Issue 2015-079

Audience - The House On The Hill

Audience - The House On The Hill
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 1971/2015
Time: 51:16
Links:
Track List:
Jackdaw (7:30), You're Not Smiling (5:21), I Had A Dream (4:18), Raviolé (3:41), Nancy (4:15), Eye To Eye (2:32), I Put A Spell On You (4:09). House On The Hill (7:32) *Bonus tracks* You're Not Smiling (single mix) (4:18), Indian Summer (3:17), You're Not Smiling (promotional radio version) (4:17)
Audience's third album, and first on, as the original vinyl used to state, 'The Famous Charisma Label', is widely regarded as the band's finest. Indeed it is an album that stands up well today. The combination of signing to Charisma, working with Hipgnosis on the the sleeve design and, most importantly, hooking up with producer Gus Dudgeon culminated in an album that 44 years later is still held in very high regard. The unusual line up of Keith Gemmell on tenor sax, clarinet and flute, Howerd Werth on electric classical guitar and vocals, Trevor Williams on bass and Tony Connor on percussion and vibes was somewhat unusual even for the early 70s but works extremely well. This is down to the arrangements, the skill of the performers and the diverse rage of musical styles present on the album.

Opening track Jackdaw sets the scene with Gemmell's sax providing the melody, in a similar way that David Jackson did on the early Van der Graaf Generator albums. The middle section with the powerful fuzz bass solo, one of the many suggestions from Dudgeon is a delight. You're Not Smiling was an obvious choice for a single due to its immediacy and memorability. Although not content to leave it as a straightforward song, Dudgeon also tried putting the sax and chorus vocals through a rotating Leslie speaker normally used for organs. The results are subtle but beneficial, adding a slight flutter to the sax and taking some of the edge off Werth's sometimes harsh vocals. The simple ballad I Had A Dream largely focuses on Werth's classical guitar with plenty of soothing backing 'oohs' supporting the main vocals and other instrumentation pushed back into the mix. The overall results are quite stunning.

The rather punningly titled instrumental Raviolé was so named as both a tribute to master sitarist Ravi Shankar and the Spanish influence of the guitar. Although some Indian progressions can be heard in the piece it is the Spanish influence that is predominant. The arrangement of players from the London Symphony Orchestra by Robert Kirby is as masterful as his work for Nick Drake, never drowning out the sound but augmenting it throughout, adding layers and depth; the final minute or so is simply stunning music.

Nancy is a fuller number, with a more prominent bass line and the sax blending well with the vocal line. The middle eight is energetic and upbeat, which really gets the toes tapping and must have been a real rousing piece in concert. The brief Eye To Eye is a personal favourite with a lovely flute line and solo with a rather mysterious air to the whole song. A cover of Screaming Jay Hawkins' I Put A Spell On You is perhaps the most unexpected inclusion on the album but had long been a favourite of Werth's since he first heard it on a 1950s television programme. It is the arrangement that nails it, taking the song into a new dimension that is totally different from any other version of this famous song. Perhaps another surprise for fans of the band was the reworking of House On The Hill, which had originally been included on their debut album. Over the years the song, whose lyrics predate the formation of the group, had evolved immensely and become a live favourite. Its development was such that it had become much more of a feature of the band and they, rightly, considered it worthy of rerecording. The new version is much darker than the original and is cleverly captured in the artwork of the album; you really have to see the back sleeve to understand the whole concept better!

As ever, Esoteric have added in appropriate bonus tracks. Both sides of the single released from the album, the single mix of You're Not Smiling and the non-album B-side Indian Summer, as well as a previously unreleased radio promo for the single with a very Monty Python-esque introduction! Indian Summer fits well with the rest of the material on the album and is no throw-away B-side, but an integral part of the album sessions. It is good to have it reunited with the other material.

