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Monday, July 25, 2016

Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind

Now I’ve always been a massive supporter for up-and-coming bands and artists who taking the torch of the Progressive genre and making sure it doesn’t burn out. Whether it would be from Bent Knee, Lainey Schooltree, MoeTar, Blood Ceremony, Purson, or Sanguine Hum, I always wanted to make sure that they are not going to give it up, but making sure the flames still burn and keep on burning forever and ever. One of the artists that for me, I’ve always wanted to discover but didn’t have the time, was an artist name Leon Alvarado.

He has released two albums and two EP’s. And has worked with people such as Bill Bruford, Trey Gunn, and Jerry Marotta to name a few. This year he’s released his new album entitled The Future Left Behind released on the Melodic Revolution Records label. I remember it was June of this year where I would always go for my morning or afternoon walks and again I came back home and saw a package in the mail from Glass Onyon.

I opened it and it was Leon’s album. Now as I’ve mentioned before in my introduction, I’ve wanted to discover his music and now here we are in 2016 and I have delved into the musical world of Leon Alvarado. Based on the short story, it is an instrumental concept album that tell the story that our home planet Earth is now an empty and polluted area and the overpopulation itself in which the people are living is to work toward a brighter future.

Leon brought along people such as Billy Sherwood (Yes, CIRCA) on Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Rick Wakeman on Moog and Extra Keyboards, and Johnny Bruhns (CIRCA) on Acoustic Guitar. And to add the story and view of our polluted world is narrator Steve Thamer who is brilliant in what is going on throughout the rest of the short story. And with Pink Floyd engineer Andy Jackson lending a helping hand, you could tell that is a perfect combination.

Listening to the entire album in 42 minutes, is like a Movie in your mind. It has a dystopian atmosphere and I can imagine Leon took inspirations including Rick Wakeman’s 1974 concept album of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Pink Floyd, Vangelis, Yes, and Gandalf’s To Another Horizon. And not to mention, Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic, Blade Runner and the 1966 TV series Star Trek for inspiration.

It has the New Age, Symphonic, Ambient/Atmospheric voyage and rhythmic adventuristic quality. I love how Sherwood’s guitar takes on a life of its own as he creates these movements in the styles of an echoing reverb to rattle the mountains with an rumble thanks to Leon’s drumming technique. There are moments on here that are ascending, ominous, dramatic, epic, and futuristic with swirling textures that Wakeman brings on the extra keyboards to give it life.

It does feel like a continuation to Verne’s story but set in Outer Space as Rick himself captures the effects of the concept and brings it to parallel universes as you’ve seen or heard before. Johnny Bruhns’ classical concerto on his guitar is a romantic and warmth finger-picking virtuoso as he gives the sun a chance to rise for a new morning and a new dawn. There are times he channels Mason Williams and Tony Iommi with the string-section on the keyboards for the light to hit to wake-up to start up fresh.

Throughout my second and seventh listen, I was completely blown away and Alvarado’s music has taken my knowledge and experience of the journey for our Earth to seek out where it will go next. As Captain Jean-Luc Picard says at the final episode, All Good Things on Star Trek: The Next Generation, And the Sky’s the limit.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Junior's Eyes - Battersea Power Station

This 2-CD set contains the re-mastered and expanded edition release of Junior’s Eyes only debut album, Battersea Power Station. Originally released in the summer of 1969 on the Regal Zonophone label and reissued by Esoteric Recordings last year, the band was formed by guitarist Mick Wayne in early 1968 after the break-up of the psychedelic band, The Tickle. He brought along John “Candy” Carr on Drums, John “Honk” Lodge on Bass, and Steve Chapman on Drums. And then, lead vocalist Graham “Grom” Kelly on Lead Vocals and Organist John Redfern.

And the band recorded their debut with Tony Visconti on the production level at Trident Studios in which they recorded their debut. Listening to the suite of Battersea Power Station, it is an overlooked and underrated achievement that Mick Wayne’s concept based on the inspirations of the talismans and the Tibetan Book of the Dead with a dosage of dealing with dystopian atmosphere of War, Peace, and Corruption.

