Vagabond Poet [USA]

Vagabond Poet (93), Question The Demagogue (95)

Self-described as a combination of the musical styles of '70s rock, progressive rock, "alternative," art rock, jazz, fusion, pop, reggae, blues, heavy metal and even classical.

Click here for the Vagabond Poet WWW page.

Vail [USA]

Time Tales (83)

Same band as System and Realm. The first album was originally released as Realm Time Tales by System. Anyway, this does not sound much like the later album (The Path by Realm), but instead is one long sci-fi opus with countless layers of swirling psychedelic keyboards that never lets up. This is not to say that it's all great: it has its moments of excitement, but probably the one thing that limits the album's appeal is Darrel Studna's wannabee Jon Anderson vocals (actually the vocals aren't bad but the vocal arrangements are really boring on a lot of the tracks). Anyway, to further detract is the miserable muddy mix on the LP (the CD was cleaned up quite a bit and sounds much better).

[See Realm/System]

Vajta [Yugoslavia]

Vajta (7?), 2: Ponocni Valzer (??)


Valinor's Tree [Sweden]
Updated 7/26/06

Kingdom of Sadness (98)
... and then there is silence (00)
Valinor's Tree is a Swedish band that combines prog with an alternative metal sound. Loosely, you could describe their first album, Kingdom of Sadness as a cross between Anekdoten (due to the Mellotrons and Red era King Crimson influences), R.E.M. (due to the guitar and vocal stylings) and Tool (due to ... well ... just the attitude mostly, plus some vocal content, guitar and bass similarities too). Kingdom of Sadness has four tracks averaging about ten minutes each, about the right length for an LP of old, but almost an EP by CD standards. This would be a good album for younger folks into the alt-metal scene who are interested in what prog is all about, since it has a lot they can relate to already, with some good prog tendencies to keep the older generation interested too. Don't expect to feel really uplifted by this album ... the lyrics are really depressing, about death, hatred, blood on the floor and killing your mother among other downer topics (what should I have expected from an album entitled Kingdom of Sadness?). But musically, it's well done with a loosely song based format (verse/chorus), though with lots of variations on the themes and instrumental improv in the mix as well, plus a tight rhythm section composed of Mattias Jarlhed on drums and Anders Lindgren on bass. Lindgren's bass in particular is very prominent, expressive and smokin'. This is a great album, and I can recommend it highly, but I must warn you that if you're only into '70's style sympho-prog, this will probably leave you pretty cold.

Valinor's Tree's second outing ... and then there is silence is arguably more traditionally "progressive" in many ways, though it still features lots of alt-metal feel and lots of youthful angst-filled "the world sucks, don't it?" lyrics. The album cover of a young man sitting cross-legged in the rain, soaked and miserable, looking as if he's just lost his last friend, sorta sets the mood of the album. Still, the compositions and musicianship on this album still make it worthwhile for proggers to seek out. There are more cuts on this album, and it's longer than their first, but still has something interesting to say for its entire length. There are even longer and proggier instrumental sections on this album than Kingdom of Sadness, with the keyboard work also being more prominent. Excellent stuff, with the same warnings for elder proggers as the first album. Oddly, in spite of this album being more progressive than their first, I think I still like Kingdom of Sadness better.

Drummer Mattias Jarlhed says, "we are working on material [for] a third album and it tends to be a bit more "commercial". Like a mix between Anekdoten and Tool. Depressive but very beautiful. We don't really know were it will end." Well, since I already thought that Kingdom of Sadness sounded like that, it will be interesting to see what the new release sounds like. I'll let you know if/when I hear it.

Mattias Jarlhed is also the drummer for sympho-prog band Simon Says, and bassist Anders Lindgren also supports Simon Says for live gigs. But musically and emotionally, the two bands are utterly dissimilar. -- Fred Trafton

Awkward mix of late 70s hard rock with various bland progressive influences. By "progressive influences" I mean the group enjoys using unexpected musical styles in among the heavy riffs, though these excursions don't quite work. Perhaps like Creed jams with a young Journey on a late San Francisco night. I'll take seriously Fred's "warnings for elder proggers" (which I guess is older than 'senior' progger and way older than 'veteran' progger, but hey, I'm only 39 -- how young do you have to be to like these guys?). -- David Marshall
[See Simon Says]

Click here for Valinor's Tree's web site

Vampires Sound Corporation [Germany]

Psychedelic Dance Party (69)

German underground.

Van der Graaf Generator [UK]
Updated 2/22/08

The Aerosol Grey Machine (68)
The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other (70)
H to He Who Am the Only One (70)
Pawn Hearts (71)
Godbluff (75)
Still Life (76)
World Record (76)
The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome (77)
Vital (78)
Now and Then (85)
First Generation, Second Generation (8?, Compilation)
I Prophesy Disaster (93, Compilation)
Maida Vale (94, BBC sessions recorded '71-'76)
Present (05)
Realtime (07, Live)
Trisector (08)(Scheduled release in March)
Van der Graaf Generator

If you absolutely don't like vocal progressive, then stay away. It's that simple. But if you like vocals, or don't mind vocals as long as they are high quality, then look no further. VDGG's progressive is dominated by the incredible lyrics and vocal gyrations of one Peter Hammill. His vocals range from sorrowfully introspective to dementially twisted, whatever is needed to serve the mood of the song and the powerful lyrics. The music is classic progressive rock in the best sense, both definitively and stylistically. It can be startling, dramatic, powerful, soft, and best of all, unpredictable. Time, key, and speed changes are found throughtout and Hammill's voice keeps in perfect synch. The musicianship is tight, available for Hammill to tell his tortured tales. David Jackson's saxophone and flute dodge in and out of Hugh Banton's organ and Mellotron. King Crimson's Robert Fripp provides a little guest guitar on Pawn Hearts and H to He.... Even if you don't like vocal progressive (I don't, usually) you may want to give VDGG a try. The music is outstanding progressive rock and you may learn to appreciate and enjoy Hammill's singular style, as I did. And if you do like talented vocals with lyrical depth Peter Gabriel only dreamed at with Genesis, then you owe it to yourself to hear Van der Graaf Generator. Their best work can be divided into two periods with a four year separation. The music from these two periods are both excellent but a bit different. Start with Pawn Hearts from the first period and Godbluff from the second. The latter, in particular, serves as a good intro to VDGG.

One of the best prog bands, IMHO. Peter Hammill's lyrics are incredible. His voice bothers some people as somewhat grating but I love it. He manages to display such intense emotion with his vocals. Fits really well with the music. I think his vocals in the second phase of VdGG were not as good (got a bit too gravelly even for me). David Jackson's sax sound is incredible. He can make it sing or scream at will. Guy Evans is not a technical wizard on drums, but I like his drum playing a lot. Always fits the song. Just about everyone's favorite album seems to be Pawn Hearts. Mine is probably H to He Who Am the Only One. Godbluff is probably the best of the second phase of VdGG.
Very powerful gothic-progressive rock with lots of lyrics. The singer, Peter Hammill, has one of the best voices in modern music, with a very wide tonal range. Many saxophone parts, often overdubed, replace the lack of lead guitar. Lots of organ (chords mostly, not solos) and very strong drum parts are also present. 1968: Debut album AGM is very unique, but recommended for those who have (and love) the rest of their albums.

1969 - 1971: The First Generation of VdGG
features Peter Hammill (vox, a/c guitar), Hugh Banton (organ/piano/bass), David Jackson (flutes, saxes), Guy Evans (drums, perc.), Nic Potter (bass, left during H to He), and Robert Fripp (elec. guitar on H to He and Pawn Hearts). Very bright lyrics from Peter Hammill are beautifully sung within the long and complex music of the band. (The music was written mostly by Hammill, too). Music goes from melodic to dissonance, from mellow to aggressive and the rhythms are very sophisticated. Stunning work from both Fripp and Jackson, the two of them with Hammill overdubbing instruments and vocals. The Least We Can Do is good as a starter, with beautiful "Refugees." H to He is a bit harder to listen to the end on first hearing, but is great, especially if related to the music which actually "paints" the words into a pictures and scenes (!), "House With No Door," "The Emperor In His War Room." Pawn Hearts is great prog. rock; every song is a masterpiece. Pawn Hearts and The Least We Can Do may remind you of early Genesis (same producer and sound engineer).

1975 - 1976: The second generation of VdGG
After a separation during whichHammill made some great solo albums, Hammill, Banton, Evans and Jackson reform VdGG and put out three great albums. The music is now much stronger, tougher, (strange!) distorted elec. guitar sound, less frantic but much angrier. Hammill's voice is heavier and more aggressive. The first two albums are rockier. The first one is really a concept albums as all four pieces go together with the same music and sound line. Songs are all about 9-10 min. long. Lyrics are still interesting but less clear and specific.

1977: Van der Graaf
The Twilight Zone/The Pleasure Dome has nothing to do with the previous VdGG albums, and it sounds more like a Hammill solo, and the band is now called Van Der Graaf - without the Generator. Here are Hammill, Evans, Potter, and Graham Smith (elec. violin). The violin sound make the total music different, gloomier, and it may hurt your ears at the beginning. There are 9 "short" songs on this one. It may suit ones who doesn't like the rest of VdGG, and so many VdGG lovers hate this.

1978: Vital is the band's only official live album. There are Hammill with a noisy guitar, Potter on very loud and distorted bass, Jackson, Evans, Smith, and Charles Dickie (cello, keyboards). This one is good for VdGG fans of the second generation, who may find it as one of their best. For an outsider this may be the noisiest and ugliest record ever made. The performance is VERY strong but the sound and the playing is very crude and noisy, as Hammill often gets on stage. This performance is really shocking. Many of the band's songs were never released officialy. These songs were done in the time between the 1971 - 1975 period, and some were released on several bootlegs. Some of these bootlegs are Semi-official (Time-Vaults - out of print). Now and Then seems rather official and has two tracks of these songs, and six more from 1984 with Banton, Evans and Jackson alone, having no vocals, and the parts are more jazzy. The VU release of I Prophesy Disaster has some unreleased songs.

