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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Purson - In The Meantime

One of the band that have completely blown me away three years ago, is a group called Purson. Now Purson has been around since forming in 2011 by Rosalie Cunningham and with the release of their debut album The Circle and the Blue Door on the Rise Above Records label back in 2013.

I remember hearing their music in a Classic Rock Magazine CD sampler which was a compilation of Lee Dorrian’s Rise Above Records label entitled Poisoned Apples: A Rise Above Records sampler and when I heard their music I knew this was a band I needed to check out.

They are one of the best psychedelic-progressive rock bands to come out of London and they really capture the essence of the genre. Last year, they released a new EP entitled, In the Meantime on the Machine Elf Records label. And this another crowning achievement from the band and they are planning to go on tour with Ghost as an opening act in which it’s called the Black to the Future tour.

But let’s get to the EP. Opener, Death’s Kiss resembles the British Psychedelic-Folk Rock sounds of the late ‘60s as if Steeleye Span were a gothic acid folk band with a dosage of a Beatle-sque sound as Rosalie sings “Out of the frying pan and into the fire/swimming against the tide and sinking into the mire.” You have to admit, those are excellent lyrics to start the EP off with a cannonball going off at the right moment.

The thumping percussions, mellotron swarms, vocalizations, stomping beats, it is soon going to become a live favorite of their music. The blistering Organ and Guitars come right behind you with a dosage of Sabbath meets Blues Magoos meets early Floyd on the Danse Macabre.

The Guitars nails the Iommi sounds thrown into the mix with a ‘70s Doom Metal approach which I really adore right here and Rosalie’s voice just sends chills down the spine while the hypnotic bluesy punch gives it a vibration of Purson doing a score for one of the Spaghetti Westerns in the late ‘60s of filmmaker Sergio Leone and the criminal on the run for the Wanted Man.

The last 2-minutes is a climatic guitar structure between the riffs and lead that will have your jaws dropped and back into the heartfelt blues to close it off. The closer, I Will Be Good, is an ominous chiller just in time to get ready for Halloween. It has a psychedelic surfing rhythm that I could imagine the essences of The Ventures, Julian’s Treatment, and the Master of Reality-era of Black Sabbath that seems like an odd and interesting combination, but it works very well.

I really had a blast listening to their new EP and they can do no wrong for me. Psychedelic, Prog, Doom Metal thrives well for what to expect underneath the cavernous caves. Purson show no signs of stopping.

Unit Wail - Beyond Space Edges

I’ve been on a cosmic voyage of a band that knows the essence of King Crimson, Magma, and a dosage of the Zeuhl machine. That group is called Unit Wail. Unit Wail is the brain child of Shub-Niggurath guitarist Franck Fromy. Unit Wail launched back six years ago and their music is dark, sinister, heavy, and ominous that will send shivers down your spine. They have released three albums so far, and while this is my introduction to the band’s music, I have to say, they have me getting ready for an adventure of a life time that has a spirit about it.

That and their new album in which is their third album released on the Soleil Zeuhl label entitled, Beyond Space Edges is the journey into madness. It’s a concept sci-fi album that would have given Star Trek a big run for their money and show how a real story in different universes is done right. The story of the album is almost straight out of a story by filmmaker and spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky.

It’s about a group of bizarre creatures leaving to prepare to go the moon and heading towards the womb of the Ziggurat (which resembles the Mayan Temples) and then sucked into the psychedelic tunnel and spat into an active atmosphere. In the dome, they are inside the utopian megalopolis as the wise man gives them a tour, his appearance of the master scares them, but he will take them on a course to an unknown planet.

This is where it gets bizarre. They land on planet X as it absorbs them into an interdimensional probe as their bodies are analyzed by a machine and mutated takes place as it lights up. At the end, the probe drops them on the moon as the earthrise enchants them. Even though the story is weird, twisted, and out of this world, the music is terrifying, but it’s staggering and getting you ready to set a course for an adventure into space that isn’t just a galaxy far, far away.

Not to mention the five highlights on the album. Imminent Take-Off begins with an ominous ambient/atmospheric introduction into madness that keyboardist Emmanuel Pothier does as he gives the listener a chance to imagine the weird creatures getting ready to embark on an adventure they will never forget before Franck and Phillippe Haxaire create the engines rolling on guitar and drums.

I really enjoyed Adrian Luna’s bass lines. Its jazz and rock in opposition mixed together in a blender. He has the combination between both Jannick Top and Stanley Clarke. And he shows his improvisations to the tunnels on Through the Wormhole. His fingers on the frets, takes him to higher places as it punches through the mirror like sharp objects in a faster tempo.