With a dosage of The Fugs to go with it. You have the swirling psychedelic adventure into the abyss thanks to Mick’s Guitar heading towards the spiral vertigo of terror of essence of Status Quo’s psych-beginnings with Playtime while the organ-mellotron shuffling 12-bar blues delves into the Graham Bond Organization and obscure prog band, Gracious for So Embarrassed.

You can hear the folky inspirations thrown in for an acoustical ballad for the beaches of sandy gold turned heavy rock following by the thumping bass and acoustic/electric guitars that both Mick and John do when they go into a harder sound for a couple of seconds and then back into the dreamy beauty of My Ship. Opener, Total War starts off with a toast and applause before crashing into a hysteria of insanity as Mick gets the guitar heading into insanity as John Carr follows him with a mind-blowing crescendo.

It segues into Circus Days with a mysterious bass riff, jaw harp, and the psychedelic childhood of going to the big tent and seeing the greatest show and reaching adulthood that it’s all gone for all the years that went away. And the lyrics deal with that you can’t let go of the past and while there’s nothing you can do about it, the memories of going to see the Clowns, Acrobats, and Animals are inside your head and never forgetting them.

Then Junior’s Eyes go into outer space with a mind-blowing improvisation featuring a clapping rhythm section, tambourine, lead solos, and thunderous percussion work for a short little minute to end with the styles of the Syd Barrett-era of Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive of the Freak In. The second disc contains the singles, demos, and sessions they did for John Peel’s Top Gear on October of 1968.

There are two tracks of Mick’s original band, The Tickle. They released singles both the A & B sides in November of 1967. Subway (Smokey Pokey World) and Good Evening are psychedelic nuggets of hidden treasures that bring to mind of both the Sgt. Pepper-era of The Beatles and The Pretty Things. Junior’s Eyes debut single featuring pianist Rick Wakeman of Yes and The Strawbs, goes into a humoristic pop brass adventure for the morning with Mr. Golden Trumpet Player.

Black Snake is an eerie composition featuring pounding piano rhythm, alarming vocals and sinister guitars and spooky organ work, gives it a peculiar effect. The two tracks for the BBC Sessions of Top Gear contains the killer roar of Hang Loose and the upward rocking punch of By The Tree, it shows how much not just Junior’s Eyes were amazing, but why they were so far ahead of their time.

The band would later be a backing band for David Bowie with the release of his breakthrough hit in honor the Moon Landing, Space Oddity in 1969 and for one of his BBC Sessions which was released in 2000 2-CD set entitled, Bowie at the Beeb. The band broke up after their performance at the Marquee Club on February 3, 1970 and it was on the same night John Cambridge introduced Bowie to Mick Ronson and the rest is history.

Mick would later be a backing guitarist for Joe Cocker and then became a painter. After doing session work in America, he returned to London to be added with the proto-punk band The Pink Fairies and then left the music industry. He would be later a guitar teacher and continued his work with his painting. It wasn’t until 1994 when he was about to do a comeback album, but it never happened. He died tragically in a house fire while he was staying with his producer.

The 20-page booklet contains sleeve notes about the history of the band by David Wells and Mick’s daughter Sarah Wayne about the legacy her father was doing and talking to people on what Mick had done to lend support. As she says in the end of her notes “One of the best things about the music is that it reflects the musicians behind it – it has great presence and lots of energy!

And believe me, when you listen to the expanded edition of Battersea Power Station, there is a lot of energy and power that Junior’s Eyes brought with their only debut release. Ahead of its time, and psychedelic heavy rock power at its best,  it would have been very interesting if they had continued to move forward and release a few more albums up their sleeve.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lobate Scarp - Time and Space

Lobate Scarp is a 5-piece band from Los Angeles, California that launched back ten years ago. Their music is a combination between AOR (Album-Orientated Rock), Funk, Prog, Pop, and Space-Rock opera. Their music has this combination of Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, Styx, Starcastle, Spock’s Beard, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles. When you listen to their debut album Time and Space that was released back in 2012, close your eyes and imagine it is 1977 all over again.

