Reviews in this issue:
Sinister Street - Trust
Tracklist: Song For A Day (8:22), Thin Ice (5:50), Lost For Words (6:16), trust (5:14), Two In One
(8:23), Midas Touch (4:38), Go The Distance (4:20), Turning Tide (5:39), Through The Looking Glass (7:54), Two In
One (Radio Edit (5:24)
|Country of Origin:||Netherlands|
|Catalogue #:||FGBG 4431AR|
|Year of Release:||2002|
Sinister Street are not new to DPRP, having had the demo release of Trust already reviewed in the past. The band
itself saw the light of day in the late eighties and their claim to fame was having been the support band for
Fish in 1989. In 1992 the band released their debut, and till now only album, Eve Of Innocence and with it
the band presented a more radio-friendly styled progressive rock that seems to be modelled on the likes of bands
such as IQ, Jadis and of course, Marillion. In fact though the band are linked to Fish, their
music has more in common with the first two albums Marillion had released with Steve Hogarth as vocalist. [As a matter of fact, Sinister Street supported Steve Hogarth and Peter Trewavas once at
their bass/piano-only performance of a Dutch convention of The Web. After their duo performance Steve
and Pete joined Sinister Street on stage for some additional classics. - Ed]
The band is a sextet of which only three members remain from the original line-up, vocalist Olaf Blaauw and the
two keyboard players Peter van Leerdam and Erik van der Vlis. The remaining members of the band are Frits
Bonjernoor on drums, Roger Vingerhoeds on bass and Omar Niamut on guitar and together they have managed to forge a
hard rocking band with plenty of progressive rock elements.
The opening Song For A Day immediately sets the pace for the rest of the album with its powerful
keyboards, an important feature of the band which with its two keyboardists allows for an extremely rich sound with
one keyboard dedicated to filling in the sound whilst the other carries out various arpeggios and solos. Another
factor which intrigued me about this band was the way the drums are so delightfully played out. Parts which on any
other album would have been just a run of the mill hard rock riff are given a different slant by Bonjernoor's
effective drumming which is constantly changing with various off-beats included throughout the whole of the album.
As I have already mentioned the music on most tracks has a lot in common with the post-Fish Marillion though
there is a much more rockier edge to the band on various tracks such as Thin Ice, conveyed mainly by the
strong guitar work. However the quick and unexpected shift from power chord and full on distortion to broken
arpeggios helps in creating a series of different moods within the same track. Couple this with some great guitar
solos and one has great prog-influenced rock. This is further evidenced on pieces such as Midas Touch.
Sinister Street are also capable of slowing down the tempo, as happens on Lost For Words, though funnily
enough, whereas ballad-like tracks are usually a highlight of most rock bands, it seems that this is where the band
sound least effective. Two In One is also played at a rather slow-tempo, yet is much more effective in that the
addition of an acoustic element creates a folk atmosphere and complements Blaauw's vocals which at times have an
uncanny similarity to Roger Chapman.
One of the band's main influences are Canadian progmeisters Rush. One can sense this influence throughout
much of the album, yet this is especially relevant on the album instrumental, Trust. The bass and drums are
given much prominence on this track with the emphasis being on the string rhythmic changes rather than on creating
hooks. Strangely enough the production on Trust as well as on Go the Distance seem to be much less polished than
the rest of the album and leads to lead one to think that the band used the same recordings that had been used on
the demo album Trust No1 that was issued in 1998, which is indeed a pity because the overall production of the
album was impeccably polished.
Sinister Street are not one of those progressive rock bands from which one should expect overblown solos with
vituosistic performances. Instead one gets a band effort with some great rock tunes and melody lines that have that
marked dose of progressive rock influences to place Sinister Street in a street of their own. Here is a band that
is too progressive to be simply called rock, and too rock to be simply called progressive. Some people have
compared the band to fellow Dutch band, For Absent Friends, a comparison which could hold. If you dig good
rock music, then you would do well to give Sinister Street a shot.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10.
