ISSUE 2015-575

Reviews in this issue:

Albion - Unsongs
Albion - Unsongs
Country of Origin: Poland
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 51:48
Links:
Track List:
Golgotha (9:14), Through The Rainbow (10:03), Fear (10:04), Particle Of Soul (10:17), This Is The Way Where We Go (8:23), Shadow (3:37)
This Polish neo-prog band made its debut in 1994 with the album Survival Games and were compared with bands like Pendragon, IQ, Jadis and Marillion (Fish-era). Now, 21 years later, they release this compilation album entitled Unsongs, with six tracks taken from four of their albums. With exception of Golgotha they are all instrumental tracks. They have all been remixed and the sound quality is great.

The most eye-catching is the beautiful guitar work by Jerzy Antczak which offers lots of stunning soloing on several tracks, especially Particle of Soul and Fear. Comparisons with Dave Gilmour and Nick Barrett (Pendragon) are easily made. The keyboard sounds by Krzysztof Malec are mostly dreamy, but sometimes more up-tempo and modern in the style of Dean Baker (Galahad). It's very obvious that there are some fine musicians at work. The variety in their music is enough to make you stay interested from beginning to the end despite the lack of vocals. This album could well be an invitation to check out the older Albion stuff and enjoy a full album. Their latest album The Indefinite State Of Matter dates back to 2012. It would be nice if they could find the energy to delight us with something new, because I think that probably would please a lot of proggers, including myself.

For now, just enjoy this compilation and hope it's a teaser for more work in the near future by this brilliant Polish band, hopefully also with vocals, because that would add something extra. It would be sad if this album is their farewell but if it is a very enjoyable one.
Conclusion:
Peter Swanson: 8 out of 10

Tony Banks - A Chord Too Far
Tony Banks - A Chord Too Far
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 64:33, 70:29, 63:41, 76:43
Links:
Track List:
CD 1: Rebirth (1:23), At The Edge Of Night (6:02), Walls Of Sound (5:08), Lion Of Symmetry (7:14), The More I Hide It (4:30), Shortcut To Somewhere (3:40), The Waters Of Lethe (6:34), I Wanna Change The Score (4:30), Water Out Of Wine (4:40), Something To Live For (5:19), By You (4:31), Never Let Me Know (6:21), Thirty Three's (4:41)
CD 2: Charity Balls (4:40), An Island In The Darkness (17:23), The Border (5:55), Lucky Me (4:27), Another Murder Of A Day (9:05), Moving Under (6:00), Still It Takes Me By Surprise (6:28), Red Day On Blue Street (5:49), After The Lie (4:52), Redwing (5:50)
CD 3: Queen Of Darkness (4:35), A Piece Of You (4:49), Big Man (4:16), Angel Face (5:19), This Is Love (5:09), I'll Be Waiting (5:56), Back To Back (4:34), For A While (3:40), Throwback (4:35), You Call This Victory (4:33), And The Wheels Keep Turning (4:46), You (6:32), The Final Curtain (4:57)
CD 4: Blade (10:24), Black Down (9:45), Siren (8:51), Earthlight (4:43), From The Undertow (2:47), Spring Tide (9:39), Neap Tide (4:11), City Of Gold (11:55), The Chase (3:29), Kit (3:05), Poppet (4:05), The Wicked Lady (3:49)
This lavishly-packaged, four-CD set covers Tony Banks' solo output. Of course, it's wonderfully produced, the booklet is informative, interesting and of high quality, and as everyone else is putting out retrospectives, there's no reason why Banks shouldn't cash in on his back catalogue too. There's even the obligatory 'bonus tracks' that have never been heard before.

Banks is, of course, best known for his output with a certain band that started out in the 1960s and became a little bit famous. What's curious (no pun intended) is that, arguably, Tony Banks was the most creative member of Genesis, and yet his solo output didn't reach the commercial heights of any of his peers - Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford or even Steve Hackett. It could even be argued that, in terms of solely progressive rock output, original guitarist Anthony Phillips' body of work contains far stronger and more varied material.