Contrary to what most people say, they don't really have any distinct "phases." They all share a common thread and sound like the same band. Apart from that, they are probably one of the greatest bands ever. This has a lot to do with inculding the genius Peter Hammill but all musicians contribute highly innovative performances. I can't describe them ... make sure you listen to them for some time!
Superb early entry in the British prog sweepstakes led by the passionate vocals and tortured poetry of Peter Hammill, and featuring the awesome organ talent of Hugh Banton. Rounding out the nucleus of the band are Dave Jackson on saxophones and flute, and Guy Evans on drums, both gifted players (Jackson is known to play two saxes at once!). Aerosol Gray Machine is supposed to be good, but I haven't heard it. The Least We Can Do and H To He are both good early efforts, but Pawn Hearts is their classic release, including the 23-minute opus "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers," the alternately calm and intense "Man-Erg" and the strange and wonderful "Lemmings," which incorporates a Robert Fripp guitar solo. Not to be missed. The band broke up after Pawn Hearts, but reunited several years down the road with the terrific Godbluff. They hadn't lost a mite of their intensity, the musical interplay on such tracks as "Sleepwalkers" and "Scorched Earth" is an absolute marvel, Hammill's raw passion on "Arrow" is almost frightening. Another classic! Still Life is similar, so if you like Godbluff, you ought to like it as well. World Record is the most instrument-based of all their albums, with Hammill playing more guitar than ever. The 20-minute "Meurglys III, The Songwriter's Guild" features lots of unbelievably twisted rhythms. The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome, a SINGLE disc, has Banton replaced by ex-String Driven Thing violinist Grahame Smith. His playing on "Cat's Eye/Yellow Fever (Running)" is his stellar performance. Jackson plays only on one track: "Sphinx In The Face." This album is more like a Hammill solo than anything else, the beautiful and emotional "Siren Song" makes it well worth the cash. Vital Live is a double live album recorded with this lineup and is supposed to be their worst. -- Mike Ohman
[See Amon Düül (UK) | Hammill, Peter | Jackson, David | Magic Mushroom Band | String Driven Thing]

Click here for Peter Hammill's web site (which includes VDGG info)

Vander, Christian [France]

Sons (73, as Vander/Top/Blasquiz/Garber), Fiesta in Drums (73, as Vander/Raholison), Vander et Les Trois Jeff (73), Tristan and Iseult (74, aka Magma's Wurdah Ïtah), Fusion (81), (as Lockwood/Top/Vander/Widemann), To Love (88), Jour Apres Jour (90), Le Voyage Du Christoph Columbo (92), 65! (94), A Tous les Enfants (95)

Magma's leader and drummer who put out a string of solo albums, which, well, sound like Magma. Vander has also released several albums which are very quiet and jazzy and not at all like Magma's work.

[See Magma | Offering]

Vangelis [Greece]
Updated 10/6/05

Hypothesis (71)
Dragon (71)
Earth (73)
L'Apocalypse des Animaux (73, Soundtrack)
Cosmos (74, Compilation)
Heaven And Hell (75)
Albedo 0.39 (76)
La Fete Sauvage (76, Soundtrack)
The Vangelis Radio Special (76, Interview?)
Spiral (77)
Beaubourg (78)
China (79)
Odes (79, w/ Irene Pappas)
Opera Sauvage (79, Soundtrack)
See You Later (80)
To the Unknown Man (81)
Blade Runner (82, Soundtrack)
Chariots of Fire (82, Soundtrack)
Antarctica (83)
Soil Festivities (84)
Ignacio (85)
Invisible Connections (85)
Magic Moments (85)
Mask (85)
Direct (88)
The City (90)
1492: Conquest of Paradise (92)
Mundo Magico de Vangelis (95)
Voices (95)
Foros Timis Ston Greco (A Tribute To El Greco) (95)
Space Themes (95)
Oceanic (96)
Mythodea: Music for the NASA Mission -- 2001 Mars Odyssey (01)
Evangelos Papathanassiou (Vangelis)

Evangelos Odyssey Papathanassiou, better known as Vangelis was born on March 29, 1943. In some ways, he is a bit of an odd candidate for an entry in the GEPR. Though some of his work, including The Dragon and Heaven and Hell are unquestionably progressive, he is known by the general public more for his movie and television scores. Most people have heard his music in Carl Sagan's Cosmos PBS series (actually, selections from Heaven and Hell) or in the sci-fi classic Blade Runner. But everyone beyond a certain age can't have avoided the hit Chariots of Fire, the theme song from the movie of the same name. One cut from Opera Sauvage was even used in a Gallo wine commercial!

Vangelis started his musical career in a decidedly non-progressive band, The Forminx. His next band, Aphrodite's Child, was progressive for the day. Their last album was virtually a Vangelis solo album, and by most estimations, their best. Check these bands entries for more detailed information. He also teamed up with Yes' Jon Anderson for a series of "prog-lite" albums that are pretty, easy-listening, sweet and innocuous. There are a few progressive moments on them, but they're few and far between (see Jon and Vangelis).

Vangelis' albums are mostly heavily symphonic electronic music, very melodic, lushly orchestrated, mysterious and beautiful. He has had some of his works performed by acoustic orchestras, and they don't really sound all that different except for the lack of sweeping synthesizer swooshes. Many albums are also a combination of orchestra and electronics, and it's frequently tough to tell which is which. He is a reference point for a whole school of "sounds like Vangelis" electronic music performers who attempt, with more and less success, to duplicate something of the sound and feel of Vangelis' works. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Vangelis should be very flattered by the sheer number of his imitators. There are any number of GEPR entries that invoke Vangelis as a reference point in describing other artists. If you've never heard any, start with Heaven and Hell. For a more minimalist album without quite so much lush orchestration and more synthesizer sequences, try Albedo 0.39. The soundtrack for Blade Runner is also fantastic except for one song. You'll know the one. -- Fred Trafton

Has released some of the most inventive, and sweetly melodic music of our time. Despite the beautiful melodies, the music never becomes tiresome. Just about every release has something to recommend it. Beauborg and Invisible Connections are more experimental and are not really comparable to the rest of his work. Recommended: 1492, Mask, Soil Festivities, Albedo 0.39, Heaven and Hell.
Hypothesis is a free jazz album with a great deal of prog rock thrown in (sounds a bit like Area in some points). It kind of defies definition at times. The recording must have been made almost immediately after the break up of Aphrodite's Child because Michel Repoche, who was a guest artist on 666 playing trombone and tenor sax, plays violin here. He appears again on The Dragon which was recorded one month later. It more follows the general prog rock scene of the time. Both albums, however, show very little resemblance to Aphrodite's Child's 666. -- Matthew
[See Anderson, Jon | Aphrodite's Child | Forminx, The | Jon and Vangelis | Socrates]

Click here for the Vangelis web site

Varga, Marián [Czechoslovakia/Slovakia]
Updated 10/14/03

Stále tie dni (84)
Marián Varga

On the second and third sides of Collegium Musicum's final album, Divergencie, keyboardist Marián Varga was already moving from rock pieces, however extended or convoluted, to composing purely classical music. Those pieces were still a long-way from his solo release Stále tie dni (CD Opus 91 2613-2), which is closer to the avant-garde experimentation of John Cage or Karlheinz Stockhausen than most rock, progressive or otherwise.

This is certainly true on the four-part "Antiwar Requiem", which spans the album's first side: "Dies irae" greets the listener with a brusque drummachine beat in military mode and wave upon shrill, dissonant saw wave from the upper register of Varga's Roland Jupiter 8, sort of like a grim call-to-arms fanfare heralding a total war. Throughout the album, Varga creates a lot of harsh and hair-rising timbres with just one synth and a prepared or electronically processed piano, with only a few embellishments from guitarists and percussion. "Stabat Mater" adds the vocoder, which is cleverly used not just to camouflage Varga's mainly wordless vocal additions, but to add eerie sheets of synthesized textures with the breathy quality allowed by voice control. The concluding "Insomnia (Nespavost)" drifts into atonality with the increasingly infernal layering of clanging, rhythmically-independent piano stabs overlayed by a spooky shroud of synthesizer buzzing. This has a kind of nightmare atmosphere that reminds of Art Zoyd's horror soundtracks or even Goblin at their most experimental.

The second side is more amicable, with "Vezová hudba"'s cascade of synth fanfares and occasional heroic major chord re-establishing Varga's Emerson connection. "Ako ked' je niekto zamilovaný" is actually a pretty little ditty, calmly modal with simple synth pads and chirpy vocoder vocal melody. Rhythmic and tonal structures still tend to be violently mutable, and some of Varga's piano plonking before the solemn and flatly tonal synthesizer chorale that concludes the album suggests his cat may have lent a paw in its realisation. While Stále tie dni is not an easy-access record, I have found it more intriguing in the long run than the Collegium Musicum albums. For those with a taste for modern avant-garde. -- Kai Karmanheimo

[See Collegium Musicum]

Variant [USA]
Updated 7/8/08

Beyond Jargon (06)
Variant - Jerry Wengert (guitar), Erik Connolly (guitar), Gary Langton (drums) and Mike Herrell (4-string, 5-string and piccolo basses)

Original entry, 10/30/06:
If I was forced to sum up Variant's sound in one catch-phrase, it might be: "2112-era Rush meets Pawn Hearts-era Van der Graaf Generator", though that would be nearly as misleading as it is illuminating. The songs on their debut album, Beyond Jargon are quite different from one another, though there are sections that remind me strongly of Alex Lifeson's guitar style and Peter Hammill's vocal style, hence the oversimplified comparison. There's also some "classic metal" sound to many of these songs, perhaps a bit like Uriah Heep? But Variant doesn't really sound that much like anyone else, they have created a fairly original sound for themselves without going so far afield that you can't hear their influences.

So, let's start over without the other band comparisons. Variant's sound is heavy and somewhat dark. It's very guitar-oriented, with 2 guitarists and no full-time keyboardist, though some light sprinklings of synthesizers can be heard occasionally on the album (unless those are extremely processed guitar sounds). The songs are generally aggressive and "heavy metal" sounding, but in an old-school way; I would hesitate to call it progressive metal if that brings to mind the chugging distortion of Dream Theater or their likes, because Variant doesn't sound like them at all. The vocals and lyrics are very important too, very literate and intelligent-sounding, making Beyond Jargon into a concept album, though without a firm story line or any preachiness ... in fact, they're abstract enough to have many levels of interpretation for those of us who like to ponder such things. This combination of stylings and the willingness of the band to write songs with very different feels relative to each other makes their style not easily pidgeonholed into one particular category. Hence, Variant is a good name for and description of this band.

Finally, I must confess to a bit of "home town prejudice" when it comes to this band. They live right near me and I hope to go and see them live soon. To be honest, my usual personal tastes lean towards more keyboards in my prog, but I'm really learning to like Variant's guitar-heavy sound. They're a fine addition to the Dallas area progressive rock band list (which also includes Underground Railroad, 99 Names of God, Twenty3:Fifty9, Nervewerks, The Minefield and Hands). Beyond Jargon is a wonderful debut album, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from these gents, both live and on future releases. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Variant's CD Baby page
Click here for Variant's MySpace page

Variations, Les [France]

Of interest: Moroccan Roll (74)

French mid-70's hard rock band that would hardly deserve mention here. There are, however, a couple of excellent instrumentals on their album Moroccan Roll, combining moroccan themes with progressive rock. The rest is just very commercial stuff for the most part.