House On The Hill is probably the most famous of Audience's albums, which is certainly justifiable as it is where everything gelled for the group. This by no means undervalues the band's three other contemporary albums, but if you want to start your Audience collection somewhere, then this is the place to start.
Conclusion:
Mark Hughes: 8 out of 10

Audience - Lunch

Audience - Lunch
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 1972/2015
Time: 45:50
Links:
Track List:
Stand By The Door (3:57), Seven Sore Bruises (2:38), Hula Girl (2:41), Ain't The Man You Need (3:20), In Accord (4:56), Barracuda Dan (2:20), Thunder And Lightnin' (3:37), Party Games (3:19), Trombone Gulch (2:42), Buy Me An Island (5:13) *Bonus Tracks* Grief And Disbelief (4:04), Hard Cruel World (3:38), Elixir Of Youth (3:19)
Audience's final album is probably the most diverse of the four they released in the 70s, and it showed a rather subtle change in direction with more of an overt American influence than on previous albums. The diversity and line-up changes that occurred in the middle of recording the album make it probably the least representative of the group and for that reason probably the weakest.

Following House On The Hill the band hit the road, touring in the UK and Europe, before taking their first steps into the US, headlining a week of dates at the Los Angeles Whiskey a Go-Go. Initial work was started on recording new material with the original four-piece of Howard Werth (electric classical guitar and vocals), Trevor Williams (bass, accordion and vocals), Tony Connor (bass, vibes and marimba) and Keith Gemmell (tenor sax, clarinet and flute), when the opportunity arose to support The Faces on a large tour across the US. Although this should have been the making of the band, ultimately it hastened their demise.

As a support act, the group could not afford to fly everywhere between gigs, which meant long hours on the road in cramped vans. The result was an intensifying of disagreements and becoming less tolerant of each other. Immediately following the end of the tour, Gemmell left the band. With an album half recorded, and in order to maintain the sound of the band, another tenor saxophonist was required and, fortunately, Bobby Keyes was available between stints of recording the seminal Exile On Main Street with The Rolling Stones. On Keyes' recommendation, trumpet and trombone player Jim Price was also recruited to the sessions and in an extension to the sound, piano player Nick Judd also found himself joining the band for road work and a spirited addition to the song Trombone Gulch.

Although far from a bad album, Lunch, a name suggested by Storm Thorgeson of Hipgnosis after coming up with the cover design (taken from an American knitting pattern!) that looked like a pair of 'ladies who lunch', the disparate nature of the material makes it a very disjointed album. The best tracks are those that retain the band's sound from previous albums. Closer Buy Me An Island is the main focal point with some great sax and a rousing chorus with Thunder And Lightnin', another stand out track. In Accord and Stand By The Door are the only songs that have an instantly recognisable Audience sound. It would certainly be interesting to know if these tracks were the ones that were recorded before the US Faces Tour and with the original line-up; it certainly sounds that way.

For the remainder of the songs on the original album, two of the three tracks, Seven Sore Bruises and Barracuda Dan, feature a heavier brass arrangement. They don't really cut it for me and, although the third, Trombone Gulch, is an energetic and engaging number, it loses the essence of the Audience sound. Hula Girl is best forgotten about, Party Games is a vaguely Russian-themed tune with an excess of accordion, and Ain't The Man You Need sounds like Ray Charles. In themselves they are okay, but move away from anything progressive.

The three bonus tracks include an album outtake, Grief And Disbelief, which falls into the category of disappointing; the much better Hard Cruel World, which sounds like an outtake from an earlier album and was released after the band's demise as the B-side to Raviolé, resurrected from the House On The Hill album, and the previously unreleased Elixir Of Youth, which is a great find and a classic Audience track.

So a somewhat disappointing end to the band's limelight years, although their ongoing reformation has generated some spectacularly well-received live shows and a live album as well.
Conclusion:
Mark Hughes: 6 out of 10

The Bob Lazar Story - Self-Loathing Joe [EP]

The Bob Lazar Story - Self-Loathing Joe
Country of Origin: New Zealand
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 20:24
Links:
Track List:
Harmonics (0:16), Don Branch Venom (3:00), No Wait. Yes Chips (2:45), Self-Loathing Joe (2:05), Foodstool Exacts Revenge Upon Gilchrist The Traitor (3:04), Ezekiel II (8:59), Scinomrah (0:15)
This the fifth release from Christchurch-based Antipodeans The Bob Lazar Story. It is the project of Matt Deacon (guitars and mouse) and Chris Jago (drums), having parted company with bass player Mike Fudowski from their previous release, the excellent Ghost of Foodstool.

