe, you should be, and Artificial Joy would be a great introduction to the band. -- Fred Trafton
In 2010, Robin Taylor made a release that's a bit tough to fit into the (admittedly artificial) categories I've set up for him in the GEPR. The release is called Two-Pack, so-called because it's two Mini-CD's one of which is Taylor's Free Universe and the other a "solo" album under his own name. I will review them separately, so the TFU portion is reviewed here while the Robin Taylor solo CD is reviewed under Robin Taylor. So, with that bit of accounting complete, let's move on with the review ... which must begin with ...
Un-be-frakkin'-leevable! This is by light-years the best thing I've ever heard from Taylor, in any of his line-up constellations, and I've really liked most of them. This Mini-CD consists of only two long instrumental cuts, "Dark City" and "Don't You Miles Me!". "Dark City", in particular, can only be called fusion, and it's right up there with my favorites of the genre, namely Gazeuse/Expresso II-era Gong, '70's Brand X and Bruford. Bassist Assi Roar is astonishing, right up there with Percy Jones or Jeff Berlin, and the intensity level and variety from the other band members seems supercharged on this cut as well. When I've had a complaint about previous albums, it's been that the music is based on a repeating riff around which the remaining instruments improvise, and that it sometimes goes on a bit too long for me. The second cut "Don't You Miles Me!" suffers a bit from this too, though it's still very good. Not being familiar with Miles Davis (unforgiveable, I know ...), for whom this song is doubtless named, I have no opinion of how similar it is. Both songs are nearly 12 minutes long ... by the end of "Dark City", I'm left longing for more, but "Don't You Miles Me!" is long enough. Even so, this is my favorite star cluster in Taylor's Universe thus far. (Sorry about all the astronomical allusions, but if you name your band "Someone's Universe", you're sorta asking for it, aren't you?)
If you've never bought anything by Taylor's Free Universe before, now is the time! Just brilliant, and a must for all fans of fusion. -- Fred Trafton
[See Art Cinema |
Burnin Red Ivanhoe |
Kalle's World Tour |
Secret Oyster |
Click here for Robin Taylor's web site
An Asylum For The Musically Insane (69), Jo Sago (70)
The Tea Club Demo (04)
Love Your Enemy (06)
Clouded Gloomy Beloved (06)
General Winter's Secret Museum (08)
The Tea Club, 2008 - Clockwise: Kyle Minnick (drums), Patrick McGowan (vocals, guitar, bass),
Becky Osenenko (bass), and Dan McGowan (vocals, guitar). Also featuring Yergis the snowman.
General Winter's Secret Museum is The Tea Club's debut release. At the time, they were a trio, with guitarist Patrick McGowan also handling bass duties, but they have since added Becky Osenenko (as you can see in the band photo) as a bassist.
As you can tell from the line-up summary above, this is a guitar-oriented band. No almost keys at all (there's a couple of subdued keyboard parts on one song added by their producer). Add to that the fact that these are some fairly young folks, and you might guess (correctly) that The Tea Club's sound has more to do with modern alt-rock than with '70's symphonic prog bands. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and there are some resonances with other modern bands you might have heard. In particular, the vocal harmonies which are a vital component to The Tealub's sound frequently remind me of Echolyn's. Since they, like Echolyn, are from the Philadelphia area, that may not be an accident. There's also some parts that sound a bit like Eno's more guitar-oriented music, a bit of the most recent King Crimson albums, or even a touch of Steve Howe here and there. There's also quite a bit of that modern sound purveyed by such bands as Pure Reason Revolution, but without so much Floyd influence. They say they sound like "that band that your best friend is in that your other friends claim is really good, but that you 'don't really get.'" OK, I'll buy that too.
But to say they "sound like Echolyn" or any of the other comparisons would be a pretty big stretch. Very much guitar-oriented, but with excursions into odd meters and counterpoint, though never to the point that you'd say it sounds like it's classically influenced. General Winter's Secret Museum is a rock album, really, but with enough oddness, rhythmic variation, intensity and a sense of "demanding to be listened to" instead of staying in the background that it probably would be hard for many people in the band's age group to be able to relate to. But for those of us who listen to prog rock, this isn't difficult at all, and has some really nice moments. Since I'm a keyboard junkie, I might wish for the addition of a keyboardist, but that's just me. The Tea Club has made a nice debut album here, and I'll be looking forward to seeing where they go from here. Worth checking out. -- Fred Trafton
The Tea Club 2011 - Patrick McGowan (vocals, guitar), Becky Osenenko (keyboards), Dan McGowan (guitar, vocals), Charles Batdorf (bass), Joe Rizzolo (drums), James Berger (guitar)
Sometimes you get what you wish for. Not only has Becky Osenenko been added as a permanent keyboard player (apparently switching from bass following the addition of bassist Charles Batdorf), but for their new album Rabbit, The Tea Club also enlisted the help of keyboard luminary Tom Brislin (touring keyboardist for Yes, Camel and Renaissance among others) who plays on almost every cut. That doesn't make Rabbit a keyboard-dominated album though. Note there's still three guitar players! The keyboards are mostly atmospheric background orchestration, though there are a few points where they pop out and are noticable. Plenty to answer my minor complaint about General Winter's Secret Museum (above)!