Vedda Tribe [Italy]
Updated 12/28/04

Vedda Tribe (99)
Good Night to the Bucket (04)
The following was edited for length:

Vedda Tribe consists of five rather long compositions ranging from 7 to 10 minutes. Among those with a completely structured music this is definitely the most original sounding album I've heard this year. The flight of the band's fantasy is so high that it takes my breath away. The moods that prevail here are neither dramatic nor romantic, nor joyful nor sad nor even neutral. As if shades of some unearthly emotional palette, they have little in common with those we usually feel, and yet, they are easily perceptible and are even naturally touching sometimes. Of course, this is the music of "spacey spheres", but, still, it's rather unusual even within this genre. Not counting those on the last track, to which I'll return below, the parts of keyboards, and these are predominantly piano passages, are exclusively (and distinctly) symphonic in character, whereas guitar solos concern both Space Rock and quasi-Jazz-Fusion and are usually as if laidback from the current musical events, regardless of whether they're fluid or harsh, fast or slow, etc. Most of the bass solos are also classically disciplinary, while those of drums are often too diverse and contrasting to be classified the same way. All in all, Vedda Tribe is an exceptionally original album and is a very enjoyable listening.

Vedda Tribe's lineup didn't undergo any changes since their debut in 1999, while their instrumental equipment was replenished with modern synthesizers and an acoustic guitar. The total duration of Good Night to the Bucket is nearly equal to that of the band's eponymous album, but the number of tracks here is more than twice as large - eleven. The quality of the music didn't suffer from these changes. The four longer tracks: "Young Meditation", "Changes", "Uncle Bouzerant", and "Touch and Go" contain vocals, the first three being with good English lyrics. The latter is in Italian, and unlike the others it was sung by [someone other than their usual vocalist] Filippo Guerini (most likely by a female singer). Nevertheless, all the songs are largely instrumental, and here I must note that during the years, separating Good Night to the Bucket from their debut album, the band had time to fall in love with King Crimson and UK and such their songs as "Starless", "Indiscipline", "Industry", "Danger Money" and "Caesar's Palace Blues" in particular. The implied influences are more obvious on the songs, and the slight resemblance between Filippo's singing and John Wetton just intensifies this impression. However, no one would [accuse] Vedda Tribe [of] plagiarism. Minor influences don't oppose originality. The band still shines with an extraordinary compositional thinking, having just projected the others' discoveries through the prism of their own vision of music, which is still a unique Space Rock, at least substantially. -- Vitaly Menshikov

Click here for Vitaly's complete review on his Progressor web site.

Vega [Spain]

Andaluza (78), Jara (79)

Velvet Universe [Germany]

Voyager (81)

Velvett Fogg [UK]
Updated 3/1/07

Velvett Fogg (69)
Velvett Fogg (on their controversial 1969 album cover) - (Top) Graham Mullett (drums), Ian Leighton (guitar), Mick Pollard (bass). (Front/center) Frank Wilson (vocals, Hammond organ). Other members not pictured - Tony Iommi (guitar), Paul Eastment (guitar, vocals) and Keith Law (songwriter). The two nice-looking painted ladies are models.

The original line-up of Velvett Fogg was formed in 1968 by soul singer Ernie Handy and guitarist Bob Hewitt. The other band members were drummer Graham Mullett, bass guitarist Mick Pollard, and Londoner Frank Wilson who played Hammond organ. The band were soon off to Germany where they spent most of the year playing at army bases and clubs. Their exciting stage act included a light show and a go-go dancer (who later married Ernie).

The initial line-up of Velvett Fogg featured guitarist Tony Iommi (later to make the big time with Black Sabbath). Tony stayed in the line-up for only one gig before leaving to be replaced temporarily by Ian Leighton. It was during this time that Pye Records arranged a photo-shoot of the band for the cover of their proposed first album (left). This is the pre-Paul Eastment line-up of the band wearing garish make-up/body-paint, and also included two well-endowed young women wearing nothing but strategically applied body paint! U.K. disc jockey John Peel commented in the sleeve notes that "There is a lot of good music on this record. Remember Velvett Fogg - you will hear the name again."

Material for the Velvett Fogg album would be supplied by local songwriter/guitarist Keith Law who became a friend of the band, and contributed the songs "Yellow Cave Woman" (also covered on Standarte's Stimmung album), "Once Among The Trees" and "Within' The Night". Before recording could begin in late 1968, Ian Leighton and was replaced by guitarist/vocalist Paul Eastment (a cousin of Tony Iommi's). Eastment was also to contribute original compositions for the album along with Wilson, Mullet and Pollard.

Velvett Fogg recorded the tracks for their debut album under direction of Pye producer Jack Dorsey, who aimed to get the band onto the then-popular "progressive" band wagon. The band also recorded covers of a few songs they liked and these included psychedelic-sounding versions of "New York Mining Disaster 1941" by The Bee Gees, and Tim Rose's "Come Away Melinda". The self-titled album was released on the Pye label in January of 1969, who also released a single: a cover of The Tornado's classic instrumental "Telstar" hoping to cash in on the publicity surrounding the American moon landings taking place at that time. While receiving some radio play, the record did not sell enough copies to chart and a big advertising campaign planned by the record company to promote the album never materialised. Though the band did a bit of touring after the single came out, poor sales made Pye lose interest in the band, and they withdrew their backing. In the autumn of 1969 the group disbanded with the members going their separate ways.

Paul Eastment went on to found another progressive rock band, originally called Holy Ghost and later releasing an album as The Ghost. Frank Wilson joined Riot Squad, The Rumble Band and finally Warhorse in 1970. In 2002 the Sanctuary Records Group Ltd. re-issued Velvett Fogg officially for the first time on CD (CMRCD619). Keith Law and Frank Wilson are back together writing and recording for a proposed new Velvett Fogg album under the name Velvett Fogg 2. -- John R. Woodhouse (from the band's bio, heavily edited by Fred Trafton)

[See Ghost, The | Warhorse]

Click here for a Velvett Fogg web page

Venegoni E Co. [Italy]

Rumore Rosso (77), Sarabanda (79)

The sound is similar to Arti E Mestieri.

No wonder. It's a solo outing by their guitarist.

[See Arti E Mestieri/Procession]

Vent D'Est [France]

Vent D'Est (80)

Rather boring band who put out a self-titled LP that was definitely in the Camel vein.

Venus Tebla [Italy]
Updated 9/3/01

Obliquo (98)
This band was obviously inspired by Canterbury school of sound. Quite discernible are also elements of metallic fusion. Simplifiedly stated, band sounds like a cross between Hatfield and the North / Gilgamesh and Cynic at their less intense. Most notable is sound of keyboards similar to that of Alan Gowan while bass/ Chapman stick lines usually remind of Sean Malone's textural approach. Usage of double-bass resembles of Roy Babbington from 4th/5th period of Soft Machine. Few post-romantic pianisms surfaces here and there as well. I guess all heard could be logical development of music of Napoli Centrale, Italian Cantebury inspired mid-70's fusion-band, but of course wrapped in modern and fatter fusion soundcloth, and also pointed towards Return To Forever. While not strikingly original, band certainly knows, how good modern fusion should sound. Any great Canterbury or fusion band would be proud of track "Melopea di un Volo Meloe". Quite a good album actually and recommended to the fans of the genre, especially due to decidedly low price in Musea catalogue. -- Nenad Kobal
Click here for Venus Tebla's web site (in Italian and English)

Verdaguer [Brazil]

Humahuaca (99)

Verde, Antonio [Italy]

Calypso (77)

Ex-Saint Just. Instrumental songs.

[See Saint Just]

Verdeaux, Cyrille [France]
Updated 7/6/00

Prophecy (81)
Offrandes (81)
Nocturnes Digitales (80)
Messenger of the Son (85)
Kundalini Opera (86, 6 Cassette only)
Rhapsody for the Blue Planet (88)
Tribal Hybrid Concept (99)
Ethnicolor's (99)
Best of the Rainbow (99, Compilation)
Verdeaux was the mastermind behind Clearlight. His solo stuff tends to be lower key and a little more new-agey. Rhapsody For The Blue Planet is an exceptionally good concept symphonic piece, chances are anyone who liked Clearlight's Symphony will have no trouble with this one. Kundalini Opera is a six cassette set, I've heard mixed reports about it, but never heard it myself. There was one other album I heard that was killer, but I can't recall the title now.
[See Clearlight | Delired Cameleon Family]

Click here for Clearlight/Cyrille Verdeaux web site

Vermilion Sands [Japan]
Updated 10/3/03

Water Blue (88)
Vermilion Sands (Water Blue line-up): Masahiro Yamada (keyboards), Ryogi Ogasawara (bass), Masumi Sakaue (guitars), Yoko Royama (vocals) and Hisashi Matoba (drums)

Vermilion Sands are a Japanese band, whose music is very much inspired by Renaissance, symphonic and keyboard-driven, with a female lead vocalist. Also included on Water Blue is a reasonable cover version of Kate Bush's "My Lagan Love." The vocals on some of the tracks are in Japanese, but the music dominates, similar to the lush, melodic style of bands such as Novela, Teru's Symphonia, Outer Limits, etc.

Japanese folk-rock symphonic band with female singer. The sound is very polished yet delicate, with a standard four-piece instrumental lineup. The influences are split between the symphonic Renaissance, and British/Irish folk bands like Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and Clannad. The vocals are excellent, and the lyrics are split between Japanese and English.
Vermilion Sands and Water Blue. Such beautiful names for a band and their sole album. The music contained on Water Blue is equally beautiful. Featuring the lovely soprano of Youko Rouyama, Vermilion Sands come off as a folky version of Renaissance. The full and elegant sound is created by gentle acoustic guitar and piano, soft electric guitar and synth, and Rouyama's clear voice. Where Renaissance were strongly classically influenced (even lifting many classical themes), Vermilion Sands is more influenced by folk and is also more original sounding, at least to me. I much prefer Vermilion Sands over Renaissance. Highly recommended, particularly to fans of Renaissance.
[See Theta]

Click here for Vermilion Sands' web site

Versailles [France]
Updated 9/27/03

La Cathedral du Temps (90)
Don Giovanni (92)
Le Tresor de Valliesres (94)
Blaise et Benjamin (98)
Blaise et Benjamin (Musea FGBG 4245.AR) is a concept album in four long parts, musically fashioned in the image of 1970's French theatrical proggers Ange and Mona Lisa. Versailles also reach back to Yes and Genesis in some of the riffs (there is a virtual quote of "The Knife" about halfway into the title track), but they approach the retro-symphonic material with a sharp-edged and ferocious attack that refuses to be mere retread of the past. Powerful symphonic sweeps alternate with a more dissonant interplay between jagged electric guitar and organ or synthesizer, traditionally boisterous singing with a macabre chanting halfway between Magma and Thé‚tre du Grand Guignol. Powerfully played and creative, this is something like Emile Jacotey-era Ange given an extra Mellotron and a more febrile electric guitar presence. The main difference is that while guitarist/flautist Guillaume de la Pilière evokes the vocal style of Christian Decamps and Dominique Le Guennec, he successfully manages to reproduce only the histrionics, not the strength or the full dynamics. Coupled with the fact that the melodic writing doesn't carry quite the whole 50+ minutes, this falls something short of the classics. So while this is a very good album, Versailles, sans bassist Olivier de Gency, would participate in making a stronger one that same year, when they assisted Dominique Le Guennec in reviving Mona Lisa. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Mona Lisa]

Click here to order Versailles CD's from Musea records

Versus X [Germany]
Updated 7/18/08

Versus X (94)
Disturbance (96)
Club Voltaire Live (98, Live)
The Turbulent Zone (00)
Live At The Spirit (02, Live)
Primordial Ocean (08)
Versus X about 2000 - Arne Schäfer (voice, guitar), Jörg Fischer (bass), Ekkehard Nahm (keyboards), Uwe Völlmar (drums, perc)

One of the best contemporary Progressive Rock bands to come out of Germany in the '90 years. Unlike their second excellent work Disturbance, the level of complexity on Versus X is moderate, though the absolute majority of themes and arrangements shows that their authors (guitarist/vocalist Arne Schafer and keyboardist Ekkehard Nahm) were full of wish to create really original production within the frame of Progressive Rock. As a result, Versus X become one of the most ambitious albums in 1993.