The album took five years to make and with fifty musicians to record the album from start to finish. The band considers; Adam Sears on Lead Vocals and Keyboards, Andy Catt on Bass Guitar, Hoyt Binder on Guitar, Dustin Prince on Drums, and Adrienne Woods on Acoustic and 5-string Electric Viola. The seven compositions are written by Adam himself along with two of the pieces written by Lonny White (Time and Space and Jacob's Ladder).

It’s for me one of the best debuts I have listened to. Adam and his crew mates have brought along something special to the table. It’s very much as I’ve mentioned on some of the albums again and again whether it’s a conceptual album, the soundtrack and movie inside your head. And with four centerpieces on here, you will definitely take a journey with Lobate Scarp.

The Contradiction gives the melodic and soaring melodies between the strings and the rhythm section that combines the twists of Jon Anderson’s Olias of Sunhillow-era and a warmth finale as Sears heads into the styles of Vince Guaraldi followed by Wood’s Viola. Meanwhile, the watery synths intro on Moment begins with a world music with an Egyptian rhythm as they channel the styles of Peter Gabriel’s score for The Last Temptation of Christ and then the last 2 minutes and 50 seconds go into very much of a sequel of Games Without Frontiers.

The opening 15-minute title track epic is perhaps one of the most spectacular and unbelievable compositions I’ve listened to. With it’s eerie violin intro to it’s Jazz-Funk soaring grooves, Lobate Scarp lay down the adventure of a life time. They go from Frank Zappa and The Beatles Abbey Road-era with a psychedelic twist as Hoyt’s guitar thrills and excites the time travel towards other dimensions.

Wood’s electric violin brings to mind of David LaFlamme of It’s A Beautiful Day. And then, the climatic section comes as the rhythm sets the course for another time jump to make the course for light speed as if they created their own take of the Millennium Falcon filled with astonishing epics.

And then Catt’s bass pays homage to Bootsy Collins and the late great Chris Squire as his sound reminisces of the Rickenbacker 4001. Beginning of Us is their take of going into a Progressive Pop voyage. I can hear the sounds of Supertramp’s Crime of the Century-era, City Boy, and Adam Sears channeling Jeff Lynne.

Reminded me of course The Beatles that meets the guitar structure of Starcastle but with a killer Howe-sque and homage to Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond as Nate pays homage to David Gilmour for an atmospheric fill of a bluesy cry. I had an amazing time listening to Time and Space. And with Lobate Scarp, I will keep an eye out.

This year, they have announced they are working on a follow up to their debut with an album called, You Have It All on they are raising funds on Kickstarter to reach their goal up to $36,090 and they have 18 days to go. So please help them out and check out the funds to show support and make sure the flame of the Progressive Rock genre will keep on going and never burn out.

Here is their Kickstarter website:

Monday, July 18, 2016

My Tribute to Gail Simone

It was May 2012 and I was still a student at Houston Community College in the Spring Branch area. After I had finished my Final Exam for both Ear Training and Music Theory II, I remember I was going to go see The Avengers at the Edwards Greenway Grand Palace Stadium 24 & RPX. But before I went there my Mom and I agreed to go to Barnes & Noble and went in to get the new issue of PROG magazine which covered the 40th anniversary of Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick. That and an issue number 9 of Batgirl covering the Night of the Owls arc.

And I was hooked right from the moment I read it. It was my introduction to Gail Simone’s writing. I remember buying the issues from 1 to 13 from the Lone Star Comics website. I got back into the world of Comics again and I have to give Gail Simone a huge amount of credit for getting me back into it. It felt like being a kid in a candy store all over again. And I got both some of her writings she did for Birds of Prey and the hardcover release of Batgirl’s The Darkest Reflection.