With a solo career that includes solo mainstream prog/pop crossover albums (A Curious Feeling, The Fugitive and Still), soundtracks (The Wicked Lady and Soundtracks), 'band collaborations' with Strictly Inc and Bankstatement, as well as some of his recent classical offerings, most purchasers of this box set will clearly be hardcore Genesis aficionados.

It would, however, be difficult to see many of the tracks spread over these four discs being strong enough to push out any of Banks' best works with Genesis. This is a good set of material, but it's hard to compare what's on offer here with some of the Genesis epics Banks created. It's definitely difficult to throw off the looming shadow of Genesis greatness. All of the music here is pleasant, certainly, and there are hints of Genesis here and there, as one would definitely expect.

There is no chronology to the pieces, which, given the most recent Genesis outing looking at the band and solo output in order of release, is probably a sensible decision. The compositions certainly show a diversity to Banks' work, including a few tracks over 10 minutes in length, although some of it is, perhaps deliberately, not particularly complex material.

Had this been a four-CD set by another artist, it would probably - and rightly - be hailed as an outstanding body of work. But, unfortunately, Banks' solo career will always be held up against his work with Genesis. There's nothing approaching the grandeur of his epic keyboard work while surrounded by his stellar bandmates. Having said that, Banks' clear sense of melody shines throughout the entire four-plus-hours of music.

There are some excellent tracks absent from the compilation, although there's always going to be room for argument, regardless of the selections. The epic instrumental Thursday the Twelfth, from Bankstatement is surprisingly not considered, especially given how different it is from the remainder of the material. Perhaps it's a little too 'Genesis' for inclusion, although some of the A Curious Feeling material is certainly reminiscent, at times, of the contemporary And Then There Were Three material.

For the most part, all of his albums are equally represented. This is definitely a consistent and pleasant listen, and value for money given it is longer than two football matches. At Premier League prices - and Banks is in the Premier League of Prog – this is a comparative bargain that scores, and keeps doing so. To continue the analogy, Banks' solo output features more effortless, clinical and efficient tap-ins, than 30-yard screamers.

Some of the early 80s pop-oriented material does sound, oddly, at times like electronic-era Rush. There are plenty of big names in the supporting cast too, including Nik Kershaw, Fish, Toyah and a host of other giants of the music industry. You'd expect nothing less than the best from prog 'royalty'.

While a lot of the tracks have been remastered, and there is a noticeable additional clarity between the new mixes and the occasionally-dated originals, it's the bonus material on disc four that makes this essential for a Banks, or even Genesis completist.

The fourth disc, at first, explores Banks' classical repertoire on Six and Seven, and they stand up remarkably well with the other pieces. In fact, they are outstanding compositions. They are followed by the beautiful From the Undertow, taken from Banks' first solo outing, A Curious Feeling, which certainly fared the best in terms of critical review, and came closest to satisfying those baying for Genesis-style prog. The demo material, such as Spring Tide, is simply gorgeous, light classical music. It would be easy to include Banks' more pastoral music at the Last Night of the Progs.

One of the knocks against Collins' influence on Genesis was his perceived sentimentality. Yet, listening to many of the beautiful and melodic pieces that keep on coming on A Chord Too Far, it's clearly evident that Banks could create more than his fair share of music to soothe and pierce the heart.

Overall, it's a good listen. Repeated spins turn songs that were only ever occasional visitors to the CD player or turntable/record player into firm friends. The first three discs have some beautiful, strong and varied songs. The playing is, as one would expect, of the highest calibre. Those three discs could, perhaps, have been pared down to two, making this an outstanding triple album. Alternatively, some more demos and unheard pieces (and dare one say it, some from the Genesis vaults) could probably have been added, making it more of a collector's item and sought-after compilation.

But for all the pop, and the occasional 'Genesis-lite' music, it's that fourth disc that makes this essential. Not for its rarities - although that's reason enough - but for the sheer beauty of the pieces on offer. Its length and packaging, make this a required item for Genesis fans, and a recommended one for those who enjoy diversity in music.