Disturbance is the second album from the well-known contemporary German Progressive Rock band Versus X. Started in 1993 with their self-titled debut work, these guys performed back in 1996 year under the flag of the Premier Prog Label "Musea" (France). One of the most serious and original bands on the current German Prog scene. Co-leader (with E. Nahm) of Versus X Arne Schafer has also created his own very successful "side project" called Apogee.

This 58-minute album contains only the three long (actually, the "side-long") epic compositions. The opening track "Curtain Call", according to the author's domination of Ekkehard Nahm in composing, is a bit more piano oriented piece than other two, though on the whole, we hear equally prominent roles of electric/acoustic guitars and varied keyboards almost pervasively on Disturbance. "Curtain Call" is a composition of the purest Classic Symphonic Art Rock, full of polyphony, slightly "broken" structures, original and unexpected arrangements, changes of moods and tempos, excellent solos from each band member, and wonderful interplays between both main soloists - Schafer and Nahm. Quite sophisticated English lyrics, sung by A. Schafer, sound good, but the majority of the internal parts within the frame of each composition on this album are entirely instrumental.

The arrangements of the second track "In Silent Age" continue to move in the same thematical direction, though guitar riffs by Schafer are heard more often and are slightly heavier than on the preceding track. Structurally speaking, "Silent Age" almost totally comparable to "Curtain Call", and we hear again lots of varied themes and arrangements, which change each other kaleidoscopically. It is a very good factor that there are exceptionally little overdubs in this song -- seems "Silent Age" was recorded by the formula "Live in the Studio". Incidentally, more than once Versus X has been voted by musical critics "The best contemporary live band in Germany. On the whole, "Silent Age", as well as "Curtain Call", contains all the "main" ingredients of high-quality Progressive Rock -- i.e. an open originality, lots of varied themes and solos, complex and often diverse arrangements.

"The Mirror of Division" is the longest, most epic and undoubtedly the most profound composition on Disturbance. The overal level of complexity here is quite comparable to such famous progressive side-long pieces as "The Siberian Khatru" (Yes, Close to the Edge album), "The Tangerine Windows of Solace" (Sieges Even, Steps), etc, etc, -- though stylistically the music of Versus X in their own structural form, has nothing to do with the original created by the aforesaid Titans of Progressive Rock. In this composition virtuoso Ekkehard Nahm shows himself as a real keyboard wizard, and the united work of the other members of the band is simply incredible. "The Mirror of Division" is a real masterpiece of contemporary Classic Symphonic Art Rock, a fine conclusion to the Disturbance album, that looks like a crown for Princes of "Non-profit" Rock music and shines like a star on the endless horizon of Progressive Rock.

Summary: Versus X (together with Apogee) is without a doubt, one of the best contemporary Progressive Rock acts in Germany. The original music from these guys cannot be directly compared to anyone band from all over the world (see below). In comparison with the band's debut work from 1993 Disturbance shows a big step forward to maturity in composing and proGfessionalism in performing of their new material, which, unlike the majority of commercially succesful Rock bands from Germany, will never bring an adequate fee to the authors -- for such a complex, non-conformistic creation. But, on the other hand, people of the Premier Progressive Rock label Musea can proudly call this release a real "Classic for the Future". The originality displayed in their music makes them unique - not like any other band in the world.

The Turbulent Zone is a long album (57 min.), consisting of four long pieces. Even at the first sight - before listening to this work, but being familiar with the both previous by Versus X - it reminds me of the years of the golden age of our favourite genre in the first half of the 70's. I think the long and especially "side-long" suites (I see here no less than two "side-long" compositions - the first and the last - already a full LP at least from the standpoint of the same golden years) are the most suitable to show, briefly, all the possible colours of the palette of the Progressive Rock, but especially of such its genre as Classic Art Rock. Some people call this genre Symphonic Rock, but as I see it, the term Art most properly and extensively reflects the essence of this genre, whereas the term Symphonic would rather suit the music of ELP for example, than the music of Versus X. Really, despite the fact that there is a lot of, generally, keyboard (especially piano) structures in the composing "scheme" of this album, I can't say in the first place an original (and very diverse - almost everywhere on the album) style of playing of Ekkehard Nahm has obvious symphonic principles - just roots! Secondly, there's also a lot of guitar as well as keyboard structures involved in the music of Versus X in general and on The Turbulent Zone album in particular, and Arne Schafer, as a true Ekkerhard's co-author of the entire composition, uses his skills of a lead guitar (either electric or acoustic) player almost throughout, too. So, the presence (in any music) of extensive guitar structures that usually don't have only symphonic roots (with possibly one exception: I mean the acoustic / classical guitar) is totally justified in Art regarding the music of Versus X, i.e. now it's obvious that they perform Art Rock rather than Symphonic Rock. Musically The Turbulent Zone sounds as a work of a united stylistic conception from the beginning to the end. Arrangements as a whole, but especially in the long instrumental parts, are incredible. Some episodes sound simply fantastic, striking a fragile balance between beauty and complexity. This kind of balance should be an obvious aim for those musicians who seem potentially poised to create a real Masterpiece like the new album of Versus X. To put it differently, such musicians should be able not only to compose an opus grande, but also to perform it in full accordance with their ambitions. For it's obvious that it would not be very easy to reproduce some instrumental parts composed for the first, third and fourth Pieces of the true Musical Art called The Turbulent Zone. Just listen to it attentively and you'll be entranced by these parts soon. Also, if you are familiar with the two previous albums by this band really well you'll understand that the musical technique of each Versus X musician has become truly filigree - in full accordance with their current compositional ambitions. As for the Arne's vocal palette, it's very tasteful, diverse and (mostly) appropriately dramatic to the lyrics by Arne himself with its true philosophic concept, full of the eternal questions (of course). Sometimes Schafer sings as if obliquely to the basic musical theme: such exact moments on the album I find really innovative.

Summary: I do not need to listen to some speedy chops by "kings" like Satriani or Vai to "learn" about "real virtuosity", since there is a whole lot of this that I can find within our progressive genre. Virtuosity abounds, apart from such important things as excellent composing and some truly fantastic arrangements, in the music of The Turbulent Zone by Versus X. In terms of quality, their latest work stands easily the comparison at least with the best Art Rock albums of the second half of the "golden decade", the '70s - from Genesis, Yes, Van Der Graaf ... All the basic "parameters" of The Turbulent Zone album such as composing in general and arrangements particularly, musicianship and performance, overall sounding and the sound as such, at last, entirely correspond with my perception of this album as of a Classic Art Rock masterpiece. -- Vitaly Menshikov

Update 11/20/02:
Live At The Spirit was my first chance to hear Versus X after reading Vitaly's glowing reviews above. I must say, I have to agree with him ... this band is awesome. Schäfer's vocals sounded like someone else to me, but I couldn't place who for awhile ... then Schäfer sang the lyric, "Will I be free from the pressure, free from the pain at last?" and I knew who he reminded me of: Pink Floyd's Roger Waters. But the music bears no resemblence to Floyd at all, just some of the vocal stylings. There are some hints of early Genesis or even Van Der Graaf Generator in this music, but mostly Versus X just sound like themselves. I believe they call groups like this "reference bands", because after awhile people say that other bands sound like them instead of the other way around.

The four long cuts on Live At The Spirit are musically complicated but still melodic with occasional excursions into brief dissonances before resolving into beautiful concordance again. Excellent classically-influenced keyboard work, wonderful guitar solos, and a super-precise, high-energy rhythm section make this a band with little to complain about. Schäfer's vocals are really interesting, if not the most trained sounding voice you'll ever hear, frequently putting just a few more words into each phrase than fit comfortably into the number of beats in the measure, giving many of the songs a breathless, suspenseful quality (kind of like this sentence) that complements the music perfectly. My only wish is that I could hear these songs in their original studio versions, though it's hard to imagine how they could sound much better.

I don't have much more to say other than: highly recommended! If you're a fan of that classic '70's prog, it's hard to beat Versus X.

Versus X 2008 - Thomas Keller (bass), Ekkehard Nahm (keyboards), Arne Schäfer (voice, guitar), Thomas Reiner (drums, perc)

Update 7/18/08:
I've said it before in other reviews, and I'll say it again here. I review a lot of CD's, so when I get a package of promos from one of the "big" prog labels like Musea, part of me is excited while another part thinks "oh, God, not more prog to review". However, when I unpack the package there's usually a couple of new releases in there that I'll want to get into my CD player immediately. Such was the case when I saw that Versus X had released a new studio album, Primordial Ocean. As I mentioned above, I hadn't had a chance to hear any studio releases from these guys, though I was really impressed with their Live At The Spirit CD.

Well, this album did not disappoint. I'll admit to being a big fan of thick, lush, symphonic sound, so Versus X's less-heavily orchestrated approach wouldn't normally be a big plus for me. But the arrangements on Primordial Ocean are just brilliant, and perfect for this music. Oh, don't worry, there's plenty of synthesizer, organ and Mellotron to go around, in addition to some very nice electric guitar solos and guitar/keyboard interplay. But some of the best passages on the album are acoustic piano and acoustic guitar. Of course, Schäfer's ideosyncratic (and very philosophically intelligent) vocals are again in evidence between the amazing musical passages. No thousand-notes-per-second histrionics here, nor jarring blasts of noise or avant-clashing disharmonies. But there's no problem with "progressiveness" without these features. The harmonies are odd (and mostly on the melancholy side), the chord progressions go off in unexpected directions, and there's some really interesting rhythmic experimentation. It's just super-cool prog. As Vitaly said above, these guys are dead serious about their prog, and there's not a hint of "did it in my garage" amateurishness in the music or the recording of this album. It could stand proudly alongside the best '70's prog you could mention.