Reading her run with Batgirl from 2011 to 2014, was like a breath of fresh air. Now I wasn’t a huge fan of The New 52 arc that DC did, but there were some good ones including Suicide Squad and World’s Finest: Huntress and Power Girl. But Batgirl was one of the series I would pick up whether I was done for my afternoon or morning courses and go to Bedrock City to pick up an issue or whatever would have taken me by surprise.

But, let’s get to Batgirl. This is Barbara Gordon back into wearing the cape, there was some controversy of a division whether they prefer to be back in the cape or as Oracle. Which is understandable. But I love the reboot of what she did to Barbara. It tells the concept of she is back as Batgirl, but for how long? Despite of what happened to her with the torture of The Joker that was paralyzed from Alan Moore’s controversial story, The Killing Joke, she is struggling and the subject of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and being scared with guns, are the subject matters that took me by surprise.

And Simone nailed it bit by bit. I know Comics fans might agree with me, but my favorite issue is number 19 as Barbara comes back home after being sold out to the Joker by her own insane brother James, she tells Alysia about her past and the struggle she went through as Yeoh herself tells Barbara that she is a Transgender. 

For me, never fitting in with the cool crowd and picked on from Camp and Elementary, Middle, and High School, this was a high water mark. It was like a breath of fresh air as opening up to Barbara to reveal of who she is, is amazing and emotional. And one of the issues where Barbara had a nightmare in issue 4, Shards of Past Lives. Batgirl in the opening sequence of a nightmare was in a Wheelchair as she is confronted with her past with Barbara as she taunts her of throwing her life away and was it all worth it as she yells at her with the background of The Mirror revealing the two faces of Barbara and Batgirl as the past Barbara screams at Batgirl, "WHY CAN'T YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR BARBARA?!" 

Then she wakes up and finds out it was all a dream. I was expecting her to burst into tears at that moment of what happened. It was one of the disturbing and emotional moments in the arc. I just wish that Gail should have gotten the Pulitzer Prize for issue 19 or an award for best writing in comics. When it was announced that she was stepping down two years ago, I was very sad, but for me, she had an amazing run of her role with Batgirl.

Now with stories such as Leaving Megalopolis, Clean Room, Secret Six, Red Sonja and the continuation of the Megalopolis series with Surviving Megalopolis that started back in January of this year, you never know what to expect she will do next. She’s been around writing comics back in 1999 from The Simpsons, Wonder Woman, and Deadpool followed by writing episodes for TV including Justice League United, Tomb Raider; The Animated Series, and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, she has never disappointed me.

Whether you love her or hate her, she has never given up. There are a few writers I admire including Brendan Flecther, Cameron Stewart, Peter David, Alan Moore, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marguerite Bennet, and of course Stan “The Man” Lee, Gail is up on one of those amazing writers of the comic books answer to Mount Rushmore. I hope next year, DC Comics will do an animated Batgirl movie based on Gail's arc.

And I would like to close out in the words of The Who's The Real Me from their 1973 rock opera, Quadrophenia, "The cracks between the paving stones, look like rivers of flowing veins, strange people who know me, peeping from behind every window pane."

Tusmorke - Fort Bak Lyset

My love of Norway’s Progressive and Heavy Rock scene still keeps me going. With bands such as White Willow, Wobbler, Hedvig Mollestad Trio, Motorpsycho, Elephant9, Gazpacho, and Gentle Knife, they have always kept my ears going and seeing where I would call it the Yellow Brick Road takes them into. One of the bands that peaked my interest since 2012 when I was in College, was a group called Tusmorke. They have been around since their formation in 1997, and they are a very interesting band with essences of Prog, Occult Rock, and Acid Folk music.