The Magma inspirations are in there which is evidential on Deep Inside Megalopolis. I can hear the sounds of the Udu Wudu and Attahk-era thrown in, followed by the Red-era of King Crimson thrown in there with Mellotron’s galore! The 6-minute D.N.A.A.T.M. (Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid Sychromous Transfer Mode) is where everything comes into the analyzation of mutation. 

Swirling and sending signals to the Moog, Mellotron, Robert Fripp meets Roger Trigaux’s guitar techniques where it’s clean and crunchier of difficult time changes thanks to Phillippe’s drumming that he sends into pure momentum as he builds it up like a powder keg ready to erupt.

The guitar sounds almost like a roaring machine ready for the transformation as Adrian’s Bass increases the transformation for the creatures. The last track, I See Earth which features guest musician Ana Carla Maza on the violin, creates these rumbling metallic roars on her instruments, gives you a chilling vibration as Emmanuel does an electronic finale on what will happen next as the earth rise hypnotizes them to find out what the travelers will do next.

I have to say, I was completely blown away from the moment I’ve put on Unit Wail’s third album. This was out of the blue and the perfect momentum on how they aren’t just doing it for show, they are doing this because they have potential and grab the right exact moment on where they would take their music into other universes. 

So if you love the Zeuhl genre, then dive deep into the ocean of Unit Wail’s Beyond Space Edges.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Homunculus Res - Limiti All'Eguaglianza Della Parte Con Il Tutto

Homunculus Res are an Italian Progressive Rock band from Palmero that carry the sounds of both Avant-Rock and the Canterbury scene like a flaming fire that refuses to burn out. The sound in their music reminded me of Picchio Dal Pozzo, Henry Cow, Soft Machine, Moving Gelatine Plates, Hatfield and the North, and Gong. The band is centered from composer, guitarist, and keyboardist Dario D’Alessandro.

And alongside Dario, the band considers; Davide Di Giovanni on Keyboards and Vocals, Daniele Di Giovanni on Drums, Percussion and Vocals, and Domenico Salamone on Bass. The collaborators feature Dario Lo Cicero on Wind and Flute, Federico Cardaci on Keyboards, Mauro Turdo on Guitar. Not to mention the special guests including Paolo “Ske” Botta (Yugen, Not a Good Sign) on Keyboards, Giovanni Di Martino on Microkorg, and Toto Puleo on Trumpet.

This is the band’s debut album released back in 2013 on the AltrOck label entitled, Limiti All’Eguaglianza Della Parte Con il Tutto. This feels almost like a trip down to memory lane of the Canterbury scene as if this was recorded back in 1974 and you could imagine Homunculus Res recording this back in time and showing how much appreciation of their love of the bands and carrying it with the mighty sword and not letting it go.

There’s also a quirky sense of humor in them also. Take for example, the swirling electronic synth improvisation of Sintagma. It’s very futuristic and off-the-wall that gives you a touch of between Marc Hollander’s Aksak Maboul and The Faust Tapes-era while the opener Culturismo Ballo Organizzare gives the band a chance to shine for a lot of fun with the vocals singing the title track, and the improvisations between keyboards, guitar, glockenspiel, and drums, give it a Gong meets Matching Mole vibration.

The Rhodes for a laid-back Coltrane-sque in a darker alleyway gives it a haunting feel with the fuzztone and moog of Jessicalaura but then the tempo changes up a bit in a Rock-In-Opposition ascending tone that you can imagine the Henry Cow momentum thrown in of Leg End before going back into the waltz in a haywire mode of the synths closing it out.

The vocals on (che ne sai tu di un) Cerchio nel Grano, resembles the wonders of The Northettes, and not to mention the Flute, and Piano. But then I love where it changes into a guitar improvisation of Phil Miller as if he did the improvisational solos with Egg! Very spectacular ideas! Rifondazione Unghie is an increasing driven beat between guitars, flute, and drums that almost reminded me of Kraftwerk’s Ruckzuck before the unexpected stop-and-go moment as wah-wah moog’s kick into the mix.

Puk 10 is where the keyboards of the Memotron, Moog, and Piano combined as one for a haunting momentum. I love how the ominous and moody-jazz flavor gives it a kick for that spooky vibration to see where they want to take the synth ideas for a sonic-surrounding and nailing it at the right moment.

I have a love of the Italian Progressive Rock and a little dosage of the Canterbury scene. Homunculus Res’ debut album is for me one of their best and their whimsical to show the fun and weirdness they bring to the table on how much homework they have done. I can’t wait to hear more of their music. So if you love the Canterbury Scene, then check out Homunculus Res’ Limiti All’Eguaglianza Della Parte Con il Tutto.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Not a Good Sign - From a Distance

Now you probably known that I’m a fan of the Italian Progressive Rock scene. Bands like; Le Orme, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Banco, Osanna, and Metamorfosi to name a few. And champions like Mikael Akerfeldt of Opeth who admires the band il Paese dei Balocchi, shows that the genre is still growing the fires very bright. And one of the bands that show a lot of potential and hope in their music since forming in 2012, is Not a Good Sign.

