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2009 : VOLUME 50
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REVIEWS IN THIS ISSUE:


Jakko M Jakszyk - Waves Sweep The Sand
Jakko M Jakszyk - Waves Sweep The Sand
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Independent
Catalogue #:JMJ EXT01
Year of Release:2009
Time:45:15
Info:Jakko M Jakszyk
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Scarecrows (1:00), Alien Lights In Iberian Skies (4:32), Catley's Reprise (1:08), London Bridge (3:23), David Gates In Whitley Bay (1:48), Suburban Windows (0:51), Christmas In Krakow (4:03), Waves Sweep The Sand (1:05), Upside Down Again (4:57), Barnaby Naan (0:55), Sunday Morning Enniscrone (3:15), September Skies (1:02), Django’s Lullaby (3:28), Fragile Little Scars (0:54), Kevin Costners Golf Course (5:55), Theme One (3:03), Slug Death And The Cockroaches Revenge (3:57)

Anyone who purchased the DPRP recommended album The Bruised Romantic Glee Club will be delighted to know that a companion album, Waves Sweep The Sand, has just been released. A collection of 17 songs and instrumentals that are all related to, or were intended for the original album but were, for one reason or another (generally because they didn't quite seem to fit) omitted from the final running order. A number of pieces were also originally recorded for an uncompleted instrumental album. However, this is not a motley collection of outtakes jumbled together in an attempt to bring in a few extra pennies as each of the tracks is of a very high quality. Considering that most were left off Glee Club because they affected the flow, the album hangs together very well and seems to have its own internal consistency and natural flow of its own. The majority of the performance is by Jakszyk alone although saxophonist Gary Barnacle and drummers Gavin Harrison and Ian Wallace perform on a track apiece with Harrison also providing drum loops to another.

As with Glee Club, there are too many tracks to deal with each individually, particularly as there is such a wide scope contained within the 17 pieces. A couple of cover versions are included, the first of which is an excellent version of Bread's London Bridge, the sleeve notes detailing how it came to be included being particularly amusing. Jakszyk has added a new instrumental coda to the song, David Gates In Whitley Bay, the title of which is explained in the notes (for any readers who are not familiar with Bread, David Gates was their leader and principal songwriter). The other cover is Sir George Martin's Theme One, a piece of music that used to herald the end of the day's broadcast on BBC Radio 1. There have been several notable cover versions of this piece over the years by artists such as Cozy Powell and Bigelf, but it is arguably the most famous one (also used by Radio 1 as the theme music to the Friday Rock Show) by Van Der Graaf Generator that Jakszyk uses as the template to his recording. Vocals are only included on two other songs besides London Bridge, which is no reflection of Jakszyk's fine singing voice. Upside Down Again was originally going to be included on Glee Club but a catastrophic hard drive failure left the recording in tatters (Jakko, Jakko, were you never taught the importance of backing things up?!). A careful reconstruction from bits of memory and MIDI files and re-recording allows its inclusion here. The other song is Django’s Lullaby written for Jakszyk's young son and left off Glee Club as it was considered too twee. The instrumental pieces display how versatile a musician Jakszyk is, not that any confirmation of that is needed when one considers his background, which stretches from the funk-pop of Level 42 to the progressive vibes of The Tangent.

As with The Bruised Romantic Glee Club, Waves Sweep The Sand is an immensely listenable CD and a worthy accompaniment to the original album. As it is a limited edition, at a cheap price to boot, if you want a copy best head over to the Burning Shed Website and get yourself a copy. Whilst there, if you haven't already got one, pick up one of the newly re-released Glee Club album which is every good as our review stated it was back in 2006.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Parzival’s Eye - Fragments
Parzival’s Eye - Fragments
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:Red Farm Records
Catalogue #:4711-0815-22
Year of Release:2009
Time:78:18
Info:Parzival’s Eye
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Longings End (13:24), Signs (4:32), Fragments (6:06), Face My Fear (4:49), Meanings (3:42), Skylights (7:33), Disguise (6:24), Chicago (6:01), Where Have Your Flowers Gone (4:41), Through Your Mind (4:24), Wide World (6:34) Bonus Track: Another Day [by RPWL from their album "9"] (9:59)

Parzival’s Eye is the new project from RPWL bassist Chris Postl, Fragments being the first fruit. It may be of most interest to some due to the involvement of vocalists Christina Booth of Magenta and Pallas’ Alan Reed but also on board is Alan Parsons’ Project guitarist Ian Bairnson who provides solos for 4 tracks and Yogi Lang of RPWL on keyboards. Postl also plays guitar and keys with the rest of the line-up rounded out by Ossi Schaller (guitar) and Hannes Weigend (drums).