It would be extremely difficult to consider other artists that have an output that even comes close to comparing with that of Tony Banks. Adding in the best that he produced with Genesis, you have the entire gamut, from ground-breaking progressive rock to pop, soundtracks to classical, and everything in between. The word 'genius' is thrown around far too often. But here's an unassuming musician who has been one of the most influential in the latter part of the 20th Century. Let's hope that this magical history cements his place in prog by elevating the opinion of his solo career to be far more relevant than one would have initially considered.

If A Chord Too Far forces a more positive re-evaluation and revisiting of these solo albums, including increasing his Bankstatement, then it will all have been worthwhile.
Conclusion:
Jim Cornall: 9 out of 10

The BlueMoon Projects - The BlueMoon Projects
The BlueMoon Projects - The BlueMoon Projects
Country of Origin: Greece
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 42:09
Links:
Track List:
War Race (5:55), Brother (4:28), Black Tribe (7:49), Infected (2:54), AlienTalking (9:36), Moon's the God (4:15), Don't Shoot the Gun (7:12)
The BlueMoon Projects is a Greek one-man band. Although there are a couple of guests (vocals on one track, drums on another), it's Kostis Filippopoulos at the helm musically, vocally, and with the writing and production.

Filippopoulos' aim of creating a progressive album in the 60s and 70s tradition and feel, with a modern sound works, partly. It's got the modern sound, but its sensibilities are pretty modern too. In spite of claims of influence from both, don't think so much Pink Floyd, think Porcupine Tree.

Vocally, Filippopoulos sounds at times a bit like Stereophonics' vocalist Kelly Jones, most notably on Brother. At others he sounds like John Wesley. And it's definitely with the latter, especially on Wesley's most recent and wonderfully hard-edged crossover prog release Disconnect, that the easiest comparisons lie.

There's some great, blazing guitar work, and the electronic music and synths are definitely modern, spacey, bubbly and innovative.

AlienTalking starts out much like a potential The Wall Pink Floyd track, before heading into mainstream (around The Bends/OK Computer era) Radiohead territory, both vocally and musically. It then veers, complete with recordings added, into John Wesley again before going a bit Porcupine Tree.

Fans of all of the artists mentioned will find much to enjoy here. There's clearly an influence without any direct intent to copy, and The BlueMoon Projects never really stays in one territory long enough anyway.

Where the album works best are with the sweeping instrumental parts that flow and occasionally bite. While PT, and to some extent Floyd, could expertly compose attention-grabbing pieces that turn on a sixpence, the music here has fewer abrupt transitions.

The Facebook website is a bit sparse, and currently doesn't link, as stated, to the SoundCloud site. And a Google search (other search engines are available) doesn't provide a lot of information either. It's a strange world when band names need to be searchable, but in this era, if you're not searchable, you're invisible. And that would be a shame for The BlueMoon Projects, as at times it is very good. There are dips where the music goes a little bit quiet and pedestrian, but the blistering bits more than make up for it.

While a great effort, there's enough on show here to suggest Filippopoulos has the tools to refine this on subsequent albums and make a genuine splash in the prog pond. A bit more attention to the marketing and promotion side of things would help spread the word, on an album that is well worth hearing.
Conclusion:
Jim Cornall: 7 out of 10

Pete Brown - The "Not Forgotten" Association
Pete Brown - The
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 51:18
Links:
Track List:
Few (0:55), Dreamin' The Hours Away (2:31), Reckless (0:35), Job (0:13), Television (0:18), Africa (0:16), Small Poem (0:31), Commemoration (0:51), Till Dawn (0:29), Poems (0:19), Poverty/Sweet Substitute (0:22), Love Poem/Stomp*******(Oops) (0:14), Night Lament (After Lorca) (6:01), Slam (1:30), Interview (1:51), Vision (0:19), Scenes From War I-VII (1:38), There Will Probably Be A Nuclear War In The Next 10 Years (0:32), Two Rooms (0:44), Advertisement (0:17), Way Out West I-VI (2:23), Ballad For The Queen Of Outer Space (8:34), The Scottish Sound Poems (The Blue Moor And McBnuigrr's Speech) (2:16), Blues For Slim Gaillard (1:40), Look Man We Are Going To Make Our Pit Ponies Smile (2:10), Poem For Bill Evans (3:48), My Friend Made Love To Her Before Me... (1:25), Sad Is The Man (4:08), Long Live (4:37)
Originally released in 1973, The "Not Forgotten" Association finally reaches the CD format, thanks to Cherry Red, famous of late for resurrecting long-forgotten and "lost" music.

