ISSUE 2015-545

Reviews in this issue:

Arcane Atlas - Constellation Plus
Arcane Atlas - Constellation Plus
Country of Origin: USA
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 58:39
Links:
Track List:
Constellation Plus (2:47), Static Perception (5:14), Canvas (5:18), Tessellate (6:17), For his Majesty (1:41), Sample (5:45), Fellowship/Thought of Reaso(4:01), Estuary (10:00), In Motu Vero (2:26), Ataraxia (4:30), Self Sufficient (8:03), Once Tomorrow, Then Always (2:37)
Arcane Atlas is a young progressive rock trio based out of Nashville, Tennessee. Normally, I wouldn't categorise a band in a way that references age, but Constellation Plus was recorded while the members were in High School! That makes the quality of this, their debut album all the more impressive.

The band consists of Drew Brown (bass and vocals), guitarist Eric Bezner and Destin Frost on drums. They display a musical ability and confidence that would sound at home coming from much more tenured musicians. There are impressive performances throughout, with a special mention to the expressive bass playing of Drew. Setting aside their ages and judging Constellation Plus on its merits alone, the album still impresses, with its songwriting, sheer range and musical aspirations. The band wears its influences very prominently on their sleeves, and shades of everything from Genesis, Yes, Marillion, The Police and especially Rush can be found here.

The band strives to be multi-dimensional and the songs range from straight-forward rockers, to more reflective tracks, with sections reminiscent of artists like Anthony Phillips. With its respectful nod to the past, Constellation Plus also contains a modern edge that keeps it a safe distance away from sounding redundant.

Unimpressed by a popular music scene that they believe rewards image over ability, Arcane Atlas aspires to bring back the integrity and pure talent displayed by the greats of the past. A daunting task for any modern band to take on, but I can safely say that they are off to a very good start. Constellation Plus is a fine album but as I listen to it, I somehow find myself more excited about what will come next from this band. In attempting to be varied and adventurous, they are mostly successful. Tracks like Static Perception, Canvas and Tellellate showcase their talents very effectively, while Estuary, the longest track on the album, builds to an extremely impressive instrumental finale.

There are other times though where the song arrangements seem to meander a bit. During these moments, it is easy to consider what the benefits of a strong producer and continued artistic growth will bring to the band in the future. That being said, don't let small quibbles sway you from giving Arcane Atlas a listen. This is a talented group of musicians with an extremely promising future.
Conclusion:
Patrick McAfee: 6.5 out of 10

In The Presence of Wolves - Thalassas
In The Presence of Wolves - Thalassas
Country of Origin: USA
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 44:26
Links:
Track List:
Man of the Times (7:50), Storm in a Red Dress (4:18), Hypoxia (7:00), Palladium (8:02), Birdsong (2:58), Thalassas: I. The Careless Abandon (5:10), Thalassas: II. What Dwells Below (The Portal) (3:41), Thalassas: III. Back to the Surface (6:07)
For the past few years, I have been playing Haken pretty frequently. In fact, even more so after seeing them in concert in Virginia this past May. After hearing a track on Youtube, I decided this album seemed like a pretty natural fit for the musical head-space that I was in. Oddly enough, after doing a little bit of research for this review, I noticed that they actually opened up for Haken during their Philadelphia show.

The first two tracks, Man of the Times and Storm in a Red Dress start out on a heavy note and don't really let up until the end. Musically, Thalasses reminds me of a mix of Haken and Canvas Solaris, with some occasional Falling into Infinity-era Dream Theater references. What really stands out is how natural the music sounds, especially considering how complex it is. I never really find myself cringing between sections of a song because they didn't fit together.

The vocals are very intense and melodramatic, and I can't help but draw comparisons to Echolyn's Ray Weston. Many times I was reminded of his sometimes offbeat delivery in As The World. As much as I like the vocals, there were a few instances where they really grated on me. Palladium in particular is an otherwise good song, which sometimes suffers from this.

The third track, Hypoxia, is by far my favourite on the album and the one that I found myself repeating over again and again. I really like music that balances soft and intense moments, and this is pretty near perfect in that regard. It starts off very similar to the Derek Sherinian track Stony Days (same exact chord, too!) and then heads into more progressive metal territory. Bird Song also follows along the same lines, but never gets quite as heavy. This also has my favorite guitar solo on the album; very jazzy, with great phrasing.