Their third album released on the Svart Records label this year, Fort Bak Lyset which translates to Left Behind the Light is one of the most surreal and haunting albums I’ve listened to. When you put your headphones on, listening to Tusmorke’s new album, is like stories straight out of the Fairy Tales in Norway that have a cross between a darker version of J.R.R. Tolkien, HP Lovecraft, and Ray Bradbury.

With the essence of Psychedelic and Prog in their inspirations of the band’s music and sung in Norwegian, this will take a few listens and five centerpieces to delve in to enjoy. Mind you, you might want to get into the covers or not to delve into the haunting tales that they would give you.

Et Djevelsk Mareitt (A Fiendish Nightmare) give us a question. Is the mysterious reality of whether we are in Hell or is it a nightmare? It tells the story of humoristic demons various forms as the music is a cross between Baris Manco, Trees, Goblin, and Camel’s Mirage-era filled with synths, picked bass, and the pied piper taking us through to meet the creatures with it’s improvisation midsection.

The spiritual journey where the locations of the lighthouse is lit as its future lies within with a desolated scenario combined with a space rock adventure into the unknown of De Reiser Fra Oss (They Are Leaving Us) while the elements of Krieg’s Hall of the Mountain King motif gets us into the haunting side of the Oslo ghetto filled with horror. The song that opens the album, Ekebergkongen (The King of Oak Mountain) is like a story told through a campfire, but with a warning that the King is like the puppet master and they will pull the strings back very quickly for the evil spirits to know they are not fooling around.

Nordmarka (Nordmarka Forest) I can hear the essence of Italian Prog bands Banco and the Storia Di Un Minuto-era of Premiata Forneria Marconi followed by Purson. There is a 3/4 waltz section in the middle followed by the Mellotron with ascending melodies. And then the last minute and 48 seconds features an improvisation between the psych-fuzz groove of the Wah-Wah pedal of the Bass and Drums with a heavier groove.

Vinterblot (Winter Solstice Sacrifice) is a twist of Genesis meets The Moody Blues meets Gentle Giant meets Herbie Hancock. Imagine a soaring interesting adventure of the Space Rock voyage, but with a Canterbury Jazz combination. With wah-wah keyboards, and a mysterious section between the Flute, Bass, and Glockenspiel. I have to admit I was very impressed from the second to fourth time I’ve listened to Fort Bak Lyset.

It’s not a great album and while there are a few setbacks, it is a fine follow-up to 2014's Riset Bak Speilet. And I can’t wait to hear more of what will Tusmorke will do next. A haunting Progressive Acid-Folk-Psychedelic gothic rock adventure at it’s best. So be prepare to be told through the stories as I’ve mentioned earlier in my review, to be told through a campfire because it’s not for the faint of heart.

Lorenzo Feliciati - Koi

Lorenzo Feliciati’s music is like a breath of fresh air. From the sounds of Electronic Music and Avant Jazz-Rock, he would push the boundaries of taking it as far as he can go. With his various projects and his band, Naked Truth, you never know what to expect from the bassist. One of his most interesting projects that RareNoise Records have released last year, is a conceptual album based on the life of a re-owned fish entitled, Koi.

Based on traditional Chinese folktales, the Koi fish that swam up the yellow river or Huang He and was taunted by the demons would never give up. And their journey to dive into the waterfalls as the gods would watch and celebrate their determinations and transform the fishes into golden dragons. The Japanese identified the fishes and not just for their beautiful charms, but for their hope of motivation with strange states of perception.

Which would exhibit itself or prosperity of all kinds of our lives. The music is this combination between Krautrock legends from Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, David Bowie’s Outside-era and the Berlin trilogy, Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel, and Radiohead’s Kid A. Lorenzo knows what to do when it comes for inspirations and influences to tell the story about the fish.

And with help from Steve Jansen (Japan) on Drums and Percussion, Alessandro Gwis on Piano, Pat Mastelloto on Drums, Angelo Olivieri on Trumpet, and Nicola Alesini on Soprano Sax. Following the Horn sections which include Stan Adams on Tenor Trombone, Pierluigi Bastioli on Bass Trombone, and Duilio Ingrosso on Baritone Sax, Lorenzo knows he not doing it for show, he’s doing it to lend support and knowing that his friends got his back and knowing where he wants them to lead into.

