Reviews in this issue:
Porcupine Tree - Lightbulb Sun
Tracklist: Lightbulb Sun (5.30), How is Your Life Today ? (2.46), Four Chords That Made a Million (3.36),
Shesmovedon (5.14), Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled (4.48), The Rest Will Flow (3.15),
Hatesong (8.26), Where We Would Be (4.12), Russia On Ice (13.04), Feel So Low (5.18).
Barely one year after the release of his previous album Stupid Dream,
working with Fish on Raingods with Zippos and Marillion and on
marillion.com and several tours with his own band, Steve Wilson and
company are back with a brand new album.
Remco: I am a newbie with respect to Porcupine Tree. Although I have heard some work before, I do not
yet own a copy of any of their albums, and am therefore relatively unbiased with respect to their
previous work. So look at Ed's review for a more knowledgeble account relating their ouvre. If you
are, however, like me curious about this band that now has put itself on the brink of becoming one
of the top players in contemporary progressive rock, read on!
Intrigued as I always was by the titles of their previous releases, Lightbulb Sun didn't really
have the ring of a title like Stupid Dream. However, the music is intriguing, bestly
described as "intense", covering the complete spectrum of meanings that this word can have. I
have reviewed bands like Pineapple Thief whose work is comparable with Porcupine Dream, or
Fish' Plague of Ghosts, which I all quite enjoyed, so I already had the feeling I would
enjoy this album. And I did.
Ed: The title track, Lightbulb Sun, has the same atmosphere as Even Less on the previous
album; peaceful and dreamy sections alternate with heavy rocking parts with great guitar riffs.
The combination of acoustic and electric guitars is very nice as well.
Remco: The title track Lightbulb Sun, about when you're young and schoolsick, almost makes you
taste the feeling of being down. This track is quite varied, with even some heavy guitar work and
in this part it almost edges to Nirvana with respect to chord sequence. On the other hand, the more
acoustic parts are quite subtle.
How is Your Life Today ?
Ed: This song has a rather Beatlesque sound and this minimalistic track features both distorted vocals and some
fine close harmonies accompanied by just piano in the first half. The second half features a fairground/carnival melody by
keybaord player Richard Barbieri that stands in great contrast with the rather sad mood and lyrics. Short and sweet.
Remco: How Is Your Life Today? is a Beatlesque interlude, with only
some piano chords and vocals thrown through various trick-boxes. It give the impression of some of the
Syd Barrett compositions, or even a track sometimes used in the German police series
Four Chords That Made a Million
Ed: A more straightforward rock song, and the first track to appear on single.
The opening features percussion samples that many people will recognise from Fish' What Colour is
God, a track that he wrote togehter with Steve Wilson. Nice rock song with a good break, but not one of the best tracks on the album.
Remco: More rocky, and easier to digest is Four Chords That Made a Million, which probably doesn't
consists of more than four chords and a four quarter beat....uptempo for a change!
Ed: Shesmovedon is a song that wouldn't have been out of place of Stupid Dream. A mid-tempo piece with
more fine close harmonies in the wonderful melody of the chorus, wah wah guitar and distorted vocals.
Remco: Shesmovedon is a depri song, progressive New Wave. It is funny the way that the spaces are
deleted in the title, since this exactly describes the way it is sung. Heavy on the wah-wah guitar and
vocal distortions, though. The guitar solo on the end edges towards Floyd. Good track.
Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled
Ed: At the end of Shesmovedon it suddenly switches to Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled
with the interesting sound of Banjo ! Now there's something different !
The track consists of two parts. The first part
(nearly 2 minutes long) called Winding Shot (Summer 1981) is a nice melodic acoustic piece with Banjo and
acoustic guitar in the leading role and a fine vocal section.
The second part, Last Chance to Evacuate Planet Earth Before It Is Recycled is an dreamy instrumental with a spoken
dialogue about a 'mission from distant space'. Great stuff !
Remco: This trakc opens like Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead Or
Alive (the guitar part that is). The first part of the song is not too interesting, but the
instrumental second part is truely beautiful. A very atmospheric piece of work, slowly building up
to a climax, where all the instruments truely collaborate to achieve this.
The Rest Will Flow
Ed: In case you hadn't had enough of the backing vocals and harmonies yet, here's something to put your teeth in.
Acoustic guitars, wonderful string & slide guitar and Hammond Organ. A short song, but one of my favourites. The feel
is comparable to Stranger by the Minute.