According to the blurb on their Bandcamp page, this is an EP that "sounds like two small bands having a fight on some stairs". However, this is to do this band, an admittedly amusing, disservice. This is a set of compressed slices of proggy goodness. There is less of the jazz-fusion aspect found on their last release, here relying more on challenging prog-rock.

These instrumental tracks are bookended by the 16 seconds of Harmonics guitar picking, with the tape played backwards for the last track (the clue is in its title). They get going with the heavy guitar distortion of Don Branch Venom, which comes across like King Crimson playing a medieval minstrel tune. There is a wonderful interplay between keys and guitar on the stop-start of No Wait, Yes Chips; whilst a hidden West Coast 70s acoustic melody peeks out on the title track.

There are dark organ sounds under a Cardiacs-like squeaky top line, that also puts me in mind of the Talkbox used by Peter Frampton to modify his guitar sound. But the masterpiece here is the three-part suite Ezekiel II. It opens with a mid-paced, insistent repeated melodic phrase that is soon joined by riffing guitars along with a perfectly-moulded keyboard section before fading into the second section. This is a wordless, dissonant, but ethereal, multi-layered vocal section that could be by György Ligeti (whose music used in 2001: A Space Odyssey). Under this, there is a strange, whispered spoken-word tale of four-faced people. Then, for the third part, a glorious Richard Wright-style organ and electric piano combination weaves a lovely melody that is then joined by slide guitar. It is just a terrific end to this nine-minute epic. On my last review of The Bob Lazar Story, I said that I wished that some of the tracks were longer; thanks for making that wish come true!

This may be music made by people who are easily bored and want to move on with a restless and boundless energy, even on the short tracks. Not having a vocalist means they can switch in instrumental direction at will. I find this very engaging and it has me smiling with no sense of the pleasure wearing thin after multiple plays. Now, I wonder what would happen to their music if they wrote songs with a vocal melody in mind.

I urge you to listen to this wonderfully weird collection of inventively-arranged and played prog tunes.
Conclusion:
Martin Burns: 8.5 out of 10

Fernwood - Arcadia

Fernwood - Arcadia
Country of Origin: USA
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 42:30
Links:
Track List:
Bells Spring (3:44), The Pan Chaser (4:56), Vision At Vasquez Rocks (3:59), Red Hill Trail (3:51), The Lost Night (4:20), Crossing The Divide (3:48), Owen's Hideaway (3:51), Young Mountain Memory (3:17), After The Big Sky Falls (2:41), Escape Down Sycamore Canyon (4:46), Winter Way (3:12)
Gayle Ellett and Todd Montgomery's Fernwood project returns with their third album, Arcadia. The rationale behind the group, "all music played by hand, on instruments made out of wood" is proudly maintained, well almost: this album does feature some Moog, Mellotron and organ as well as some electric guitar. However, despite the use of these electric instruments, which are used to provide depth and mood to the pieces, the central focus is always on instrumental music.

It has been six years since the duo's last album, Sangita and, like that album, and its predecessor Almeria, the music is both relaxing and inspiring. Whereas the first two albums were more centrally rooted in Americana, the new album is more expansive, reaching further afield for inspiration, particularly to the Orient. At times, I am reminded somewhat of Dead Can Dance, albeit in a less dramatic manner - a walk through the countryside as opposed to the intrigue of the city. Fernwood's music is ideally suited music for television or film depicting grand vistas and wide open spaces, as neither are overly cluttered, the focus is on the melody not the sonic assault.

The dazzling array of instruments used in the recording is an indication of the care the duo have wrought on the album to always have the right sounds and the right textures for each piece with the result that there is a tremendous variety to the music. Listening to Arcadia is a journey, an exploration. From the mystery and rhythmic Bells Spring to the simplicity and atmosphere of Winter Way, the album is a delight throughout.