Postl has written widely for his main band and the songs he has produced here are of a high quality and very well produced. The result bears a similarity to RPWL and that bands main formative influence, Pink Floyd, but also touches on mid-period Genesis, ‘80s Yes and The Beatles. Overall the pieces are generally mid-tempo, some with a rockier edge than others, but all very accessible with lots of atmosphere. As well as the original material there is a cover of a Graham Nash track plus and bonus track performed by RPWL.

Railway sounds usher in the lengthy opening piece, Longings End, slide guitar over washes of synth conjuring up Shine On era Pink Floyd. The atmospheric start builds and Postl’s pleasant, slightly accented vocals pick up the story. There is an expansive feel to the music, acoustic guitar picking in the foreground and excellent backing vocals from Christina Booth. The chorus lifts the mood and there are some nice bass leads here and there and a definite hint of Genesis during the mid-section. An undulating section has a hint of Yes and around the 8 minutes mark a sinister organ theme kicks in. More well placed slide and the intensity build adding to the Floydiness, as does Bairnson's Gilmouresque solo finishing a very good multi-faceted piece.

Signs starts with a bass part before an urgent rhythm with siren keys. Alan Reed puts in a good performance on this catchy mid-tempo rocker with uplifting chorus. Next up is the title track, acoustic guitars and plenty of atmosphere before a heavy, rhythmic section reminiscent of The Flower Kings circa Space Revolver only with less dynamism. The central section features choral effects and a swooping solo from Bairnson before some low-key distorted feedback to finish. This is a varied track with a different feel to rest of album. “This song is about man thinking technology could do anything” explains Postl.

Face My Fear features another vocal from Reed on a stately and lyrical track with a big chorus before Meanings sees Christina’s first lead. This is a sinister sounding piece with a slightly Eastern feel and the kind of galloping synth that Marillion used to use in the old days, a nice sweeping chorus topping it off that is not a million miles away from what Magenta might come up with. Skylights begins with a Rick Wakeman choral synth part before some ‘80s Camel (think Nude), Postl takes the vocal with Booth harmonising. There is a Genesis turn in the chorus – “and the nurse will tell you lies of kingdom’s beyond the skies” – which is extended by some Steve Hackett picking and a bit of Tony Banks influenced keys. There is a good sense of space on this one with room to stretch out.

The guitar on Disguise is immediately reminiscent of Run Like Hell from Pink Floyd’s The Wall and again features a Reed vocal and a good sing-along chorus. The extended instrumental section has a driving rhythm and features some nice guitar and keys, Reed returning for the crescendo finale, a good mix of Floyd and Camel.

An interesting choice of cover is the Graham Nash classic Chicago. Starting as a piano ballad, this quiet protest song is enriched with Christina's emotional vocal and a sparse bass/guitar arrangement and orchestral keys. The Dobro guitar solo is a nice change giving a Country feel.

Next up is the pleasant Where Have Your Flowers Gone featuring duet vocals from Postl and Booth and another good sing-along chorus, a theme that is continued through the gentle Through Your Mind which again has a Country feel. Wide World ties up the original material with another lightweight, partly acoustic piece with a Genesis feel which Postl sings. It is these three pieces which see a dip in the interest level for me being no more than pretty. A shame as the album would probably have been stronger if they had been left off.

The bonus track is a strange choice, the 10 minute Another Day performed by RPWL from their album 9. Probably there as nothing more than an advert for the main band it seems quite out of place, but stylistically it fits in quite nicely with the rest of the album. Plenty going on and very well played this leads to a more satisfying conclusion to the album than if it had ended with the trio of quite light numbers that precede it. By those criteria it’s a good job that it was added

This album sounds very clean and polished, a well realised collection of pleasant songs. It is all very well put together with good performances from all concerned. The main criticism would be that it is all a bit safe and not massively exciting – polite music for well mannered grown-ups. Despite the strength of the performances and the quality of the material it isn’t that memorable but it does improve with repeated listening. You can’t really knock it as it has quality in spades but you can’t get away from the feeling that it probably isn’t as good as it thinks it is. A must for fans of RPWL and Magenta and well worth hearing but probably without the legs to make it a long-term favourite.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