If I was to make comparisons, I'd say that musically, Primordial Ocean is sort of along the lines of Lizard-era Crimson while the vocals are a little like Godbluff-era Van Der Graaf Generator. But this is only a vague comparison, Versus X's sound is really quite unique. And I can't say that Schäfer reminded me much of Roger Waters this time either. Now that I'm used to Schäfer's voice from both Live At The Spirit and his solo album The Garden of Delights, he just sounds like Arne Schäfer. And that's a good thing.

A couple of line-up notes: Jörg Fischer (bassist for the last couple of albums) has been replaced by newcomer Thomas Keller for this album, and he does a fine job. Drummer Uwe Völlmar still drums on Primordial Ocean, but has since been replaced by Thomas Reiner. The latest line-up is depicted immediately above.

Even more than Live At The Spirit, Primordial Ocean is a must-have for any serious prog collector. A definite classic for the future. My highest recommendation. -- Fred Trafton

[See Apogee]

Click here for Versus X's web site
Click here to order these titles from Musea Records

Verto [France]

Krig/Volubilis (76), Rel 19.36 (78)

Basically Verto was Jean-Pierre Grasset with Potemkine backing him. All instrumental, sometimes powerful, sometimes spacy, sometimes agressive in a Heldon sort of way, but less electronic.

[See Potemkine]

Vertú [USA]
Updated 4/17/02

Vertú (99)
Vertú is a fusion project, featuring former Return to Forever members Lenny White on drums and Stanley Clarke on bass, along with keyboardist Rachel Z, Yanni's violinist Karen Briggs and rock guitarist Richie Kotzen. The band explores several sonic territories besides fusion, such as Moroccan music, R&B, and progressive rock. Their sound is quite similar to Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever circa Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy.

The playing is very tight and complex, and the compositions are quite memorable. Karen Briggs' playing resembles a lot of Jerry Goodman's, and Rachel Z's playing resembles Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul stylings a lot. The biggest surprise here is Richie Kotzen. Known mostly as the replacement guitarist for glam band Poison and his own instrumental heavy metal albums, this time he proves to be a very versatile player, with blues chops and very articulated in the fusion guitar language, sometimes reminiscent of John McLauglin and Al DiMeola.

Their work is quite recommendable for fans of Return to Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Al DiMeola and Tribal Tech. -- Juan M. Sjöbohm

[See Return To Forever]

Click here for a small Vertú web site

Verve [UK]
a.k.a. The Verve
Updated 1/10/03

The Verve EP (92, EP)
A Storm In Heaven (93)
No Come Down (94)
A Northern Soul (95)
Urban Hymns (97)
Alone With Everbody (00, Richard Ashcroft solo album)
Verve - Nick McCabe, Simon Jones, Richard Ashcroft, Peter Salisbury and Simon Tong

One might not consider Verve progressive. More than likely, the average person has been exposed to their newer material (under the name The Verve), such as Urban Hymns. Unfortunately, the bands early material gets lost in the commerical hype of the new pop offerings. It's hard to catergorize that old stuff. The band pulls from a lot of genres, but I'd generally classify it as Space Rock, though they're not afraid to play jazzy riffs. Richard Ashcroft's voice is haunting, and almost ethereal. Nick McCabe's lush guitar work is nothing short of brilliant, as is the bass work by Simon Jones. The drumming, by Peter Salisbury, is usually not very prominent, but ends up working with the music very well. The band is rounded out with keyboards, horns, and various woodwinds by various other musicians.

So in the early nineties, this bunch of talented kids from England got together, did a lot of drugs, and made some incredible music. Their first offering, The Verve EP, is a rather good album, thought the band is obviously finding their musical niche. Songs such as "A Man Called Sun" showed their enormous talent. Their next album, A Storm In Heaven, if easily the pinnacle of the groups work. The album name pretty well describes the music. Lush, floating, ethereal, but not afraid to rock every once in a while. Highlights include "Starsail" and "The Sun, The Sea" and "Butterfly". While these albums garnered a decent fanbase in the UK, the band was virtually unknown in the US -- what radio station wanted to risk playing the rather trippy, psychedelic songs about nothing in particular?

After a name change to The Verve due to a lawsuit by the jazz label Verve Records, the next album as released. A Northern Soul, as it was named, was a bit more mainstream in nature, by Ashcroft's insistence. There were still some remnants of the last two albums, such as "Stormy Clouds", but it was obvious the band was taking a turn for the more commercial. McCabe, who wanted to play the old trippy stuff, eventually got fed up, and the band broke up. Right after that, No Come Down was released. It's an excellent collection of B-sides, outtakes and other rarities. The 10 minute live version of "Gravity Grave" (from The Verve EP) is so full of passion and power, it single handedly makes the album worth the price of admission.

Eventually, the band got back together, made radio friendly Urban Hymns (not at all progressive, but decent enough), became famous, was sued by the Rolling Stones for sampling a song, won a bunch of Grammy's/etc, and broke up again when McCabe left. They continue to play, billed as Richard Ashcroft, but it's the same band, sans McCabe. They even released an album, titled Alone With Everybody, which was in the same vein as Urban Hymns. But the old Verve is dead. -- Anthony Borell

Click here for a Japanese fan's site

Via Lactea [Mexico]

Milky Way (78), Live (79?), III (80), IV...(81)

Via Lactea began as the electronic duo of Carlos Alvarado and Miguel Angel Nava. After the first release Nava split and Via Lactea became essentially the solo project of Alvarado (who was also a member of Chac Mool). Music is basically quiet and meditative, with synth, Mellotron, and occasional flute, comparable to early Tangerine Dream.

[See Chac Mool]

Via Lumini [Brazil]

Voos e Sonhos (91)

The style is quite reminescent of Camel, due to the impressive performance of the guitarist. This is a good album, but not without its problems: the recording is absolutely crap, with saturated highs, disappearing keyboard sounds, etc. Another problem is the vocalist. Horrible, as he doesn't fit the music in any way. To make matters worse, he sings in Portuguese and the lyrics are solidly on the silly side. But if you disconsider these slight problems, beneath it all there's a good band, with talented musicians. -- Luis Paulino

Vian, Patrick [France]

Bruits Et Temps Analogues (75)

Underground electronics. Like Heldon?

[See Red Noise]

Viana, Marcus [Brazil]

Pantanal (92), Trelhas e Temas (92)

Viana is the violinist with the Brazillian symphonic prog-pop band Coracao Da Terra. His solo album Pantanal: Suite Sinfonica is an all instrumental tour de force in much the same style as the most symphonic aspects of CDT. Interestingly enough, some themes from Sagrado and Flecha pop up here inside other tracks. A very good album, rich with emotion, not cheesy.

Victor [Canada]

Victor (96)

Victor (from the title of a poem by W.H. Auden) is comprised of Alex Lifeson (of Rush) on guitar, bass,keyboards and vocals, Edwyn from I Mother Earth on vocals, Bill Bell on bass, Blake Manning on drums. Now these people make up the core of Victor but many others also contribute. They are Alex Lifeson's own son Adrian, Dalbello, and Les Claypool of Primus. Musically Victor sounds only vaguely like Rush, Basically you get to hear a new and different Alex Lifeson than the one you're used to hearing in Rush. This Alex Lifeson is much more raw, heavier and in your face musically. You'll probably get that when you have an album thats theme is the more terrible aspects of love (or lack of). You can really hear this on tracks like "Don't Care" and "The Big Dance" which nearly sound like Nine Inch Nails had played them (well almost). As a whole though the album is firmly planted in progressive rock. A couple of the tracks could pass for '90s Rush and on the song "Start Today" you could even think Geddy Lee was singing, although it's really Dalbello. So in general if you are a fan of Rush you should find enough to your liking here along with something quite new and if you're unfamilar with Rush you'll see that Victor can stand on it's own quite well. -- Robert Meza

Victor [Germany]

Victor (75)

Symphonic Prog concept album.

[See Gipsy Love | Schoenherz]

Vidales, Alfonso [Mexico]

Entre 2 Paredes (95)

Alfonso Vidales is the keyboard player and primary music writer for Cast. His solo CD, _Entre 2 Paredes_, definitely has a different flavoring from Cast. Vidales solo CD would fit more with the stylings of Gandalf or Fonya, and seem to have less emotion than the ensemble works of Cast. -- Jim Watts

[See Cast]

Vienna [Japan]
Updated 10/10/00

Overture (88)
Step Into...Vienna (88)
Progress (89, Live)
I have the first two Vienna albums, Overture and Step Into.... Vienna play a very contempory form of progressive rock. (Read: neo-prog.) The beat and rhythm is often mundane, AOR rock like a hard-rockin' Asia with touches of modern-day ELP thrown in. Don't get me wrong: these guys are much better than Asia but they're just not my style In many ways they can be compared to Gerard, a progressive band with metal/hard rock tendencies. The band is a four piece (drums, bass, guitar, keyboards) on both albums. Both albums contain some 8-9 minute cuts but most are in the 3-5 minute range. Some of the longer songs, where the band have elbow room, aren't too bad but overall, I'm not impressed. I'm sure those into modern hard-rock/neo-prog ala Dream Theater might like this pretty well. -- Mike Taylor
Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Yukihiro Fujimura (ex-Gerard), keyboardist Shusei Tsukamoto (ex-Outer Limits), drummer Ryuchi Nishida (ex-Novela, ex-Mugen) and bassist Toshimi Nagai (ex-Afflatus), Vienna were something of a supergroup of Japanese prog during their relatively short existence. Progress (King Records KICS 2821) was their only live album and has three songs from both their studio releases plus two tracks unavailable elsewhere. Considering the group's talents, some of the material seems below the par, being close to rather average neo-prog. Tsukamoto is clearly the focus here and his keyboard work lights up lot of the material, running restlessly round Fujimura's somewhat subdued and generic guitar work and vocals, while Nagai and Nishida are a nimble rhythm section whose full power potential is rarely unleashed. On "Gathering Wave" they sound like a lighter version of Gerard with bombastic keyboards and a steady double-bass drum beat, while "Sleepless Night" is an accomplished ballad with an interesting synth arrangement, but unfortunately too short to be developed properly. On 10-minute tracks "Canone" and "The Metamorphic Time in Paradise" the band manage to stretch out and show their capabilities more, and especially on the former track they achieve a rather exhilarating combination of strong melodies and big, somewhat Yes-influenced symphonic arrangements. However, the stand-out track is their 13-minute interpretation of Holst's "The Planets" suite. All the themes are squeezed in, including the perennial prog favourite "Mars", but most attention is given to "Jupiter" whose majestic main theme is played twice, with guitar and keyboards soaring and harmonising magnificently the second time around. All in all not a bad album, but lacks the quirkiness of Outer Limits or the sheer power of Gerard. However, if you can stomach rock bands doing reconstructive surgery on classical pieces, this version of "The Planets" would be worth hearing. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Afflatus | Gerard | Mugen | Novela | Outer Limits | Pazzo Fanfano di Musica]

Vinegar [Germany]

Vinegar (71)

Prog. Private pressing.

