Album Reviews

Issue 2018-069

Alco Frisbass — Le Bateleur

Alco Frisbass - Le Bateleur
Soufre et Mercure (9:33), Le Bateleur (11:24), Arcane Majeur (7:13), Les Cartes Vivantes (8:09), Ombre Terre (7:54)
Owen Davies

I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to ramble on for DPRP about Alco Frisbass' outstanding self-titled release in 2015, reviewed here on DPRP. Le Bateleur is every bit as satisfying as that album. In many ways, it is even more impressive and is generally more consistent. Arguably, however, it does not always manage to reach the heights achieved during the magnificent Escamotage, which was undoubtedly, the standout piece of the first release.

In the intervening years, Alco Frisbass has expanded from the duo of, Fabrice Chouette and Patrick Dufour, to become a trio. The addition of Federic Chaput on bass electric and acoustic guitars, keys, synths and modular percussion has given the band's sound an extra coating, where interesting layers and a range of sonic possibilities can be, added, or either explored, or exploited.

The trio's latest album includes some notable guests. Thierry Payssan plays acoustic piano on three of the album's five tracks. The other principal member of Minimum Vital, Jean Luc Payssan, plays electric guitar on one those compositions, the outstanding Les Cartes Vivantes.

The album also includes Eric Rebeyrol on cornet on two pieces. His contribution offers an excellent contrast and provides an identifiable and indelible touch of humanity, to the array of programmed drums, keyboard sounds, evocative guitars and rhythmic bass parts that dominate much of the album.

The album retains a similar style to the previous one and at its best, evokes much of the musical invention, innovation and spirit of adventure associated with the jazz tinged bands of the Canterbury genre. There were times, during the outstanding Les Cartes Vivantes and Ombre Terre when I could have easily imagined, that I was listening to a series of long lost National Health pieces.

The sound quality of the album is excellent. It was mixed by Jarrod Gosling and mastered by Alberto Callegari and the full tonal quality of the album comes to life when played on dedicated hi-fi equipment.

The cover art of the release is also striking and ensures that the album is easily recognised and difficult to misplace. This is definitely a plus for any readers who might have large music collections. The expressive cover created by Homunculus Res' principal composer Dario D'Alessendro indicate that his talents go far beyond his ability to create fantastic music.

Les Cartes Vivantes is probably my favourite track on the album. Everything about it just falls in to place. It is dressed up in a wonderfully melodic tune that recurs, but does not outstay its welcome. It manages to strike a skilful balance between gently etching itself upon your consciousness and forcing itself into you memory by dint of its repeated, but always evolving and ever changing motifs. It features some outstanding instrumental sections that will have aficionados of Canterbury styled music salivating and wanting more.

There is a beautiful ebb and flow to much of the album and this is very noticeable in the elegant changes of tempo, mood and delivery that make Ombre Terre such a stimulating piece to experience. It is stuffed full of impossible dance rhythms, strident passages, discordant guitar runs and includes a plethora of ethereal effects.

However, underpinning everything and ever present in this piece and throughout the album, in a satisfyingly wholesome way, is a typical keyboard sound that is often symptomatic of the Canterbury genre. It's a great piece and is one of the undoubted highlights of this very impressive release.

The album begins with Soufre et Mecure and the composition starts with broody drones. Layers of mellotron quickly soothe, wash and water. Later, the piece is driven by, rhythmic keyboard parts and a strident low-end riff. At times, this gives Soufre et Mecure more than a hint of some of the style and approach adopted by King Crimson.

However, it is difficult to ascribe stylistic signposts to this opening track as it has so many different facets wrapped up in the cold blast and warming shawl, of its guitar and keyboard styled embrace. It is probably the most idiosyncratic piece on offer and some of its adventurous moment's make it is probably the most abstract composition of the album.

The title track Le Bateleur on the other hand, delights in throwing out warm melodies. These float nonchalantly by, welcoming the listener and offering an embrace and a firm yet friendly caress. It has beautiful symphonic qualities that are sure to delight fans of bands such as Camel. It also has that easily identifiable challenging ambiance that is sure to delight fans of bands like Egg and National Health.

It is a piece that wears many different colours and throws out many shades. The acoustic passage and reflective keyboard section that subtly tints its mid-point, is alluring and enchanting.

The mix of keyboard sounds throughout the album is a real selling point and at times, the layering of different key-based instruments creates a multifaceted sound that has admirable depth and great breadth.