Remco: The Rest Will Flow, including a string quartet, is a mini-balad, vaguely U2-ish, but nothing
Ed: Hatesong is a dark and moody piece, quite typical for Porcupine Tree. It starts of with one of those simple but
extremely effective bass lines by Colin Edwin, followed by the vocals that are sometimes dreamy and sometimes
powerful, as we know from the Signify album.
The middle piece of the song is one of those typical 'Porcupine Tree kick ass' parts with lots of heavy riffs, breaks and
distorted guitar frenzies. The end returns to the mood of the opening and is more mysterious. If you liked Tinto Brass,
you'll like this one too ! Marvellous, another favourite.
Remco: Hatesong is heavier, edging towards The Cure in its creeping feeling, the
cropped up anger in it. A long and heavy composition with lots of deep guitar beating drags us
though this hate. The title does really respresent the feeling of the music here!
Where We Would Be
Ed: Where We Would Be. Even after listening to the CD for many times, this was a track of which the title didn't
immediately trigger memories of what it sounded like. It's a nice song nevertheless, but it doesn't reaaly stand out on the
album. Good melody, nice vocals and a slightly out-of-place distorted guitar solo. Personally I think they could have
made more out of this composition.
Remco: Where Would We Be features one of the most dissonant guitars I have heard in ages! My goodness,
this is on the verge of being out of tune... the rest is Beatlesque.
Russia On Ice
Ed: Russia On Ice is a more typical Porcupine Tree song that at times reminds me of The Sky Movews Sideways.
It starts of in a slow and moody way with a dark atmosphere. The chorus features more close harmony vocals and there's
also a nice string quartet and some extra violin and cello in the song. Together this gives the first part of the song a very
After about 7 minutes the song moves into an instrumental section that starts with a bass riff that is soon accompanied by
a heavy guitar riff. After a section with some groovy wah-wah guitar all hell breaks lose with a serious bit of headbanging
and Chris Maitland going berserk on the drums, while Richard Barbieri produces some more spooky noises from his
synths. The track ends with a tranquile section with church bells ringing in the distance. One of the highlights of the album !
Remco: Porcupine Tree seem on their best when being able to extend and expand their compositions.
Russia On Ice is a perfect example of that thesis. With over 13 minutes, the repeating theme in the bass
line is used throughout the song, with almost jazzy atmospheric organ over it. As a result a very
melodic track comes forward, reminding of Marillion with Hogarth. The first instrumental section,
with the crying guitar solo, however, is rather Floydian. After about 8 minutes, a very rhythmic part
starts, like the "Diggin' deep in the darkness" part of Fish' Plague of Ghosts,
but much heavier. This is entering the realm of the likes of Soundgarden!
Feel So Low
Ed: Lot's of people found the Wilson/Fish composition Say it With Flowers a rather dull song.
I personally liked it a lot. Feel So Low is a song in the same style. Just keyboards, vocals, guitar and strings.
Remco: A mildy psychedelic section leads us into the final track Feel So Low, whose guitar intro reminded me somewhat
of Mothers of the Disappeared by U2. An intense and beautiful sad song about somebody you
love who just doesn't contact you.
Ed: Most of the songs on the album seem to be about broken relationships that have ended and the
feelings that have resulted from those break-ups (hate, depression, wondering how the other one
is doing, wondering what could have been, etc). The only link with the semi-concept of
commercial approach of the music industry of Stupid Dream can be found in the song
Four Chords That Made A Million.
One of the great things about this album is the use of unconventional instruments
like Banjo, Clavinet, Harp, Violin & Cello (on 3 tracks !) and Guimbri.
Don't worry, besides this the albums also features lots of Piano, Hammond Organ and
Combined with even more close harmony vocals (by Steve and drummer Chris) than on the previous album and a more song
oriented approach in most of the songs, this new album again shows the progress in the
music of Porcupine Tree. It took me a while to get used to the direction on Stupid
Dream, but after a while I really liked it a lot. The sound of the new album is at times
more 'cheerfull' than on Signify and Stupid Dream, but in other songs
(especially Hatesong and Russia on Ice) it's just as dark. On these two songs some
of the band members participated in the writing process, while all of the other songs were
composed by Wilson. The lyrics are very introvert and all printed on the sturdy paper
of the 18-page booklet, which also features atmospheric photography.