JEZ ROWDEN



Beardfish – Destined Solitaire
Beardfish – Destined Solitaire
Country of Origin:Sweden
Format:CD
Record Label:InsideOut
Catalogue #:IOMCD 314
Year of Release:2009
Time:76:51
Info:Beardfish
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Awaken The Sleeping (6:01), Destined Solitaire (10:53), Until You Comply Including Entropy (15:21), In Real Life There Is No Algebra (4:33), Where The Rain Comes In (8:29), At Home... Watching Movies (1:53), Coup De Grâce (9:48), Abigail's Questions [In an Infinite Universe] (9:12), The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of (10:40)

Beardfish may have only been around since 2001 but as Dave Sissons indicated in his review of their 2007 InsideOut debut Sleeping In Traffic: Part One, their roots go back to the prog tradition of the early 70’s. Such influences are something they share with fellow Scandinavian proggers Kaipa, Ritual and The Flower Kings also hailing from Sweden (surely the current epicentre of the prog universe). That aside, to my ears the bands fifth album is far from derivative being more a contemporary approximation of the classic prog sound. Its pastiche rather than plagiarism in much the same way as say Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, The Tangent and the aforementioned Swedish bands.

The man chiefly responsible for the Beardfish sound is songwriter vocalist and keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom. Completing the line-up is guitarist David Zackrisson, bassist Robert Hansen and drummer Magnus Östgren. Since their last album 2008’s Sleeping In Traffic: Part Two the quartet have all become honorary members of The Tangent appearing with Andy Tillison and co at the Summer's End festival in September 2008. Listening to the aptly titled opening instrumental Awaken The Sleeping it’s not hard to see why they were able to forge a harmonious alliance. Sjöblom enters all guns blazing, or rather I should say all Hammond and synths blazing, in an unashamedly bombastic display that readily brings early Spock’s Beard to mind. Based around an infectious hook it’s one of the album's strongest offerings which sadly seems to fade all too soon.

After the disciplined introduction, the title track that follows is less immediate taking as it did a little longer to grow on me. Following several plays however Destined Solitaire proves to be a sprawling slice of strident prog with tricky instrumental work and acrobatic vocals that’s strongly reminiscent of Gentle Giant. Sjöblom harks back his grunge origins by including some totally out of place Opeth style guttural growls but much better is Zackrisson’s showy guitar soling that bears more than a passing resemblance to Trevor Rabin’s histrionics during Yes’ 90125 tour. It’s worth reflecting on Sjöblom’s vocals at this point particular as so much has been written about the Frank Zappa influence. He certainly has a self assured almost melodramatic style that often goes a tad over the top although I personally prefer it when he keeps the theatrics under control sounding not unlike Ian Gillan which is high praise indeed. And given that he is not singing in his native tongue Sjöblom certainly has a sharp command of the English language which often reveals his cynicism (e.g. “I would really like to be the source of someone’s misery”) and like his mentor Zappa there is liberal use of the f**k word.

The lengthy Until You Comply Including Enropy maintains the busy momentum of the two opening cuts until five minutes in when a reflective interlude showcases Hansen’s stylish bass work. The moody vocals here range from introspective reflection to impassioned screams. My favourite part however is a delicate acoustic guitar, piano and bass section that displays the bands flair for composed restraint. My least favourite part on the other hand is the songs otherwise fine melody being treated to a rowdy sing-along chorus complete with cheesy oompah-pah rhythm. The gritty In Real Life There Is No Algebra is an accurate throwback to the blues flavoured prog of the late 60’s, early 70’s that the likes of Procol Harum sometimes indulged. Although it’s exceptionally well done it’s not really my cup of tea. Where The Rain Comes In keeps vocals to a minimum for the most part in favour of some strong instrumental interplay with fuzzed organ to the fore supported by superb piano and guitar. That said it features a neat little dialogue sequence that takes its cue from West Side Story.