Arcane Majeur has some particularly evocative keyboard parts. There are so many different key board based effects and keyed instruments on show, that a listener may find it a joyful challenge to follow, or identify within the layers, a particular sound. On occasions, synths are quite prominent and produce a quirky sci-fi space-rock effect that works particularly well, when contrasted with a variety of piano and electric guitar flourishes.

Le Bateleur is an excellent album and I have no doubt, it will prominently feature in many lists itemising the best prog albums of 2018

Paolo Baltaro — Live Pillheads

Paolo Baltaro - Live Pillheads
Sunny Days (3:24), You'll Never Die On Me (3:38), Angle Of March (12:15), Swimmer In The Sand (5:12), I Don't Mind (5:42) (CD only), Brightest Moon (6:31), Bike (5:52), Italian Guns (3:37), Cole Porter And Franz's Birthday Party (8:51), Nowhere Street, Part II (8:16) (CD only)
Jerry van Kooten

A former member of Italian prog band Arcansiel, (last album reviewed here on DPRP) Paolo Baltaro has released a couple of albums under his own name. I haven't heard his previous solo albums so have no other reference than his work with Arcansiel.

Baltaro is a versatile man. He played bass and keyboards and sang on the last two Arcansiel albums, plays guitar and sings in his own new band (The Pillheads), played music in styles ranging from blues to jazz to punk to prog rock, and has also written and published a book.

To start, do not expect Arcansiel's more delicate form of prog, nor the typical 70s, 80s, or 90s Italian prog. I'd still call the music progressive but can't think of a single sub-genre or style that would fit.

Opener Sunny Days and several other sections have a punk attitude in riffing and structure. But played by a band who know how to play properly. There's more raw energy here, than on an average prog stage.

With You'll Never Die On Me, we're thrown into more proggy waters. The opening bit and the bridge are almost fusion, on the heavy side, sandwiching modern prog rock sections.

Angel Of March and Swimmer In The Sand are Arcansiel songs. Prog alright, especially the former. With the original version sounding a bit dated because of the 1980s/1990s production, the power and energy of Baltaro's band make this a heavier, modern version that takes the song properly into the current century.

Especially on this track you can hear what power Baltaro has in his voice. His warm and sometimes rough sound, with quite a range, is closer to a blues-rock, than to a standard prog voice. Only now and then the accent is obvious, but never obtrusive.

Although Swimmer In The Sand was a more popular sounding track, even in the original version, this one, and a song like Brightest Moon (the only new song), are in the modern progressive rock field and could have been written recently.

I Don't Mind and Italian Guns are what I can progressive blues, like 1970s bands such as Stone The Crows and Mountain, or contemporary bands like Birth Of Joy and DeWolff, with a fat Hammond sound. Blues-based rock with progressive riffs and breaks.

Bike is a cover by the Syd Barret-penned Pink Floyd song. It offers the pure jazzy or Zappa-esque weirdness but without the failed experiments that make the original hard to listen to, at least to me. There is more of that in Cole Porter And Franz's Birthday Party, a marvellously rewarding challenge to the ear. The CD version has a non-LP track, the second half of which goes into the same territories.

I think the metallic effect on the vocals are used a bit too often. A nice effect but you have to prevent this becoming a bit of a gimmick. Nothing too disturbing, though. And why does the CD version, after the last track, have some silence followed by a few seconds of a silly Italian version of Light My Fire, reversed and in the wrong speed? A joke, perhaps, or a misprint?

Ah well, this doesn't distract at all from this otherwise excellent, varied live album. Now I must get his other albums as well.

A special mention goes out to Banksville Records for sending an actual vinyl LP, plus CD, plus press info. Now that's promoting your artists. Not that that has any influence on the verdict, but I do think the effort is worth mentioning.

The End — Svårmod och vemod är värdesinnen

The End - Svårmod och vemod är värdesinnen
Svårmod (3:50), Vemod (3:57), Translated Slaughter (14:14), Don’t Wait (14:57), Rich And Poor (0:54), Both Sides Out (5:51)
Owen Davies

Even before I had heard Svårmod och vemod är värdesinnen, its use of two baritone and tenor saxes, a female voice, electronics, baritone guitar and drums suggested, that it was going to be a different sounding and intriguing experience.