Their sole self-titled debut album released on the Fading Records label received word-of-mouth and whether you love or hate them, they know what they are doing in their music to not just become a retro band, but carrying the flaming torch of the Progressive Rock sound and not let it die down. This year, they’ve released their second album entitled From a Distance.

And let me just say that this is a real treat and Not a Good Sign are amazing musicians and taking the accompanying sounds of the 1970s and make it powerful, emotional, strong, and the result on the follow up is an alluring adventure from start to finish. Songs like Going Down which gives Paolo “Ske” Botta’s keyboards a jazzier introduction as Alessio’s voice just sends chills down the spine in the haunting atmosphere that resembles Genesis’ The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway-era while Not Now sees Not a Good Sign going into the styles of Haken’s music but with an excellent vibration.

Pleasure in Drowning is a powder keg track with unexpected changes thanks to the guitar playing of a hard rock Crimson-sque adventure containing metallic and clean sounds with an annihilated punch. Open Window sees Paolo’s organ going into a deeper, darker, and cavernous sounds on his keyboards between both the Organ and Mellotron.

Before the bursting of the doors of Francesco Zaga blows it down so hardcore with the time signatures that you can imagine the intensity hitting at you with a kick in the stomach. It’s also Paolo chance to shine into those darker areas for a few minutes and then it’s back into the rhythm and organ melodic improvisation followed by Cassani’s bass lines. It’s very Jazz-like, but the groove fits into the brainstorming ideas they would come up with.

This is my sixteenth time listening to From a Distance. Knowing where the directions they will lead to next, and the entire album for me is an eccentric gem, Not a Good Sign put their footsteps in the lake very carefully and they have done it right! A band that shows no sign of stopping to see where they will go into next. It’s classical, jazz, contemporary, hard rock, and prog at its best. 

Anderson Ponty Band - Better Late Than Never

It seems like an interesting yet unexpected idea for a collaboration. The heart and soul vocalist of Yes meets the fusional violinist from his work with Frank Zappa and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty is perhaps one of the most creative ideas to come around when they collaborate and the magic is spot-on. That and the CD/DVD release of their live album entitle, Better Late Than Never shows the Anderson Ponty Band at their finest.

They recorded the show in Aspen, Colorado at the Wheeler Opera House on September 20th of last year in which they gave their first public performance. When you listen and watch both the CD and the DVD, you can imagine yourself being at the Opera House being very interested of listening to both the re-imaginations of the Yes songs that they do along with the band. The band considers; Baron Browne on Bass, Jamie Glaser on Guitar, Wally Minko on Keyboards, and Rayford Griffin on Drums and Percussion.

There are 14 tracks on the CD and 10 on the DVD in which you can see or listen to the entire show in your own living room. Ponty brings color and joy on his violin. And when you listen to his improvisation on Owner of a Lonely Heart, he’s nailing down through the groove as Jon is shining through his vocals. And while it may not be as it was in the golden-era, he still has it.

The reggae homage to Bob Marley, seems very much it could work on paper, and it interestingly does with the groove-vibrations on Time and a Word. Browne’s Bass and Minko’s Keyboards in the style of both Organ and Fender Rhodes, has a reggae-funk type of rhythm and you can imagine the audience nodding their heads and tapping their feet and dancing with the sound. Not to mention that little touch of the Beatles She Loves You thrown in for a couple of seconds.

The ambient/atmospheric ascends into a soaring sky as the band go into adventurous worlds with the dramatic turned almost bossa-nova/calypso feel on Infinite Mirage and the relaxation of A for Aria, it helps the Anderson Ponty Band a chance to relax and help the crowd get into the calming mood. Which is moving into a Jazzier tradition in the styles of Wonderous Stories.

Minko is capturing the sounds of both Thelonious Monk and Keith Tippett as he along with Baron, and Rayford lay down the groove for a Classical-Jazz walk into the sunset followed by the scatting vocals that Anderson does and Jean helping out with him to follow his improvisations on his violin. But Ponty nails it down. He lays down his chops to give the band a chance to go into the road with a blistering sun-rising adventure with an orchestral touch on Renaissance of the Sun.

But I love their take of Yes’ Roundabout. It’s in a different tuning, but done in the style as if both the group and the Mahavishnu Orchestra had recorded this composition for the Trident Studio Sessions and having a blast together and Zappa conducting them to see where they will go into next.