The last three tracks are in fact one song, Thalasses split into three parts. The first part follows much in the same direction as the rest of album, but also contains some more overtly jazz-influenced sections. The second part is all instrumental and, again, has somewhat of a Dream Theater vibe to it. The last track is a bit of a departure from the rest of the album. It opens with a piano that reminds me of Michael Pinella on V: The New Mythology Suite. It is a great end to the album.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. Without a doubt, it is in my top 10 for the year. I had a little trouble getting used to the vocals sometimes, but this is a minor issue and doesn't really detract from my overall enjoyment as the great song writing and musicianship more than make up for this. Highly recommended.
Conclusion:
Chris Jackson: 8 out of 10

Karibow - Addicted
Karibow - Addicted
Country of Origin: Germany
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 78:28
Links:
Track List:
Change (4:12), Primeval (8:28), On Liquid Terrain (5:53), Believe (4:53), Home Of Cain (5:18), Stella Nova (5:55), Shine On (3:53), Collaborator (2:51), The Cry (Radio Edit) (4:32), F8 Al Ba6 (3:28), Spark (2:17), Place To Be (6:13), The Violent Plains (4:35), Always There (3:03), Something (4:01), 9/16 (8:26)
Karibow comes from the mind of German multi-instrumentalist Oliver Rüsing. On the album Addicted Oliver plays all the instruments himself, although for performing on stage there seems to be a Karibow Live Project with several other musicians besides Oliver.

Sometimes on an album by a multi-instrumentalist you can hear that it is played by one person. Each instrument track is a separate recording, and it is obvious what the favourite instrument is. For Karibow it took me a while to discover that it is played by one person. So compliments on that, and also compliments for the sound quality, which is steady throughout the album.

Addicted is more than 78 minutes of neo-prog music combined with pop/rock influences. I hear a variety of influences, ranging from Jadis and BJH, to Asia. We have very accessible songs with some more challenging parts to make sure that this is still a progressive rock album. Oliver Rüsing has made a very homogeneous release with Addicted. The level and sound of the songs are of a constant level. This means that there are no fillers and also no songs that really stand out.

For me Home Of Cain is a song I like a bit more than the rest, whilst Shine On is a track I usually skip, it sounds too much like a Eurovision song from The Netherlands with almost the same title.

The constant level also makes this album blend into the background. When it becomes quiet you notice the music is over. It is not an album that grabs you by the throat and does not let you go. On the other hand this album keeps returning to my CD-player. It is a solid release that will not shake the progressive rock world but it is certainly a nice addition to your collection. I am certainly interested in more stuff from this award-winning German progger.
Conclusion:
Edwin Roosjen: 7 out of 10

Mollmaskin - Heartbreak in ((Stereo))
Mollmaskin - Heartbreak in ((Stereo))
Country of Origin: Norway
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 25:43, 25:19
Links:
Track List:
Left Side: The Same Ash (3:25), Never Able (4:46), The Long Shadow (4:26), How Many Ants (4:29), Jennifer (6:08), Two Moods (2:29)
Right Side: Halvtom Sjel (4:44), Dirty Linen (3:14), Nightmare City Suite (8:08), The Death of Lennon (4:17), Before We Go to War (4:55)
Mollmaskin is the name given to the solo project of Flashback Caruso's drummer Anders Bjermeland. In Mollmaskin's debut Bjermeland is the composer of ten pieces and plays a wide variety of instruments including piano and saxophone. The album was mixed and mastered by Rhys Marsh.

A few weeks ago, I found myself examining the teething-cheek-red packaging of Mollmaskin's double CD release during an increasingly anxious and tearful baby-sitting episode. Arranging a plethora of soft toy animals did not abate the tears of my young nephew. Other desperate diversionary tactics only served to increase the bottom lip tremors. Finally, in an increasingly futile attempt to halt the maelstrom of distress I was inspired to warble a variation of a well - known nursery rhyme to my wailing and heartbroken charge.

"The discs went in two by two
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The discs went in two by two
Hoorah! Hoorah!
The left one followed by the right one too"

At the end of my tether, and true to my word I placed the first of the discs into the player.