When I also realised the album was released by Rare Noise Records, a label known for championing artists of a somewhat avant nature; I instinctively knew that it would contain something that sits solidly and proudly outside the box.

Rare Noise records have gained themselves a reputation for releasing albums that challenge and surprise. Their roster of artists frequently creates albums that have a cutting progressive edge that blurs genre boundaries and challenges typical musical forms. The End's debut album does this to great effect. During its running time of over forty-three minutes, it is a challenging experience, but it never fails to unnerve, surprise and delight.

Svårmod och vemod är värdesinnen is not draped and bedecked by beautiful melodies, but it is strikingly swaddled in a fascinating, frequently-fragile, yet ultimately ugly musical cloak of, electronic effects, spirited sax squeals, gruff guitar growls and human howls.

The End consists of saxophonist's Mats Gustafson and Kjetil Møster, singer Sofia Jernberg, baritone guitarist Anders Hana and drummer Greg Saunier. The members of the band have a combined musical pedigree and performance history that enables them to draw upon many influences, including amongst others free jazz, prog and alternative rock.

A number of the tracks appear to have started life as free improvisations and even with studio refinement, there is still an exciting spontaneous air to much of what is on offer. This gives the album an enjoyable unconstrained ambiance where expression and experimentation are important ingredients.

The albums bulbous saxophone tones, electronica, low-end guitar and wailing human voice create a cacophonous experience, for a listener to consume, or subconsciously ingest, rather than to enjoy. This is an album where the experience of its contents is much more important than any whistle while you work tunes. There were times when the off piste and unconventional nature of much of the album reminded me of John Stevens's Spontaneous Music Ensemble, or perhaps the experimental ensemble of Talisker.

More accessibly, there were instances when a Zappa-like vibe seeped through, to peep through a crack in the albums curtain of noise. The most noticeable of these occurred during some of Jernberg's improvised spoken sections, which had that same anarchic rebellious air as Moon Zappa's contribution in Valley Girls.

Jernberg's heartfelt improvisations were spellbinding, but in the end, I decided that I preferred a more controlled spoken improvised approach, as superbly executed by Snowpoet's Laura Kinsella, during her idiosyncratic contribution to the superb, It's Already Better Than Ok, in that band's Thought That You Knew 2018 release.

The Hendrix-inspired guitar tone at the beginning of Svårmod and the earthy riff in the early stages of Vemod give these two pieces a gritty foundation, that on the face of it, is at odds with the free avant nature of other elements in evidence in these compositions. Stretched to the limits of probability, somehow, the glue holds and it works surprisingly well.

On other occasions, the band's most approachable moments were reminiscent of Henry Cow's experimental work utilising the enigmatic contribution of Dagmar. The novel delivery of Jernberg and her readiness to express herself using a variety of tones and radical voicings only helped to reinforce that view. Just like Henry Cow, The End's lyrics carry a clear political message.

During the disquieting, yet thoroughly captivating epic Don't Wait, Jernberg delivers an assertion that "Music is political it has to be". In this way, much of the album is an embodiment of John Grierson's phrase "Art is not a mirror - it's a hammer" which adorned Henry Cow's In Praise Of Learning album and reinforced that bands position as part of the RIO movement of the 70s.

There were many junctures when the sheer inventiveness and uniqueness of what I was hearing in this piece and throughout the album, made me shiver in astonishment and admiration of the bands daring pursuit of their art.

When the music creates and hits a groove, as the dial enters the red zone, the bands loosely, structured collective chaos is hugely endearing and genuinely exciting. The mid part of Don't Wait, includes a powerful punk jazz workout that contains a contagious enthusiasm, not unlike the exhilaration generated by label stable mates World Service Project. The feel of this twisted passage was strange, infectious, and quite brilliant. Svårmod och vemod är värdesinnen leaves an indelible mark. For better, or for worse, it will undoubtedly evoke some sort of a response.

Overall, Svårmod och vemod är värdesinnen creates an unforgettable experience. It is, discordant and melodic, inventive and creative, distasteful, disturbing and unnerving in equal measures, but above all, it is compelling in every respect.

InFictions — Vanity Project

InFictions - Vanity Project
Airtight (6:45), DeadZones (3:41), RedList (4:50), Antarctica (3:40), Formaldehyde (3:54), Freshwater (2:56), Deserted (4:00), Acidification (5:00), Climatics (5:28), The Weight Of Hurricanes / The Upward-Sloping Path (6:12)
Andy Read

Sheffield, England. I have only been there once. To watch a football match. And drink some beer. It struck me as a rather stark, yet wholehearted industrial city. It has some wonderful pubs.