Brown has his place in the annals of English rock, as he co-wrote songs (providing lyrics) with Cream including the iconic I Feel Free and White Room, among others. Initially a poet, Brown has worked in the music industry and film, and certainly hasn't been inactive since this quirky album was released in the early 70s.

But this is neither rock, nor prog.

The "Not Forgotten" Association is a combination of short poems, alongside poems set to some rather good and hypnotic music that loosely falls into the jazz category. The poetry is sometimes clever, occasionally poignant, and is an interesting vignette of its time; the time of a youngster coming to terms with youth, and growing, and parents, and encountering women. The poetry certainly evokes the late 1960s and early 70s in its innocence and, at times, anarchy, and the freedom to be unique and experimental without fear.

It flutters between mundane description of life, and odd, disturbing honesty and wry observation, none more so than on the brief, thought-provoking and moving lines on the horrors of war, juxtaposed to its glorification in movies.

At times, it's a bit embarrassing, with some of the material dated and more odd than innovative. When there is music, it's tasteful and well played, although hardly prog. The spoken poetry bursting in and out of the rhythms is wonderfully delivered, and fits well.

While interesting, and perhaps a collectors' piece, it's all a little bit like memories of our childhood television programmes that we hold close to our heart, only to discover that, 20 years later, we can't quite bear to watch them again. It's of its time, a bit intriguing, occasionally witty, always clever, but probably an album that gets listened to infrequently.

Musically, there are cameos from, among others, Vivian McAuliffe (Anthony Phillips, Patrick Moraz and others), Vivian Stanshall, Jack Lancaster and Max Middleton (Jeff Beck, Bee Gees, Chris Rea). It is why the improvised music works so well and sets such a solid backdrop for the emotional and evocative words that, while spoken, have a music all of their own.

There are, certainly, lines of wonderful inspiration, both in the short poems and the music. It has its moments of genius and madness. It comes across as part biographical documentary and part artistic performance.

Prog? Hardly. Strange and at times compelling? Certainly. Something to put on repeat or play at a dinner party? Probably not. The connection to Cream is tenuous and might sell a few copies. But it doesn't really fall exclusively into the music category. However it's in the all-too-few pieces of poetry set to music, that the most compelling pictures are painted.
Conclusion:
Jim Cornall: 5 out of 10

Final Step - Desert Trolls
Final Step - Desert Trolls
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Year of Release: 2010
Time: 59:05
Links:
Track List:
Qaanaaq (7:53), Desert Trolls (6:05), Jojo's Blues (5:35), The Two-Bear Mambo (6:19), Funky Hoazin (4:19), Shuttle To Venus (5:29), Let Your Finger Go On (5:27), Ghèna Bibaira (7:03), Space Camel (5:27), A True Madness (5:23)
Formed by the Swiss guitarist Matteo Finali, Final Step is a jazz-fusion band that displays a diverse set of influences such as blues, prog-rock, funk, electric jazz and touches of middle-eastern and Saharan ethnic sounds. It makes for a heady brew.

For this debut album Finali's strong guitar playing is joined by a talented group of musicians, consisting of Max Pizio (sax, flute, Akai EWI, programming), Frank Salis (Hammond, keyboards), Gian-Andrea Costa (bass) and Rocco Lombardi (drums). They provide masses of colour to the nine originals and one cover version on Desert Trolls.

The album opens with Qaanaaq, named after a small village in northern Greenland, but this track is anything but chilly. A warm, repeated guitar figure grabs one's attention before heavy jazz-fusion bass, drums and horns punch up the volume. Contrasting stabs of keyboards and dance-like skittery drumming makes for a strong introduction to Final Step's sound world.