Rabbit is difficult to shoehorn into any neat category. Definitely a lot of indie/altrock feel, but also with lots of motion going on in the multiple guitars and keyboard sweetening. The vocals, frequently harmonized by the brothers McGowan, are emotional and are often used as one of the main melodic "instruments" rather than just being lyrics. I keep being reminded vaguely of King Crimson, though I can't compare anything here to any particular song or even Crimson era. The Tea Club is one of those purveryors of what I call "modern prog" with only the most vague of linkages to their '70's forebears. Sometimes I like this style, but more frequently I don't. The old graybeard's beard is just a bit too gray I'm afraid. But in this case, I can enjoy The Tea Club, even more now that they've added more keyboards to the mix. I think they've come a bit more in my direction and I'm learning to listen to this more modern approach more easily. If you like Porcupine Tree or Man On Fire, then try out The Tea Club.
Final note: kickass album cover on Rabbit! You need to fold out the digipack to fully appreciate it. That "moon" isn't what you think it is! -- Fred Trafton
Click here for The Tea Club's web site
Click here for The Tea Club's MySpace page
Dream or Reality (93)
Snapshots (96, Live)
Tea For Two - Reiner Krämer (drums), Uwe Haaß (bass),
Oliver Sörup (guitars, bass pedals), Stephan Weber (vocals),
Michael Schumpelt (keyboards, flutes)
Original entry 4/27/01:
I've only heard 101, their latest CD. The first cut is quite Pink Floyd-like, but on subsequent cuts perhaps a closer comparison might be The Alan Parsons Project, especially circa Pyramid. Very lush sound, though in addition to the usual symphonic synthesizers, the lushness comes from overdubbed acoustic guitar strumming and acoustic pianos. There are also songs and sections you wouldn't hear on an Alan Parsons Project album, like Wakemanesque keyboard arpeggios, recorders (or are those wood flutes?) and also some heavy metal guitar stylings (alongside the "big" production qualities, these parts sometimes remind me of Arjen Lucassen of Ayreon).
Overall, I would call this is a CD of excellent symphonic prog, though like Alan Parsons Project, it's not challenging to listen to. Yes, I just said "accessible". But that doesn't make it bad, it just means your wife won't run away screaming if you put this CD on at home. Uplifting lyrics, good songwriting and lush production, not to mention great soloing and other progressive touches make this a very enjoyable listen. Recommended. -- Fred Trafton
Tea For Two stripped down to a three-piece, consisting of Oliver Sörup (guitar), Stephan Weber (vocals) and Michael Schumpelt (keys, flutes) and played some concerts as TFT Lite (yes, without a drummer or bassist). Then they wrote some new songs in this configuration and made a new album, Twisted, which was released in 2006. The name is back to simply Tea For Two again. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for Tea For Two's web site
Click here for Tea For Two's MySpace page
Click here to order CD's from Quixote Music
Piggy Go Getter (70), Tear Gas (71)
Teclados Fritos (78)
Teclados Fritos - Jaime Llorca (keyboards, vocals), Emilio Molina (drums), Manolo Benitez (guitar, backing vocals)
José María Suárez (bass, vocals)
I haven't heard them, but their name means "Fried Keyboards". Said to be keyboard-dominated fusion. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for a retrospective
Teclados Fritos page on vocalist José Suárez' web site (in Spanish)
Click here for Teclados Fritos' entry on Rock Progressivo, including some links to where you can download copies of these out-of-print albums
First Voyage – live in Crazy Jam (07, as The Earth Explorer, Live demo, released in Japan only)
The Earth Explorer (09, as TEE)
TEE - Ryuji Yonekura (keyboards), Kenji Imai (flute), Katsumi Yoneda (guitars),
Takayuki Asada (drums) and Yukio Iigahama (bass).
TEE is a five piece progressive rock band from Tokyo, Japan. They consider themselves to be "flute-fronted", which I guess means that flute is the main instrument. They started working together as a "euro-rock" cover band named Euro Express, playing songs from such bands as PFM and Area. But after their first gig in 2006, they decided to start writing original material and re-named themselves The Earth Explorer, releasing a demo, First Voyage – live in Crazy Jam under that name in Japan only. With the release of their first studio album, The Earth Explorer in 2009, the band officially renamed themselves TEE.