InFictions is a band from Sheffield. Given the city's nature, one would envisage their music to have a meaty, hearty, jaggedly-toothed bite. More of a gnarl probably. Muscular rather than melancholic.

InFictions, in reality, is quite the opposite. In terms of its musical and lyrical intent, Vanity Project is an exercise in bright poignancy.

This is the band's second offering. It seems like only yesterday, not five-plus years ago, that I was ordering their ambitiously-entitled debut album Maps Of Revenge And Forgiveness. It had garnered a positive conclusion in the pages of DPRP ([](review here)). Its unusual cardboard box packaging is something I still regularly remove from my CD shelving - and still forget every time that the little "free" badge will fall out onto the floor!

Whereas the last album used four different drummers, the band now offers rhythmic cohesion with the recruitment of James Fosberry, who does an amazing job throughout the ten tracks. This album has some wonderful grooves on its up-tempo excursions, yet a clear calm amidst its more tranquil pastures. James clearly appreciates that it is as much what you do not play, as what you do. The remainder of the line-up remains unchanged from the debut, with Ed Cartledge leading on vocals, guitars and keys alongside Tom Chaffer (guitars) and Gareth Hughes (bass and percussion).

A host of guest artists add notable depth to the band's soundscapes, with flute, female backing vocals, cello, piano and violin. As one example; on the closing track, Nick Milne's muted trumpet behind the perfectly-judged, tentative piano is a genuine highlight, on an album packed with such adjectival-deserving moments. Played on my full system, this whole album sounds ravishing. It pulls me in every time.

As with the debut, the reference points would be the likes of Radiohead, Anathema, Antimatter, Mogwai and latter-period Talk Talk. From a more progressive aspect, fans of Gazpacho, Sigur Ros and Kingcrow will enjoy the tone and admire the dynamic variety of this album.

I could continue to try to explain why every aspect of this album appeals to me. The way it twists and turns between guitar-driven and more ambient instrumental passages. How Ed Cartledge's haunting vocals are the perfect match for the music (think Scandie alt-progsters Soup and Oak). How the non-obvious melodic lines have the ability to seep deep into your consciousness. How despite its gloomy politics (environmental irresponsibility as suggested by the song titles), the production maintains a pathos-soaked brightness to the listening experience.

Everything, just everything, about this album works. It connects with me on an emotional, intellectual and musical level that few albums are now capable of doing. Just give yourself five minutes and listen to Acidification on the video link below. You will hear what I mean.

Call it post-rock. Call it post-progressive. You can call it post-office for all I care. This album is just one beautifully-crafted, cunningly-executed and heartfeltedly-created piece of musical brilliance. I love it. And if you give it a bit of your time, I am sure you will love it too.

The bucket list of bands I want to see play live before I die has now risen to four!

Riverside — Wasteland

Riverside - Wasteland
The Day After (1:48), Acid Rain (6:03), Part I. Where Are We Now? / Part II. Dancing Ghosts, Vale Of Tears (4:49), Guardian Angel (4:24), Lament (6:09), The Struggle For Survival (9:32), Part I. Dystopia / Part II. Battle Royale, River Down Below (5:41), Wasteland (8:25), The Night Before (3:59)
Patrick McAfee

Wasteland is Riverside's first studio album of brand new material since 2015's excellent, Love, Fear And The Time Machine. Recordings by the band are always anticipated, but the interest in this release is understandably higher than usual. After the unfortunate passing of guitarist, Piotr Grudzinski two years ago, the future of the band was in doubt. The announcement that Riverside would carry on was met by enthusiasm and Wasteland stands as a glorious testiment to that decision.

In publicity for the album, drummer Piotr Kozieradzki speaks of how the finoshed product feels a bit like their second debut. Though musically quite different than Out Of Myself, the analogy makes perfect sense. At the very least, the album represents the beginning of a new chapter. There is an urgency and sentiment to the material that reflects the band's drive to move forward while also serving as a remembrance of their fallen bandmate. With the main theme of surviving in a world after an apocalypse, Wasteland is cinematic, emotional and altogether stirring.