I really had a blast listening to Better Late Than Never. Even though I admire both the essence of Yes, Zappa, and Mahavishnu, I could tell they hit a home run with the audience and just in awe of the two combinations which is unexpected, but fitting well. They are planning to go on tour in the States starting on Tuesday October 27th in Glenside, Pennsylvania which is a suburb part of Philadelphia at the Keswick Theater.

So if you love the sounds I’ve mentioned, then be prepare to enjoy and experience the music of the Anderson Ponty Band.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Procol Harum - Home (Deluxe Edition)

Oscar Wilde once said that “Music is the art which is most nigh to tears and memory.” What he is saying is that while the images are beautiful and touching, the music itself can carry both the good and bad times that can nail the portrait very well. That and Procol Harum’s fourth album released in the summer of 1970 on the Regal Zonophone label and reissued by the good people from Esoteric Recordings in a 2-CD set this year entitled, Home.

It’s often considered one of the band finest albums, but it also shows their darker side. And they nail it spot on. With the dealings with death and one about corporate greed from the lyrical mind of Keith Reid, it shows them how they can take the lyrics into the harder times on why we have to go and when will be the time to say farewell. Both Matthew Fisher and David Knights left the band after A Salty Dog’s release as Chris Copping took over as he played both Bass Guitar and Organ.

Opener, Whisky Train is one of Robin Trower’s composition in which he and Keith Reid worked on, starts it off with a proto-hard heavy blues rock to knock it off the park. Robin is showing a lot of energy through his guitar playing as he’s channeling the sounds of Rory Gallagher and the late great Alvin Lee. It’s a mid-fast driven rockin’ roar to the highway as the percussion-like cowbells from B.J. Wilson gives that effect of train getting on the bluesy roar.

The haunting piano ballad of the inspiration behind the controversial 1969 classic Midnight Cowboy of The Dead Man’s Dream, shows Procol Harum giving a little bit of an homage to Harry Nilsson’s lyrical touches as the character going through a dying atmosphere and the organ and Brooker’s spoken dialogue in the midsection of the graveyard and crying out in fear. It’s a chilling piece, but the lyrics are well-written and heavier.

The diminished chords, double tracking-drums, thumping piano intro, and punch-like guitar lines of Piggy Pig Pig deal with the corporate greed in the government with lyrical lines of “Watch the book/the page is turning/how the tale unfolds/inside every cancered spectre.” Speculations on the loss of Jenny Drew, gives it a gothic background in the style of an Acid Folk-Rock Jim Croce structured piece with a spooky organ, accordion lament for the funeral of a young girl dying at the age of 26.

But Procol Harum show themselves having a grand old time. On Still There’ll Be More, its up-tempo beat on dealing with people who would cheat on either husbands or wives and give them a message on who not to mess with the line “I’ll blacken your Christmas/and piss on your door/you’ll cry for mercy.” It’s such a great song and Brooker nails it on those vocal arrangements.

Whaling Stories which would later be one of the band’s live favorites, and an early pioneer of the history of Progressive Rock, is perhaps one of their magnum opus alongside the 17-minute suite, In Held ‘Twas in I. The thunderous sea-crying shanty roaring of Trower’s guitar sends electricity as he descends his chords and solo followed by Brooker giving the last message as the crew send towards their doom. Before the militant funeral orchestral finale of the crew meeting their prophets and find peace at their wake.

The bonus tracks on the second disc, feature two BBC tracks they did for the David Symonds show, backing tracks, different takes, single Radio edit, George Martin mix in which he double-tracked the piano line, brought the guitars up into a different level to give it a sinister momentum on About to Die, and two remixes. There is a poster of the album in which features lyrics of the album along with a 20-page booklet with Henry Scott-Irvine’s liner notes featuring interviews with the band about the making of the album.

Mark & Vicky Powell have never disappointed me when it comes to Esoteric Recordings. And the Procol Harum reissues are a welcoming treat and I hope they will do more next year with the other albums (Grand Hotel, Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and Broken Barricades to name a few.) The reissues are a welcoming return to see where the band broke the door down and where they would make five more albums and various line-up changes before calling it a day in 1977 at the height of the punk and disco movement.

And many years later, they are still going strong and still going on tour.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Echolyn - I Heard You Listening

Echolyn had been around since forming in their hometown in Pennsylvania 26 years ago. So far, they have released nine albums. And their inspirations between the essence of Electric Light Orchestra, Wilco, Genesis, and Yes, they show no sign of stopping. Mind you, this is my introduction to the band’s music. And their new album in which it’s their tenth released this year in which they recorded back in September in 2013 and in April of this year, I Heard You Listening is a crowning experience.

The quintet brought everything on their music between the essence of Progressive, Symphonic, and Indie Rock rolled up into a blender and making it into a wonderful smoothie to drink into. Not to mention the six centerpieces on the album that will have your jaws dropped at each momentum. Sound of Bees is a waltz ballad with an alternative orchestral rock flavor to it with a soaring guitar rhythm and lead section. And I have to lyrical line “Everything’s gone/everything’s wrong/I’ll hide away/All I can hear is what’s wrong.”

