disc 1: Never Again (4:55), Nothing's Forever (5:46), Heroine (4:53), Sleeping Giant - No Way Back - Reprise (8:10), Alibis (5:40), I Will Remember You (5:11), Shadow of a Doubt (4:18), Parallel Worlds - Vortex - Deya (8:12), Wish I'd Known All Along (4:07), Orchard of Mines (5.11), Over and Over (3:33), An Extraordinary Life (4:56), I Will Remember You (Acoustic Remix) (5:13), An Extraordinary Life (Acoustic Remix) (4:16)
disc 2: Never Again (4:55), Nothing's Forever (5:46), Heroine (4:53), Sleeping Giant - No Way Back - Reprise (8:10), Alibis (5:40), I Will Remember You (5:11), Shadow of a Doubt (4:18), Parallel Worlds - Vortex - Deya (8:12), Wish I'd Known All Along (4:07), Orchard of Mines (5.11), Over and Over (3:33), An Extraordinary Life (4:56)
In 1982 the so-called super group, Asia, hit the nail on the head with their eponymously named debut LP. The American music lover bought shed loads, took it to the number one spot and scored a massive #4 with Heat of the Moment. We all bought into this four-piece that had the ubiquitous prog hero John Wetton, Yes' Steve Howe, ELP's Carl Palmer and new kid on the block Geoff Downes who had played on the "shouldn't have worked but it was great" Drama album by the Buggled up new Yes.
It was, however, an AOR affair which totally explained its success within its era... or was it? Only Time Will Tell had a synthy beginning, Cutting It Fine had a gorgeous proggy outro, and Cutting It Fine was, well, really good stuff. So chart friendly rock with some fiddly embellishments could still storm the charts.
Many albums followed, three with the classic line up then with John Payne and various musicians right up to 2008 when out of the blue, Phoenix came out with the vintage fab four again at the helm.
Now re-released on their own record label with two additional acoustic tracks, a second CD that has a remix of the opening track and a new stateside friendly mastering, all wrapped up in some lovely packaging.
Referencing the first album is relevant here as it could almost be its follow up. Phoenix has some great embellishments, what with the harpsichord and guitar at the end of Alibis and the three part Sleeping Giant - No Way Back - Reprise having some epic synth chords.
Parallel Worlds - Vortex - Deya is simply wonderful and is a track that shows what Steve Howe can do to raise a good piece of music into a glorious experience. There is full on rock here, Opener Never Again and Shadow of a doubt being good toe tappers and Over and Over again highlighting that distinctive lead guitar timbre that is only too familiar to fans of his day job band.
But it's the sentiment and power of the whole album that gets you. John Wetton had survived open heart surgery in 2007 and his singing is by a man who has been given a second chance. The hit from this album and it being used as a theme for America's Got Talent was An Extraordinary Life which ends this selection with heartfelt and poignant minor keys resolving into an anthemic ode to joy.
If latter day Moody Blues and Barclay James Harvest are still considered prog, then this is too. I play it a lot and thoroughly recommend it.
The second disc has the aforementioned re-mix of Never Again which is fun but not essential and the different compression on the rest would help if you were cruising Monument Valley in an old Chevy, but hifi nerds should pick the European edition.
If you'd bought the first and maybe second Asia LPs then you would already own this one when it originally came out. New recruits might be interested though, if you like your radio FM rock tinged with prog, great playing, and one of this century's great singers.
Asia brought out Gravitas ,in 2014, with young Sam Coulson replacing Steve Howe, so they are still a force to be reckoned with, but this comeback album will always be special with music as wide as the continent it was named after.