An engaging respite comes in the form of At Home... Watching Movies where the acoustic guitar and percussion combination provides a flamenco flavoured prelude to the showcase instrumental Coup De Grâce. This starts deceptively with a lightweight French accordion sound before moving through five distinct sections including a lively keys and guitar exchange that echoes The Flower Kings at their most playful. To begin with Abigail's Questions [In An Infinite Universe] sounds too laidback for its own good, bordering on MOR but redeems itself with several jazzy excursions executed with lightning fast precision particularly the inspired Hammond solo. For more than half its duration the concluding The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of is sustained by scat vocals, an incessant riff and meandering instrumental flights which, especially the blues tinged guitar solo, impresses more than it entertains. Around the seven plus minute mark however a lyrical Moog heralds a magnificent staccato rhythm driven finale that has a real 60’s retro feel in the style of Vanilla Fudge complete with gothic Hammond and twangy guitar.

This latest offering from Beardfish certainly begins and ends on a high and in between it has some strong moments although for me these do not fully justify the albums near 80 minute duration which feels like a long haul at times. Despite the presence of several memorable hooks I found myself hankering for a really memorable melody to get my teeth into. They also seem to adopt an ‘everything including the kitchen sink’ approach whereby if there’s room then stick it in regardless. That being said they are undoubtedly one of the most distinctive and original bands around at present even if they are occasionally a little too clever for their own good. As such they often remind me of ELP, a band that was consistently (and undeservedly) being accused of pretentious leanings. So despite my misgivings I’m going to award a respectable rating and whilst they are by no means a one trick pony this is especially recommended to lovers of (analogue) keyboard driven prog.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

GEOFF FEAKES



Circulus – Thought Becomes Reality
Circulus – Thought Becomes Reality
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Voiceprint
Catalogue #:Mythcake001
Year of Release:2009
Time:36:38
Info:Circulus
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Transmuting Power (4:32), Fortunate Ones (2:58), Guide Our Way (3;35), Michael’s Garden (3:11), Trotto (2:17), Packingtons Pound (3:43), Sumer Is Incumen In (3:16), Tristan’s Lament (4:09), Kalenda Maya (4:17), Within You Is The Sun (4:30)

Album No.3 from British folk/psych/prog wizards Circulus, Thought Becomes Reality is a delightful concept album concerning contact with magical beings and alternate realities. You may be tempted to dismiss this as so much hippy tosh, or you may just decide to leave your prejudices by the door and leap on in for a deliriously trippy ride into a much brighter world.

Even after only a brief 36 minutes, you may well be reluctant to rejoin our everyday grey and mundane world, and you may well wish to join the happy band of travellers pictured on the fold-out cover, aboard a UFO ready to travel to who knows where. (Apparently, pre-release album subscribers purchased their place on the cover for the princely sum of £50.)

As for the music, Circulus are a very eccentric bunch who mixes medieval folk with Gong/Ozrics style hippy-prog and psychedelia, in a playful style guaranteed to soften the heart of the staunchest conservatives. The heavy presence of olde-worlde instruments (cittern, crumhorn, rauschpfieffe and recorders) gives a strong Gryphon feel, but in a much less academic way. Likewise, Gentle Giant come to mind at times. The whimsical approach to lyrics is definitely in the vein of Gong, whilst some of the tracks are pure folk tunes with a rock beat (Sumer Is Incummen In, Trotto).

The opening track, Transmuting Power plays like a new-age hymn, with soothing backing vocals and spacey effects over a gentle lead vocal and acoustic guitars. Fortunate Ones starts with a monastic chant, but bursts into life with a medieval jig married to a glam-rock beat that the Sweet or Mud would be proud of – a real danceable romp of a tune. Michael’s Garden is trippy, hippy rock with tongue firmly in cheek, counterpointing Michael Tyack’s vocals with naïve but delicious female vocals from Holy-Jane Shears and the Circulus Ladies Choir. Their version of the Olde-English Sumer Is Incumen In has a playful bounce too it, given a modern slant with synths and guitars, which never fails to bring a smile to my face. Tristan’s Lament is a sedate march, with a medieval flavour set against powerful electric guitar and dancing recorders and flutes, building to a powerful climax. The album ends with two particularly strong tracks, the haunting Kalenda Maya with its trippy, shimmering atmosphere, and the entrancing folk ballad Within You Is The Sun with gorgeous female vocals and a memorable chorus and delicate musical backing.

Although a short album by modern standards, it is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, with an atmosphere all of its own, conveying positive vibes with a good deal of humour, simultaneously sounding ancient and futuristic and somehow timeless all at the same time.