It starts with a haunting string section and acoustic piano set in an oceanic background as we can see the creatures floating in the sea of the opener, Kohaku as it segues between Gwis, Jansen and the Horn section going into an electronic experimental jazz adventure as Lorenzo’s bass takes hold of the sections to delve into a darker tone with New House.

It has a Film-Noir essence in the music as if Bowie could have used the industrial and jazz rock sounds for his sessions of the Outside album and it has a 1940s vibration but with a steampunk scenario. It suddenly moves into the ambient/atmosphere German composers of Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and Popol Vuh’s Aguirre-era of the deep gaping beauty of Kumonryu and the mournful cry turned crime-drama chase sequence a-la Blade Runner style with an homage to Post-Punk band, Joy Division at the end on Oxbow and ending the atmospheric interlude with Black Kumonryu.

Pat and Nicola come into the circle for the Noir Alley Verdigris. I love how Pat comes in with the twists of King Crimson thrown into the essence and the middle-eastern sounds on the guitar and the haunting bass lines that Lorenzo does before Nicola brings his Soprano Sax as if the coast is very clear as if something had went horribly wrong. Then Pat comes back and it’s a chilling scenario.

Narada sees Lorenzo and Steve delving in Radiohead’s territory as if they were continuing where they left off as a sequel to Kid A. The piano near the very end and the sections with the horn, delves deep into a dancing groove and Lorenzo is playing these amazing notes throughout his bass as Alessandro channels Mike Garson as he creates some of the jazz concerto’s that will send goose bumps.

Lorenzo’s fretless bass creates this moody and sentimental improvisation for the Nardada before the break of the electronic vibrations thanks to Steve’s drumming with his programming to create the futuristic beginnings of the 22nd century with Margata. Lorenzo and Steve delve back into the Klaus Schulze territory for the Irrlicht sessions and then Lorenzo segues with his dooming improve for Kuchibeni.

Then, all aboard for the Fish Bowl. Here, we hear Steve and Lorenzo followed by the horn section going into a Black Sabbath fuzztone approach with a Soft Machine twist and Krokofant followed by Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express into uncharted territories! Lorenzo is nailing down the strings as Steve follows him wherever he his fingers land on the frets as the two of them are all around in this big gigantic circle with the dancing twist on what the Koi is about to become.

The closing title track is now the fish becoming the dragon itself. Here, Alessandro takes over on his piano and creating this style of Philip Glass and Terry Riley as we see the golden dragon flying into the air and starting a new life to see where it will go and where the new chapter will await for it.

Lorenzo Felicati’s Koi is one of the most chilling, heart pounding, and scariest albums I’ve ever listened to. It combines everything between Electronic Rock, Krautrock, Avant-Garde, Jazz, and Classical Music that will give listeners a jaw-dropping what just happened momentum. It’s not for the faint of heart and not an easy album to listen to, but Lorenzo and his crew mates, did one hell of a job.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Tiles - Pretending 2 Run

Whenever I would buy something either it’s between Doug Larson Imports, Wayside Music, Kinesis, Syn-Phonic Music, or at The Laser’s Edge which has been my go-to site since 2008, I would always wait to see what new arrivals would get me going. It wasn’t until April of this year, I went ahead and bought on The Laser's Edge website perhaps my first introduction to the music of a band from Detroit, Michigan called, Tiles. Their sixth and new album in a 2-CD set is entitled, Pretending 2 Run which is released on The Laser’s Edge record label, is a song-crafting cycle of a story of a man who is blindsided and disillusioned by betrayal.

Formed in 1992, the band were on the heels of getting a production deal with the fire-breathing-tongue-wagging master of KISS, Gene Simmons. And their music is heavier and compositional combining the essence of hard and progressive rock rolled into a complete full circle. They have released five albums from 1994 to 2008. They took an eight-year absence after the release of Fly Paper.