Notturno Concertante - Riscrivere Il Passato
Tracklist: Giga (3:18), Perversi (2:52), Io Ti Amo (2:54), Six Of The Best (2:53), En Clave De Sol (1:31), La Sitta Nuova (4:28), Electric Rain (3:01), If The Winter Had Its Spirit (2:57), Gente Dietro La Finestra (3:50), La Danza (2:43), Erewhon (2:51), Lezioni Di Vita (3:47), So Many Things (2:36), Flood Of Tears (3:44), La Luce Della Notte (2:47).
Notturno Concertante is an Italian band, named after a musical piece by Carulli, a XIX-century Italian composer. The band has recorded 5 albums, and also contributed to several prog rock tribute albums (Genesis, Vander Graaf Generator, Camel and a Cantenbury tribute). Their most recent recording is called "Riscrivere Il Passato".
The 15 tracks on the album go through a variety of style, from modern or more traditional prog, to some not-so-proggy tracks. But even with all the diversity, the tracks fit quite well together, mainly because of the similar instrumentation (nice "warm" orchestrations, the acoustic guitar as the main instrument, and a bass/drum background).
The four vocal tracks have a typical Italian feel, they're sung in Italian, with those breathful vocals. Very catchy is Io Ti Amo (with an international "Wo-o-oh" chorus) and also Lezioni di Vita is quite good (with dramatic electric guitars). Not too proggy are Gente Dietro La Finestra and the mellow La Sitta Nuova (with some unexpected Marillion guitars.
The band's sound works quite well on the more subtle instrumentals. Because of their acoustic nature, they may not appeal to all prog lovers. Tracks like Erewhon (piano/guitar), So Many Things (piano/guitar/fiddle) and En Clave de Sol (peaceful, orchestrated guitar track) can best be compared with the acoustic Steve Hackett or Anthony Phillips stuff.
More proggy are the tracks that have a "darker" sound, like the strong Six of the Best, or the more modern Electric Rain and La Luce Della Notte. I particularly like the wordless vocals, and the contrast between the doomy themes, and the sunny acoustic guitars.
The album has quite some folk influences, most notably on three tracks: Giga (with celtic flutes/fiddle), If the Winter Had Its Spirit (accordion/flutes/fiddle), and La Danza (with cajun style accordion/fiddle). These pieces sound nice, but are hardly prog rock. With their combination of happy uptime folk dance music, classy orchestra and poppy drums sounds, their overall sound comes close to the music of Gordon Giltrap. Also the -less folky- lighthearted Persevi and Flood of Tears sound quite like him.
To conclude: Riscrivere Il Passato is a nice, light prog album. The album title translates as "rewriting the past". It's possible that this is a collection or re-recording of the band's earlier pieces (but I might be wrong, as I'm not familiar with the band's four former releases). The instrumentation on the album is quite good. I particularly liked the acoustic guitars and the tasteful warm orchestral sound (the drums sometimes are bit too fat and poppy though). My rating will be a bit low, because I think the melodies and arrangements could have been a bit more proggy. I mean, this is one of those prog albums even your mother in law will like! Recommended if you like Gordon Giltrap, the acoustic Steve Hackett, or Anthony Phillips.
Conclusion: 6,5 out of 10.
Poços & Nuvens - Província Universo
Tracklist: Província Universo (1:19), Copla (3:47), Vindima E Ventania (4:38), Vega (3:38), No Inverno
(8:54), Inverno (0:37), Neblina (4:10), Canção (4:41), Poços E Nuvens (7:17), Milonguita (3:54), Noites Nas Ruas
(4:50), Incenso E Chuva (9:49), Universo Provinçia (1:10)
Brazilian band Poços & Nuvens are back with their second album, Provincia Universo featuring more of their
folk-tinged progressive rock that flits between a more traditional European sound accentuated by the flair and
colour associated with much of what Brazil has to offer.