The album then moves into blues territory for a pair of tracks. Using Malian Tuareg blues and rolling funk on the windswept title track; then following on with Jojo's Blues, that has Finali channelling Jeff Beck. More overtly jazzy pieces follow, with Max Pizio's breathy flute offsetting Funky Hoazin's burbling electronics. His Akai EWI solo on Shuttle To Venus (ably supported by Frank Salis' Hammond work) is a terrific reminder of Wayne Shorter's similar work with Weather Report.

The two best tracks are the oriental-patterned Ghèna Bibaira, that has a sax solo over a sparse backing, and the cover of L.A.'s finest jazz-fusion band, Tribal Tech's Space Camel. This has the album's proggiest moments, over feather-light percussion.

The only slight problem I have with the album is that it is sometimes overburdened by Curtis Mayfield/Isaac Hayes style funk. This is especially evident on The Two-Bear Mambo which leaves me nonplussed, though its punchy horns almost save it.

So Desert Trolls is an album that brings to mind Stanley Clarke's School Days as well as reminding me of Return To Forever, Billy Cobham and some of Weather Report. I could see a DJ sampling some of the grooves and motifs that Final Step originate here. It is an album of a band still finding its feet stylistically within its jazz-fusion remit, and it will be interesting to see which path they follow.
Conclusion:
Martin Burns: 6.5 out of 10

Final Step - Uncle Joe's Space Mill
Final Step - Uncle Joe's Space Mill
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Year of Release: 2014
Time: 52:29
Links:
Track List:
Intro (Buciumeana) (2:22), Sultans (6:10), Obatala (6:22), Uncle Joe's Space Mill (6:26), Red Ruby (7:56), Essaouira (9:02), Shibuya (7:29), Code AP (6:42)
Here we go on a musical trip around the world with Final Step's second album Uncle Joe's Space Mill. An unofficial tribute to the master of melodically-building jazz and jazz-fusion, Joe Zawinul (the Uncle Joe of the title), the music here takes inspiration from acts featuring Zawinul such as Weather Report, Cannonball Adderly and the world music-infused The Zawinul Syndicate. Final Step has moved in a different and interesting direction, away from the funk that infused the band's debut album Desert Trolls, into a direction that has more space, with percussion, double bass and piano making it a more organic and warmer sounding work.

This has been facilitated by the change in personnel. Remaining members from the debut recording are leader and founder Matteo Finali (guitars) and, now featuring as a guest musician, Max Pizio (sax, Akai EWI). Joining them are Alessandro Ponti (piano, Hammond, synthesiser), Youri Goloubev (double bass), Dario Milan (drums) and Silviano De Tomaso (percussion, vibraphone). It is the addition of the percussionist and the mellow acoustic double bass which has changed the sound of Final Step, from electric jazz funk to something more engaging to my ears.

The album starts its world tour in the Balkans with a solo Akai EWI version of the fourth of Bela Bartok's Seven Romanian Folk Songs, before jumping to Arabia for Sultans, whose oriental vibe has an insistent, relentless, building melody over whirling-dervish percussion. Final Step then switch continents to Brazil for the brilliant piano-led Weather Report groove of Obatala. There is marvellous interplay here between the guitar, sax and piano once the melodic thrust is established.

The fast-paced and funky title track, with its cracking drum work, is the only track that links back, overtly, to the debut album. The band relocates to Morocco for Essaouira, opening with Zawinul Syndicate-style percussion that starts off well but, unfortunately, moves from the souk to the lounge, as it becomes a more standard jazz number. However, the solos on this do manage to save it from creeping blandness. Another continent hop takes us to the district of Shibuya in Tokyo. This Weather Report-style piece is good enough to have come from their Mysterious Traveller album.