Violet District [Germany]

Terminal Breath (92)

Good neo-prog band from Germany. The overall sound is not so totally original but some very original ideas are explored, w/ good melodies, powerful dynamics, and given that this is their first album, I'm sure they will mature with age. Their album Terminal Breath contains six long cuts, of varying interest. Vocals are in english and understandable. Recommended highly for fans of the IQ/Marillion/Jadis type sound.

Violeta De Outono [Brazil]

Violeta De Outono (??), Em Toda Parte (89)

Described to me as a "U2-sounding prog band," I was extremely hesitant to get an album by Violeta De Outono, a Brazilian prog trio. Actually that description is really superficial, VDO are much more talented and although their songs are album length, the music is quite good. They have 2 1/2 to date, their first solid self-titled EP, a self-titled full length LP (I haven't heard this) and, released on the Brazilian RCA label, Em Toda Parte. Gong fans will absolutely laugh like crazy if they here this one, since the band is heavily Allen-period Gong influence with glissando guitars and an odd ethnic cover of the classic "Flying Teapot" sung in Portuguese (actually only the "Up in the sky, what do you see, from outer space, a cup of tea" part) I was so surprised when I heard this, that I laughed so hard I almost cried. :-) Interesting music and very overlooked.

Virgo [Germany]
Updated 2/17/01

Virgo (75)
Soft Machine-like fusion (Four) with very dominant soprano sax. All in all their music is more rhythmical without the minimalistic moments, compared to Soft Machine. Virgo on Vertigo is clearly their best, their later stuff turned to odd mainstream jazzrock. -- Achim Breiling

Virus [Germany]
Updated 2/13/02

Revelation (71)
Thoughts (71)
Heavy underground with organ ala Deep Purple.
Virus' first album Revelation is a brilliant combination of German-Psychedelia mixed with baroque reminiscences and fusion. With a tendency to remind of their German colleagues Mythos the musical ideas are considerably interesting but it is in the album atmosphere where the main essence of this album lies. Furthermore, the band members are highly skilled and the album maintain interest all the way through it. -- Shimry Mesica

Visible Wind [Canada]
Updated 8/22/01

Catarsis (88)
A Moment Beyond Time (91)
Emergence (94)
Narcissus Goes to the Moon (96)
Barb-a-baal-a-loo (00)
Neo-progish new Canadian band. A Syn-Phonic reject!!!! Another one of those average bands that aren't worth the money.
Apparently influenced by Camel their songs feature long instrumental interludes, and English vocals somewhat in the John Wetton style.
They have two albums Catharsis and A Moment Beyond Time. On the latter, at least, they are kind of like a more rocking version of Camel, with more prominent keyboards. Vocals remind me of John Wetton during his King Crimson days.
A Canadian band who create progressive rock quite in the vein of Camel, complete with liquid guitar and flute elements. The vocals are in English and French, but are never overbearing. At times, the lead vocalist sounds like John Wetton, but the emphasis is on the instrumental interplay, which is carried out pretty well.
Canadian band who fall somewhere between Camel influenced neo-prog and AOR pop. They have two albums to date: Catharsis was a competent debut, with a handful of very good tracks, including the long 3 part instrumental that closes side two. A Moment Beyond Time is an overall better production, but is definitely a step in a more commercial direction, with a couple of hit single wannabees. In '92, a rift developed within the band between the guitarist, who wanted to move the band in a more commercial direction with more French lyrics, and the others who wanted to persue a more prog/metal direction, which resulted in the guitarist leaving and being replaced by a member of Voivod*.

* Editor's Note: This isn't quite correct. Former Voivod bassist Jean Yves "Blacky" Theriault produced Visible Wind's 3rd CD, Emergence. The album credits on the VW web site do not list him as playing any instruments with the band, however. Guitarist Philippe Woolgar was replaced by Claude Rainville for Emergence. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for the official Visible Wind web site

Visokosnoje Leto [USSR]

Prometheus (??)

Because of transliteration problems between Cyrillic and English alphabets, the band name may also be spelled Vysokosnoje Leto, but are commonly known as Leap Year Summer, the translation of Visokonoye Leto. Russian symphonic prog playing adaptations of classical works. Think of them as conceptual, heavy organ-based prog, like Yes mixed with Deep Purple. Prometheus is a black-market tape. Presumably more exist. -- Mike Ohman

Visual Cliff [USA]
Updated 2/24/04

Lyrics for the Living (02)
Key to Eternity (03)
Visual Cliff's first album Lyrics for the Living is performed by a trio of musicians, Rob Perez (guitars), Rick Mals (drums and bass) and Rob Klan (keyboards). It sounds more like a band with 2 guitarists, a bassist and a drummer, with one of the guitarists ocasionally adding some keyboards. Don't hear from this that the keyboardist is bad ... simply subdued. Hear instead that this is a guitar-oriented album. It's also all instrumental, so the non-Christians among you needn't be intimidated by the obviously Christian inspirations of this band (the songs are named after various Psalms and other Christian material).

The music goes back and forth between Pat Metheneyish fusion to heavy but not overly noisy prog metal, leaning for the most part in the fusiony direction except for the last cut, "Rapture", which is pure prog metal. Nice tight interplay between the bass and drums (well, they are done by the same person, so one might hope so) serves as a backbone for Perez' guitar excursions. But this isn't just Satriani-like noodling, it's very composed and structured with sections for more free-form jamming. You have to listen carefully to hear the keyboards ... no Lyle Mays-ish soloing is to be heard on this album, but the keyboards are tastefully done. In fact everything is quite nicely done, but they wouldn't be able to perform this stuff live without a second guitarist and a separate drummer or bassist. A very enjoyable listen, and easily recommendable.

Visual Cliff solved their live problem on their next release by adding Eric Fuller on bass guitar. Although I haven't heard their latest album, Key to Eternity, I have listened to the three MP3's from this release on their web site. These are excellent cuts, if anything even better than their debut album. If these are any indication, the fusiony parts of the band are giving way to the more rock/metal parts, and they do these well. Give these cuts (and also some samples from Lyrics for the Living) an audition for yourself by checking out their web site. I think you'll agree this is good stuff. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for Visual Cliff's web site

Vital Duo [France]
Updated 9/28/01

Ex Tempore (01)
Vital Duo - Jean-Luc Payssan (bass, electric & classical guitars, mandolin, 16-string cithern, vocals, drums, percussion & tambourine) and Thierry Payssan - (keyboards, sampler, percussion, vocals)

The very, very talented Payssan brothers were co-founders and the main masterminds of Minimum Vital. While the Minimum Vital band just cannot exist without them - at all, in general, etc, - to me, a new album by their new ProGject Vital Duo (I like this name much more than Minimum Vital) is just a continuation of the Payssan brothers' discography - no matter under which name - of their band or project. In guess, everything created by this brother duo is a high-quality musical production, though I've heard only few Minimum Vital albums. Even their quite poppy Esprit d'amour I consider a unique work in general and a real masterpiece of Neo Progressive in particular.

It would be useless just to describe compositions one after another in case of Ex Tempore. Personally, I can't perceive this album any other way but as a complete work. This one in some ways reminds me very much of a picture by some brilliant medieval (yet modernistic at the same time) painter. It's impossible to reproduce the impression of the picture just enumerating each its stroke and describe it in detail (it's possible only in the stroke books, no?). Vital Duo's Ex Tempore is, perhaps, really a vital album for the contemporary progressive scene thanks to its unique, distinctly innovative contents representing a brave approach to mixing the medieval and contemporary (Rock) forms of music. It must be said, however, that the blend of medieval and contemporary Progressive Rock sounds on the album lesser than a typical medieval-alike music. Despite the fact that there is the only real medieval instrument (old lyre) in the duo's equipment the music on Ex Tempore is filled with an obvious medieval spirit and I just wonder how masterly the Payssan brothers manage to elicit a wide variety of old sounds from the arsenal of modern instruments. Jean-Luc is a wonderful musician. I didn't know that he is a real multi-instrumentalist. Some of the pieces are in the same medieval vein, only performed to the accompaniment of a rhythm-section, they sound just amazing. Jean-Luc's drumming is not only something outstanding - it's especially impressive exactly in the medieval structures. When he does all these most unusual breaks he feels the spirit surrounding him at the moment so fine as if he'd previously lived several centuries ago. There also are few pieces with almost clear contemporary Progressive Rock sound on Ex Tempore, but all the "additional" colours have the same medieval feel which actually is more than just typical for the album as a whole. Several compositions contain either short yet loud tunes of some choral prayers or incantations, wonderful exactly in their monotony, or large-scale songs. While the first of them, as I think, were spoken and sung in Latin, the second ones were sung in French. Of course, all kinds of singing on the album have obviously that medieval character. Though the digital church organ's sound isn't all that similar to the real church organ, all its scores played by Thierry always help to disregard these minor differences. As for Thierry's Grand Piano parts they sound as classically as centuries ago. (In this case I'd like to thank myself for some attentive listens to contemporary pianists played the music of past centuries.)

Thinking of Vital Duo's Ex Tempore as just of a kind of music that some other present and past progressive artists have used in their works too, I don't find an effort to perform medieval music too innovative, generally. I've heard no less than a dozen albums whose musical structures at least partly contain some medieval components (beginning with Gryphon's first and third albums). Meanwhile, I can't compare Ex Tempore to any of the albums I mean. Plus, bearing in mind that Gryphon on their first album performed not their own, but original medieval pieces, I have to admit that I've never heard anything at least a bit similar to this album of Vital Duo. Thus, if this work isn't totally innovative, then it's incredibly original and even unique. That's for sure, though. Not extremely complex, Ex Tempore is, however, slightly more than just moderately complex progressive music. So I don't think most of the Neo-heads will like this album. -- Vitaly Menshikov

[See Minimum Vital]

Click here for Vital Duo/Minimum Vital's web site

Vitale, Lito [Argentina]

En Solitario (91)

Keyboardist for MIA

[See MIA]

Vita Nova [Austria]

Vita Nova (72)

Considered to be one of the rarest prog albums in the world.