Surprisingly, and thankfully, the band have not followed the path of many of their fellow South American bands
and jumped on the speed-metal bandwagon that is striving to be labelled as progressive! In fact the band have much
more in common with various Italian bands such as P.F.M. as they present a very mellow front in terms of
vocals which despite being sung in Portuguese, come across as endearing and extremely delightful to listen to.
Having said that the band does not stray too far from this vocal style when presenting their music thus allowing
the album to flow along without sharp shifts in both presentation as well as rhythm. The only exception to this
would be Vega which is also one of the rare tracks that allows both keyboards as well as guitars to really
come out in full blown solos.
Most of the record is dominated by by the sound of flute and violin as the solo instruments with the keyboards
playing out more of an atmospheric role. The guitar work has a very Marillionesque feel though it never
overpowers the other instruments. The presence of the violin acts as a soothing influence to the rather hard
hitting drums and together with the flute help create a very British touch to the whole setting as happens on
Copla. Jethro Tull could be cited as a reference, especially since the the band really manages to
rock when required as well as the use of the flute, however, one should also mention that the band have a mean
rocking edge to their sound.
Describing them as prog-metal could be a slight bit harsh as much of the album is in an acoustic vein, yet when
the drums kick in there is a power in the bands music which blows you off your feet. Tracks that epitomise that
acoustic mellow nature would be No Inverno and whilst pieces like Neblina show off the rockier side
of the band especially with the use of the double-bass drum other tracks also manage to fuse both elements as
happens on Vega whilst Incenso E Chuva also introduces hints of King Crimson.
Towards the end of the album the band seems to push forward their acoustic touch together with some
neo-progressive imagery. Both Poços E Nuvens and Milonguita have the band sounding like a progressive
folk band with the vocals at times reminding me of the late Nick Drake. After hearing Noites Nas Ruas, one
could define the band as Brazil's answer to Marillion circa the Misplaced Childhood era.
The whole of the album is an immensely pleasurable listen. The Portuguese vocals are of absolutely no
detraction to the album which flows along at an incredibly smooth pace and should be of interest to most if not
all progressive rock lovers. If you are interested in hearing what the Latin American world has to offer as regards
progressive rock, then this album is a good place to start off from.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10.
Deadsoul Tribe - Deadsoul Tribe
Powertrip (3:33), Comin' Down (5:27), Anybody There (1:25), The Haunted (5:09), The Drowning Machine (3:23), You
(4:18), Under The Weight Of My Stone (1:49), Once (5:01), 5:08), Bullet (5:08), Empty (1:04), Cry For Tomorrow (4:13)
Into... (bonustrack) (1:25), Into The Spiral Cathedral [bonustrack] (4:48)
Deadsoul Tribe is the brainchild of former Psychotic Waltz vocalist Devon Graves (the alter ego of Buddy Lackey). In
this new band he has formed he claims he can better express himself as a composer, guitarist and flutist. I personally
am not familiar with Psychotic Waltz but apparently the music on this album is not to far away from Psychotic Waltz so
if you like them, you should be able to enjoy this one too.
Is Deadsoul Tribe prog or prog metal? Not in the strictest sense of the word, but it relates to some prog acts and in
general it sounds very good indeed. The tracks, especially the heavier ones, remind me of Devin Townsend's
Terria, but for instance the second track has some Porcupine Tree like movements. Sometimes hints of
Dream Theater can be heard, but nowhere the typical Dream Theater complexity is reached. The
Haunted, a fine metal track itself, is the first track with some fiery guitar solo work. Here too, you have the
impression of listening to a heavy metal version of a Porcupine Tree track!
The vocals are haunting, with lots of use of distortion and vocal transformers, which represents the more experimental
side of the album. I believe this works very well, especially in The Drowning Machine, which give the track
that tat extra to lift it above average. You has one of the most catchy choruses (in the positive sense: not that it's
trivial, it's just very good) I've heard in a while, it just keeps swirling in your brain. With its keyboard sounds it
has a distant resemblance of Pain of Salvation.