Compared to earlier Porcupine Tree albums, this album does not have any instrumental tracks.
Nevertheless, tracks like Hatesong, Last Chance ... and Russia on Ice
feature lengthy instrumental sections.
All in all another splendid release by Porcupine Tree. More diverse in moods than the previous
one and probably more accessible as well. If you liked Stupid Dream, get this one now ! If you think Porcupine Tree
started going down the hill with the song oriented approach, than this one is not for you.
For me personally, this one is definitely going to be one of my favourites of the year.
Remco: An album that takes a while to get used to, it needs to get the chance to stick in your mind.
But as soon as it does, you can play it as often as you like without getting tired of it. On
the other hand, the whole atmosphere on the album is quite depressed and with spring coming up, it
may not be the perfect time to sit back and enjoy this stuff.... However, if you like modern prog,
like good solid compositions and lyrics that for a change don't keep ratteling on about gnomes 'n stuff,
but deal with one of the deepest human emotions, being abandoned (since that seems to be the leading
lyrical theme of the album), get it as soon as possible!
By the way, did you notice I did not have
any critisism on vocals, instrumentalists or whatever (rather unusual ;-). That's because I couldn't
think of any, they all do a perfect job for the type of music they create together.
Conclusion Ed Sander: 9 out of 10.
Conclusion Remco Schoenmakers: 8.5 out of 10.
Pageant - Abysmal Masquerade
Tracklist: L'Enfer Des Poupees (5.01), Manatsu No Yoru No Yume (4.16),
Vexation (7.44), Naraku No Butoukai (live) (5.58), Kamen No Egao (live) (6.06), Kodama (live)
(6.24), Naraku No Butoukai (5.22), Kamen No Egao (flute version) (5.58), Kumo No Yakata (long
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|Record Label:||Musea Records|
|Catalogue #:||FGBG 4311.AR|
|Year of Release:||2000|
Abysmal Masquerade is a Musea Records
re-release of the 1987 album by the Japanese symphonic rock band Pageant. A follow-up to their
first record La Mosaique De La Reverie, this album is a collection of live tracks,
alternate versions of earlier songs and some new tracks. The only other albums by Pageant
appear to be Kamen No Egao (1987), a collection of EPs, and The Pay For Dreamer's
Although this is a rerelease there is a lot to be said about this admittedly very good album.
While publisher Musea Records compares Pageant's music to Genesis and Yes, it
also evokes thoughts of early eighties Rush. Classically trained female singer Hiroko
Nagai has an impressive voice, as I could have sworn that there were two vocalists included on
some tracks. As she is the only one mentioned, it is best to assume that I'm mistaken. Her
perfomance likely has the most appeal for those who like Kate Bush or Tori Amos, which is
underlined by the (partial ?) inclusion of the Kate Bush track James and the Cold
Gun in the live perfomance of track 6, Kodama.
The album starts off on a high note with the catching L'Enfer Des Poupees. The 'poppy'
Manatsu No Yoru No Yume has such instant appeal that I reckon it could easily score as
a hit in any music list even today. This is one of the tracks in which vocalist Nagai shows her
skill with high and lower vocal lines and she even wraps it up with a very comical cat like
Vexation is a very atmospheric track, with added quality from acoustic guitar and the
flute playing by Kazuhiro Miyatake, who worked with Nagai under his artist's name Mr. Sirius.
Halfway through, this track speeds up as keyboards and drums pick up the pace and electric
guitar joins in. Another good vocal perfomance.
The first live track, Naraku No Butoukai explores several melody lines through dynamic
rhythm changes and features a jazzy piano part. More subtle jazz rock defines the next track,
the also live performed Kamen No Egao.
The third and last live track Kodama packs more of a wallop than the other two, though
it slows somewhat for its already mentioned inclusion of James and the Cold Gun, in its
original English. The increase of dynamics is maintained in the studio version of Naraku No
Butoukai, which is far more powerful than its live rendition on track 4, with most notably
the harsher guitars. The 'flute version' of Kamen No Egao stays far closer to the above
noted live version, but the instrument featured here is probably a clarinet as oppossed to the
flute on track 3, conjuring up visions of a Kenny G guest perfomance.