Conclusion: 8 out of 10

DAVE SISSONS



TEE - The Earth Explorer
TEE - The Earth Explorer
Country of Origin:Japan
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Records
Poseidon Records
Catalogue #:FGBG 4818.AR
PRF-052
Year of Release:2008
Time:47:16
Info:TEE
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: L'Oiseau Bleu [Trans Europ Express] (8:25), Nomad (7:52), Sirocco Chase (7:15), Col De L'Iseran (8:11), Aurora (7:26), City (8:07)

There was a time during the many years I have written for DPRP when it seemed that the only albums I reviewed came from Japan and via the collaboration between the French Musea Records and the Japanese Poseidon Records labels. Not that I'm complaining as it brought to my ears some wonderful music - KBB, Asturias and Kenso to mention just a few. And now we have this debut studio album, (although the band did release an independent live album in 2007), from TEE (The Earth Explorer) to add to the list. For this CD our quintet of musicians comprises of Ryuji Yonekura (keyboards & voice), Kenji Imai (flute & voice), Takayuki Asada (drums & voice), Yukio Iigahama (bass & voice) and Katsumi Yoneda (guitars & voice). Perhaps worth mentioning from the outset that although all band members are credited with "voice" this is an instrumental album.

Musically there is little of the band's ethnic origins to be found on The Earth Explorer, owing a greater allegiance to the early Canterbury bands (notably Camel & Caravan) as well as perhaps the early Italian masters. Evident almost immediately from track one, barring a few deceptive opening bars, as Kenji Imai's delicate flute flows across the rather staccato guitar rhythms. This track moves effortlessly through numerous changes of pace along with rising and falling tension building segments. Alone this track has enough interest to warrant checking out this CD. I love the piano melody from Ryuji Yonekura circa three minutes in, followed by a very early Camel like rhythm which forms the backing for the flute and guitar interplay that follows. At a little over eight minutes the music has time to develop, but still it seems to just fly by...

Nomad does offer an Eastern flavour to the proceedings, evoking Roots To Branches era Jethro Tull - more in the arrangement rather than reference to the flute playing though. Again the track transforms as it travels along - the middle pastoral section is delicate and here Imai employs the recorder to play the melody. In turn and at the five minute mark TEE adds another one of their catchy piano/flute melodies. The track returns to the east for the conclusion.

Sirocco Chase is another from the Camel mould with a legato guitar theme from Katsumi Yoneda, with only the more aggressive guitar tone belying Andy Latimer's inclusion on this CD. A lively tune with both flute and recorder dancing merrily with organ this time, and interlaced as with all of the album, with melodic and themic guitar. Again we have a quieter interlude, this time followed by a flute dominated, jazz/rock section that allows time for the solid rhythm section to cut loose a little.

Col De L'Iseran boasts yet another catchy opening theme, with a distinctive late 60s early 70s vibe and eventually we hear the ensemble vocals of TEE. These act as an "answer" to the previous instrumental melody. As we enter the lighter mid section it may appear that the music is taking on a formulaic nature, that's as maybe, however each section has it's own distinctive charm. Here we have a delicate Genesis-like acoustic (6 & 12 string) guitar section accompanied by a "vintage" synth line. Flute and recorder take over the top line in what is an engaging solo section.

Lush and rising strings form the basis for the opening of Aurora releasing at just past the one minute mark for a meandering collection of instrumental passages. The track grows nicely in intensity returning to the opening strings for the conclusion.

Only the concluding track City breaks the mould with a more dynamic, driving and forceful pulse. Not that the TEE sound is completely forsaken, the flute is ever present along with the melodic guitar, however it's more fragmented and doesn't quite have that natural flow of the previous tracks. Each of the sections are of the same high standard, just without the same smooth transitions from section to section. And it may well be deliberate?

The Earth Explorer is replete with catchy melodies, nice shifts in pace, crafted playing, odd metering and cohesive playing throughout. If there was to be some criticism it would be that perhaps the music lacks a little bite, but this is more than compensated by the other elements. If you like Camel and the instrumental side of the early Italian bands then I see little reason why you should not enjoy this album.

A great CD and well worth checking out.