So Uncle Joe's Space Mill is an album that mixes well the percussion-led world music meets jazz-fusion of The Zarwinul Syndicate and the melodic traits of Weather Report, but with a softer, acoustic bass underpinning it all, that makes for a winning combination and a fine, understated tribute.
Conclusion:
Martin Burns: 8 out of 10

Steve Hackett - The Man, The Music [DVD]
Steve Hackett - The Man, The Music
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 140:00
Links:
Track List:
Before I venture into the details of this Steve Hackett documentary, I just want to point out how nice it is to see this great artist receive a presentation of this kind. At first it may appear that this DVD is a reaction to the slight given to Steve's work in the 2014 Genesis documentary, Sum of the Parts. As unfortunate and unfair that circumstance was, this document of Steve's life and career was started in 2010. Regardless, the man and his career certainly warrant a document of this type, so kudos to director Matt Groom for taking the reins on this project.

Steve Hackett - The Man, The Music is not the most professional-looking documentary that you will ever see. Obviously, the budget wasn't extreme, but these limitations don't distract from the many pleasures to be found. Also, it would be wise to not expect a year-by-year chronological presentation, because the timelines tend to bounce around a bit, and certain periods of Steve's life and discography are leaped over.

That said, it doesn't seem that a strictly biographical presentation is what was being attempted here. The most rewarding aspect to this entertaining documentary is that it truly provides a glimpse into Steve Hackett, the man. The many interviews with Steve, show him to be a modest, gracious and humorous individual. At times, he is somewhat critical of his own work, but often takes the opportunity to compliment peers and fellow artists.

Steve's tenure with Genesis is covered, but it is certainly not predominantly featured. This is a wise move, as notwithstanding the Sum of the Parts issue, the history of Genesis has been well documented elsewhere. Regardless, this DVD does include some interesting facts from that period. The admiration that Steve has for his former bandmates is obvious, and it is fun listening to his mother's recollections from the time. That said, it would have been beneficial to include interview footage with any other members of Genesis. I am not sure of the reason for their absence, but it does seem a bit glaring. Steve recounts stories from the period that he was in the band and even compliments his former musical partners. It seems that having a few of them return the favour would have fitted perfectly into these sections of the documentary. With that in mind, it also would have been a plus to see interviews with collaborators like Nick Magnus, Pete Hicks, Steve Howe and others.

The interviews that are included are a true highlight of the documentary. The segments that show Steven Wilson and Hackett sitting together casually discussing Voyage of the Acolyte and Please Don't Touch are both interesting and fun. As are the moments with Roger King, Nick Beggs and Steve's brother, John. The real highlight though is the footage of Steve Hackett and Chris Squire discussing how they met, as well as working together on their 2012 collaboration, Squackett. There is a certain unavoidable sadness in watching this footage now, but it serves, in a way, as a tribute to Squire. The fondness and respect that these two musicians had for one another is clear to see. The moments where they speak of possible touring and recording another album together are now a bit heart-breaking. That said, the interview footage between them is very special.

That personal aspect is probably what separates Steve Hackett - The Man, The Music from many other films about prog rock bands and/or musicians. If the goal is to give a clear perspective of the subject at hand, this documentary is an absolute success. Throughout the presentation, Steve provides honest details on his personal life, his marriages and his career. The footage with him and his mother is wonderful and the interviews with his wife, Jo, add further insight into Steve, the man and artist.

The admiration and respect that band members and friends have for him is apparent and their words serve as a testament to his personality and his artistry. Thankfully, this documentary includes none of those "expert" interviews that often damage the credibility of progressive rock-related films of this type. The retrospective features of the documentary are inter-cut with musical performances that display Steve's extreme musical talents, as well as the influence that he has had on other musicians.

Though not perfect in every way (GTR is an example of a period that could have been better represented), this respectful document of Steve's life and career is long overdue. He is a unique and talented musician who has created a library of music that is adventurous, diverse and, in the big scheme of things, under-appreciated. Steve's career is presented appropriately, but more impressively, the film showcases a man of sincerity who has an unending passion for the art of music.