The last song, Kumo No Yakata, has a very relaxed first half in which Nagai again shows
her skill, both vocally and on keyboard, partially supported by drums, while in the last half
guitar and bass suddenly create a whole new atmosphere, that made me recall some of Pink
Floyd's darker material, with Nagai shifting to rhythmic chanting as only the keyboards
retain the lighter edge of the earlier part. A real knock-out and perfect for closing this
My first impression was that this album could perhaps be better labelled something like
progressive pop rather than progressive rock. If not for my total lack of knowledge of
the Japanese language, I would have been happily singing along with the lyrics of some tracks.
On closer examination I would conclude that this would do injustice to these compositions. Not
all of these songs are admittedly that complex by progressive standards, but Vexation,
Naraku No Butoukai and Kumo No Yakata stand out in this respect. The keyboards
and some of the vocal melodies give this album its easily identifiable eighties sound, while
some parts on piano could be identified as neo-classical or fusion. Even though she doesn't
seem to be one of the founding members of the band, Hiroko Nagai gives this ensemble its
identity with her vocal perfomance and her handling of keyboards and piano.
It is a pity that two songs appear on the album in two versions. I'd rather have seen the
band include two alternate titles instead. Overall a very accessible album, finely arranged
and mixed, that easily conquered my early qualms concerning the language barrier. It will
stand out most as my first, and belated, taste of eighties Japanese progresive music.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10.
JADE - Jazz Afro Design Electric
Tracklist: Môm (8:28), 2 Minutes Suisse (2:04), Tarabella At Thames (6:04),
Budaï (7:13), Monica Du Desert (7:32), Acid Halloween (8:16), Kosovo (8:07),
Hiroshima 6/8 8:11 AM... (5:00)
|Country of Origin:||France|
|Record Label:||Musea Records|
|Catalogue #:||FGBG 4336.AR|
|Year of Release:||2000|
Well, it isn't as bad as the title promises. But the mixture of styles and the often very
freestyle jazz makes it hard to denote this as prog-rock.
This music isn't my thing. Jazzy, heavely based on drums and bass, it just murmurs through your
speakers. Nothing much going on most of the time, ideal music to play while giving a dinner
party. And that's not what my style is.
Seriously, what is good and what is not. In terms of jazz, they do a boring job, not much
special going on. In terms of prog, they have some more interesting moments. Sometimes, like in
Acid Halloween it almost sounds like more modern prog (the more hypnotic variety, like
Musea themselves describe the music as
free-style jazz, recalling at times bands like Magma. Hmmmm, free-style jazz, OK, some
parts, but Magma was more structured in that respect. The more melodic pieces like Tarabella
At Thames are nice, reminding me of some of the other French prog/jazz bands I reviewed for
DPRP (for instance Spheroe), and the more rocky tunes
like Budaï are quite OK too, sounding a bit like ancient Floyd
In general: the progrock parts are worth a 6, the rest a 4, not because I don't like jazz, but
because the jazzy parts are not very original.
Conclusion: 5 out of 10.
Tempus Fugit - The Dawn After The Storm
|Country of Origin:||Brasil|
|Catalogue #:||FGBG 4318.AR|
|Year of Release:||2000|
Tracklist:Daydream (8:30), The Dawn After The Storm (8:53), Never (6:07), Tocando Você
(6:54), The Fortress (5:18), Preludio de Sevilla (2:07), The Sight (4:45), O Dom de Voar (6:38),
Good quality Brasilian keyboard dominated - Camel style - mostly instrumental progressive Rock.
Solid production and good playing. But nothing really spectacular in my opinion.
The opening track Daydream is definitely Camelesque, a blend between modern and seventies
Camel. Good solid playing, both on the guitar and on the keyboards. A bit of a Nolan-feeling is
added due to the powerful drive the song has. The keyboards throughout the album are the original
analoge synths of back-then, including mini-Moog. Excellent track.
Keyboards are dominantly present on the whole
album since the keyboard player is the main composer. This can be well heard in the next track
The Dawn After The Storm, with a New-Age style opening, featuring some ABBA-style main
melody, like Vangalis on a bad day...not too succesfull compared to the opening track if you
ask me. No, this is just too melodic for me. Fortunately the second section is more powerful
with some more biting keys and guitar and a return to the good ol' desert animal.
Never features vocals, mature, and they too sound a bit like Latimer's. In this track they
almost capture the atmosphere of the 70's Camel, that floating feeling you get from Camel, with
the sharp electric guitar over dreamlike melodies and a very varied rhythm, but with you as a listener
hardly noticing the changes....