If you enjoyed the first two albums by the duo, then Arcadia sits nicely alongside but still sounds fresh and original. Even the most ardent prog fans need to relax and there is no better way to do so than by kicking back and listening to Fernwood!
Conclusion:
Mark Hughes: 8 out of 10

Rupert Hine - Unshy The Skyline - The Best Of Rupert Hine

Rupert Hine - Unshy The Skyline - The Best Of Rupert Hine
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 57:05
Links:
Track List:
I Hang On To My Vertigo (5:01), The Set Up (4:24), Surface Tension (4:17), Samsara (5:06), The Curious Kind (4:47), Another Stranger (4:43), Dark Windows (3:24), Say No To The Picture-Phone (3:35), The Wildest Wish To Fly (6:31), No Yellow Heart (4:57), Firefly In The Night (4:03), One Man's Poison (6:11)
Firstly, I have to state that this album is woefully mistitled as it is really the best of Rupert Hine in the 80s and doesn't include anything from his two albums from the 1970s recorded for Deep Purple's Purple label. This is a great shame, as those two albums were both very good and worthy of independent reissue. Of course, this album also doesn't include anything from Hine's involvement with Quantum Jump, but just focuses on his three solo albums, Immunity (1981), Waving Not Drowning (1982) and The Wildest Wish To Fly (1983). Now I have the utmost respect for Mr Hine; his production skills are exemplary and his Auditorious venture for new musical talent is hopefully a way forward for artists of the future, but these albums are very much a product of the era and just sound horribly dated now.

The 1980s was my least favourite decade of music, aside from the early 80s progressive revival. The mainstream music environment was, in my opinion, quite dire. The tracks on this compilation are based around terrible drum machines and horrible synth sounds. It might have sounded fresh and original 30-odd years ago, but it is just terribly twee now. The songs themselves are somewhat basic with no real progressive edges to them. Hine's vocals are not the best in the world, which doesn't help.

I have had this album for a while now and have yet not been able to listen to it all the way through in one sitting. Esoteric would have done better to try and get the rights to the two 70s albums; I guess their decision to release a compilation rather than the three 80s albums in their entirety would suggest that they were not too convinced of the appeal to their core market.

Not one for progressive fans!
Conclusion:
Mark Hughes: 2 out of 10

Ichthyander Dad's Only Dolphin - At One Music Fest 2014 [CD + DVD]

Ichthyander Dad's Only Dolphin - At One Music Fest 2014
Country of Origin: Ukraine
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 64:03
Links:
Track List:
Through the Gates of the Universe (11:48), Biometry (5:18), Opus 16 (4:35), Castles of Birmingham (3:18), Unmeasured Spaces (7:36), Countdown (2:39), Epiphany (8:07), Comeback to Life (8:17), Starless (12:11)
I was immediately attracted by the surreal name of the band. In the opening minutes of the CD, this initial sense of the bizarre was heightened by the inclusion of Yuri Gagarin's first words as he was rocketed into space. At first, I thought that the voice was a compere introducing the band. I felt uneasy; the less-than-pristine sound quality of this spoken introduction did not bode well for the rest of the CD. It was only later, when watching the accompanying DVD, and whilst reading the accompanying subtitles, that Gargarin's contribution was revealed. I also realised that the first track was entitled Through the Gates of the Universe. Therefore, the inclusion of Gargarin's words was not so strange after all. The overall sound quality on both the DVD and CD is remarkably good for a self-produced, independent live release.

I first listened to this performance on CD and, whilst I enjoyed it, there was initially nothing about it that really grabbed my attention. The music was skilfully performed, but for a live performance it appeared to lack the impulsiveness and enthusiasm that can make live CDs such an exciting and rewarding listening experience. Since that initial impression, I have watched the DVD on a number of occasions and this has deepened my overall appreciation of the band's music and art. As a consequence, the audio disc has become much more satisfying in almost every respect.

The live performance of the band is probably not going to gain admirers from those who want a gig to involve some degree of showmanship or spine-tingling passages of uninhibited virtuoso musicianship. However, what is on offer in the audio disc is 64 minutes of extremely well-rehearsed and tightly-spun, complex progressive music. On numerous occasions, the music of Ichthyander Dad's Only Dolphin channels the mid-70s era of King Crimson. The opening two pieces even contain hints of the style of The Mahavishnu Orchestra. The extensive use of the violin, and some occasional flute, also brought to mind the music of The Lost World Band. The fragile tone of violinist Olena Yeremenko was not always to my taste, but did not unduly detract from my overall enjoyment. Nevertheless, on a number of occasions, I wished for a more muscular sound associated with players such as Anna Phoebe or, Akihisa Tsubay of KBB.