Musically, The Earth Explorer sounds like a mixture of Focus (because of the flute and acoustic guitar sections) and SFF (due to the symphonic backing instruments) with a fair amount of european jazz-rock thrown in, with some parts reminding me of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express or Passport. It doesn't have much of what I consider a "Japanese Prog" sound at all ... fans of Gerard or Ars Nova won't find very much of that sound here.
According to the liner credits, all the band members sing, but the album is mostly instrumental, with some brief vocal chorusing parts rather than a real melodic lyric. That's OK by me ... with the possible exception of Koenji Hyakkei, I usually find Japanese-language vocals to be somewhat irritating. Sorry, but it's just true. (Come to think of it, I'm not even sure KH sings in Japanese ... I think it may be a dialect of Kobaian. But I digress ...).
The Earth Explorer may not be the best album I've ever heard, but it's a solid effort with overall good songs and some really excellent moments. FYI, keyboardist Ryuji Yonekura was formerly the keyboardist in Interpose+. -- Fred Trafton
Continente Perdido (80)
Based on Brasilia, a city where they managed to get a consistent fan base, Tellah was founded in 1974 by guitarist Cláudio Felício, together with bassist José Veríssimo and drummer Felipe Guedes. They began as a hard rock power trio (heavily influenced by Deep Purple), and travelled around their country, playing lots of gigs as opening acts for fellow bands O Terço, Joelho de Porco and Os Mutantes. Their art-rock leanings even led them to be required as writers and performers of the soundtrack to a theatre play called “O Cavalo de Guerra”. It wasn’t until the first half of 1978, when drummer Dênis Torre and bassist/keyboardist Marcone Barros entered in replacement of their respective counterparts that Tellah decided to pursue a progressive prog trend. Not only did they introduce the use of keyboards and synths into the band’s instrumentation, but also they managed to allow the band to explore odd time signatures and jazzy cadences in the rhythm section: definitely, Felício’s guitar playing benefited from this challenge. And so, between April and August 1980, in an 8-track studio of Rio de Janeiro, “Continente Perdido” was recorded, and a few weeks later, released. Although the band had grown a loyal cult following, the album didn’t achieve the amount of recognition it probably deserved in an era when new wave pop and old-fashioned conventional ballads ruled the music market. This album showed the two well-distinct sides of Tellah’s music: their instrumental input is usually the most intense of their repertoire, showing influences from Yes and “Moon Madness”-era Camel, while their sung material leans closer to the realms of melodic prog with a definite romantic touch (not unlike other Italian and South American bands). I’d say that the first half is the better one in the album: solid interplaying in the stronger numbers (i.e., the effective opener ‘Renascença’ and ‘Segmento’, both great instrumental tracks), and an ethereal melodic sensibility complemented with emotional choral arrangements and touches of Brazilian Creole folk (i.e., ‘Magma’ and the beautiful namesake song). As the second half of the album goes on, the magic gradually wears off, which is a pity, since the songs ‘Triangulo’ and ‘Feixe de Luz’ could have reached a more climatic intensity had their potential been developed more thoroughly. All things considered, while not as genius as the albums by Bacamarte or Terreno Baldio - just to mention Brazilian examples -, “Continente Perdido” turns out to be an interesting item for genuine collectors of symphonic prog from the peripheral world. The CD edition comprises two previously unreleased bonus tracks, taken from their 1984’s farewell concert: the said bonus tracks show that Tellah could still manage to fluidly combine the elegance of symphonic prog and the candid romanticism of melodic rock. I particularly recommend “Continente Perdido” to lovers of Sagrado Coraçao da Terra, O Terço, and generally speaking, fans of melodic prog.
Åtabal Yémal (79, re-issued on CD 1998 w/ bonus tracks)
After Åtabal Yémal the band changed and went through the eighties with the same name but with different line-ups, developing a "more commercial approach". Beware, these titles are not progressive:
Pesadilla sin final (81)
Tempano re-formed in 1998 to re-record 3 bonus tracks for the re-release of Åtabal Yémal and decided to once again get back to their progressive roots. They re-issued Åtabal Yémal on CD and went on to record the following prog releases:
Childhood's End / El fin de la infancia (99)
Tempano 2002 - Miguel Angel Echevarreneta, Gerardo Ubieda, Pedro Castillo and
Giuglio Cesare Della Noce.