Ether Oro (8:50), Leaf Maze (2:30), Found Jewel (5:09), Deep Cave Antlers (5:40), Aluminum Flyer (4:34), West of Reason (4:47), Shine On Ceres (2:10), Rock Face (5:11), Metal Petals (1:50), Feldspar (3:52), Glass Cloud (3:32), Torque (2:56), Moonlit Procession (5:03), Savanna (7:03), Moonset (5:44), Reflections On Water (9:16)
In addition to the two DC Sound Collective albums sent to DPRP by Daniel Crommie, we also received a copy of Other Elements, which is described as "compositions for flute with occasional keyboard shading and percussive drive" and as "meditative and stimulating with an intriguing range of tonal colors and textures". It is dedicated to, and influenced by, the work of Fripp/Eno and Jon Hassell. Crommie is the only performer on the album, playing flutes and synthesisers as well as programming the rhythms. One's reaction to this album is very much dependent on one's feelings towards the Fripp and Eno type of ambient soundscapes, which is unfortunately not really my cup of tea.
Although I may not be a devotee of the music presented on this album, it has to be said that the sound quality is exceptionally good and the music meanders between the intriguing, the mysterious, the relaxing and, at times, the rather soporific. Torque has a repeating flute riff that is inspired (or borrowed) from Jethro Tull, but the only track that really raises above the flowing ambiance is Savanna, which has a more prominent rhythm and is a track that I could see being used on a nature programme or something similar. Indeed, several of the pieces could well be used as an accompaniment to a visual medium, where they would probably fair better, for me at least, than as an 80-minute album.
Really my best advice is check out the album on bandcamp and see if it is something that floats your boat.
Anything You Want (4:58), Drifting Away (3:53), The Laughing Man (3:33), Molecular (3:45), Abbrev. (2:58), Ferguson (4:12), In Lucid Moments (3:30), Little Gods (4:10), Paper Trail (5:52), A Memory Suite: The Passion Flower bears No Fruit, A Mind Full Of Mirrors, Star Gazer, A Night Journey (22:34)
Although here at DPRP we like to consider ourselves fairly switched on as to what is happening in the world of progresive rock, sometimes things just happen to slip under the radar. Such is the case with Daniel Crommie, a native of the US State of Oregon, who started recording original material some 41 years ago. Between then and now he has released well over two dozen solo albums and over a dozen with the groups Echo System, Group Du Jour and Saturnalia Trio. A multi-instrumentalist (mandolins, keyboards, flute, drums, recorders, balalaika, etc.) his albums cross a wide spectrum of genres, including medieval, folk, rock, electronic, ambient and even techno-pop! Crommie has released several albums and one EP under the name DC Sound Collective, a handy moniker to identify his collaborations with other musicians.
The Memory Of Errors is the third such album and is largely a collaboration with Eldon Hardenbrook (bass, keyboards, drums, vocals) but also features guitar contributions from David Duhig and Colin Henson (both members of Jade Warrior in the early 1990s), Bruce Hazen and James Havard. Of the ten tracks on the album, four are Crommie/Hardenbrook co-compositions, three are by Crommie, two by Hardenbrook and one by Crommie and Hazen.
What is on offer musically is quite a smorgesbord of styles and a real blending of genres. The album kicks off with three Crommie compositions. Anything You Want offers an interesting opening couple of minutes, which is marred by some pretty rough vocals that have been slightly electronically processed. A prominent bass line and interesting layered guitars can't really ressurect a rather pedestrian track. Drifting Away is a gentler, more acoustic number that is again marred by poor vocals, although it does hold the promise of being a decent song. The Laughing Man has a more ethnic feel, featuring heavily programmed percussion. Once again the vocals, and pretty dire lyrics, don't do justice to the song, which has some nice touches but feels rather under-developed. A nice, but brief, guitar passage brightens the middle though.
The first of the Hardenbrook collaborations, Molecular, features a different vocalist and is quite bland, not really lifted out of a murky morase of melancholy. Again it feels under-developed and lacking in structure or intent. Better is Abbrev., an instrumental piece that ups the tempo somewhat with a rather catchy recurring flute motive, which introduces the two Hardenbrook pieces. Ferguson is actually quite delightful, a dreamy instrumental that teeters on the edge of ambient music, with swathes of keyboards enhanced by some lovely flute playing. Crommie's flute is also prominet on In Lucid Moments, which is the first song to feature half-way decent vocals. Again there is a somewhat spacey, mellow vibe which is quite relaxing. Little Gods is similar in style to the opening track, in that the bass line is quite funky, although the vocals are somewhat better.