Echolyn show a lot on what is going on in our lives of what is happening and forget about the bad moments and hideaway of what went horribly wrong. All This Time We’re Given is a reminiscent between the Animals-era of Pink Floyd and Air’s score to the 1999 film, The Virgin Suicides. It’s a haunting ballad done in the time signature in 4/4 as the lyrics deal with what’s to come after with nothing left to show as Messenger of All’s Right in which it’s the opening track starts with a piano ballad, guitars, and synths headed towards an ascending midsection.

It shows Echolyn going into a Beatle-sque melody that could have been used during the Abbey Road sessions before they head back into the ground for a lukewarm finale. But it’s Warjazz that sees the band heading into an increase rhythm section. It’s a right-in-your-face unexpected melody that is brilliant and the time signatures spread out like a list as to see where they will go next.

The drumming beat per minute of 166, has a Bill Bruford meets Paul Thompson style of percussion section. It’s a cross between the Red-era of King Crimson and Roxy Music’s sole self-titled debut album which is evidential on the track, 2HB. The thunderous Different Days has the instruments between Organ, Synth, Heavy Guitar midsection, and piano in a running beat.

The lyrics deal with wherever they go, they stay up and move away from the situations they are under and forget everything they remember by moving forward and the band’s writing is spot on wonderful. The closing track, Vanishing Sun is where everything is coming in full circle. I enjoy the hypnotizing melodies that fits in with the heavy section through the vocals.

Following by Church Organ-like sounds and Guitar, not to mention the late ‘60s psychedelic intro climbing melody, and the touches of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-era and the inspirational lyrics from the mind of Jeff Tweedy, and the finale of the clapping rhythm with the line ”All he wanted was to disappear, All he wanted was to take his life back.” It is a perfect ending to send it off into the heavens. Very much in the styles of The Who's Pure and Easy in the closing moment.

This is my fifth time listening to Echolyn’s I Heard You Listening. I was really impressed of the band’s music since hearing them back on United in Prog with Tony Romero and on Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout on the House of Prog website ( And now I’m hooked into the world of Echolyn. And I can’t wait to hear more of their music and dive into their pool to see what adventures they have waiting for me.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Vly - I / [Time]

Vly started out as an idea by guitarist Karl Demata as he met up with vocalist Keith Gladyz (Typical Reptiles) from New York. Keith was working on some of the demos to create a melodic, dreamy, and indie rock touch to it, but with a haunting flavor to it. And the rest is like something magical has happened. It’s a mixture between Progressive Rock, Indie Pop, Post-Rock, and Classical Music rolled up into a giant blender.

This is their debut album released on the Laser’s Edge label entitled I / [Time]. And a five-piece it is. Alongside Karl Demata on Guitar and Keith Gladyz on Vocals, they also consider; Mattias Olsson (Anglagard, Necromonkey) on Drums and Keyboards, Elisa Montaldo (Il Tempio Delle Clessidre) on Keyboards and Synths, and Chris Hellmann (Crippled Black Phoenix) on Bass.

It’s a darker voyage into the territories of escaping reality. Which is evidential on the opening track, Circles that starts off with a haunting dramatic and ascended melodic arrangement. It’s almost if they had done an alternate score to Terry Gilliam’s sci-fi dystopian 1985 classic Brazil and having Pink Floyd and Steven Wilson collaborating together on the score as Demata’s guitar shines through in the techniques of David Gilmour.

The rising piece of Time deals with being tangled on being free from the dangers we are experiencing in a psychedelic-indie pop late ‘60s beatle-sque flavor to it as the thumping mid-energetic space rock adventures explorations to go Out of the Maze sees Vly punching through into unbelievable results between the sounds of Eloy’s Inside-era and Radiohead into a giant blender with a dosage of Organs at their best.

Time Remembered has a very haunting piano composition in a minor key before it segues into the waltz-pop classical melody of Silver Beaches. I love when some of the Progressive or Jazz bands put a waltz in one of their songs, because it gives them a chance to relax in a signature of ¾ to give them a chance to loosen up. This song has a gothic acoustic sound and Vly knows exactly where they would like to go into.

Hypnotic is basically about someone leaving the big mess behind as the gasoline burns into kingdom come. And the price you pay will come at you unexpected in the lyrics. As the Jazzy guitar sounds in a bluesy tone in an echoing cavernous sound. Not to mention the Mellotron thrown into the mix on the composition.