Conclusion: 7.5 out of 10

BOB MULVEY



Nic Potter And Friends - Live In Italy
Nic Potter And Friends - Live In Italy
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Zomart Records
Catalogue #:ZOMCD009
Year of Release:2009
Time:46:35
Info:N/A
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Elsham Road (2:39), The Sphinx In The Face (5:40), Night Falls (9:00), Strawberry Jam (3:17), Heavenly (6:15), Icarus Gives His Love (5:49), Killer (7:32), Darkness 11/11 (6:20)

On the cusp of the re-release of all his solo albums, one of England's most under-rated bass players reintroduces himself to the music buying public with Live In Italy, his first solo album in 12 years. Dragged over to Italy where ex-Van Der Graaf Generator colleague David Jackson was performing at a festival and happened to have a spare aeroplane ticket, Nic Potter, for it is he, was impressed with the wealth of excellent local musicians that were in evidence, Potter decided that he had to work with them at some point in the near future. Having got in contact with the musicians through various promoters and agencies, the ensemble regularly gathered for jam sessions before announcing a series of concerts. Two of the concerts were recorded with four tracks from each of these concerts included on this album. The core members of the group at both of these concerts were Potter on bass, David Jackson on flute and saxes, Francesca Arrigoni on vocals and Franco Giaffreda on guitar. On the first half of the CD (recorded in Guastalla) they are joined by Tony Pagliuca on keyboards and Gigi Cavalli Cocchi on drums whilst on the last four tracks (recorded in Lecco) the drum stool is occupied by Walter Rivolta, keyboards are played by Rick Ostidich and extra member Maurizio Consonni handles analogue synthesisers and various effects.

Proceedings kick off with Elsham Road from the 1981 collaborative album with Guy Evans, The Long Hello Volume 2. This version is rather succinct, being shorter than the original studio version and about half the length of the last live recording (The Blue Zone Party originally issued on cassette but due for a first time CD release as part of the limited edition box set retrospective). A powerful number with Jackson taking the lead it is a great start to the concert, and CD. The first big surprise comes with The Sphinx In The Face and the near operatic wailings of Arrigoni. No doubting she has a powerful voice but I am unconvinced of the suitability of her style compared with Hammill's more angst-laden approach. Other than that, the band are quite a powerhouse with guitarist Giaffreda proving he is quite a find and the rest of the group gelling nicely. Night Falls has been extended to the nine-minute mark by some inspired jamming. For the first time one can really hear the Pagliuca's keyboards which gel nicely in a joint riff with the guitar with both instruments subsequently contributing fine solos. Arrigoni's vocal interjections sit more comfortably in this track where they are not competing with the familiar whilst the jam section is quite psychedelic in nature. A joint melodic bass/sax riff leads back into the main song and an attempt at audience participation which doesn't come over too well on the live recording. Strawberry Jam is a relatively simple tune which is a showcase for Giaffreda's playing as he dominates the track from start to finish. Nonetheless, it is a decent rocker and quite different from either VdGG or Potter's previous solo work.

Excerpts from the Lecco concerts begin with Heavenly, an extended version of the track Heaven from the Dreamworld album. The addition of Consonni means some subtle wind effects have been added which enhance the languid and somewhat mysterious air of the track. Jackson adds some lovely flute passages matched only by the even lovelier slide guitar. Another track that originally appeared on Dreamworld and rearranged for these concerts is Icarus Gives His Love. In its original form, under the title of Icarus it was a more synth dominated song, with a fine solo by guitarist Snowy White. Here it takes on a new setting more appropriate for a seven-piece band with newly added lyrics. The piece still has its atmospheric moments, particularly when the drums are silenced and we are left with sax and synths to entertain us. Closing the show are two more Van Der Graaf Generator songs, not surprising knowing the love of the Italians for this great band. The menace and darkness of the original is maintained by the band with Ostidich contributing some great Hammond work. However, once again it is the vocals that are a cause for concern for this listener, the high-pitched and rather over-blown vocals are rather incongruous and it is obvious that the vocalist is a non-English speaker and is reproducing the words phonetically. But as mentioned, the band can't be faulted with Jackson obviously relishing reprising the role he made his own in the glory days of VdGG. Final track, Darkness 11/11 has the same pros and cons as the other VdGG numbers although the less intense nature of the song and the more sedate vocals make it less of an issue.