This band was fairly well known in their native Venezuela, but mostly for the more commercially acceptable stuff that came later in their career. Their early albums are exceptionally melodic, somewhat jazz and South American folk-influenced, with plenty of fresh and innovative ideas, bursts of synth-driven musical color, and well thought-out arrangements, bordering fusion at times, acoustic folk-pop at others. Vocals tend to be low key and fairly sparse, leaving plenty of room for instrumental stretch. The lineup includes synth/piano, drums/vibes, bass/vibes, and vocals/acoustic+electric guitar. The album Åtabal Yémal from 1980 is an excellent example of this early progressive period.
On Childhood's End (2000):
Above all, I should have said that the second Tempano album has a very original sound. However, a distinct originality is by no means the only trump that these Venezuelan veterans have up their sleeves. Complex, diverse, and very tasteful, Childhood's End is undoubtedly one of the best Symphonic Art-Rock albums of 2000. -- Vitaly Menshikov
On The Agony & the Ecstasy (2002):
The Agony & the Ecstasy is the third album by the undoubtedly the best band that came out from Venezuela, Tempano. There are only five songs out of the fifteen tracks that are presented here and four of them are in English. Although "Attimo Infinito" was narrated rather than sung (in Spanish), most of all, it reminds me of a wonderful fairy-tale. In fact, though, every track on this album consists of really inspired, highly original and profound arrangements that, most often, develop with the use of truly innovative and unique rhythmic measures and are, moreover, marked with signs of such a musical magic that even Titans would be proud of. -- Vitaly Menshikov
Tempano has always gotten the short end of the stick in the GEPR, first because of their
non-existence therein, then because someone wrote a plagiarized entry for them which I had
to remove. Such a fine band deserves better, and I'm pleased to be able to finally rectify
this situation with Vitaly's words (above), and now with my own review of their most recent
release, The Agony and the Ecstasy.
I haven't heard Tempano's previous efforts, so I can't say anything about them. But The Agony and the Ecstasy is a topnotch album in terms of compositions, musicianship and recording quality. Of the "jazz and South American folk-influenced" music mentioned in a previous entry, I hear very little jazz (perhaps some "lounge jazz" here and there) or South American folk influence in this album. Except for the one song on this album sung in Spanish, this might easily be a North American prog band, vocals included. The only hint left of their "commercial" period in the '80's is the propensity of the bassist to lapse into disco-style "slap bass" style playing ... which works wonderfully in these compositions. Oh, and also the Police-style pseudo-reggae complete with Sting-like vocals on "Il Duomo", though you would never mistake this for a Police song with the Holdsworth-style guitar solo in it.
There is only one questionable song on the album, the somewhat poppish ballad "Just in a Second". Though a bit on the long side for radio airplay, it is quite accessable, though not a bad song for all that. Even though it gets a nice Hammond part to go with it about halfway through the song, it just seems distracting from the rest of the album, much of which might almost be classified as "neo-classical" better than "prog". There's a lot of great 6- and 12-string acoustic and classical guitar work on the album as well, alongside some bombastic movie soundtrack composition tendencies. But these diverse styles all come together to make for a quite satisfying listening experience. I highly recommend this band, and this release in particular. -- Fred Trafton
[See Aditus |
Click here for Tempano's web site
|Ex-Il Volo and I Giganti.|
|Links||[See Giganti, I | Volo, Il]|
Tempest (73), Living In Fear (74)
After the breakup of Colosseum, Jon Hiseman (drums) tried it again, this time with a very young Allan Holdsworth on guitar. The result was a debut album of moderately interesting rock album with a somewhat heavy feel to it. Constipated may be the best description although somewhat harsh. The first few tracks kind of plod along as if they were waiting for something to happen, but it never did. About half way through the album, things got better but it never did live up to its potential. The melodies are good and emotional, but it leaves you with the desire to have them just cut loose, just once. The second album, Living in Fear, shows a renewed energy and a more straight ahead rock orientation. An energetic cover of Lennon and McCartney's "Paperback Writer" was a showcase for the powerful rhythm section of Hiseman and Mark Clark (bass, keyboards). Recently passed away Ollie Halsall replaced Holdsworth and turned in an excellent performance doing double duty on keyboards. Paul Williams does a good job on vocals and the result is a nice rock album. The CD reissue has both albums on a single CD and is a good addition to a collection if for nothing else than to chronicle the beginning of Allan Holdsworth's career.