The left side disc of Mollmaskin's aptly entitled Heartbreak in ((Stereo)) began to play. Toddler Joe looked up inquisitively and mouthed the word "tunes". He then took a lip quivering breath and began to listen. Calm descended and it was not long before the exhausted crier drifted off to sleep. Some twenty five minutes later the disc ended and the blubbering began again. The right disc was then inserted. Although the music was definitely not sleep inducing, Joe once again entered a becalmed state. It was at this point that I realised that Mollmaskin's idea to include two short running time CDs entitled left side and right side was no mere marketing ploy or creative foible. It was in fact, an ingenious way to assist incompetent nephew sitters such as myself.

As well as being a panacea for hard pressed babysitters, the two disc packaging of the release works well on a number of different levels. Firstly, It reinforces the notion that stereo is separated into two channels. Secondly, two distinct moods are represented within its dual discs. The right disc is crammed with poignant emotions and reflective observations on the human condition. Lastly and most importantly, it gives the whole thing a genuinely retro feel.

The release as a whole lasts just over fifty minutes but if a listener wishes to experience the whole album in one setting on compact disc they need to change the discs. This gives an opportunity for listeners to reflect. It also gives an opportunity to revisit (just as when listening to vinyl) the forgotten pleasure of physically changing music around after twenty plus minutes.

The structure of the album and the packaging gives out more than a hint that there are many prog reference points. Heartbreak in ((Stereo)) also draws from a number of other genres including jazz and folk. There are a number of allusions to the early Canterbury movement within several of the albums eleven tracks. Although lacking the obvious wit of tracks such as Why Am I so Short, Hope for Happiness and A Concise British Alphabet, the song orientated style of Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt's Soft Machine is often brought to mind throughout the album. This approach is very much in evidence in the plaintive How Many Ants and the slightly more upbeat Two Moods.

In compositions such as, the mournful laments of Before We Go to War and Dirty Linen wistful emotions and experiences are explored. The album as a whole is quite melancholic and reflective, yet a number of tracks have become favourites and radiate with gold star quality. Never Able has a great vibe which channels the Canterbury sound whilst not sounding too derivative. The Long Shadow has a dirge like melancholy that becomes increasingly hypnotic as the track reveals its many treats and secrets. It features some delightful vocal harmonies and vocal phrasings that brought to mind some of Richard Sinclair's work with Caravan.

Bjermeland's sense of melody and vocal performance throughout the album is impressive. Dirty Linen is a fine example of how effective song writing can convey emotion. It is awash with drifting mellotron's and is melodically rich. The subtle piano coda which skilfully blankets, sooths and bathes Dirty Linen in an ornately expressive manner, left an attractive after taste and was beautiful in every respect.

The album also contains a rendition of Faust's Jennifer. In this track, Bjermeland's vocal delivery is quite reminiscent of Donovan and the whole piece has an authentic feel. The longest piece on the album Nightmare City Suite did not fully appeal to my tastes. I found the predictable chorus unappealing and somewhat repetitive. However, there is much within the suite that would appeal to readers who enjoy song based prog with clearly defined structures and melody.

As indicated, many of the compositions contain elements that I usually enjoy. However, my overall reaction to the album as a whole was one of disappointment. Despite many appealing qualities a number of tunes mysteriously found little overall resonance within me. The sorrowful nature of many of the pieces left me with an overall feeling of indifference. The beautifully crafted and wistful piece entitled Death of Lennon was unconvincing and ultimately unsatisfying, yet I am certain that many listeners will be enthralled by its subject matter and may indeed find it bewitching.

Since writing the main body of this review I have dipped into this release on a number of occasions and have enjoyed revisiting the strongest tracks. It is an album that has many positive qualities. If melancholic tunes with emotive vocals, memorable harmonies melodies and strong melodies appeal, then you may experience much to enjoy in this release.

By the way, I am nephew sitting next week; I have already prepared myself by purchasing a copy of the Wheels on the Bus. I will also enter Joe's den of despair stoically clasping a copy of Heartbreak in ((Stereo)).

No doubt, things may go badly and the albums discs might again be pressed into action. In anticipation of this, I would just like to add my thanks to Mollmaskin. What would an incompetent nephew sitter do without this calming and reflective album?
Conclusion:
Owen Davies: 6.5 out of 10

Nice Beaver - The Time It Takes
Nice Beaver - The Time It Takes
Country of Origin: Netherlands
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 55:43
Links:
Track List:
River So Wide (6:23), In Close Proximity (6:27), The Path To My House (4:33), Timeline (6:36), Rainbow's End (6:13), The Time It Takes (6:34), Sound Behind Sound (7:37), Waiting For The Bell To Toll (11:20)
It has been eleven years since we last heard from Nice Beaver, when their Oregon album was their second release on the much-missed Cyclops label. However, the band didn't split-up, they just had to deal with the everyday pressures of family and making a living. Marriages, births, job promotions and relocations, and the quitting of not just the original drummer but also his replacement, put restrictions on the time dedicated to making music.