Voivod [Canada]
Updated 6/20/07

Metal Massacre V (84)
War and Pain (84)
Rrroooaaarrrr! (86)
Thrashing Rage (86, EP)
Killing Technology (87)
Dimension Hatross (88)
Nothingface (89)
Angelrat (91)
The Outer Limits (93)
Negatron (95)
Phobos (97)
Kronik (98, Compilation of unreleased and remixed material)
Voivod Lives (00, Live from 1998)
Voivod (03)
Katorz (06)
[Untitled 12th studio album] (To be released 07? 08?)
Voivod circa 1998 - Michel Langevin/Away (Drums, Lyrics), Eric Forest (Bass, Vocals) and Denis D'Amour/Piggy (Guitars)

One of the most innovative/progressive bands in metal ever, if not the most innovative and progressive (also in rock, as metal is only heavily distorted, faster and more powerful rock), with a bunch of important albums, while other groups have only one or two. In category of opus, its extent and diversity comparable to Gentle Giant. And maybe not just by that. The band who had also introduced dissonances in heavy metal sound and thus made it even more unbearable (for uninitiated, of course and even more for traditional metalheads [haha]).

Basically, they were quartet, a usual line-up, working under legendary pseudonyms: Away (drums), Snake (vox), Piggy (guitars) and Blacky (bass). Today they are power trio with singing bassist Eric. Have always tried something new and always succeeded, albeit not at the audience. Even today still ahead of its time, and will remain somewhere there for at least a decade. Cult band. For ultimate progheads only, and those constantly interested to hear and listen to something new.

The first album is fairly primitive but still very odd for thrash sound. The second and EP are well aligned by the subgenre and represent classic thrash sound. These may not be of interest to progsters. The third, Killing Technology saw the band introducing tritones, disharmony and more exposed cosmic sound and science fiction iconography, thus showing that whole cosmos is actually blatant, emotionless chaos, especially where humanoids are present. Their science fiction lyrics (even on their recent albums) tell the story about Voivod, the Nuclear Vampire, but in a very subtle way, it doesnít make one laugh. The next, Dimension Hatross was more profound (band showed high level of technical skill and genuine metal reviewers immediately paste 'em "technical metal" label), as it is a bit less harsh and a beautiful harmonical(!) dissonances can be heard. Tracks like "Chaosmongers" or "Macrosolutions to Megaproblems" blow everything away.

Lyrically, The Voivod has gone exploring Microcosmos and is caught there for about three subsequent albums. The 5th, Nothingface is more melodic and is actually proper landmark. It unveils bandsí progressive influences. All tracks are excellent. Dissonances are swiftly interspersed with melodies and harmonies, as they were forever together and waiting for this band to drag them down from akasha, while the cosmic component of sound truly extends itself into its own dimension (space/prog-thrash subgenre). Album starts with groovy "The Unknown Knows", continue with cold, monolithic "Nothingface" and then a great remake of Pink Floydís "Astronomy Domine" (fantastic cover of erupting energy). Then follows anthemic "Missing Sequences" and more paranoiac, but great stream of numbers like "X-ray Mirror", "Inner Combustion" and "Pre-ignition". "Into My Hypercube" is an homage to Peter Hammill. And "The Sub-effect" will blow you away solely for the closing riff. Band and especially singer Snake admire V.D.G.G. and singer Peter Hammill. Snake sounds pretty much like a mix of Waters and Hammill, when these two would do modern, aggressive music. Lyrics on Nothingface are telling the story about creatures which are very humanoid robots, in distant or maybe not very distant future. One of them is "christened as YB-1" and is an example that machinery can feel alienated, too. YB-1 and other menmachines are Nothingface.

Album no.6, Angelrat, represents bandsí efforts to shift toward more commercial sound. Band did only succeeded to do excellent music but not to evoke larger masses that was intended to. Actually, album was totally overlooked, as also old thrashfans of the band didn't like it and turned their backs to the band. It was obviously too soft. But great! This is how Pink Floyd may sound in groovier, hard rocking cosmic environment with still very strong psychedelic overtones. But Voivod are always Voivod and not any other band. The very best picks out of the yet again excellent recording: crunchy "Panorama", pretty laidback "Clouds In My House", intense rocking "The Prow", otherworldly, subtly darkened "Angel Rat", post-meditating "Freedoom", psychelegiac "Golem" and "The Outcast", leapy "Dummy" and so on. Lyrics tell different stories of different entities from different parts of the Universe, and the front-cover which shows some of these entities, is really grotesque. Like circus from Beta Sirius or something like that.

It must be said that all albums have really nice and specific covers made by drummer Away, which has nice style and should open his own gallery one day. After commercial debacle, band wasnít really dissapointed (this had come later) and after two years the results were to be observed. And what results. Band has released their 7th, The Outer Limits, for my opinion their best ever. The Voivod, still not returned from the Microcosmos, has (although not knowing for) extremely neatly transformed the sounds of Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, Van Der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, etc. and earlier harsher Voivod sounds into fantastic blend of space/prog rock/metal. The effort is so finely crafted and done, that defies categorizations and avoids being captured by words. The most important for the larger prog-audience should be cover of "The Nile Song" of Pinky Floydy (so well done and energetic, that when I went listen to More, didn't recognize it, and simply miss it, as original is fairly mellow) and 22+ minute long epic "Jack Luminous", where various fictional personalities appear, and insinuate to rather dark predictions for our planet. Musically, it seems to be influenced by "The Plague of the Lighthouse Keepers" of Van Der Graaf Generator fame, and I donít know which suites me more, because both are jewels of the highest "caratry". Opener "Fix My Heart" is made in the vein openers were made on previous recordings. It is powerful and vivid, it makes one jumping around. "Moonbeam Rider" is an ode to space-travelling with emphasized cosmic (psychedelic) dimension. "Le Pont Noir" (Black Bridge) is very dark, slightly depressed song, it is almost gothic, fairly inspired by the darkest Hammill, though I think this may sound darker and menacing than songs Peter usually did. (Mentioning Hammill, it was Away who personally turned me on to Van Der Graaf's and Hammillís best efforts). "The Lost Machine" sounds like it was sent directly from the Microcosm, where The Voivod still dwelt (or better said Dimension Hatross). "The Time Warp" is more personal in the sense of relation earthly vs. otherworldly, as it is the "Wrong-Way Street". The closing number, "We Are not Alone" explains us the fact that Outer Limits we know of, are shrinking and that outer Cosmos is coming to us, on a personal level. It's also announced the return of the Voivod from the Microcosm. I don't know how this album was selling, as it proved to be too subtle for waterheaded crowds.

Two years later Negatron was spawned, but without Snake (the reason: being sick to bloody death of musical industry) and Blacky. The rest of the band managed to find bassist and singer in one person, technically proper for Voivod - young Eric. The Voivod was again lyric star and music had returned in severe and cruel times of Killing Technology. With modern wall of sound, it was the real killer, yet again one of a kind.

Subsequent two years had passed, while The Voivod approached Phobos and released all phobias from his subconscious. Phobos is great album, though it is even heavier than its predecessor. Itís really a scary one. Its sound may grind those un-used-to real heaviness. Beside heavy psychedelics (totally mutated PF influence) I traced some features which are known from the most experimental tracks of Univers Zero or Present. I would recommend it only to bravest RIO fans. Sometimes, I must emphasize, it sounds heavier than Neurosis do. For this album band also covered "21st Century Schizoid Man", though original is to good to be played with much more energy.

Well, when Iím explaining, how certain recordings sound like, I must also emphasize, that Voivod always manage to transform everything into their own way (or better dimension) and that everybody who might follow my words, should know that will not trace all elements mentioned in first attempt, but will have to listen to albums thoroughly and with certain amount of discipline and patience. Myself, being a long time adept of this band, have first heard Dimension Hatross in 1989, but found nothing in it (it sounded too quirky and out of everything then) until 1993, and need additional few months to become really friend with and understand it. To prog purists and prog starters: I suggest that you begin with Angel Rat or Nothing Face, then proceed to Outer Limits and subsequently to Dimension Hatross. Lovers of sharper sounds should check out Negatron and Killing Technology as well, while Phobos is more for the "chosen ones". Most things made by Voivod are mind-expanding and as the band still influenced by 70ís prog, we can expect something interesting from them also in the near future. Ten out of ten and ... Highly recommended!!!!! -- Nenad Kobal

In 1998, the band was in a car accident while in Germany. Singer/bassist Eric Forest was thrown from the car and severely injured. They played a concert in Kraliky, Czech Republic shortly before this, and some of these songs were released on a live album Voivod Lives. Forest's insurance company sued the band for the injuries he sustained, which marked Forest's departure from the band.

Denis "Snake" Bélanger rejoined and the band went on to record Voivod along with a new bassist, Jason "Jasonic" Newstead (formerly of Metallica). But in 2005, guitarist and founding member Denis "Piggy" D'Amour passed away from complications due to colon cancer. However, he left behind some riffs on his laptop, and the 2006 album Katorz is based on these. A new full-length studio album (number 12), their first without Piggy, is in the works with an estimated release date of late 2007 or early 2008.

At the same time, Michel "Away" Langevin is drumming in a new band named Kosmos, with an album due for release in September of 2007. -- Fred Trafton

[See Kosmos]

Click here for the Voivod official web site (seems to be non-functional at present)
Click here for a Voivod fan web site

Volapük [France]
Updated 10/27/00

Le Feu Du Tigre (95)
Slang (97)
Pukapok (99, Live)
Polyglöt (00)

Volapük are legal descendants of Etron Fou Leloublan [via percussionist Guigou Chenevier -Ed.], and as EFL had been doing, Volapük continue to explorate non- or barely explored territories. Excellent RIO band of the 3rd generation. -- Nenad Kobal

[See Chenevier, Guigou | Etron Fou Leloublan]

Click here for Volapük's page on the Cuniform Records site

Voldarepet [Mexico]

Eurock says: "A Trio that plays a free-floating form of space rock not unlike mid period Pink Floyd. Melodic passages of Synth and Guitar combine with intervals of rock rhythms effectively.." From late 70's early 80's.

Volo, Il [Italy]
Updated 5/8/02

Il Volo (74)
Essere O Non Essere, Essere, Essere, Essere! (75)
A Formula 3 offshoot with dual guitars and keyboards. Their self-titled first was much in the style of PFM, with great vocals and lush lush arrangements. Their second Essere O Non Essere, Essere, Essere, Essere! is a classic, blending the style from the first and adding a fusion element that works brilliantly, These are very short yet concise works barely going over the 30 minute mark.
Italian sextet that evolved from the mediocre Formula 3. Their debut is a significant improvement upon that band, sort of like a more hi-tech PFM. Dual keyboards and dual guitars give it a very full sound, though at times you begin to wish they'd let up a bit on the string-synth. They throw you the occasional curve, such as a ring-modulated bass solo or a weirdly filtered guitar, but it's mostly the melodic end of Italian prog we all know and have grown to love. Essere is their finest hour, with instrumentals outnumbering the vocal tracks. They try out a fusion style here, and it works great, with incredible interplay on tracks like "Gente In Amore." Splendid. -- Mike Ohman
The first album was commercial. The second one was an instrumental LP. Alberto Radius (Vocals, Guitar) is now a popular soloist.
Supergroups are usually short-lived genetic experiments failing to fill the gap between fan expectations and musical quality. The supergroup Il Volo is no different than others.