The band is also joined by several guests during the performance. The most notable individual guest contribution was made by flautist Denis Fedchenko, whose lyrical flute playing added a flowing pastoral dimension to a number of pieces. Satisfyingly, Ichyander Dad's Only Dolphin was also able to bask in the lilting ripples created by the inclusion of a guest string trio during their performance.

The inclusion of a style of chamber rock into the band's repertoire ensures that the overall performance at One Music Fest is varied. The use of the string trio on numerous tracks gave the disc a wide palette of sounds, and I thoroughly enjoyed the chamber rock moments. In passages provided by cello, violin and viola, the listener is gently caressed by their melodic bowing. These moments are fleeting; for the majority of the performance the audience is boisterously squeezed by a pulsating bass, infectious drumming and an abundance of lyrical or discordant guitar lines.

The band contains talented musicians. On the whole, I found that the compositions on offer were appealing and often displayed attractive melodies. Whilst there were opportunities for proficiently-delivered solos within the pieces, and some thoroughly engaging call-and-response interludes, the music felt somewhat over-rehearsed. The band's interpretation of the largely well-constructed pieces would almost certainly have benefited from a looser approach, incorporating a greater spark of spontaneity and a wider spirit of adventure. Personally, I longed for a more organic performance, perfumed with the alluring odour of the unexpected.

Once in a while, the players are able to break free from their self-imposed performance constraints, and stretch out a little. In the jazz roots of Unmeasured Spaces, the band moves skilfully and successfully towards a more improvised feel. It is one of three highly-convincing compositions that make up the middle section of the disc. The disc's other compositions although well constructed and satisfying are not nearly as fulfilling as the exciting trio that makes up the strongest pieces on offer.

Unmeasured Spaces features numerous enthralling instrumental passages and also includes some tasteful interplay between keys, sax and guitar. It is a track that I have played repeatedly and have continued to gain a great deal of satisfaction from. Unmeasured Spaces is followed by the enchanting baroque rock of Countdown.

Countdown features an expressive flute part underpinned by a rhythmic back drop reminiscent of Jethro Tull. This highly enjoyable and expansive piece offers a range of moods. In the third and final part of the trio of equally convincing pieces, the band highlight their versatility in the excellent King Crimson-influenced Epiphany. The lengthy rhythmic introduction is excellent and works particularly well, as did the inclusion of a number of surprising flamenco-styled guitar interludes. Epiphany also incorporates many interesting changes of atmosphere and tempo provided by the string trio.

I enjoyed Ichthyander Dad's Only Dolphin at One Music Fest 2014, but the overall live performance was perhaps not compelling enough for me to repeatedly reach for the CD. However, I am certain that I will play the accompanying DVD frequently. The DVD puts the CD into context and enables the listener to focus sharply on the individual players and components that make up the band's music. The content of the DVD and CD are also slightly different; the ninth and final track on the DVD is a cover of Gentle Giant's The Boys in The Band, whilst the ninth and final track on the CD is a cover of King Crimson's Starless. On this track, the vocals are handled by The Gourishankar's Jason Offen.

In the final analysis, the CD and DVD are symbiotic and complement each other. Together, they make the release a gratifyingly-attractive proposition that suggests the band has much to offer contemporary progressive music.
Conclusion:
Owen Davies: 7 out of 10

Ifsounds - Reset

Ifsounds - Reset
Country of Origin: Italy
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 43:14
Links:
Track List:
When I Was Born Again (6:03), Fr9364 (4:01), 40-14 (5:02), Laura (4:14), I've Never Hated Anyone (3:25), Run Away (5:25), Flashback (2:37), Fading To Blue (4:39), Reset (4:07), The Tide (3:51)
Reset is the third full album by this Italian band. They've been around since 1993 and have had earlier releases, but that was not under the name Ifsounds. In those early days they mainly played covers from well-known bands such as Pink Floyd, Queen and The Police. It takes until 2010 for the real take-off of the band called Ifsounds.

Their first album, Apeirophobia (2010), got a nomination as Best Italian Album of the Year at ProgAwards.it. After the release of their second album, Red Apple, in 2012, the band fell apart. The only two remaining members are Claudio Lapenna (piano, keyboards, vocals) and Dario Lastella (guitars, keyboards, synths, vocals). The first new member is rock-blues singer Pierluca De Liberato. The final two members, Fabio De Libertis (bass) and Gianni Manariti (drums, percussion, vocals), joined in 2014.