Mariusz Duda, along with guests Maciej Meller and Mateusz Owczarek, assume the electric guitar duties. Most notably on Acid Rain, Vale Of Tears and the wonderful instrumental The Struggle For Suvival. There is a diverse range of musical styles displayed throughout the entire recording that lends to its epic nature. The perfect blending of harder rocking (Acid Rain, Vale Of Tears, Lament and softer moments (Guardian Angel, River Down Below, _The Night Before), lends to the impeccable flow of the album.

Adding to the grand scope of the material are some superb non-lyrical vocal moments effectively scattered across the recording. This creates an almost soundtrack like feel to some of the songs. The excellent title track warrants special mention, in large part due to its memorable Ennio Morricone-influenced instrumental section. The Night Before ends the album and resonates in the same way that the close of a great dramatic film does.

As complex as Wasteland is, it is also one of Riverside's most accessible albums. There is a formidable melodic sensibility to every track and though the subject matter can be somber, the ultimate vibe is sanguine. A must for Riverside fans, I could also see the album appealing to the previously unacquainted. When writing reviews, even very positive ones, I try to be constructively critical when warranted. That said, I am challenged to find a misstep of any kind on this album. Simply put, Wasteland is a triumph and without doubt, one of the best albums of the year.

Semantic Saturation — Paradigms

Semantic Saturation - Paradigms
Mirrors Of Confusion (4:41), Carousel Of Death (4:54), Pareidolia (4:52), Empty Whisky Jar (3:40), The Stranger From Andromeda (5:06), Until We Meet Again (4:18), Ulterior Harmony (6:58), Disturbance Within (4:36), Universal (6:41), Where Dreams Have Died (10:33)
Jan Buddenberg

The art of blending is a craftsmanship one tastefully encounters in luxury drinks like whisky. Imagine what is to be done for one brand to make every bottle of precious liquid exactly the same; for people expect the same quality, not only in their own country, but across the border it should look, feel and taste the same as well; repeatedly over and over and over all the time. Choosing from all those casks of whisky; all different in age, taste, impregnation and maturation is not an easy task and hence the term master-blender is frequently used as appraisal in the industry.

In slightly higher regard stand those who are able to play freely in the cask-field by not only harmonizing up to explicit quality, but also essentially add a signature to the already perfect drink, thereby creating more depth, stunning flavours and long lasting lingering finishes. On top of this there are a few instances where the master-blender is the master-distiller as well, able to control the whole process from start to finish in the end creating the loveliest of spirits; precisely the circumstances in which Shant Hagopian operates with Semantic Saturation when compared to the musical equivalent of it.

Paradigms is the second release by Semantic Saturation, the first being Solipsistic from 2012. On his first album he used the talented skills of Virgil Donati (drums) and Ric Fierabracci (bass) to present highly entertaining instrumental progressive metal, with guest appearances on one track by Andy Kuntz (Vanden Plas) on vocals, and Derek Sherinian (Sons Of Apollo) on keyboards adding signatures throughout. For Paradigms the base-field has been altered completely resulting in an more than satisfactory versatile form of Shant on guitars and keys, Craig Blundell (Steve Wilson, Frost*) on drums and Kristoffer Gildenlöw on bass. With some extraordinary supportive appearances, Shant has surpassed his own standard and raised the bar, subsequently nourishing our senses.

A creative and artistic insight into the mind of Shant shows on the lovely self-designed artwork in which the album is presented. Production by Shant is handled extremely well, for the album is impeccably vivid, harmonious, balanced, vibrant, tight when it needs to be, yet playful when called for; and above all a treat to listen to and enjoy.

Most tracks are based on instrumental jazzy progressive rock fusion structures and melodies, leaving lots of space for the three cornerstones to fill in the blanks when necessary to make it all sparkle. Each member knowing their instrument by heart shines through in their performance, without ever feeling the need to outweigh the other. Genuinely guitar driven, there's still ample of room for variety, flashes of keys, subtle or hard hitting drums, firm and tight bass and the occasional solo (be it keys or guitar) as perfectly demonstrated in Mirrors Of Confusion and Pareidolia.

Universal and Until We Meet Again showcase a softer touch with more melodic rock whereby acoustic guitars add character and keys giving refinement, often reminding me of Dixie Dregs and Steve Morse. The heavier full bodied tracks like The Stranger From Andromeda and Disturbence show signs of brilliance with influences by Dream Theater reminiscent of their instrumental work during the Images And Words and Awake era.