In 1974, six musicians joined to make up Il Volo. They were all coming from top notch italian pop groups: Alberto Radius and Gabriele Lorenzi from the Formula Tre, Mario Lavezzi from Flora Fauna Cemento and Camaleonti, Bob Callero who had previous experience in Osage Tribe and Duello Madre, Gianni Dall'Aglio who was coming from The Ribelli together with composer Vince Tempera who also had his own group named Pleasure Machine. Coming a little too late on the italian progressive rock scene already stormed by an identity crisis, Il Volo had a musical texture similar to others, such as Banco and PFM. Their soundscape was indeed dominated by keyboards and guitars where Tempera and Radius made good display of their high musicianship. The musical trademark was a blend of jazz-rock, pop and mainstream progressive rock, but the perfect balance was only occasionally to be found.

Song writing and music performance achieved the highest peak when Il Volo explored their more intimate vein, probably stemming from the Formula Tre roots, which produced the most remarkable musical moments in songs like "il Calore umano" (human body warmth) and "Svegliandomi alle 6 di mattina con te vicino" (Waking up at 6:00 o' clock in the morning with you on my side). The first eponymous album clearly addressed their desire to experiment with the use of guitars and keyboards to get eerie and unusual sounds. In fact, the keyboards were never played the same way in two songs in a row.

As other Italian groups, Il Volo paid too much attention to song lyrics and even involved Mogol, a famous Italian songwriter, who also wrote for PFM. After enjoying a momentary success, Il Volo went back to studio in 1975 to record Essere o non Essere: ESSERE, ESSERE, ESSERE. The new record showed a higher production value and better musical arrangements, but somehow lost freshness in the sound. Some influences from Area become also apparent. In fact, the second album was almost instrumental since it had just one sung song. The voice was confined to choirs or was electronically filtered.

Unfortunately, the album failed to convince both public and critics. Thus, the sextet was pulled apart and came to disbandment. Lavezzi and Radius went on solo careers, Tempera become Orchestra director for the Italian television, while all other members became very high-in-demand session men. Both albums are worth the purchase for the complete Italian prog rock lover, although they should be considered as non seminal. -- Ludovico Vecchione

[See Dall'aglio, Gianni | Duello Madre | Formula 3 | Giganti, I | Osage Tribe | Tempera, Vince]

Von Deyen, Adelbert [Germany]
Updated 10/18/06

Sternzeit (78)
Nordborg (79)
Atmosphere (80)
Eclipse (81)
Planetary (82)
Inventions (83, w/ Dieter Schuetz)
Live (84, Live)
Impressions (85)
Dreamdancer (87)
Sunset (92, Compilation)
Painted Black (06)
Adelbert Von Deyen

Adelbert Von Deyen has been a fairly prolific, if somewhat unnoticed, contributor to the Berlin electronic music scene, with 7-8 albums to his credit, spanning the years 1978 to 1987, all of which were issued on the respected German label, Sky. Musically, he has followed a path parallel to Klaus Schulze, with his earlier material similar to Timewind and the like, and moving on to more accessible, yet not overtly commercial synth music. The only difference is that Von Deyen seems to prefer shorter compositions, which Mr. Schulze might normally be inclined to string together atop his characteristic metronomic framework. His Sunset CD collects his best works, and the compilation is very representative of his career. Anyone who enjoys the works of Schulze should enjoy Von Deyen's music, and this collection would be the ideal place to start. I should note, however, that some of the mastering seems to have been done from old tapes, so a minor degree of fade and crackle is present in a couple of spots.

Click here for Adelbert Von Deyen's web site

Von Zamla [Sweden]

[See Samla Mammas Manna]

vonFrickle [USA]
Updated 2/2/11

Sounds from Inside the Mind of ... (00)
Feeding the Organic Computer (01, Reissued 05)
Frank Works in a Factory (Beyond Weird Series Vol. I) (02)
Vibrate Transmit Receive (02)
Mission 4.9 (03, Reissued 05)
Frank's Great Escape (Beyond Weird Series Vol. II) (05)
Arrythmia (06)
The Forty Fingers of Dr. V (08, Live)
vonFrickle (10)
vonFrickle 2005 - John Ganser (drums, electronic percussion, keyboards), Dan Meyer (bass, bass synth, keyboards, cello, tuba), Lee Fehr (guitar, keyboards), Ken Thorton (lead guitar, guitar synth, additional keyboards & drums). The credits claimed "L to R", but it hardly matters with those masks, does it? Instrument credits are from Arrhythmia, though they are similar on other albums.

I've got two vonFrickle CD's, Feeding the Organic Computer and Arrythmia. I had never heard about these guys, but I got these two CD's as part of a "signing bonus" from John Collinge for renewing my subscription to Progression Magazine. Though it took a couple of spins, I finally decided these guys were awesome, and it was high time they got a GEPR entry. The organizers at NEARfest obviously felt the same, because they were signed to play in one of the the Friday night slots for 2011. Unfortunately, as most of you know, the 2011 NEARfest was cancelled due to lack of ticket sales. Not being able to see vonFrickle is one of the main reasons I was sad about the cancellation this year, I was really looking forward to seeing them live. Oh well. Never say never.

How to describe vonFrickle? It's tough. Every song is a album unto itself, stylistically. What's common among their songs is a high-energy rock sound with heavy guitars, all instrumental. To this, they add different elements on a song by song basis. Some songs (notably the 12+ minute title track from Feeding the Organic Computer) feature Chapman Stick prominently, while others have elements of early Devo-type jerkiness and synth noise, prog-metal, smooth euro-jazz ("Euro Trash"), free jazz ("Miles"), a bit of RIO dissonance or even some jam band influence like Umphrey's McGee (who I'll also regret not seeing at NEARfest in 2011). Though there's a definite core sound around which these songs seem to organically grow, every song also has its own unique sound, making it tough to compare vonFrickle to anyone else. If your tastes don't require a lot of swoopy synthesizers, orchestral keyboards or vocals and like your prog on the heavy, rockish side, it's hard to beat vonFrickle. Definitely good stuff. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for vonFrickle's web site
Click here for vonFrickle's MySpace page

Vow, The [Germany]
Updated 5/4/11

Another World (00)
Trojan (02)
Devil In Disguise (05)
The Vow (stage band, 2007) - Manfred Wirth (drums), Mathias Kuhn (bass), Uli Knörr (keys/samples), Ralf Link (guitars), Holger Götz (vocals/keys)

Original Entry, 7/15/03:
The Vow was, until recently, two guys from Germany. Their albums have so far been done with just the two of them (Holger Götz: keys & vocals with Ralf Link: guitar, bass & keys) using drum machines. But they have now acquired a drummer, Manfred Wirth, so their third release will have real drums. I've only heard their second release, Trojan, recently released on the Musea label.

Trojan is a bit difficult to describe, but easy to like. If you're looking for "challenging", look somewhere else. Trojan is very easy on the ears. Overall, the best comparison that comes to my mind is Pink Floyd, especially the opening section which is very reminiscent of Wish You Were Here. But the sound strays far from Floydish sounds as well, occasionally reminding me of Genesis (especially the guitar soloing, when he's not sounding like Dave Gilmour), Yes (especially the keyboards) and even Thomas Dolby's first album (the orchestration).

Trojan is a concept album, revolving around a fantasy role-playing video game with a hero who must go through levels slaying monsters, finding magical stones and conning dragons into helping him. Not the most daring concept in the world, perhaps, but it goes nicely with the dreamy music on this album. This is one of those albums I didn't care much for on first listen, but it definitely grew on me after several playings. Quite nice, melodic and spacey. The somewhat jarring misuse of English in the lyrics ("there are places you don't have ever seen in life") is forgivable after you've heard it a few times, and just adds to the charm of the album. I recommend this one for a night of soft rain with a glass of wine and cheese. Mellow. -- Fred Trafton

Updated 5/4/11:
The Vow's web site is mostly gone. Just a single page with the following inscription, translated by my poor comprehension of German and a really ridiculous attempt at translating by Babelfish:

After 10 years and 3 albums, the Progressive Rock Band The Vow dissolved in November 2007. We've left behind a small parting gift for our fans, whom we want to again thank. The Vow recorded this song live. It would have appeared on the next CD. The song carries a title fitting for the moment, "Nothing Will Ever".

There's also a link to a couple of YouTube videos of the band. -- Fred Trafton

Click here for The Vow's web site
Click here to order the first 2 albums from Musea Records
Click here to order Devil In Disguise from Syn-Phonic Music

Vox Dei [Argentina]
Updated 6/20/05

Caliente (70)
La Biblia (71)
Jeremías, pies de plomo (72)
La nave infernal (73, Live)
Es una nube, no hay duda (73)
Cuero caliente (74)
Vox Dei para Vox Dei (74)
Estamos en la pecera (75)
Giegos de siglos (76)
Gata de noche (78)
La Biblia en vivo (87, Live)
Tengo razones para seguir (88)
Sin darle ya más vueltas (94)
El regreso de la leyenda (96)
La Biblia (97, Re-recording)
New Argentine band with a sound that could be described as authentic-late-60's sounding Psychedelic rock with some 70's krautrock tendencies thrown into the mix. Lots of distorted guitars, fuzzy wah-wah rhythms, competing dual leads, folky influences, some violin too. Vocals are in Spanish.

Voyage [Netherlands]
Updated 2/17/01

Embrace (96)
Extremely poor neo-prog band from Holland put out on Nightfall records. Voyage's Embrace is a symphonic rock concept album from the mid-nineties. The album is the usual quasi-mystical, sub-Dungeons & Dragons rubbish one expects from the neo-prog scene. The lyrics lack the poetry and lyricism of, say, Olias-era Jon Anderson which allude to some personal kind of mythology. Normally one can forgive poor lyrics if they are attached to some good music but here they are not. Voyage play a very mediocre symphonic prog. The synths are ultra-modern and sound clean and over produced. The music verges through many styles. There is some good Floydian guitar work on the tracks, "Prologue" and "Alisius' Fall". "Frozen" is the highlight with some nice female vocals, by Sharon den Adel and mellow keyboards but this is interupted by the last half of the LP which veers off into some very basic and unprepossessing guitar-heavy tracks. These sound at times like a death-metal band has taken over proceedings and don't impress at all. Overall, Emrace is one to miss. It is endlessly over-produced and very high-tech (there isn't a Mellotron in sight). Despite having the odd moment I would steer well clear. -- David Abel