Paper Trail, the Hazen co-write, sounds as if derives from some meandering jam, but is quite an effective piece of music in its own way. The final number, the twenty-two-and-a-half minute Memory Suite, is primarily a Crommie composition, with Hardenbrook's only contribution being to the last section, A Night Journey. Things start off pretty well with some great guitar passages on the nicely titled The Passion Flower Bears No Fruit. The mood changes somewhat as we get to A Mind Full Of Mirrors, which takes us back to several other numbers on the album with the programmed drums, prominent bass, flute, rough vocals and lack of direction. The guitar parts, which have obviously just been recorded over the top of the basic track to add sonic depth, provide the main points of interest. Although the track is sequenced as one long piece, that is really quite a deception, as the piece is in reality four separate compositions stuck together. At least Star Gazer benefits from a lack of vocals, and does bear resemblence to the opening instrumental section. Things are concluded by A Night Journey, which again has a somewhat ethnic start to it, but does nicely flow into a more powerful guitar-driven section before fading out.
Overall this is a rather mixed bag that is, for my tastes, rather short on highlights. Indeed, with the exception of a couple of numbers there is not a lot that I would really consider listening to again. Still, the cover art was pretty impressive!
Intro/Two Chord Vamp (5:57), Cloud-hidden (for Tony Duhig) (3:41), Having A Moment (5:47), Upward (4:27), Glastonbury High Street Jam (5:48), Fireflies In A Snowstorm (4:10), Isobars (4:53), Boots On The Ground (3:32), Imp (4:34), Machete (5:37), Galliard (2:42), Apophis 2 (11:08)
To accompany the release of the latest DC Sound Collective release A Memory Of Errors, an additional album of instrumental pieces is available from mainman Daniel Crommie's Bandcamp page. Most of the contributors to the first volume are present, with Crommie and key collaborator Eldon Hardenbrook providing most of the instrumentation, with guitar contributions from Bruce Hazen, David Duhig and Colin Henson; only James Havard is missing. In addition, the album also features Michael Maldonado on soprano sax, Rich Turnoy on electric piano, Edvard Givens on alto flute, Dave Thatcher on cajon and cymbals, and someone only referred to as Jon (he is missing from the credits) on acoustic guitar.
Given that I didn't find the first volume all that inspiring, I approached this second volume with a degree of trepidation. It turns out my wariness was totally uncalled for, as the music on volume 2 is altogether quite delightful! Indeed, one finds it difficult to assimilate that the two albums were contemporaneously created by essentially the same performers. As to why, that is is something of a mystery. One contributing factor is definitely the omission of vocals, but essentially there is a greater freedom in the playing, more openness and more, well fun. The prime example is Glastonbury High Street Jam where Duhig weaves his lead guitar lines around Crommie's flutes and Hardenbrook's bass.
Fireflies In A Snowstorm and Isobars are more ambient-type pieces, similar in style to David Sylvian or Robert Fripp, or even Fripp and Sylvian come to that. Both are relaxing and enjoyable pieces, and fit in well with the overall album. In fact the only track that is a bit of a duffer is Imp (featuring the mysterious Jon!) which doesn't really go anywhere and sounds more like a rather uninspired jam (more so than Glastonbury High Street Jam, which although it may have started out as a jam session, has definitely been augmented)
As with Volume 1, A Memory Of Errors Vol 2 ends with the longest number, Apophis 2, compositionally credited to the DC Sound Collective. This undoubtedly means the performers on the piece; Crommie, Hardenbrook, Thatcher, Hazen and Maldonado. For the first seven-and-a-half minutes the piece is very mellow, with some interesting sounds and, once again, fairly in the ambient zone. However, there then follows a rather good transition into a much heavier section, with the two guitarists trading solos and really going for it. It is a great ending to an overall very interesting collection of instrumental music. The biggest question I have, is why this volume was relegated to a download status and, in my opinion, the far inferior Volume 1 was given the full CD treatment. Still, what is life without a little mystery?