This band's one claim to fame is that guitarist Allan Holdsworth was a member. Otherwise there's not much to recommend this. The debut album is hard-rock solidly in the Deep Purple mode with ever-so-slight prog touches. The singer resembles (vocally) Peter Foeller from Birth Control. Fanatics of Holdsworth or hard rock may enjoy, otherwise not worth much. -- Mike Ohman
[See Colosseum | Holdsworth, Allan | Patto]
Bootleg (91), Serrated Edge (92), Sunken Treasures (93), Surfing to Mecca (94), Turn of the Wheel (96)
Not to be confused with the UK group of the same name, this band from the San Francisco Bay area is a contemporary Celtic-rock group comprising Norwegian-born singer/mandolinist Lief Sorbye (formerly of the traditional folk-music band Golden Bough) guitarist Rob Wullenjohn, fiddler (and occasional accordianist) Jon Berger, drummer Adolfo Lazlo, and bassist Ian Butler. They play some rocked-up versions of traditional tunes, but interpret them in very non-traditional ways, such as a version of "House Carpenter" performed in 3/4 with great solo exchanges on guitar and violin and a version of "Cats in the Corner" done with a reggae-funk beat and psychedelic guitar. They also have a number of original tunes that are written in the spirit of Fairport Convention or Jethro Tull. They have also explored Norwegian, American, and (most recently) Middle-eastern traditional music as well. As its name might suggest, the title track of Surfing to Mecca combines Middle Eastern-inspired flute and percussion lines with the sounds and rhythms of surf guitar in a way that is reminsicent of certain Ozric Tentacles songs, such as "Bizarre Bazaar." Their extant albums are in a vaguely similar style, although Serrated Edge is probably the one most likely to appeal to prog fans. It contains the aforementioned song "House Carpenter" as well as a rather proggish tune called "Tam Lin," in addition to a number of excellent rocked up ballads, reels, and other traditional tunes that demonstrate some smart and precise playing. Bootleg and Sunken Treasures contain earlier material that sounds a little bit less refined and involves less instrumental virtuosity. It's still quite good, but not as appealing, perhaps, to prog fans as Serrated Edge or Surfing to Mecca. -- James Chokey
NOT Allan Holdsworth's Tempest, but rather a folk/rock band from San Francisco hailed by some as the new Jethro Tull. Points of comparison would be Tull's folkier output and Fairport Convention's Liege and Lief and Full House. Even Dave Pegg loves 'em! Great arrangements of folk tunes and self-penned songs, and a killer version of "Tam Lin" that will make you forget about Fairport for at least a few weeks.... :-) They also do "Matty Groves" at their gigs. Not really prog, but if you dig Steeleye Span, Fairport or Tull, these guys are the best current band playing that style, hands down. The best one I've heard anyways.
Tempest plays a rock music with strong folk influences. In fact, traditional Celtic (reels) and Scandinavian themes inspire most of the tracks on Turn of the Wheel. Text-based, the tracks show the usual rock arrangements (guitar, keyboards, bass and drums) but it's the melodic work of the vocals, mandolins, flutes, violin and harmonica that insure a distinct flavour. An excellent production with a sound that evokes Jethro Tull or Garolou with their rock interpretation of traditional music. -- Paul Charbonneau
Sheet Music (74)
The Original Soundtrack (75)
How Dare You (76)
Deceptive Bends (77)
Live And Let Live (77)
Bloody Tourists (78)
In Concert (78)
Look Hear (80)
Ten Out of 10 (82)
Windows In The Jungle (83)
Greatest Hits (??)
The Worst Band In The World (??)
Mirror Mirror (95)
|Debate may rage as to whether groups like 10cc (and Supertramp, Queen, Split Enz and others for that matter) are indeed progressive bands. 10cc are ostensibly a pop band, but enough of their material was eccentric and non-mainstream to qualify them for consideration as a forward thinking, oft-times experimental progressive pop band, and one that many prog listeners should have no trouble enjoying. Their first album sounds pretty much like what it is: a collection of good songs written by four multi-instrumentalist studio musicians at a time when they were otherwise unemployed. It produced an accidental hit ("Rubber Bullets"), and contained a few great tunes, but was severely mainstream. Their second Sheet Music is probably their most brilliant, both lyrically and musically, with a keen sense of humor permeating every track. Original Soundtrack was more of the same, a little more low key/tongue in cheek, but a good move forward nonetheless. How Dare You is a mixed bag, showing some positive dynamics within the band which was about to split in two, its diversity is its strength, much like Spirit's 12 Dreams of Dr.Sardonicus. In the end, Godley and Creme split to work on their Gizmo (a musical instrument they designed), leaving 10cc as a duo. Deceptive Bends seemed like an attempt by the two remaining (Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart) to prove they could still go forward without the others ... but the result was a good, yet remarkably uninteresting album, packed with hits. A full group was then recruited and the band hit the road, from that tour came Live and Let Live, which gave new life