The band did break the surface in 2011 with an appearance on a Dutch Prog compilation and even managed to get a couple of gigs together, but then another period of silence. All the while new music was being written, demoed, rewritten and rehearsed, with recording fitted in when possible.

The band, with original members Erik Groeneweg (vocals and keyboards), Hans Gerritse (guitars and backing vocals) and Peter Stel (bass and backing vocals), along with new drummer Corne van Disseldorp, are now signed to the Polish Oskar label and enlisted the production skills of former Within Temptation drummer Stephen van Haestregt. He has given the band a heavier sound, no doubt reinforced by the more powerful and rockier drumming style of van Disseldorp.

There is a sort of concept flowing through the album, although not one that directly or overtly links the songs. The concept stems from the title track, the first song to be completed, which contemplates the age old question of is it inevitable that history will go on repeating itself and, if so, what will happen when higher life forms, including humankind, become extinct. Will there evolve a new form of life that will, in its own way, bring about further destruction?

Mmm, Dutch Prog Tackles Philosophy! Not as dry and mind-numbing as one might think, as the musical style the band developed on their first two albums remains intact, with plenty of fine quality prog on offer to those who have no philosophical leanings whatsoever. The album is replete with melodies and the lead work is nicely spread between the keyboards and guitar, providing a delightful balance over the album.

Plus, of course, there is Groeneweg's voice, a lead instrument in its own right. The band seems to have concentrated more on backing vocals on this album, which adds another dimension.

I often wondered what had happened to the band, and whether they had gone the way of so many other bands who struggled to survive in the modern musical era. I was very pleased to receive the album and was delighted, if not a little relieved, that The Time It Takes (never was there a more apt title for an album) has lived up to, and in some places surpassed, their earlier releases. This is definitely a grower of an album that rewards frequent, repeated listening. It is time to welcome the Beaver back.
Conclusion:
Mark Hughes: 8 out of 10

Nordic Giants - A Séance of Dark Delusions
Nordic Giants - A Séance of Dark Delusions
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 55:02
Links:
Track List:
Elysian Skies (3:57), Evolve Or Perish (5:56), Rapture feat. Beth Cannon (4:01), Give Flight To The Imagination feat. Freyja (5:11), Dissolve feat Saturday Sun (5:29), Illuminate (6:21), Futures Dark feat. Nadine Wild-Palmer (4:36), Black Folds [3:23] A Thousand Lost Dreams (7:47)
Kscope is a record label that breathes quality. With artists from Steven Wilson to Anathema in its stables, is has some of the best (prog) pedigree thoroughbreds at the moment. Nordic Giants, the newest addition to its fold are without doubt something special, with an original and diverse sound that has taken quite some time to reach fruition. The band's impressive live visual shows have raised their profile as a major force in the music world, as well as EPs such as A Tree As Old As Me and the follow-up, double EPs Build Seas (2013) and Dismantle Suns (2013). For many, their debut full album release this year, A Séance of Dark Delusions, is long overdue.

The key word here is 'experimentation'. The duo that masterminds the Nordic Giant soundscapes has clearly given a great deal of attention to the creative process and the construction of its ideas. Largely instrumental, the work does feature a number of guest vocalists and this mixes and balances out the sound rather well.

The attention to detail is very apparent, and draws comparisons to the way someone like Peter Gabriel or Kate Bush works. Musically though, their sound is a very different proposition. A combination of electronic strokes and beats, and broad, expansive, other worldly orchestration with choral vocals, feels both inventive and unique, and whilst there are hints of Anathema and Sigur Ros, as a piece of work this is out-on-its-own.

A Séance of Dark Delusions works as a kind of soundtrack with each piece part of the greater whole. It has a loose, cinematic feel about it, and would obviously suit the duo's style of combined music and visual presentation.