After all this electrical violence, the album calms down with
the acoustic guitar and vocal track Under The Weight of My Stone. Here for the first time we hear the vocals
undistorted and they are really good. Once is much closer to Pain of Salvation in its opening bars. This
too, though electric again, is much calmer than the first part of the album.
Next comes a very frustrating minute: the opening of One Bullet reminded me very strongly of a certain band,
especially the vocals, but I just can't figure out which one! Any one out there who can help me with that?
Subsequently we're treated to a minute of almost Latin music! A nice break before the last official track, Cry for
Tomorrow which is the most uptempo track on the album. The bonus track (as Intro is actually the moody
introduction to Into The Spiral Cathedral) is the most symphonic track on the album. Bombastic and convincing
it is a worthy closer with many rhythmic changes and breaks. It has a very good solo at the end, music wise. The whole
band participates to create a full and rich sound over which the solo is played.
This album is recommended for everybody who enjoys Devin Townsend, Pain of Salvation and Porcupine
Tree. Production and mixing are flawless and is produced with the usual InsideOut quality. You can see them live
at Dynamo Open Air July 14th.
Conclusion: 8 out of 10.
Quarkspace - Drop
Tracklist: Spinnin (2:34), Starbridge Freaks 2 (6:38), Sound Inside You (4:43), Pavlovian Causeway
(5:28), The Storm (2:43), Newton's Dream (6:59), Drop Out From The World (2:45), Vazt (4:36), Bonnydoon (6:00),
Starbridge Freaks 3 (6:27), The Lie (4:29), Blanket Hill (20:19)
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|Record Label:||Eternity's Jest Records|
|Year of Release:||2001|
Quarkspace have long been heralded as America's answer to Hawkwind and the space-rock genre. Their
repertoire is indeed vast and as a band they have been around for a relatively long time. With Drop, Quarkspace
have ventured into new territory by offering their latest album up to public domain, thus providing all the
material in MP3 format on their website.
The music is hypnotic and rhythmic with various loops and techno-like beats much in a similar vein to what you
would expect on an album from bands such as Ozric Tentacles. However, the band lack the instrumentation
variety that the Tentacles possess and prefer to concentrate on various layers of keyboards and electronic effects
that are swirled around throughout the whole of the album. Of course psychedelia is one of the main genres in which one
could categorise the album with a number of tracks featuring the vocals of Chet Santia. These songs are extremely
well-structured with the vocals presented alongside some catchy hooks as happens on Sound Inside You. This
particular track has been described as Roxy Music meets Hawkwind by the band, and there should not be
a more apt description. Somehow much of these space-rock bands manage to convey such as similar structure when
constructing vocals based tracks. Bands that come to mind would be Kromlek, The Rabbit's Hat and of
course Tim Blake. At times, though not too often, the band also manage to deviate from their swirling space
background to descend into an acoustic mode as happens on The Storm which features some admirable backing
piano as does The Lie which could well have been composed in the late sixties alongside the
The majority of the album is dominated by the instrumental tracks which are a matter of love them or hate them.
Lengthy and inconsequential, the music is repetitive and at times down right boring. Obviously I am speaking from
the view point of somebody who is not too impressed by this music style which has more in common with techno music
than progressive rock. There are the occasional pleasant sequences such as Newton's Dream which is set in an
eerie soundscape whilst the closing Blanket Hill features the poetry of Thom the World Poet Woodruff who
talks about the 1970 Kent State University killings and there impact on humanity.
One cannot decidedly say whether this is a great album or a poor one. It all depends on what your musical tastes
are and whether space or cosmic rock is your cup of tea. I found the instrumentals too drawn out and uneventful,
yet on the other hand this is one of the features of this musical genre. The vocal tracks are excellent examples of
modern psychedelia and they should be a delight for those into that musical style. However, the availability to the
public of all this music from the band website should
encourage everybody to visit the site and download what is available, and then it is just up to you to decide
whether to retain the music or not!
Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10.