to some of the old tunes and meaning to the new material. Bloody Tourists was an outstanding effort, featuring a lot of new-found Carribean influence, excellent tunes, and probably ranks second among their albums overall, but stylistically it basically works the pop side, not the area that one would consider progressive. After that the band put out two back-to-back stinkers in Look Hear and Ten out of 10, nearly void of humor, fresh ideas or even any memorable tunes for the most part. Surprisingly, the final album Windows In The Jungle was very good, maybe their best since How Dare You, not only loaded with musical wit and lyrical sarcasm, but with a lot of new ground covered ... and like How Dare You, it preceeded the big breakup; Gouldman went off to form Wax (real boring stuff) and Stewart went to god knows where. In '91 the band reformed, I'm not sure if it's the original four-piece or the later Gouldman/Stewart led band. One album was released, but I haven't heard it yet.|
|British pop quartet who evolved from Hotlegs. Their consistently fascinating experiments with recording-studio technology makes them interesting to prog fans. With the exception of the haunting "Speed Kills" and the goofy "Rubber Bullets," the first album isn't as innovative as they would later become. Most of this album is dedicated to silly '50s doo-wop parodies, songs about Charles Atlas and other such nonsense. Sheet Music on the other hand is brilliant from beginning to end! Not only using Mellotron and synths, but also a guitar-bowing device they invented called the Gizmo, this one is sure to be seized by prog-heads. "Hotel" is a funny little ditty with a Caribbean flavour with lots of percussion, weird synth effects and eerie use of Mellotron. "Somewhere In Hollywood" is a very pretty, heartfelt ballad that goes through several different phases. Even the hit singles "Wall Street Shuffle" and "Silly Love" are very good. Layered overdubs give them a sound no other commercially successful band of the time even came close to approaching. Which explains their commercial success, they were the only pop band of the time that even approached the multi-dimensional richness of The Beatles. Fans seized this album, as well as future ones. Original Soundtrack produced the worldwide hit single "I'm Not In Love". With its weird looped choral vocals, it certainly sounded like nothing else on the radio ever before, or ever since for that matter (how they did those effects is still a mystery). The album is another good one, including an ersatz Broadway production number ("One Night In Paris"), a great hard-rocker with anti-religious lyrics ("Second Sitting For The Last Supper") and another loony toon with punny lyrics ("Life Is A Minestrone"). One must behold the intricate layers of sound included in each little song: "Brand New Day" incorporates strings, the Gizmo, marimba, tympani as well as piano, synth and guitars. "Flying Junk" includes weird reversed autoharp strums as well as heavy sheets of guitars and both 4 and 6 string bass. How Dare You! is a rather schizophrenic album which still manages moments of brilliance, if not cohesiveness. The highly percussive instrumental title song leads directly into the beautiful, lush "Lazy Ways." "Don't Hang Up" is a pretty, orchestrated semi-ballad with some witty yet poignant lyrics. This one includes another smash hit: "I'm Mandy Fly Me." The lyrics were based on the popular airline commercial, the music features more backwards "Flying Junk" autoharps and a wonderful middle section with multiple guitars. Godley and Creme left afterwards, and Deceptive Bends was recorded as a duo. A noble attempt to maintain the quality Godley and Creme always insisted on, but it's only partially successful. The infinitely catchy "The Things We Do For Love" was another major hit for them. "Modern Man Blues" is a pretty good hard rocker incorporating oboe (!), while "Marriage Bureau Rendezvous" is apparently an attempt by Gouldman and Stewart to rewrite "I'm Mandy Fly Me" their way, i.e., without the quirkiness. Note the rather blatant rip-off of The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" at the beginning of the otherwise good 11-minute track "Feel The Benefit." Their last good album, at least that I heard. The live album Live And Let Live was recorded with a seven-piece line-up. I haven't heard it, but am always wary of live albums by primarily studio-oriented bands. Bloody Tourists was recorded with this new, extended lineup. The music is for the most part bland, sub-McCartney pop with the odd disco or reggae flourish to keep up with the times. It's boring as hell. Ditto for Look Hear and Ten Out Of Ten, which are just the boring pop alone. Windows In The Jungle is reportedly a return to form. I only saw it once, and never heard it. They recently did a reformation effort with all four members entitled Meanwhile. I don't know anything about this one (re: the quality, anyway). -- Mike Ohman|
|Links||[See 801 | Mandalaband | Godley and Creme | Ramases]|
'70s Japanese band that later became Ain Soph.
[See Ain Soph]
I Teoremi (72)
The song "Tutte Le Cose" from the 7" is the Italian version of the song "With You There To Help Me" from Jethro Tull. The album has a Led Zeppelin sound. When the band dissolved, Aldo Bellanova went to play with Samadhi.