A Steve Howe -like acoustic guitar track follows (as in: the quiet tracks of the man's solo work),
even featuring some mandolin. This is followed by a more piercing electric guitar in a rhythm now
well known from Rajaz.
OK, get the picture now? Just guess how the next track sounds? Preludio is a skillfully played
Spanish guitar piece. Always makes me jealous to hear somebody play stuff like that while I'm still
searching for the E-chord ;-). Now let's skip the rest of the songs - they can be described just
like the other ones - and go to the conclusion.
Good solid melodies, heavily based on above mentioned group. So why a grade below the "DPRP
Recommended" tag? Because I heard it all before, and because the album is too quiet. No real climax
or something of the sort. Too bad, since with one or two uptempo tracks and a bit more variation in
style I would have definitely added the extra half to gain that wanted tag. However, die-hard Camel fans
for sure should try to obtain this album, they will get a lot of pleasure from it. The more heavy
proggers will fall asleep.
Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10.
Siren Circus - Solid Poems On A Ghost Of A Subject
Tracklist: Anthem (6:03), Sweet Synchronisity (2:45), Duck Is A Duck (3:12), My Father Was A
Frenchmen (1:40), Unstraightforward Word (3:45), Subtext (2:55), Liquid Moon (5:21),
Crevices (2:42), Penthesilea (5:12), Morning Sunlight (3:21), Got My Slap On (4:50), Closet
Somethings (2:58), Sad Passenger (3:19), Doorman (5:09), World Was Young (4:42)
|Country of Origin:||UK|
|Record Label:||Carbon 7|
|Year of Release:||1999|
There's still a lot for me to learn. Not very long ago I was taught about RIO - Rock In
Opposition. I didn't know about the definition, and because of my review of Belgian / American
band Present's latest album No. 6, in which I said the music they played was new to me,
I received several e-mail messages from people telling me more about Present and RIO. I realized
that the most popular forms of progressive rock, which are covered here on DPRP well I think,
have more related musical styles than I thought, and that people visiting DPRP are also
interesting in reading about it, while the DPRP team has not paid any attention to it at all. We
have to broaden our horizon!
Carbon 7 is a Belgian record label that is very good at broadening one's horizon. After my
review of Present's No. 6, I am going to tell you about a band called Hardscore in a
later issue, but now it's Siren Circus.
New Music is what this music is called, apparently. My theoretical knowledge about this is
non-existent, so please let me know if I am wrong here, but the main characteristic of this
kind of music is the freedom of composition. No obvious time signatures, weird and complex
melody lines or hardly any at all. It's a form of art rather than something you could describe
as good or bad music. Siren Circus comprises of two British sisters, Cathryn and Lucie Robson.
The booklet states the songs are "composed, interpreted and performed" by them alone,
with only two others guesting on vocals. Before I heard the album, I understood the album was
very vocal-oriented, more like poems. The title helped. Reading the lyrics, too. The music is
mainly piano, synthesizers, and several sorts of percussion. All in service of the lyrics and
the songs on the whole.
The vocals are very diverse. The sisters are almost reciting the lyrics, or poems, using their
trained voices to produce weird melody line, ranging from sweet children's voices, to angry
women's cries, covering screams not unlike Kate Bush, and even higher...
Some of the compositions sound like they're part of a cabaret performance. The lyrics, however,
are not humouristic but very melancholic instead. Most of the songs sound very melancholic, by
the way. Some are sweeter but with lyrics to give you shivers, and others almost menacingly
thundering. Weird, definitely weird. The songs are all small pieces of art, not something you
put on just to have some music on. You have to give this the same kind of attention as when
looking at a painting, for example.
At times, I have to think of Peter Hammill. I guess he was one of the first to put his wonderful
poems to music while they seem so unsuitable for doing so.
And by saying this, I have at last found a reference and recommendation as well: if you like
Hammill, try this! As you have probably noticed, I find it very hard to describe this music.
It's definitely not for the average listener's ear. But if you're looking for something to
broaden your musical horizon - start here.
For myself, I am still having some problems with New Music. I have to get used to it, hear more
about it. The concluding mark is based on what I think now and probably would have been
different if I knew more about it. But I am learning...
Conclusion: 5 out of 10.
Jerry van Kooten
Peter Banks - Can I Play You Something?