So, an interesting return to live performance and one that will no doubt please a lot of Potter's fans. Ignoring my personal opinions on the suitability of the vocals to the VdGG numbers, it is obvious why Potter was so excited to work with these young musicians. With Jackson alongside and the almost fanatical support for VdGG in Italy it would have been a brave decision not to include any numbers from that particular band. Given that two complete concerts were recorded it is somewhat surprising that the album is restricted to just 46 minutes. It would have been good to hear what the musicians made of Theme One for example, although personally, I shudder to think what the version of Cat's Eye ' Yellow Fever (Running) sounded like with an operatic vocal onslaught. Given the rare opportunity to experience Potter's music in a live environment it would have been good to hear some more of his own compositions performed on stage. It is certainly good to have Potter back performing and writing. With two new solo albums under development there is a lot to look forward to in the future, which hopefully may even include some more live performances

Conclusion: 6.5 out of 10

MARK HUGHES



Galaxy Transport - Visitors
Galaxy Transport - Visitors
Country of Origin:Germany
Format:CD
Record Label:Stone Island
Records
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:2001/2008
Time:72:00
Info:N/A
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: I Don't Believe It (3:48), I'm Not Your Emotionstore (4:41), Lost (4:16), Visitors (6:38), Pearl (4:51), Medicine (7:21), Loy (10:23), Welcome To The Other Side (5:28), Interstellar Fairy Drive (6:55), Starship Pilots (on too strong dope) (3:17), Psychedelic Rockers (4:48), Shivas Awakening (6:00) Bonus Track: Something Faster Than Light

The picture of a female hunter (with a man's head) sitting on the neck of a dinosaur is crazy enough to make you want to listen to it, or run a mile. Well that was the cover image for the original release title Psychedelic Rockers back in 2001. Even the bass player is called Pink Cloud! Pretty whacky. The music is equally way out there too. It's an interesting mix of psychedelia, groove, old skool dance combined with a guitar edge. I am no 'electronic music expert', but there's definitely an early 90's sort of Acid/Rave/Techno vibe to the album. If you love, or *cough*, in your youth, loved festivals at dawn, dark sweaty clubs and people just grooving out and loosing their minds, you'll dig this... (man). 10 years ago this would have probably been on Delerium Records, along with Ozrics, Magic Mushroom Band, Astralasia.

Here are a few highlights from the CD. Now imagine yourself at hippy festival in a field with alot of other people digging the music at 3am...

The opener I Don't Believe could be a single. It has catchy sort of loose Kula Shaker, Stone Roses vibe, with a few psychedelic Beatles-esque reverse guitars. It's probably the opener of their live set. Nothing really ground breaking, but a nice opener, nice groove. I'm Not Your Emotionstore moves straight to the old skool dance vibe. It strangely reminds me of some early Fluke stuff... vocals with synth effects. The track has busy bass lines and I think TB303 synths, ala Ozrics.

Lost to me sounds really Leftfield-esque, like 'Original/Melt' with spacey synths, low keyboard bass lines and distorted guitars. A funky drum beat and floating/spacey vocals give it a nice beat. Now we have partied too much (at our imaginary festival) and we are looking for the chillout tent. Medicine is a gem with acoustic guitar, sound textures, some obligatory strange wind/thunder sounds and some bongos. I can see the sun rising above Stonehenge, where is my lighter?

Loy sees us return back to the festival dance tent. It's definitely not prog, it's dance, acidy-tehno stuff with swirling winds, some off beat 'acid techno bubbles'. I think this would work live really well, depending if the retro style floats your boat. Perhaps in this sort of genre, spacey electronic dance/dub has moved on alot. Bands like Shpongle have shaken it up where you now get super tight beats with fat bass and super production. I think you will either love it for the blatant retro sound and groove, or just skip to the next track. I think it's great... lights down volume up, where is the bar?

Welcome To The Other Side basically sounds like Neil Young's Courtez The Killer, with synths! This song cries out for a guitar solo, but it isn't there!

In comparison with newer bands and some 'prog' it seems a little and loose and not so polished. Actually that is the attraction of this CD. In places it's great quality 'festival space rock'. If I saw them at a festival and they played the best numbers I would be really enthusiastic in checking out their music. If they were perhaps a little more critical to themselves and removed a few of the 'fillers' on the album and gave us 50 minutes of a little more focused music it would work better. If I was more critical with myself about this review I admit that even though I enjoy this style of music, I still expected slightly more. I am sure that someone who is solely an ELP/Gensis/Yes type prog fan would have a different opinion. I hope that I have given enough insight to so you can make an educated guess. One of the best tracks is actually on YouTube, give it a whirl.