Opening with the ghostly chill of Elysian Skies, there is the expectation that this is the prelude to something special, and it does not disappoint. Moments of Blade Runner feel present, as there is a Vangelis touch about it at times. This all gives way to a burst of intense and sometimes harsh electronic drum and grand piano passages in Evolve or Perish. The power of the deep, echoing piano combined with samples of doom from Michael Ruppert (the writer and political activist who took his own life last year), feels cold and challenging to listen to, with its apocalyptic message. Yet above all else, it is undeniably compelling.

The first vocal piece, Rapture, features Beth Cannon on vocals and is a soaring, memorable affair, not least for its explosions of big drums and multi-layered vocals. This is a real work of art and beauty. There is clearly a fragile, etherealness that evokes Kate Bush at work here.

In contrast, and yet similarly, the slow lethargy of Give Flight To The Imagination is a cocooning and dream-like piece of wonder with a stunning vocal from Freyja. Its pace is soothing, and melts around you in a way that leaves you wondering where it started. The two pieces combine to bring you some of the strongest moments of the album.

The drama of the album continues to ebb and flow, with the powerful Dissolve and the pulsing, haunting instrumental of Illuminate. At this point in the proceedings the pattern of light and dark shades begins to become more apparent. The design continues this way with another superb vocal piece, Futures Dark, which leads into the last segment of the experience. This is perhaps the most dark and moody of all. The eerie and somber Black Folds followed by A Thousand Lost Dreams combine to create eleven minutes of musical excellence that is mesmerising in its progression. The beauty in the latter stages comes from the slow-building atmospheres, which almost fade away at one point into the softest piano you are ever likely to hear, before the galloping last third grabs you and shakes you hard. It is a stunning conclusion to a stunning body of work.

This is one of those debut albums that leaves you feeling breathless. True, it is a difficult beast to get at first, and it may seem to some to be without any real form. But therein lies its true magic. This isn't a series of accessible songs with a recognisable format. Instead we are treated to a musical experience which demands to be played from beginning to end each time. The music itself is faceless and aloof, and this may be too cold for some, but this is part of its essence, and at times it does feels close to perfect. A rare ten out of ten, and an album worthy of it.
Conclusion:
Eric Perry: 10 out of 10

Progression By Failure - Sonic Travelogue
Progression By Failure - Sonic Travelogue
Country of Origin: France
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 63:42
Links:
Track List:
The Pyramid & the Sphere (10:05), Sparkles (10:34), The Journey of a Poulpikan: Once Upon a Time (3:45), A Day in the Swamp (5:14), Forest of Doubt (4:49), Escaping the Ankou (6:52), The Sidh's Gate (6:27), Autumn Mood (5:45), The End of Sonic Vibrations (10:21)
This is Progression By Failure's second release. The first, eponymously-titled effort was essentially a solo album by French keyboard king Nicolas Piveteau. However on this release, he is joined by Drayen Labie (guitars) and Mike Saccoman (drums).

This instrumental album is mainly keyboard-led, but they are balanced and set in relief by Labie's excellent guitar work. The music on this album is very much to my taste. Imagine if you will Greesnslade jamming with David Gilmour on The End of Sonic Vibrations, or Greenslade adding Steven Wilson's guitar skills on Sparkles. Add touches reminiscent of the greats of keyboards in prog, such as Tony Banks, Mike Kelly, Hugh Banton and Rick Wakeman, and then you get some idea of the quality here.

The music has elements of jazz-fusion, mixed with symphonic structures and melodies. There is no show-boating here, as every note serves the songs, whilst Piveteau's compositional skills keep a firm grasp on where this music is going.

The series of shorter pieces that make up the main 'chapter' of this album, The Journey of a Poulpikan, are varied and full of interest. It moves from the organ-heavy layering of Once Upon a Time, through to the Little Feat-like southern funkiness of A Day in the Swamp, which suddenly takes a left-turn into Gentle Giant-style medieval madrigal territory. Then you have the stabbing, staccato organ riff in Escaping the Ankou. This is a terrific and dark-sounding cousin of Genesis' Watcher of the Skies.

The best piece for me is the atmospheric Autumn Mood, with its warm classical grand piano, joined later by chilly, swirling synths, which evoke autumn giving way to the cold of an approaching winter.

This fabulous collection of instrumentals is going to be a difficult one to prize out of my CD player in the foreseeable future. If you like keyboard prog, then you should investigate this. You won't be disappointed.