Lay Your Hand On Me (6:02), I Don't Remember (4:06), No Self Control (4:14), The Family And The Fishing Net (7:17), I Have The Touch (4:39), Intruder (4:27), The Rhythm Of The Heat (4:45), San Jacinto (7:46), Games Without Frontiers/Of These, Hope (8:13), Here Comes The Flood (7:34), Back In N.Y.C. (5:44), Biko (5:59)
Though calling The Security Project a tribute band is very accurate, it also feels like a stretch to a certain extent. Perhaps that is due to the caliber of its members, and in the case of drummer Jerry Marotta, his original connection to the music being performed. The involvement of Trey Gunn also brings a high expectation of quality to the proceedings. Regardless, this undertaking is predominantly a tribute to the early solo career of Peter Gabriel. The setlist of their performances and this live album represent, in my humble opinion, some of the finest music to come out of the progressive rock genre. The legendary status of Gabriel's early career, only increases with his general lack of new and creative output in the last decade or so.
Ultimately though, this is a somewhat difficult album to review. I know that this band would present an excellent and fun performance in a live setting, and Live 1 is reflective of that. That said, considering the original versions and live renditions that Peter has released over the years, the ultimate value of this CD could be debated. Don't get me wrong, these are excellent versions and in some cases, the band even adds a new twist to these classics. The new renditions of No Self Control, Games Without Frontiers, I Have The Touch and Here Comes the Flood sound especially fresh. Vocalist Brian Cummins mirrors Gabriel's unique vocals, while still bringing some of his own touches to the material.
What makes this album especially hard to review, is that I can't honestly say a bad word about any of the renditions included here. This talented group of musicians really does justice to these classics. Their passion for the music is evident in these performances. The fact that Peter hasn't performed a lot of this material in years is reason enough to go to see The Security Project, should they come to your town. At this point, I am not sure that you would see better performances of these songs, even if Peter decided to perform them again. As fun as a listen as this CD is though, I would still most likely reach to the originals most of the time.
Yet, tributes don't get much better than this and it is fantastic that the opportunity exists to see such talented musicians performing this truly classic music. My scoring of this album represents things from that perspective, but without a doubt, the original Gabriel versions are still the preferred way to go with these songs.
Assembly (8:49), Hinterland (7:57), Against the Rain (5:01), No Superman (4:27), Growing Colder (6:23), Strontium Burning (5:00), Bloodline (9:00), Bloodline (9:00), Disassembly (9:02)
There's a certain "type" of rock music that has slowly infiltrated the genre of prog. I think it began with the first Frost album, followed by John Mitchell's Lonely Robot project trawling a similar trough. And it is here we find the common denominator. Superbly recorded by Mitchell and bringing an It Bites-zean guitar prowess to Bloodline, Hinterland by new band Tilt, is the latest offering in this thoroughly modern take in this category.
In essence, Tilt are members of Fish's backing band, and its custodian is Steve Vantsis, the piscine one's writing partner, and here credited with production and arrangement. This aquatic bowl of minstrels are joined by aforementioned Mitchell and It Bite's John Beck, plus a secret weapon in vocalist Paul Dourley.
Once a good singer is in place, then the quality of any music can be assessed in tandem. To me it is Ted Leonard's voice that has given the great Spock's Beard a world class edge, and Dourley is from the same gene pool.
As well as his bass guitar, Vantsis provides electronic noises from his keys (Beck is credited with piano and organ) and these atmospherics are how the album begins gracing Assembly, the first of many great epic tracks.