Perfect Place is a wonderful homage to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon-era and it makes you feel that where they left off as if Vly had done a prequel to the album. The closing track Time Forgotten, sounds almost like a Danny Elfman score as you can imagine the dystopian effects with guitar and keyboards, backward tape, and seeing the people suffering in the rain, knowing there is no returning back home.

I really enjoyed listening to Vly’s debut album. It’s not just because it’s a great progressive rock album, but the way the contemporary styles in the music, it send shivers down my spine because of the structures and the tones help create very much like a soundtrack inside your head. If you love Steven Wilson, Radiohead, and Pink Floyd, then dive deep into the river of Vly.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Unified Past - Shifting the Equilibrium

Unified Past are a Progressive Rock band that launched back in 1999 in Syracuse, New York. They have released six albums going back from their debut album (From the Splintered Present Surfaces) to 2013 (Spots). This year, they are releasing their 7th album entitled Shifting the Equilibrium on the Melodic Revolution Records label. Now mind you, I’m very new to Unified Past’s music and hearing parts of their music on House of Prog with Tony Romero and I almost forgot about them.

This year, they are bringing Prog and Hard Rock into a landscaping adventure that I hope to hear more of their previous catalog. It is a journey that Prog fans will explore their toes into the water and will see what they have accomplished so far. And for me, the 7th album is a real kicker! The artwork is done by Ed Unitsky, who’s done work for The Samurai of Prog, Silhouette, The Minstrel’s Ghost, and The Tangent to name a few. Ed knows his art very well when it comes to Progressive Rock.

But let’s get to the music. There are six tracks on here that clocks in at 56 minutes and 17 seconds. It is almost as if Rush had invited Yes during their Going for the One sessions for hot and spicy Wasabi veggie burgers and then the collaboration would have been an excellent experience. They brought along Daytime Emmy Award singer Phil Naro (Druckfarben, Corvus Stone) on vocals, who also worked on the Cartoon Network series, 6teen, and he brings a lot of energy to Unified Past’s music.

This is Prog Rock at its finest! And four highlights on here gives Unified Past a big round of applause. Songs like the Erasure Principle which opens the album off, it has a late ‘70s/early ‘80s touch thanks to the synths and ascending guitars that Stephen Speelman does. He ascends it as Naro’s vocals helps him through the elements as the midsection becomes an intense thumping section between Stephen and Victor’s drumming. I can hear the sounds of Yes’ 90125-era as if it was a hard rock album, but packing it with a crunch.

Smile (In the Face of Adversity) feels like an epic score. Featuring a blast of keyboards, metallic guitar lines and riffs, string sections, and the drumming helping out, shows how Unified Past on how the lyrics deal with on not giving up and moving away from your troubled past whilst moving forward to start a new beginning to move forward and never stopping.

The 11-minute, Etched in Stone gives Stephen going through his virtuoso brainstorming ideas in his head both hard and symphonic rock vibrations both in his Guitar and Keyboards. He takes the listener to a shining world, but with a shout to the stars. I hope this track will soon be a live favorite one of these days. And then there is Deviation from a Theme (Of Harmonic Origin).

I really love this track. There are elements of Rush’s Moving Pictures-era as if Unified Past wrote a sequel to Red Barchetta as Stephen, bassist Dave Mickelson, and Victor Tassone create some mind-blowing improvisations that are heavier, raw, and hypnotic. Dave is just nailing his bass chops through different areas on the frets to create the homage to Geddy Lee and its top notch!

This is my third time listening to Shifting the Equilibrium. And while this is my introduction to Unified Past’s music, and even though I’m not crazy about it, this is a not so bad, but pretty good album from start to finish. Melodic Revolution Records really brought a lot on here. So if you love the sounds of Yes and Rush, then I highly recommend checking out Unified Past’s new album. You won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Spettri - 2973 La Nemica Dei Ricordi

It’s been 43 years since the Italian Progressive Rock band Spettri released their only sole self-titled debut album and then suddenly never made another album after that. It’s one of the most obscure gems in the history of the obscure and unearthed rarities that is worth exploring and understanding why this band were way ahead of their time. This time, in the year of our lord 2015, they are back.

And they are showing no sign of stopping with the release of their new album entitled, 2973 La Nemica Dei Ricordi. This a continuation of the story of where they left off in the first album. The story takes 1001 years after the events of the sole self-titled debut and nothing has changed since. The man goes on a new journey that will take him to understand the changes he went through aren’t working until he wins the fight. He meets a seagull that will take him to find the level of consciousness.

It’s very much sort of in the styles of the stories of Alejandro Jodorowsky as if he had written this with Moebius for the adult illustrated magazine, Heavy Metal. The artwork that Mattia Sarti did, is fascinating. It’s a tribute done in the styles of Frank Frazetta and the writings of Michael Moorcock, but the artwork tells the story of the man’s journey to fight his fear and nightmare that he’s going through.