O Terco (73), Criaturas Da Noite (75), Casa Encantada (76), Mudanca de Tempo (78), Time Travellers (92)
This is one of the first progressive bands in Brazil. Their first album is a mix of rock'n'roll songs (as on most Brazilians albums of that time), and progressive rock. There's a very nice side-long suite, with good vocals and elaborate arrangement, and the usual folky touches. But their real mark was set with the follow up, Criaturas da Noite. This album is quite good, so good that it deserved a special version with English vocals that, IMHO, is better than the original, due to the "hippie" lyrics of the time. Apart from the usual rock'n'roll songs (this time limited to two!), we've got some good folky numbers, and also two *excellent* symphonic pieces, the wonderful "1974", and "Ponto Final". These songs are full of classic Mellotron and Hammond organ, nice vocals sung like a choir (no lyrics), and very good musicianship. This is by far their best album, and I recommend it to anyone into '70s symphonic rock! After this album, they started touring heavily, and somehow their follow up wasn't the success that it should've been. Casa Encantada has more of those horrible rock'n'roll songs, but still has some great truly prog moments, comparable to the ones in Criaturas. Overall, a good album, specially if you like folky numbers (there are plenty of them). By the time Mudanca de Tempo was released, the band was quite changed, and it's clear that they're not the same. Only two (very short) good pieces, the rest being more of the horrible rock'n'roll stuff that abounds on many records from that time. After this record, they kept on releasing *horrendous* music, including some solo records by guitarist Sergio Hinds. Some members formed a poppy/folky group called 14 BIS, and also other groups appeared with old members, also in the folky vein. In 1992, Sergio Hinds brought the group back alive. That was certainly a bad idea, as their comeback album Time Travellers is comparable to the worst neo-prog stuff you can think of, and please notice that I have nothing against neo-prog bands, it's just that their album is *weak*! The vocals are horrible, sung by Hinds (he was never the singer on the old albums), with some "plastic" keyboards, and mechanical rhythm section. After you hear the album, it's clear that it was made just for the bucks, to cash in the group's early fame. I don't recommend this last album to anyone, unless you're seriously into masochism.... :) Something worth noticing is that both CDs reissued by Vinyl Magic (Casa Encantada and Criaturas) contained the English version of their albums. The original, sung in Portuguese, is yet unreleased on CD (as of 1995), and tracks from those albums (and some others) can be found on a Brazilian compilation of their early material, that is long OOP, and hard to find. -- Luis Paulino
[See 14 BIS]
Terpandre (81), Terpandre Réédition (88)
Excellent one shot symphonic band, with excellent violinist. Nice Mellotron and keys, and very good melodies.
An excellent French instrumental band, now defunct. The band featured dual keyboards (synth, acoustic and electric piano, Mellotron) and violin by Patrick Tillman (ex-of Zao). The music is very romantic and lyrical, full of color and warmth. At times quiet and delicate, at others pyrotechnic and powerful, its only problem is that the production was rather low-budget, but the spirit of the writing and performance more than make up for any technical shortcomings.
[Terpandre Réédition is a Musea LP reissue of the original 1981 album.]
Melody and Menace (82)
|Released three albums of keyboard-dominant music influenced to some extent by Gentle Giant and Yes.|
|I never thought that anyone would succeed making progressive music with the short song format, but Carl Tafel's Terraced Garden comes very close. With a variety of styles that reminds me of too many prog bands to list here, the music is very interesting, and often shines big time.|
|Canadian song-oriented progressive with lots of vocals, excellent harmonies. The sound is like a cross between late sixties SF folk-rock (the vocal harmonies), early It's a Beautiful Day (the violin) and King Crimson (the Frippoid guitar and occasional dissonance). Of the three albums, the first (Melody and Menace) and third (Within) are the most powerful overall, Braille is every bit as good as the others, but more moody and low key. All are very nice, grow on you.|
Click here for Terraced Garden's web site
Terreno Baldio (74), Beyond the Brazilian Legends? (76), Terreno Baldio (92, re-recorded version of first album.)