With this line-up they recorded this album in 2015 with music that they describe as art rock/crossover progressive rock. Also worth mentioning is the fact that there are two versions of this album, English and Italian. We will limit ourselves to the English version. The opening track sounds quite catchy, with some fine organ tunes, solid drumming, heavy guitars and the raw, bluesy lead vocals by Runal. It's an album with lots of variety and it's not always easy to find the proggy elements that DPRP-readers are looking for but they are certainly there. The second track, Fr9364, is an instrumental that sounds very funky. 40-14 is a track that starts with Deep Purple influences and Laura is a folky tune that you would like to hear at your local pub. Could you get any more variety in music?

Two of the most proggy tracks are probably Run Away, with some nice synths, and the title track, which has Pink Floyd influences. So, something for everyone on this album to enjoy. For some people, all the changes of musical direction are maybe a bit too much, but I found it quite enjoyable to listen to. It might be a good idea for the band to choose one musical style for future releases, but the approach on Reset certainly is original. It's worth checking out the full album on Bandcamp.
Conclusion:
Peter Swanson: 7.5 out of 10

Lonely Robot - Please Come Home

Lonely Robot - Please Come Home
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 58:06
Links:
Track List:
Airlock (3:55), God Vs Man (5:40), The Boy In The Radio (4:49), Why Do We Stay? (5:10), Lonely Robot (8:07), A Godless Sea (5:26), Oubilette (5:19), Construct/Obstruct (5:46), Are We Copies? (6:17), Humans Being (5:36), The Red Balloon (2:01)
Please Come Home is a solo work from prog powerhouse John Mitchell, known for his work with bands such as It Bites, Kino, Arena and Frost. As his rhythm section, he has Nick Beggs on bass and Craig Blundell on drums. Also on this album are a whole host of notable musicians from various well-known prog bands such as Jem Godfrey, Steve Hogarth and Heather Findlay to name a few.

This project features a group of songs much in the style of the bands John Mitchell is a part of. There is certainly a focus on shorter, more melody-driven pieces, shying away from the big 20-minute epics that other prog bands tend to churn out. This makes for a very refreshing listen, where the progressive qualities of the music are more subtle, and the focus is on catchy hooks, contemplative lyrics, and a balance between musical intensity and beauty.

For those who are fans of John Mitchell, this album contains all the wonderful facets of his music. There is the instrumental opener, Airlock, which is a powerful statement, getting the listener ready for what they are about to hear. God Vs Man is a heavy rocker with plenty of guitar riffs and intense vocals. The Boy In The Radio is a much poppier work, with a catchy chorus that makes for a pleasant listen - in a different universe this could even be a radio hit. Why Do We Stay? is a beautiful ballad, sung with Heather Findlay, which strips everything down to an aching emotional power. The title track, Lonely Robot, is a clear highlight. It is certainly the most proggy piece on the album, featuring some great keyboard work from Jem Godfrey, and expertly balances all the strengths of the first four tracks into a prog stew showcasing all that Mitchell is able to do. These first five tracks demonstrate Mitchell's diversity and are a perfect picture of who he is as a musical artist.

There are plenty of other highlights on this album, including a wonderful rocking duet with Touchstone's Kim Seviour on Oubilette (one of my favourite tracks on the album), and a powerful, uplifting ballad with an anthemic chorus called Humans Being. This album is a wonderful statement by John Mitchell and is a great example of all that he is capable of as a musician and writer. That being said, I do prefer his works with his other bands just a bit more, maybe because of the more collaborative nature of those records.

I could use just a bit more complexity and diversity in the music in order for it to really transcend into being one of my favourite albums. But, there is no denying the immense talents of John Mitchell and how he is able to craft an incredibly catchy melody and insert such power and emotion into his music. This album comes highly recommended to all fans of John Mitchell and the numerous bands of which he is a member.
Conclusion:
Nathan Waitman: 7 out of 10

Alberto Rigoni - Into The Bass

Alberto Rigoni - Into The Bass
Country of Origin: Italy
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 66:57
Links:
Track List:
The Factory (5:41), The Net (2:01), Free (6:21), Trying To Forget (2:49), Story Of A Man (6:08), Between Space And Time (4:23), Iwazaru (4:23), A New Soul (4:25), Ubick (5:21), Toshogu Shrine (1:10), Kikazaru (3:58), Chron (5:10), Floating capsule (5:27), Multitasking (1:49), Liberation (5:40), Sweet Tears (4:15)
Alberto Rigoni is one of Italy's leading bass players, and is not only a great example to musicians and other bassists but also to composers and arrangers. Alberto is the bass player for Twin Spirits one of Italy's leading prog bands, as well as being the mastermind behind Lady and The Bass, his collaboration with Italian singer Irene Ermolli.