The support by guest artist lifts the intensity of the music and generates a whole different level in which to play. Short but rounded Empty Whisky Jar starts of bluesy and changes towards jazz thanks to the vocals by Houry Dora Apartian, effectively depicting images of a Mike Hammer Private detective set in the 30's to me. Carousel Of Death features Alex Argento on keyboards (also responsible for mixing and mastering) and Squiggy McFlannel on Trumpet, whom together with the base three stir things up, resulting in a rather complex heavy dynamical progressive track full of 1950s swing and burlesque. Lastly, Derek Sherinian adjusts the controls towards extraordinary progmetal on Ulterior Harmony, leaving the levers open to maximum extend results in a pure cask strength version of Dream Theater.

Even the best master blenders have to make a judgment call now and then when there's an exquisite and flawless cask that just is too good to be used in a blend, so it becomes a single cask whisky; a whisky-lovers dream with exceptional aromas, flavours, divine taste and a long everlasting finish. Last track Where Dreams Have Died is the exact equivalent: initially smooth, it changes to heavy progressive Pink Floyd and Dream Theater, giving of bursts of explicit guitars reminiscent of John Petrucci and Joe Satriani. Temporarily softening in the middle it slowly evolves into a dazzling exhibition by Shant on guitar, as if to say you don't need words if your guitar can do it's singing for you (ironically this being the one track with actual lyrics); ending with a relaxing silky smoothness.

A special mention has to be made to the exemplary bass-work by Gildenlöw which is some of his best I have heard up to date. Combined with the intricate, energetic and refined drums by Blundell and the inspiring guitars by Shant has resulted in an outstanding album, which grows on you on each turn. Highly recommendable for progressive guitar lovers, and for now I'll savor an established 20 years old Dutch Single Cask 1998 Millstone whisky and listen to it again; though I think the complexity and finish on the drink might take a while so more turns are needed... Let's hope actual semantic saturation doesn't happen.

Sutej Singh — The Emerging

Sutej Singh - The Emerging
Overture (1:40), The Comeback Trail (6:42), Timeless (9:07), Come Into Existence (5:50), The Emerging (11:29), Oceans Apart (7:39), Walk My Path (5:34), Revelations (6:11)
Jan Buddenberg

Life for me is, amongst other things, witnessing events, love, experiencing emotions, engaging lovely people thereby satisfyingly interacting on different levels and obviously a huge shared interest into music, particularly progressive rock and its adversaries incorporating a more heavier approach flowing towards metal. I find that pinpointing meaningful events and thoughts into perspective becomes easier with age but sometimes interpretation of everyday life can lead to prejudice, though thankfully we have several ways to conquer this minor flaw through friends and loved ones; soothingly this time it's the music of Sutej Singh portrayed on The Emerging which effectively does the trick.

For when India comes up as a country I instantly think of Taj Mahal, Bombay, Spicy food, Bollywood and its Indian classical pop-interpretations, 1.2 billion people (go figure...), Mahatma Gandhi and the only musical artist I have ever heard of from that immensely huge country: Ravi Shankar, nothing ever so slightly prog-related. So when the opportunity presented itself to encounter something progressive from India my interest was awakened; especially when further exploration on bandcamp revealed two involved musicians who gave me some of the finest memories I personally experienced ages ago: Joachim Ehrig (Eroc), ex-Grobschnitt, and Christian Moos formerly of Everon (or do they still exist?).

Initiated by the first sounds of Overture I slowly drift off in thoughts; it's 1993 and Everon opens the Planet Pul Festival in Uden. Witnessing an eye-opening set and especially falling in love with Oliver Phillips's melodic approach on guitars, we immediately wade off to the cd-stand to buy their debut-album, which to our surprise was produced by Eroc. Memories stream; reminiscing about meeting them again at his studio during the mastering and mixing off their second album Flood, which sound-technical still amazes me with its sheer depth, broadness and particularly heavy bombastic approach; a sonic very sound and superb production and still one of my favorite albums, musically as well.

Then it happens, The Comeback Trail grasps my thoughts and I'm no longer drifting off. No, I'm actually wide awake and literally gasping for air surrounded by the same vibrant, bombastic ever so clear perfect production. Kylan Amos (Arena) on bass and Scott Higham (ex-Pendragon) on drums supply a steady and firm base and with a guitar sound almost identical to Everon, Singh provides ample of layers to his music showcasing his ability to create grandeur statements of monumental symphonic rock in the vein of Trans Siberian Orchestra. Richness, melody and atmospheric scenes follow each other in harmony supported by magnificent soloing and some lovely touches of orchestral arrangements supplied by Leon Ross.