Tracklist: 1. Can I Play You Something? (0:15), 2. Bang / Crash (0:21), 3. Peter Gunn (5:25),
4. Hippie Loop (0:56), 5. 14 Hour Technicolour Dream (2:56), 6. You Better Move On (2:46), 7. Beyond And
Before (Demo) (3:43), 8. Beyond And Before (What Bass? Mix) (3:57), 9. Lime Loop (0:16),
10. Grounded (2:20), 11. For Your Love (2:46), 12. Flowerman (Demo) (2:39), 13. Flowerman (2:33),
14. Yesterdays (0:53), 15. Electric Funeral (Demo) (3:20), 16. Electric Funeral (Radio Fun Mix) (4:30),
17. Cinnamon Touch (1:30), 18. Get Yourself Together (Demo) (3:35), 19. Created By Clive (2:28), 20. Image Of
You And Me (Radio Fun Mix) (4:09), 21. I Saw You! (Bang / Crash) (8:18), 22. No Time (2:28)
I'm usually quite fond of CDs with recordings from some artist's dark and mysterious past. I am
not a great fan of Peter Banks, only because I don't know very much more about the man than that
he was the first Yes guitarist. I did look forward to hearing this CD though, sub-titled
"The Pre-Yes Years, Recordings From 1964 - 1968", and stating "featuring Mabel
Greer's Toyshop and Syn and Yes". Well, you can forget about Yes - there's no recording of
this band to be found on the CD, and the first real song (after two short sound samples) was
recorded in 1980. But what the heck...
The songs on this compilation are, of course, old recordings, and it shows. Sound quality varies
a lot, sometimes even within songs. But you know that when you're buying a CD like this.
The collector in me cries out. The songs are not in chronological order! And worst of all, I am
not convinced, no attempt is made to convince me that this CD contains the complete recording
sessions of Syn marks II and III and Mabel Greer's Toyshop. Pity - a missed chance here.
This, however, does not account for the two tracks by Devil's Disciples: tracks 6 and 11, which
are the only studio recordings the band ever did. Sweet pop, slightly dreaming on You Better
Move On and more rhythm and blues like The Who on For Your Love. Very Sixties' pop,
but for 1964 / 1965 a spark of psychedelics.
Syn with Banks (and Chris Squire on bass, by the way) lived from mid 1967 to February 1968.
Yep, the psychedelic years! Look at that title: 14 Hour Technicolour Dream! Post Sgt.
Pepper's, but again The Who influences as well. Less sweet, fortunately. Young and naive,
but nice. The attempt is made to make a hit single, resulting in a silly pop song for side A
(track 19) and a B-side on which the band could do whatever they liked. Not very distinctive
music for those days, with more The Who influences, but also some of The Animals.
Tracks 12 and 13 are more psychedelic. A bit of early Pink Floyd, only more pop and less
original. Flowerman appears to be the title track of one of two "rock operas"
Syn did. "What?! Where are those?!", the collector cries...
Mabel Greer's Toyshop also has Chris Squire on bass. The song you all know, of course, is
Beyond And Before (tracks 7 and 8), which is on the first Yes LP. Electric Funeral
(tracks 15 and 16) also contain elements we later hear in early Yes, especially the ending
section of the Radio Fun Mix of this song. But it's all on the safe side, less experimental
than on the first Yes albums. I guess Images Of You And Me is from the same radio
session as the second Electric Funeral version. Nice wah-wah guitar (Hendrix!), but the
song itself is too simple. OK, nice ending with two guitars.
Track 18 has Chris Squire on lead vocals. A very nice song indeed, and probably one of the
reasons Yes collectors should have this CD. The roots of what was to come.
The remaining titles are Banks solo or Peter Bands Band. Musically they might fit on this
compilation, but regarding the idea of it, out of place. I'm usually quite fond of CDs like
this, but I think it should have looked less like a collection of randomly chosen tracks from
the man's past. The material is interesting at best, but a better selection of tracks would
make up a lot more for the disappointing quality.
Conclusion: 4 out of 10.
Jerry van Kooten
Aghora - Aghora
Tracklist: Immortal Bliss (4:38), Satya (5:56), Transfiguration (5:15),
Frames (7:09), Mind's Reality (4:22), Kali Yuga (5:38), Jivatma (11:23), Existence (6:28),
There's that area somewhere the cores of prog and metal, that more and more bands are exploring.