The music itself is haunting, terrifying, and in your face. And having people like Elisa Montaldo of Il Tempio Delle Clessidre ad Stefano Corsi of Whiskey Trail to lend a helping hand, it shows how much this band is deserving the recognition they need right now. I love the title track as it goes through a riveting Hammond organ through the Leslie speaker for an introduction that Stefano Melani captures the styles of the late great Jon Lord before it kicks into overdrive in the Doom Metal approach of the Paranoid-era of Black Sabbath thanks to Raffaele Ponticiello’s guitar.

I love where they are going into this. It’s Progressive Doom Metal like no other and I can hear also the nightmarish terror of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator thanks to the sax of Matteo Biancalani as he takes a Jazzier sound of both David Jackson and John Coltrane. Since I’ve mentioned about VDGG, they have a classical approach also. On La Nave, it is an unexpected twist between the crunching roar of Symphonic Rock of Emerson Lake and Palmer meets Pawn Hearts as if the trio was working with the dark-lords to create a terrifying collaboration that will make you play this for Halloween!

Just like the opening track, il Lamento Dei Gabbiani, this is where everything fits in the right place. They carry the ominous and cavernous terror thanks to the Mellotron and Organ followed by the heavier guitars come swarming in like the beast attacking the innocence. Raffaele nails it down on his solos to pay homage to Ritchie Blackmore and Robert Fripp. But Spettri brings a calmer sound to their music.

Elisa comes in with her vocals on il Delfino Bianco. It has a classical approach with a sun-rising rhythm between guitar and flute as the rivers float in the cavernous sounds. It’s a chilling composition that resembles a darker version of The Moody Blues On the Threshold of a Dream-era and the Trespass-era of Genesis thrown into the mix, but Elisa’s vocals is brilliant and haunting as if she is singing behind you as if she is pleading help on her vocals. She nails it down very well.

Now I’m a huge Rock Progressivo Italiano fan. And for me, I have to say that Spettri’s 2973 La Nemica Dei Ricordi which is released by Black Widow Records, is a welcoming return to the band's music. Not just because it sounds sentimental, but the way they kicked it into high gear of seeing where they would return next into and it is a nice chilling and sinister brilliance. I can’t wait to see what Spettri would do next.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Tim Bowness - Stupid Things That Mean the World

Tim Bowness is a very busy man when it comes to projects such as No-Man (featuring Steven Wilson), Henry Fool, and Memories of Machines. He has released so far two solo albums (My Hotel Year and Abandoned Dancehall Dreams) that he has put under his belt. This year, he’s released his third solo album on the Inside Out Music label entitled Stupid Things That Mean the World.

Tim has worked with people alongside Steven Wilson including; Robert Fripp, Phil Manzanera, Stephen James Bennett, and Judy Dyble to name a few. Tim knows his collaborations very well with the right people to work in not just in the Prog community, but also in contemporary music and giving the sound a melodic warmth background in most of those areas that shows he has come a long way since starting back in the ‘80s.

With Stupid Things That Mean the World, Tim takes the listener into a world of not just a calming vibration, but showing the darker side on what is going on behind the scenes. And he nails it down very well and structured to understand the life in your flashbacks and what have you learned. And focusing on how your days will choose on that path you will lead into.

Songs like Know That You Were Loved, Tim goes into a beautiful uplifting acoustic ballad as if he is going through a depression on a loved one that has passed on, and knowing that everything is coming down on him, will be alright. Rhys Marsh does a superb job on the pedal steel guitar as it goes into a country-sque sound through the essence of Gilmour before the mood changes into an ominous finale.

The opening extensive and minor-moody track, The Great Electric Teenage Dream, which sounds like a short story that either Philip K. Dick or Ray Bradbury could have written in the dystopian society music industry. The lyrics deal with the dark side of the business that even though you have a massive hit and critical success, you’re unpaid and nowhere to go.

But on Everything You’re Not which features Peter Hammill (Van Der Graaf Generator) on background vocals and slide guitar, it has a classical score in the background done by both Andrew Keeling who worked on the arrangement and Charlotte Dowdling on the violin ensemble. Not to mention the swirling synth solo that Stephen does. The lyrics deal with hiding away your innocence and who you were, is not what everyone wants to know with skeletons that the person has inside their closets.

Press Reset at first starts off with a chilling, moody atmosphere before the electronic sounds come in and the Trip-hop drumming in full swing. It is a very intense and in your face unexpected composition that will have you blown away as the bursting guitars and bass follows along and it’s an essence of Radiohead and David Bowie’s Outside-era. Elsewhere, the title track, deals with everything in your life being is believable and perfect has now become just one stupid thing in the world as the music goes into an active yet energetic groove.