At a time when many of his peers have fallen into semi-retirement or are going through the motions, Steve continues to challenge himself artistically. It is clear that he still aspires to create his finest work. Truly one of the great ambassadors of progressive rock, Steve Hackett - The Man, The Music chronicles his talents and his life in an entertaining and commendable fashion.
Conclusion:
Patrick McAfee: 9 out of 10

Duo Review
IZZ - Everlasting Instant
IZZ - Everlasting Instant
Country of Origin: USA
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 59:22
Links:
Track List:
Own the Mystery (6:22), Every Minute (1:43), Start Again (7:44), If It's True (3:19), The Three Seers (4:40), The Everlasting Instant (5:16), Keep Away (6:46), Can't Feel the Earth, Part IV (5:35), Illuminata (5:30), Sincerest Life (6:59), Like a Straight Line (5:21)
Patrick McAfee's Review
IZZ is a band that I became aware of with the release of their 2002 sophomore album, I Move. The album presented a young group of musicians who displayed their prog musical influences, but also exhibited a unique sound and apparent enthusiasm that was impossible to dislike. They became somewhat of a regular part of the USA prog festival circuit during the 2000's, and the zeal for their art was always evident in a live setting. By the time of their 2005 album release, My River Flows, there was a confidence to their music and live performances that was clear to see. The Darkened Room in 2009 started a trilogy of albums that continued with Crush of Night in 2012 and concludes with this disc, Everlasting Instant.

I will admit to entering this new album with a bit of scepticism, as the trilogy thus far hadn't impressed me in the same way as some of IZZ's earlier releases. Yes, there were stand-out tracks, but as a whole, both albums seemed somewhat inconsistent.

Right from the start though, this album seemed more promising. From the subtle and compelling opening keyboard riff, to its effective build of momentum, Own the Mystery is classic IZZ. Paul Bremner provides some typically strong guitar work, and ultimately this may be the most impressive album kick-off song by the band.

By the end of the instrumental second track, Every Minute, I was really enjoying the direction in which Everlasting Instant was heading. That feeling certainly didn't change as the album progressed. One of many things that is rather splendid about IZZ, is that they have truly developed their own sound. Though their influences can still be heard to a certain extent, overall, the band's imprint is unmistakingly their own. A big part of this is down to the female vocals of Laura Meade and Anmarie Byrnes. At one point in IZZ's career, these two talented singers filled more of a background role. That is not the case any longer. They are centre-stage and the band's music is all the better for it.

That isn't to take away from the strong vocals of Tom and John Galgano, as it is rare for a band to have four such gifted singers. The flexibility this creates to utilise harmonies as well as varied solo vocal performances, is really a magnificent thing. The musical performances displayed throughout the album are impactful without ever morphing into unnecessary show-boating. Yes, they are all excellent musicians, but that fact is never presented at the expense of the song.

I think where the band lost me at times on the previous two albums was in the songwriting. There are no such issues on Everlasting Instant. Each song is written, arranged and performed effectively. If it's True, the title track and Keep Away provide some particularly substantial moments, but the back half of the album is really where the band shines. Can't feel the Earth, Part IV is the highlight track and one of the best that IZZ has ever recorded. Illuminata, Sincerest Life are top-shelf songs, whilst Like a Straight Line resonates with the listener in a way that an album closer should.

Everlasting Instant is a welcome return to stellar form for IZZ. In fact, it has me thinking I should revisit the two previous albums that make up the trilogy. Perhaps, I was too hasty in my opinion of them. With this release, the band proves once again why they made such an impression on the prog scene back in the early 2000's. The tracks that make up this album are consistently proggy. Whereas the band has recorded some good, straightforward rock songs in the past, this album never strays far from its progressive centre. Just when you think a song is going in a more commercial direction, they surprise you.

Now, if only the band could put together a few more gigs, as this music deserves to be heard in a live setting. The passion that the members of IZZ have for music shines throughout this exceptionally fine album.
Ignacio Bernaola's Review
Here I am, with another great progressive rock album to review. This time it's IZZ's new one, Everlasting Instant that has been spinning these past few days.

I must admit I have not listened to this band's last few albums as much as I did to their first two discs, Silver Of A Sun and I Move but this review has given me the chance to fix that.