Now in 2016, they are back with the release of Pretending 2 Run. With Terry Brown who worked with Rush, Max Webster, and Klaatu, is returned to the production side. He worked with Tiles on two of their albums (Window Dressing and Fly Paper). And now it’s his third collaboration on working with the band. For me, it’s almost as it’s a friendship that you can’t let go and always being there when the time is right.

Tiles considers Mark Evans on Drums & Percussion, Jeff Whittle on Bass Guitar, Fretless Bass, Keyboards, and Vocals, Chris Herin on Electric/Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo, Keyboards, Trumpet, and Vocals, and Paul Rarick on Lead and Backing Vocals. They brought along some help including Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Winery Dogs), Kim Mitchell (Max Webster), Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, The Avengers, Steven Wilson), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree, Armonite), Matthew Parmenter (Discipline), and Mike’s son, Max (Next to None) to name a few.

It’s an amazing line-up that Tiles have brought in for a helping hand. And believe me, it works in various formats in the eight centerpieces that will give you a chance to as I’ve always said in my reviews, to take note. Voir Dire is a cross between heavy time-changes from the quartet. Here Chris’ riffs and lead sections come to mind of Alex Lifeson and the late great Dimebag Darrell Abbott of Pantera with pumped-up distortions.

And the last 44-seconds of the song features this cross between King Crimson’s THRAK-era, Diablo Swing Orchestra, and of course, Oingo Boingo as if Danny Elfman had conducted the last section with an odd twist for a stop-and-go change for a climatic end. Taken by Surprise is filled with darker territories with a fast-paced rhythm featuring killer riffs, and organ-driven danger of disloyal right in front of your very eyes.

There is a relevant scenario of Tool, Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, Deep Purple, and Rush that comes to mind. Inspired by the quote of Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince), Refugium features a chilling ominous choir done by the amazing Renaissance Voices and Con Spirito and brings forth of Italian Prog maestro’s Murple’s conceptual album, Io Sono Murple.

Adam Holzman’s synths on the Moog, gives an ambient atmosphere to bring the styles of Edgar Froese and Vangelis. As if he made a continuation between Tangerine Dream’s Rubycon and the score for the 1982 sci-fi cult classic of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner on Other Arrangements and The View From Here.

Jeff Whittle’s Bass comes center stage. He ascends from top to bottom whilst he is off-the-wall with a fuel tank ready to pump out the 4-strings as he and Mike Stern do a duel together. Mike’s solo is a scorching, heightened, and grasping improvisation that is like an all-powerful chainsaw ready rev up and cut down some trees that is ready to hit at the exact momentum on The Disappearing Floor.

Father-son duo Mike and Max Portnoy come into the drums with a Folk-Prog ballad done in the styles of the Strawbs, Yes, and Traffic’s Last Exit sessions. They work well together on the percussion as they help out with the string-section with a sentimental and heartwarming pastoral atmosphere. Both father and son help out in the waltz section finale on Fait Accompli.

Chris takes full control over his guitar on Uneasy Truce. Both rhythm and lead sections, he carries the twists and turns with a classical and virtuoso legacy. He is very much a conductor as if he’s giving Tiles the right moment on where he wants to go in the various time signatures as Joe Deninzon’s violin helps out a-la Eddie Jobson and Darryl Way style!

I’m very new to Tiles’ music, but listening to Pretending 2 Run with the amazing artwork done by Hugh Syme, who’s best known for his artwork with Rush, gives us a brilliant conceptual designs he’s brought. It’s almost as if he is paying tribute to the late great Storm Thorgerson and he nailed it. For me, this is an exhilarating, emotional, haunting, and powerful album I’ve listened to.

It will contain a few listens to sink in, and Tiles a gigantic home run for me of the conceptual song cycle. Tiles have shown they are back and are ready for another amazing adventure and seeing what lies ahead of them next.