The title track shows Paul Humphreys' electric guitar (and acoustic strumming) to the full, whilst Dave Stewart's drums smash the rhythm into submission. Then the ballad, Against the Rain leads to the drum machine intro of No Superman, which could have been an Extreme song in a previous life.
Growing Colder has a similar descending key motif to Uriah Heap's Return to Fantasy but reminds me of early Traffic. Most excellent! The last minute of orchestral loveliness is worth the price of admission alone. Strontium Burning is a slow building rocker, that codas-out with a superb guitar solo.
The final two epics begin with Bloodline, a track with a definite hint of early morning Frost about it, plus electronic War of the World's synth bass and machine percussion swirling between the speakers. It is all routed by a menacing keyboard, before all hell breaks loose including a Blackmore-esque solo from the CD's mixing guru. The coda towards the end is pure widescreen film.
What started with an assembly, now ends with a Disassembly, the slow-brooding exposition of the futility of religious hypocrisy. It's in industrial Blade Runner_ territory and the AI culture of fear and wonder. Musically this builds and builds, with held-down, huge synth chords, slow rock drumming, and heartfelt vocals, before petering out to the hollow void of a receeding universe.
So, from the fishy scales of Marillion's ex, to the musical scales of this great new band, Tilt have produced the future of progressive rock music, and it's high time the rest of the world caught up. Widescale, bang up to date, and in art rock's premier league. Totally recommended.
When I was younger, it did not bother me to seek out bass-heavy bands and subject myself to their bass vibrations - indeed it was pleasurable. In those days, tightly spun muscles left little scope for my internal organs to bounce with delight to bass amplification. Nowadays though, low-end vibration tends to resonate uncontrollably, rippling to form surfing waves on my expanded girth. Internal organs in turn, jostle and jolt in time, creating a jarring, dodgem car visceral dance.
Rarely is an album bass heavy enough for this to happen in a controlled home environment. There are exceptions though, and Memento Collider is one of those albums. Its frantic assault is relentless, creating fleshed waves and shunting the dodgem-bumping organs within.
Memento Collider is so rhythmically intense that it has the potential to have both a physical and cerebral effect on the listener. There is a brashly abrasive quality about much of the music. It is littered with bombastic riffs, and has a ferocious message which reaches out to infect the listener. The album processes a contagious quality, and the packaging should have contained a warning!
The release is strewn with the recurrent use of a muscularly discordant sound that has the guile to persuade, the force to make inanimate objects shuffle dangerously, and the power to cause neighbours to form a disorderly queue at the door.
Memento Collider is this Norwegian band's fourth release and it is clear from the six tracks on offer, that Virus are developing their own style of metal and progressive rock that draws upon a range of other influences including post punk, funky dance rhythms and jazz.
Whilst the bass sets the pace and the mood for many of the tracks with its manic groove, the music is also characterised by the jangly and unusual distorted guitar of Czral. His oddly-strummed chords and clunky riffs contribute to the album's overall charm. There are few guitar solos in the release. The guitar is used for atmospheric effect and to flesh out the spacey sound of the band.
I asked to review this album, as Virus' style of music is outside my usual reviewing comfort zone. It is not my preferred style of music, but I must admit that once I got past the flesh-rippling vibration and superficial similarity of each of the tracks, I fully enjoyed the whole immersive experience, and discovered that there were many hidden layers waiting to be discovered.
The vocal style of principal composer, and band leader Czral reminded me of the Magazine vocalist Howard Devoto. Czral's half-spoken, emotive-laden delivery perfectly suits the hypnotic and mesmerising intensity of the rhythmic compositions.
It may have been that I was not overly familiar with this style of music, but the whole album displayed an enviable freshness that was hard not to admire. I have continued to play this album on a regular basis and it has become a hidden pleasure. As a precaution, I have learnt to truss myself up; the wearing of a tight coat has become an essential accessory. If you think it might be necessary, I urge you to do the same, but before you do, remember to tell your loved ones. They wouldn't be totally wrong, if they suspected that a virus was to blame!