I can remember the early days of IZZ because it was when I was becoming a prog freak and was trying to discover as many new bands as possible. I found IZZ to be really fresh and different from the classic progressive bands, yet keeping the essence of the genre. In a certain way, I saw IZZ and Spock´s Beard as the future of progressive rock. Of course nowadays one can listen to many different new styles of progressive music, so the surprise factor has almost disappeared. But instead of being a bad point, it's good to listen to these guys playing the music they know. Of course I don't see them as the saviours of prog, as I guess it doesn't need to be saved now.

It´s not easy to understand this review without considering that it´s part of a trilogy that began with the phenomenal album, The Darkened Room followed by the great Crush Of Night. You can dive into our review archive to take a look at the perfect scores that Brian Watson gave to them, 10 out of 10! In fact all of IZZ's previous releases have been received extremely well by DPRP, and Everlasting Instant is not going to be the exception. However it has the stigma from having been released after two perfect albums, which of course conditions the listening. For that reason I do recommend listening to the whole trilogy in a row. It's not easy, but you'll get what I mean.

Talking about the songs, one can find the typical IZZ movements, diversity and all the instruments played in a really clean and smart way, without being pretentious. The voices of Anmarie Byrnes and Laura Meade are really prominent on this album, sometimes combined with male vocals and sometimes as lead vocals. It is also fair to praise the great playing of Tom Galgano on the keyboards during the whole album.

Can't Feel The Earth, Part IV would be the perfect song to describe the sound of this album and the perfect end of what they started in The Darkened Room. Illuminata also presents more great work with the piano and acoustic guitars, but you really need to listen to this album as a whole to appreciate the perfect mix of tunes and styles.

As Tom Galgano has said, many of the melodies on Everlasting Instant began as seeds on the two previous albums, and this fact makes the trilogy a truly cohesive piece in the IZZ discography. They have kept all the great things that I discovered many years ago, yet still sound fresh in the progressive rock scene.

This IZZ a band that deserves more attention, making great music on every release without losing their own sound. Take your time and listen to their discography before they surprise us with another beautiful piece of music. Surely no prog lover will be disappointed with this album.
Conclusion:
Patrick McAfee: 8.5 out of 10
Ignacio Bernaola: 8.5 out of 10

Whitewater - Obscured by the Sun
Whitewater - Obscured by the Sun
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2015
Time: 68:00
Links:
Track List:
The Beginning (1:16), Rush (7:54), Fallen Angel (4:32), Ordinary Life (5:52), Obscured by the Sun (9:29), Breathe (3:30), Black Light Effect (8:02), Disengaged (4:44), Without You (5:17), Fade Away (16:49), The End (1:32)
Released in March this year, Obscured by the Sun is the sophomore album from Whitewater. After their 2013 debut, The Sound of the Galaxy Smashing, the duo and Tewkesbury (UK) residents Stuart Stephens and Paul Powell opted for a similar approach for their follow-up. Although the songs are very interesting, I don't like the sound of both albums. The vocal recording and guitar sound in particular often doing little good for the potential of the songs.

The songs and build-up of the album however makes for an enjoyable listen. The start of the album, aptly titled The Beginning, launches a cosmic voyage that lasts for just over an hour. The instrumental opener sets the tone for what is to come. When the second track, Rush, gets into gear, you can easily spot the main influence for the band. From start to finish, this album is filled with small and not so small Pink Floyd influences.

The title track of the album is a good song, again with a nod to Pink Floyd. This nine-minute song is a good example of the sound of this band, and like their main influence, they understand the art of keeping things interesting within a longer piece of music. The same goes for Fade Away, which is also a good and sometimes ambient track clocking in at just under 17 minutes.

What this album misses is a stand-out track. Songs like Breathe and Disengaged are okay, but don't offer anything new. I would surely encourage the men to take some more risks in the future. With the closing track, The End, the album and cosmic adventure is rounded up, and the album comes to a fitting close. It should be interesting to see what the band comes up with on their next album. The wait won't be that long, as the band plans to release their next one later this year.
Conclusion:
Arno Agterberg: 6 out of 10

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Published Thursday 15 October 2015

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