Terreno Baldio was an old Brazilian band who started in about 1973 or thereabouts; they were made up of Robert Lazzarini (keyboards), Mozart Mello (guitars) and Joao "Fusa" Kurk (vocals), with various people in the rhythm section. They put out their first album, Terreno Baldio, in '74, and according to the liner notes on my CD it became something of a collector's item. After several more years and another album called something like Beyond the Brazilian Legends (1976, if the liner notes are accurate; I can't remember the Portuguese title) they broke up. When the time came to release Terreno Baldio on CD, the master tapes had disappeared, so Lazzarini, Mozart and Fusa were brought together again in 1992 to re-record the songs with up-to-the-minute technology, and that's what's on the CD. (They also added two songs which had been written about the same time as the record but weren't included.) I haven't heard the original album, but I like the sound of this better than most of what I've heard using similar technology--perhaps this is because the music wasn't written for the instruments being used and they went to some pains to reproduce the original sound as closely as possible. They sound a little like Gentle Giant, but this is mostly because of the long, twisty melodic lines. Don't go getting this hoping for multi-part vocal harmonies and recorders, because you won't get them. In general, it's quite accessible-sounding, with very short songs (well, very short for progressive; the longest is seven minutes, while most of the rest are between three and five), but there's enough intricacy and twists that most of it sounds a little difficult for FM radio. The lyrics are in English, and those of you with strong prejudices against foreign accents and bad grammar should probably avoid this. The songs are split between two different concepts: the first, "Empty Lot" (which is "Terreno Baldio" translated into English), tells of the "empty lot" within us all on which we dump our bad feelings of the day, which are then cleaned up by a mysterious being named Aqueloo; the second, "Blue Bird," appears (as far as I can make out) to be the story of a young bird and its first attempts at flight. Neither of these concepts are adhered to particularly strictly, and there are several songs which don't seem to fit into either of these schemes. For some reason, my personal favorites are the "new" tracks, "Elder Mirror" and "Aqueloo," which are longer than most of the other tunes and, IMO, a bit better musically. Warning: none of the above applies to "The Sea and the Love," which has none of the characteristics described above (other than being played by the same musicians) and sounds like a soft-rock tune. You may wish to program your CD player to skip this one. -- Michael Walpole
The 1992 CD is a re-recording of the 1974 album with English lyrics and some track differences. It's rather complex, yet accessible. The new version sounds a lot like "neo-prog", so one can only wonder what the original sounds like. -- Mike Ohman
Egg The Universe (88)
Human Race Party (89)
The Fable On The Seven Pillows (91) (ProgressoR review)
Clockworked Earth (93)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Camel? (97)
The Gate (99)
|Super super lush neo-prog outfit from Japan, who make very synthy music in the vein of Marillion and all of those. While not quite as derivative as their English cousins, the Symphonia will definitely appeal to fans of those bands. The best one is Terutsugu Hirayama's 1983 Castle Of Noi, which while not classic, is quite good. I like vocals in almost all languages, but this band's female vocals in Japanese really gets on my nerves after a while.|
|This band, led by guitarist Terutsugu Hirayama (who was originally with the band Novela) has an extremely powerful symphonic sound somewhat reminiscent of mid-period Renaissance, but more extreme in every way. Their sound is positively stunning. Yes, there are vocals all over their albums and I don't understand a word of them but I don't care. Vocalist Megumi Tokuhisa is a chameleon of sorts, within the same song she can switch from sounding like an innocent child to a very dynamic and powerful singer. Of the three albums, the first (Egg) is probably the easiest to sink your teeth into, but the third (Fable) may be the most musically sophisticated, moving away from the neo-prog sound and more into the area of bands like The Enid. Hirayama also has a solo disc Castle of Noi that is similar in style and pre-dates the other three (i think). Rumor has it that in concert they are every bit as powerful as one might be led to believe by their recorded output.|
|Links||[See Novela | Pale Acute Moon | Pazzo Fanfano di Musica | Starless]|
Teska Industrija (76), Ho-Ruk (76)
Tesseract in 1997 - Julius Smith (synthesizers, keyboards, acoustic guitar), Dave Berners
(bass), Karen Bentley (violin), Josh Schroeter (drums), Don Tillman (6- and 12-string
guitars, keyboards, vocals, cymbals)
Tesseract was a bay area band that released their sole eponymous album in 1997. Though I haven't heard the whole thing, there's an MP3 of the album's closing song "Vantage Point" available on their web site (see link below). The music reminds me a bit of Jean-Luc Ponty because of the violin work and fusiony feel, though this cut also has a lot of plain old symphonic prog in it.
Though the band as a group no longer exists, Don Tillman still keeps hope alive, most recently with a song recorded for the 2002 BayProg Sampler included with the Spring 2002 issue of Exposé magazine. At that point, the band was just Tillman and drummer Nicolai Gvatua. But he posted a note on his web site in 2008 that claimed it was "entirely possible" that the band may "get ... productive sometime soon". I hope so, the two cuts I heard on the web site were excellent. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Tesseract's web site|
In the Air (87)
Heaven's Light (89)
The History of Secret Life (92)
Heaven's Light (95, as Teubner, Compilation of Heaven's Light and The History ...)
From Outer Space (97, as Teubner)
|Helmut Teubner is a German synthesist whose third release shows him building on his reputation as a Teutonic Mark Shreeve. The music is electronic power rock, delivered in very much the same fashion as Shreeve did on his recent works, Legion and Crash Head. Anchored by powerful drum and bass patterns, with twittering sequences in the background, and melodic and strong lead passages on keyboard and guitars, Teubner can be regarded as a more "electronic" version of Yanni.|