Aghora is one of those bands. A description of "progressive metal" is far from clear,
or simply applies to a lot of bands, so I'll try and describe the music in other words. Having
two guitarists, you can imagine this band to have a solid foundation for the songs. Heavily
distorted riffs provide the first layer to most of the songs. However, they're not as heavy,
not as metal as I would have expected from two guitarists. It's not very often that I hear the
two guitarists separately and play different parts - almost only when soloing. And Santiago
Dobles, who wrote most of the music, is good at that. He obviously is a Steve Vai fan. He can
play fast, but doesn't show off his technical abilities on an irritating level. He's still
paying attention to melodies and whether his playing fits the music, which, as I said before,
is not too heavy.
Maybe it's the kind of music or maybe it's the musicians, but after a couple of songs, some
solos sound like I've heard them do in previous songs. This also applies to the distorted riffs
- they're so distorted that I hardly hear any differences between the main riffs of different
Drummer Sean Reinert, who co-wrote Jivatma, is the one who makes you realize the music
is in some weird time signatures at times. I didn't hear this until I paid more attention to
the drumming, instead of the music on the whole. Maybe Reinert's playing has suffered from the
otherwise very good mix and production: his drumming sounds like he's only got three drums and
two cymbals. There's very little variety. In a song like Existence, he lets you know he
can hit them hard, but then the limited drum sound becomes even more clear, which doesn't do
the song any good. It's predominating the sound in this song, and thus my opinion of it.
And something that accounts for too many hard rock and metal drummers is that there is hardly
any difference between quiet and heavy pieces. Drums are hit with roughly the same force. But
even a drummer like Metallica's doesn't seem to have the knowledge of how to be a gentle
drummer during softer passages, like good blues and jazz drummers do. Maybe it's got something
to do with the musical background - when taught how to be a metal drummer, the blues origins of
the music are skipped? But now I am giving an opinion on something in general; I'll return to
describing Aghora's music.
It took a couple of songs before I heard the bass properly. Sean Malone's playing is very nice,
and I would have liked to hear more of that in the mix. He's playing more of a supportive
role to the rest of the music, and he's almost adding more melody to the more metal-based riffs.
Danishta Rivero's words are mainly written to be sung in the quieter sections. She has a clear,
very un-metal voice. In the first couple of songs I didn't think her voice fitted the band's
sound very much. But later on I think I got used to the combination. When hearing the album
again and again, I think it's got more to do with the compositions. The lyrics lack connection
with the music, like rhythm and rhyme. It's almost like she's singing without any reference to
the music, like she's telling her own story. Well, it's not like that all the time, but I prefer
lyrics to be part of the whole song, like they do in Frames, than live a life of their
own, as in the first two songs or Mind's Reality.
Although she tries to give some mysterious feeling to the songs during some verses, her voice
is too clear and sweet to do so. Aghora won't be like The Gathering or Within Temptation,
although I must say there are more differences between Aghora and those bands, especially the
lack of bombastic power keyboards in Aghora's sound.
The progressiveness that brings Aghora to these DPRP CD Review pages lies in the rhythmic
alternations, the strangeness, the references to Vai (guitar solos), The Gathering (metal with
clear, almost mystic singing; please note The Gathering are creating a darker atmosphere), and
songs like Kali Yuga and Jivatma. The piano in Kali Yuga gives the music a
bit of warmth other songs could have used as well, and in the heavy parts of this songs, the
piano is brilliant! It gives the sound more body and variation. I would like the band to
consider expanding the line-up with a keyboard player... The vocals are more mysterious than in
other songs, and creates a darker atmosphere. Especially the first couple of songs remain cold;
it's too technical, too thought-of. Something you see with more American bands than bands from
any other country. And ha - bass more up front! Makes me think of Myung... great job! By far the
best song on the album. Best music, best atmosphere, best performance as a real band, as a
Jivatma is like a jam session. No unnecessary or drastic time signature changes, but an
instrumental progressing slowly, with percussion, then keyboards, then bass, and only then the
guitar begins to speak. Slowly. Almost jazz, this. It is a bit strange though, to hear this
song on an album like this. But if the band can do this, I hope to hear more of it!
All in all, still a very nice debut album. (Well, I assume it's a debut.) I really hope the
second half of the CD is representative of where the band is heading, and that the music and
vocal lines will become more of a unit. And if more attention is paid to the production of the
drums, and Vai and other references will become mere influences, a next album might become very
Conclusion: 6 out of 10.
Jerry van Kooten