(You can read Jim Corcoran's DPRP-recommended review of Progression By Failure's debut album here.)
Conclusion:
Martin Burns: 9 out of 10

Rocket Scientists - Refuel
Rocket Scientists - Refuel
Country of Origin: USA
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 61:05
Links:
Track List:
Refuel (2:13), She's Getting Hysterical (6:05), Martial (3:41), It's Over (6:23), Regenerate (4:35), The Fading Light (7:29), The World Waits for You (4:20), Reconstruct (1:30), Cheshire Cat Smile (5:25), Rome's About to Fall (8:15), Galileo (5:05), The Lost Year (6:00)
This latest album from the Rocket Scientists follows fairly rapidly on from their earlier 2014 EP Traveller on the Supernatural Highway (see my review of that in issue 2014-33).

This album is the result of the band coming together to celebrate 20 years of existence, during which time they have produced seven albums, including the above-mentioned EP. So whilst not wildly prolific, all three main members have been busy on other projects and bands such as John Payne's Asia, Lana Lane, and Erik Norlander's Galactic Collective, along with numerous sessions.

So this album, Refuel, is the latest offering from the Rocket Scientist boys, Erik Norlander, Don Schiff and Mark McCrite, and you know what, it's a bit of a corker.

For starters it has a balanced mix of instrumental and vocal pieces, which work really, really well. The whole focus is about "the song", whether that be fully instrumental or a vocal performance. Both Mark Mccrite and Erik Norlander take lead vocal duties and to these ears it comes across well, as both have a different timbre, tone, phrasing and style.

Opening with a brief instrumental, Refuel, the sheer presence of Don Schiff's NS Stick is immediately apparent, as is the fact that Erik is not utterly reliant on the Moog Modular System. This piece is enhanced by some fine Hammond organ playing and it sounds great. The album continues in a similar, magnificent vein, with its split of four instrumentals to eight vocals pieces. It has a good balance and makes for a very satisfying album.

Personally I came to the Rocket Scientist's late but after hearing the EP, I've worked backwards via the Looking Backwards box set. Much as I enjoyed that journey, I really like this new release too, as I feel it is somewhat more immediate and accessible, with songs that are especially strong. Possibly the shorter format helps to focus on the playing and the strength and beauty of the music. That said, there is still plenty of instrumental prowess to get your teeth into. I also like that Erik is using organ and piano more on these tracks, as it adds greatly to the whole sound of the album. It is all very assured and beautifully mixed, with superb sonics. The addition of "horns" on some songs adds further to the overall tone of the album.

I have played this over various systems, from a small CD player, to my car stereo and onto a separates set-up, and it sound equally good on all. Play it loud and it sounds even better, as you can really experience those bass tones of Don Schiff's NS Stick. The sleeve is a good one too and I always appreciate the 'Producers Note' from Erik, which gives some background to proceedings.

I personally always like to know as much about an album as possible, as that enhances my enjoyment of it. For me the stand-out tracks are She's Getting Hysterical, and the tender ballad It's Over, and Cheshire Cat Smile which features Kelly Keeling (of Baton Rouge and Michael Schenker Group fame and who also appeared on four of Erik's solo albums) on vocals. In addition The Lost Years, which features Erik's wife Lana Lane on vocals, is especially poignant, and that is another thing that i really like about this album; its maturity and its elegance.

The Rocket Scientists deserve a much wider audience than they currently have and this album is a very strong statement. It shows that some 20-odd years down the line, their crafting and attention to detail is still producing music that will thrill, enthrall and entertain, and is above-all worthy of your attention.

This is one album that I shall return to regularly and I would dare to suggest that you should too. For fans of keyboard-based prog this should be a revelation, and there is plenty of back catalogue to explore and connect with too. It's also worth checking out those YouTubes videos.
Conclusion:
John Wenlock-Smith: 8.5 out of 10