If you don't know who Alberto Rigoni is, then Into the Bass is a great start-point to get to know the man and his instrument(s). Professing 'a range of influences', we have some Dream Theater and Rush with the lively opener The Factory and YES to artists such as Michael Manring and Stu Hamm'. This is a compilation of material from his four solo albums to date and features a few of his mates to help with some of the material including Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), Michael Manring, and John Macaluso (ex Yngwie Malmsteen, ARK).

Into the Bass gives great inside view of Alberto's passion for playing the bass guitar; be it the 4,5, 6 or even 8-string version. An all instrumental album, it showcases all elements of Rigoni's playing, from the upbeat, offbeat and technical (Iwazaru or Liberation), to the more finer-pitched examples (Free or Story of Man). Be it walking bass or melodic play, everything comes along. It is not only a rocking bass that is displayed as the pavement on which the music rolls. As Rigoni clearly shows, it is also a very good instrument for playing solos or even as a lead instrument in a song.

I would urge everyone, if only with a slight interest in playing guitar or bass guitar to listen to this compilation of Alberto Rigoni's music. It will give you a good idea of what is possible. Fans of other great bass players like Jaco Pastorius or Tony "the stickman" Levin, just have a listen and judge for yourself.
Conclusion:
Gert Hulshof: 8 out of 10

Teramaze - Her Halo

Teramaze - Her Halo
Country of Origin: Australia
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 56:37
Links:
Track List:
An Ordinary Dream (Enla Momento) (12:49), To Love, a Tyrant (7:55), Her Halo (5:15), Out of Subconscious (5:54), For the Innocent (4:56), Trapeze (4:59), Broken (5:54), Delusions of Grandeur (9:34)
I singled-out this Melbourne-based quartet as a band to watch, when enthusing over their third album, Anhedonia way back in 2012. Thus I was delighted that Teramaze not only met, but exceeded my expectations with their next album. Esoteric Symbolism easily made my Top 20 albums of 2014.

Teramaze, who label themselves loosely as a progressive metal outfit, are becoming a band with an ever-changing line-up. Only guitarist Dean Wells has been ever-present since their debut album came out 20 years ago. I was particularly worried when I'd heard that singer Brett Rerekura had become the latest to depart the Teramaze ranks. I felt he was the star performer on Esoteric Symbolism, an opinion shared in Martin Burns' very complimentary DPRP review of that album.

However I need not have worried as his replacement, Nathan 'The Blitz' Peachey is of a similar style, and his delivery and range is, if anything, even better.

Stylistically this sits very firmly in the territory occupied by Seventh Wonder and Circus Maximus. Peachey's phrasing holds more than a torch to the voice of Tommy Karevik in Seventh Wonder. The strong focus on melody, yet with a progressively-adventurous streak, will also hold appeal for fans of Darkwater and Andromeda. There is a slight djentish vibe to some of the rhythmic patterns, but it is not a constant distraction.

It's a cliché but it really is true to say that no fillers were employed in the making of this album. Indeed it is hard to pick a favourite, as they all hold many charms. If pushed, then the ambitious opener An Ordinary Dream (Enla Momento) more than warrants its 12-minutes length with some truly catchy and infectious hooks.

The acoustic breaks throughout this disc are awesome and even the occasional voice-overs work well. Out Of Subconscious is another favourite with an immense riff from Wells, and unusually for me, the instrumental piece, Trapeze really impresses.

Her Halo_ is as close to perfection as an album of this style will ever get. In terms of a score, only the lack of originality holds me back from giving the full marks, yet rest assured this will be in a single digit position when I come to write up my best albums of 2015.
Conclusion:
Andy Read: 9.5 out of 10