...that one day... (10:18), No Evil (4:57), Radio (5:21), ...we'll have to say... (3:23), Reaper (6:46), Exhale (4:10), ...goodbye (12:04), The Hidden Room (4:19)
The follow-up to the well received debut album Pandora, We Are Kin deliver a variety of styles on ... and I know..., in what is becoming their patented, fluid form. The band's lineup is ever-evolving, now featuring Emma Brewin-Caddy performing most of the vocals and Lee Braddock on bass. Founders Dan Zambas and Gary Boast continue as keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist and drummer respectively. A couple of guest musicians appear as well.
Pandora was a complete concept album. There was no indication with the files provided (no lyrics) that ...and I know... is a continuation of the same story. It very well could be, as the opening minute of ...that one day..., depicting a scene of someone rising from the ruins, could be the succession of the story from Pandora's ending. Regardless of larger possible themes, the songs can certainly stand on their own, without any underlying story, and so I abandoned connecting any dots, rather choosing to enjoy the music and performances for what they were (in the moment).
In general the music is restrained, with moments of slight aggression. There's a wide range of musical styles implemented and I feel like each one was the right choice for the given mood they were trying to evoke. The band seems to have good instincts in this regard. There's no excess wankery, no feeling that a song goes on for longer than it should, and every musical decision sounds as if it has intent behind it. ...that one day... is a lesson in how to create and release tension as it flows from spacey and mysterious, to metal, to tribal and psychedelic, back to metal with a slightly industrial edge, to new age... you get the idea.
The piano work here is widespread and accomplished. While I miss the mostly straight-forward rock compositions on Pandora, I wouldn't expect any prog band to strictly adhere to any particular set of self-imposed rules. It's noted here, since instrument choices change the dynamics of an album, and the widespread use of piano contributes to bringing the energy level down a bit. Synthesisers take on a larger role than on Pandora. This is much to the benefit of the music, as they are used effectively to augment the atmospheric qualities of several of the more stripped-down sections. I'm a guitar guy, but I'm certainly a fan of the good use of synthesisers, and I find progressive rock has some of the most creative synth players of any genre.
Brewin-Caddy's vocals are soulful, very Adele-ish in their emotive quality. No Evil is a standout example, setting a smoky and jazzy mood with the piano and impassioned singing. At times they fit perfectly, and at others it seems she struggles to find the delivery of words that perhaps were not best suited for the music, like the early to middle sections of Radio, where she is more/less rattling off the lines without any sense of intent or melody behind them. As a listener it's tough to connect with the message, when the vocalist doesn't seem entirely committed to delivering it. A few times during Reaper and ...goodbye... she seems to disappear under the music (sometimes only for a single line) and I feel maybe she needed to step in with a stronger, more consistent performance.
The flute on ...we'll have to say..., performed by guest musician Ramsey Janini, is a nice element, but its actual recording leaves a lot to be desired. Early in the song moments of 'whistling' from the player's lips, rather than capturing the notes from the instrument, nags my every listen. Once the accompanying music comes in, then I find it's more bearable. It's shortcomings like this that hold back some of these songs. Production quality is still a shortcoming, although ...and I know... is certainly a step in the right direction, and an overall improvement over the inconsistent and uneven recording quality on Pandora.
Although I enjoyed a lot of the music on ...and I know..., there are a lot of moments where things were not as polished as they could have been. There are some great melodic sections, like the end of ...goodbye and the chorus of No Evil. The heavier moments of ...that one day... are superb. But these examples overshadow much of what remains. There's a general lack of playfulness and virtuosity.
On Pandora, the story, and execution of it, compensated for its musical deficiencies. The sum of the whole isn't as compelling here, although there is still plenty to enjoy and We Are Kin have created a solid sophomore effort. As with most new bands, finding some stability in their line-up will likely reap rewards on future releases. ...and I know... is a transitional album, serving as an indicator of good things to come.