Guido Umberto Sacco - Music for Dodos
Guido Umberto Sacco - Music for Dodos
Country of Origin: Italy
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 69:00
Links:
Track List:
Il Quadrato Magico (Iridescenze) (7:33), Ricercare Sulla Cerchiatura Del Quadrato (Omaggio A Conlon Nancarrow) (5:39), Wildstyle (2nd Version) (6:05), Turqueries: I. (7:29), Turqueries: II (3:04), Turqueries: III. (5:33), O Rei Do Futebol (2nd Version) (4:20), Suite Delle Maschere: I (1:59), Suite Delle Maschere: II (1:21), Suite Delle Maschere: III (3:22), Suite Delle Maschere: IV (1:50), Suite Delle Maschere: V (4:05), Suite Delle Maschere: VI (3:45), Suite Delle Maschere: VII (2:10), Suite Delle Maschere: VIII (1:38), Inno All'Aquilone (Con La Testa Tra Le Nuvole) (5:15), Ordre XV from Troisième Livre De Pièces De Clavecin: II. Le Dodo, Ou L'Amour Au Berçeau (4:19)
Guido Umberto Sacco is clearly a gifted young Italian pianist and composer who might be pushing at the boundaries of peoples preconceived ideas of what possibly makes up progressive rock DNA. Some of this is clearly avant-garde. Track 2 will certainly stretch listeners staying power, but in a way that's strangely captivating. He is a classically trained pianist and studied music at the Conservatory of Brescia. Music for Dodos is his first studio album and is all instrumental. The title in itself is very intriguing and for a bird that's extinct, I'm not sure who he thinks his listeners are!

It has to be said that most people will not be receptive to this music at all. It's a difficult listen and would appeal to someone who is more musically open-minded. The album is very much classical in nature with odd splashes of jazz-rock. It's not something you would put on to chill out too! However this music can be complex and certainly progressive in spirit and Guido Umberto Sacco is a very talented composer.

The main piece, Suite Delle Mascher, is a beautiful set of classical string (cello and violins) compositions that possibly Bach would have been proud to have penned. Listening to Track 11, I could imagine Nigel Kennedy playing this at The Proms! So if you're not into string quartets and the like then this is definitely not for you. It represents nearly a third of the album's total playing time. I have to say that although the music was interesting, the album as a whole wasn't cohesive. In many ways it is a disparate set of musical pieces ranging from string ensembles, wind instrument pieces, classical solo piano recitals, experimental, to jazz/classical piano with drum/bass accompaniment. Might have understood if this was a "best of" album.

This is a difficult one to score. But I need to be honest and would stick my neck out and say that this album is not progressive but really classical at its core. However there's no doubting the talent of this guy and rate this album 6 out of 10.
Conclusion:
Alan Weston: 6 out of 10

Yesterdays - Holdfénykert
Yesterdays - Holdfénykert
Country of Origin: Hungary
Year of Release: 2014/2006
Time: 54:32
Links:
Track List:
Sunlit Garden (1:59), Vegtelen (4:36), Ne Felj (5:50), Ha Majd Egyszer (3:11), It's So Divine (4:49), Hol Vagy? (8:03), Várj Meg (5:33), Holdfénykert (2:16), Seven - i. Your Colours ii. My Words (11:48), Valahol A Terben (6:24)
Eight years after its original recording, Yesterday's début album sees its third release. The original was self-released by the band on the Rockszerviz Records label, and it was subsequently picked up and issued in an enhanced and remastered version by Musea Records in 2008. This, the third edition, is an "audiophile" version which takes the original 2006 mixes without any remastering and without any compression.

The music is not changed in any way, although all but two titles are now in Hungarian. So, for a more comprehensive review of the album I suggest readers should head over to the original DPRP review by Geoff Feakes whose comments are just as apt today as they were seven years ago.

Since this release, Yesterdays have only released one more album, the rather more laid back Colours Caffè, although they do make regular appearances on the Musea Records Colossus Music Project concept albums. The current line-up of the band features just two musicians who appeared on this début, founder member and writer of most of the material Bogáti-Bokor Ákos (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and keyboardist Enyedi Zsolt.

Holdfénykert remains a fresh and enjoyable listen, with the removal of compression providing a more dynamic and somewhat more organic feel to the music. The vocals of Fülöp Timea are pure and pleasing to the ear, with some nice arrangements, particularly on Seven which features a good duet with Ákos.

It is hardly a challenging album to listen to. The melodies and arrangements are easy to absorb, with the flute playing excelling throughout. As Geoff commented in his review, this is an ideal album for summer listening, so as the weather starts to warm up and the evenings get longer (in the northern hemisphere at least!), this is an ideal time to sink back in an easy chair with a glass of your favourite tipple and float away to the sounds of Yesterdays.

If you missed it first time round, don't repeat the mistake and grab a copy now.
Conclusion:
Mark Hughes: 9 out of 10

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Published Thursday 18 June 2015

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