There are fall sorts of flavours on this album. They don't really sound precisely like another band, but all the reference points are there. Leftfield/Faithless/Dreadzone/Ozrics/Thunder Dogs-esque dance and dub. It might not make you play it repeatedly, but like our festival you would go once in a while to blow away the cobwebs, let your hair down and cut loose! Like all good music it inspired me to go and listen also to some older stuff like Praise Space Electric Head, Sundial's first album and Delerium's Fun With Mushrooms sampler..

The first time you listened to Porcupine Tree's On The Sunday Of Life, did you realise what Steve Wilson and PT would become? PT were probably playing at the same festival you have just been to, but you missed them! With a bit of work I hope that their next album is abit tighter, a little better produced and perhaps then spot on on.. If you need help give SW a ring on 0123 4567890

The re-release sports a new cover and is housed in a DVD case. A bonus track is also included...

If you are a 'traditional progger', it's a 4.5/10. If your musical horizons float in ethereal space it's a 6/10 - lacking in a little inspiration, some good moments. If they took out a few duff tracks and worked on the semi decent stuff there is the potential for some good stuff here

Conclusion: See Above

IAN BUTLER



Nadine Gabard & Erik Baron - Noches Buenas
TEE - The Earth Explorer
Country of Origin:France
Format:CD
Record Label:Musea Ethnéa
Catalogue #:ET 8813
Year of Release:2008
Time:50:08
Info:Gabard & Baron
Samples:Click here

Tracklist: Puntcha, Puntcha (3:32), Ija Mia (4:27), Alta Va La Luna (2:52), Sekretos De Mi Vida (4:26), La Roza Enflorese (5:29), Morenica SOS (4:23), Notches Buenas (6:07), Durme, Durme (4:53), La Madre De La Novya (4:33), El Bastidor (5:19), Yo M'en D'un Aire (4:49)

The unlikely combination of the mezzo-soprano voice of Nadine Gabard and lyrical bass work from Erik Baron form the central core for this release from the Musea Ethnéa label. Now I found little information on Nadine Gabard although this link will take you to some information (albeit in French). Composer and bass player Erik Baron has slightly more presence on the web and amongst other ventures can be found fronting his own band d-zAkord. Two other people are credited on two tracks - percussionist Fouad Ashtar on La Roza Enflorese and the spoken voice of Isabelle Loubére on Sekretos De Mi Vida.

Noches Buenas is a simple collection of pieces primarily revolving around the "untreated" and almost a cappella vocals of Nadine Gabard. The source and inspiration of these pieces traces back to the 15th century, sung in period Spanish and: "stemming from Iberian Jewish popular music: women's songs, lullabies, madrigals, romances and nostalgic melodies". To this and along with his electric and acoustic basses Baron adds "électriques", which I gather to be some form of looping facility and very occasionally percussion and effects.

A strange combination indeed. Does it work I here you ask?

Well the album starts promisingly with Puntcha Puntcha. Here Baron employs several great bass lines evoking Levin/Fripp/Belew... and these parts form a superb basis for the track. Gabard's crystal clear voice drifts effortlessly over the music. Ija Mia again has a great melody line which is delivered impeccably. This time Baron's fretless basses take on a more dynamic role, played almost in the style of a classical guitar. Alta Va La Luna is simple and charming a cappella piece, followed by another haunting and engaging melody in Sekretos De Mi Vida although this time with acoustic bass embellishments from Baron. La Roza Enflorese has a simple metering played by Fouad Ashtar on Ghatam (an Indian percussion instrument made from clay), jazzy phrasings and melodies from the bass department - and again voice.

I'm pretty sure by now you have a strong inkling as to the music to be found on Noches Buenas. And gosh I realise this isn't going to appeal en masse, but personally this made a welcome change and with headphones on, late of an evening the airiness of the music resonated with this reviewer. Nadine Gabard's voice captures the essence of the pieces and translates them universally. To add accompaniment to these melodies must have been some task and although not all of the album lives up to the opening track (and perhaps La Madre De La Novya) there is certainly enough to bring me back to this CD from time to time.

Impossible to offer a numeric conclusion - it is either going to appeal or not!

Conclusion: Unrated

BOB MULVEY




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