Timeless , with guest Peter Henningsson (Fortress Of Fear) soloing, continues to impress with delving deeper, successfully adding several resting points and mellowed landscapes images, and words fall short to describe the feelings experienced. The same goes for _ Come Into Existence_ where Singh takes a proverbial dip into a thermal bath, displaying a more relaxed approach this time highlighting his love for David Gilmour's style.

Softly we glide towards The Emerging which is a turmoil of emotions, symphonies, calmness, goosebumps, and a whirlwind of melodic metal reflecting Dream Theater and Haken, aptly enhanced by Raymond Hearne (Haken) guesting on drums. Gina Luciani adds cleansing flavors on flute and piccolo, to which Singh demonstrates his finest skills influenced by John Petrucci and Joe Satriani.

Fully buoyant by now Oceans Apart builds from a laid back jazz inspired melody where delicious Jerry Goodman violins gently stream into fresh orchestral arrangements ultimately ending in a crescendo of progressive metal as occasionally found on the more progressive albums by Savatage. Singh, having found his stride by now, invites us along on Walk My Path, another well composed prog-metal track incorporating atmosphere, depth and virtuosity; after which he manages to reveal yet another insight in Revelations. A majestic cinematic panorama slowly brightens up, flowing into prog where Irish dance and Celtic rhythms flow with apparent ease alongside exquisite touches of UK on violin, finally culminating in a shower of neo-progressive heavy prog.

It's a strange sensation, but this album ticks a lot of boxes and certainly altered my perceptions of Indian music. The musicianship and execution is superb and leaves almost nothing to be desired, with the one critical note being that some songs are stretched just a tiny bit too long. According to fellow DPRP reviewer Andy Read there are already several Indian progressive bands out there, so let me be the first one to rate this album to be a great example of the Newly Encountered Wave of Indian Progressive Inspiring Rock (NEWIPIR), for Sutej Singh has crafted an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable album. Please join, dive in and swim along - that would be my recommendation. But right now I'm famished, so I'll need some replenishing; I think I'll go for a decent curry...

Tiger Moth Tales — Story Tellers Part 2

Tiger Moth Tales - Story Tellers Part 2
Best Friends (3:15), Kai's Journey (4:36), Toad of Toad Hall (3:39), Hundred Acre Wood (3:14), Eternity (4:35), The Boy Who Cried Wolf (6:43), Three Little Pigs (6:33), The Palace (8:43), Match Girl (3:46), Best Friends reprise (2:29)
Patrick McAfee

Over the last few years, Pete Jones has proven himself to be one of the most exciting new talents in progressive rock. Along with his excellent live work as a current member of Camel, his solo work thus far has been very impressive. I especially enjoyed last years, The Depths Of Winter, which secured his standing as an artist to take notice of.

On this second part of his Story Tellers series, Jones returns to the format of creating songs based on the stories of his favourite childhood authors. The concept generally works well here, with the exception of an overly twee moment or two. Three Little Pigs is the most saccharine example. Though clever and amusing, the song ultimately reminded me of something that my kids listened to when they were toddlers. Most of the time though, the adventurous nature of the original stories translates into some very compelling musical moments.

Beautifully written and performed, this album works as well as it does mainly due to Peter Jones's talent as a songwriter and musician. With the exception of some fine vocals by Emma Friend, Jones expertly handles all of the instrumentation and the bulk of the vocals.

As with his previous releases, his musical influences are clearly on display throughout. As an example, The Palace is a wonderful instrumental that is a cross between the Duke era of Genesis and early Steve Hackett solo material. Other tracks such as Best Friends, Kai's Journey, Eternity and __The Boy Who Cried Wolf_ are also reminiscent of the 70s era of prog.

Nostalgia aside though, the songs impress more so due to how absolutely entertaining they are. The same can be said of the ragtime-like Hundred Acre Wood as well as the emotionally effective, Match Girl.

There is word that Camel is working on new studio material and it will certainly be interesting to see what Peter Jones brings to the table. Until that time though, Story Tellers Part 2 is another exceptional release from an artist who continues to make a strong impression on the progressive rock world.

Album Reviews