The ballad Sing to Me, which originally started out as a demo in the ‘90s for No-Man entitled Best Boy Electric which it is on the second disc, it’s a beautiful composition between he and Wilson as they created magic and a touching emotional wonder that will hopefully be a live favorite for Tim and hopefully Steven Wilson to do a duet on this piece. I hope one of these days they perform it together in front of a live audience.

Tim Bowness has made Stupid Things That Mean the World, the soundtrack of your life. This is a crowning and warmth achievement that is released this year. I have played this about four times now. Tim has never disappointed me. Even though I’m not a wild fan of his work, he has got something special, wonderful, and exciting in his head of brainstorming ideas of what would come next. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Quill - Brush with the Moon

Quill is a seven-piece band from Birmingham, England in which it is home to bands such as; Black Sabbath, The Moody Blues, The Move, and Electric Light Orchestra. They have this sound between the combinations of Rock, Country, and Celtic Folk. Drummer Bev Bevan in which he was in those bands (Sabbath, Move, and ELO) is in Quill. This is also their debut album. It’s entitled, Brush with the Moon.

There are ten songs written by the late bassist Ben Brian. And he also did the artwork for the album cover and the 10-page booklet with his designs. Not to mention the lyrics. Ben’s wife Joy Strachan-Brian can sing very well in a melodic tone. Now the music itself, I have to admit, it doesn’t excite me very much. It’s not my taste of sound, in a kind of a not so bad, but pretty good type of feeling for me. But the band really has something in their sleeves.

Songs like the opening track Quicksilver and Schoolyard sees Quill going into the acoustic touches between Bon Jovi and Judy Collins in the mid-‘80s as if they had recorded an interesting collaboration together. Both of the tracks are touching and very emotional with the acoustics and Joy takes her vocals into those romantic areas.

Hollywood Blue is more of a Ray Davies-sque inspirational style of lyrics as if Ben had written this as a sequel to Celluloid Heroes while England goes into the essence of Celtic-Folk Rock as Joy pays tribute to her hometown. This track will soon be one of Quill’s live favorite one of these days. They also show their touch of a traditional African style of music in the styles of a calming percussion.

Not to mention the gospel background vocals before kicking into the mid-rock tempo at the very end for Nine Mile Camp. But the track Man in White in which it closes the album, deals with the tragedy on that morning in New York and Washington D.C. on September 11, 2001. You can hear the newsreels and the disturbing sceneries of what is going on. It’s haunting and emotional.

This is my second time listening to Brush With the Moon. I have to admit, I’m not that crazy about the music. However though, they got something in their hearts and minds on where the band would go forward into. All in all, this is a very interesting country-folk rock album from start to finish and it’s pretty good.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kevin Kastning - Otherworld

Kevin Kastning has been performing music since he was a kid. The touches of both Classical and Jazz are an excellent combination. It’s almost as if he knows where he wants to take his musical compositions into those areas. Kevin attended Berklee College of Music in Boston as he studied privately with guitar legend Pat Metheny and has composed 200 works.

He has released so far eighteen albums and working with people like; Carl Clements, Michael Manring, and Mark Wingfield to name a few. This year, he’s released his 19th album entitled, Otherworld on the Greydisc label. Mind you, I’m very new to Kevin’s music. And I have to say from the moment I put it on from beginning to end, I knew something special was about to come at me.

There are 16 tracks that he has written. And what I was also surprised by, was the strange instruments that he plays. A 36-string Double contraguitar, 30-string contra-alto guitar, and a 15-string extended classical guitar. He invented those instruments. Kevin is a mastermind when it comes to designing and innovation. The virtuosic ideas on the new album is fascinating with its touches of the Neo-Classical boundaries and atonal music with the avant-garde surrounding atmosphere.

He takes the listener into a darker yet cavernous sound that will give you at times shivers down the spine. Alongside the Neo-Classical and Jazz approach, some of the tracks have a darker-folk like boundary in the pieces. Kastning knows exactly where the exact moment where he takes the instruments into those harder areas and at times, it gives me goosebumps hearing them.

It’s this strange combination between the sounds of Edgard Varese, Steve Howe, John McLaughlin, early Zappa, Arnold Schoenberg, and bits of the late great David Bedford thrown into the mix. It’s almost as if it’s thrown right at you when Kevin Kastning goes into those territories. Almost like walking on a tightrope and you don’t know if the cable itself is going to snap any moment and you have to make sure you have to hang on and make it before it cuts off.

Otherworld is not an easy album to listen to. But after listening to it twice now, I have to admit that Kevin Kastning isn’t doing this to show off, but to show a lot of hope and staying true to his vision on where he wants to go. Is there a stop sign for him? No. Will he keep on going to make more music for Brainstorming ideas? Absolutely.