All posts by Angel Romero

Angel Romero has been writing about progressive music and world music for many years. Publications include Eurock (USA), Marquee (Japan), and Nuevas Músicas (Spain). He founded the websites progressiverockcentral.com and worldmusiccentral.org. Angel also produced Musica NA, a music show for TVE (Spain) featuring fusion, avant-garde, world music, new age and electronic artists.

Hybrid Musical Stories and Fables

Luz de Riada - Cuentos y Fábulas
Luz de Riada

Cuentos y Fábulas (2011)

One of the leading bands in the Mexican progressive rock scene is Luz de Riada. They mix highly technical avant-garde rock with jazz, folk music and freeform improvisation. Their album Cuentos y Fábulas (Stories and Fables) is divided into two types of pieces. Cuentos (stories or tales) are structured compositions that feature guest musicians and a poet while the fábulas are short freeform sonic segments.

The imaginary stories in Cuentos y Fábulas describe modern life, mythical creatures and emotions expressed through the band’s hybrid sound. Luz de Riada’s sound is characterized by a potent King Crimsonesque rhythm section with various saxophones, guitar and stick performing solos and carrying out elaborate musical conversations. Although most of the pieces are instrumental, the album includes two pieces with unconventional lyrics and a spoken word poem.

Luz de Riada was formed in June 2010 when four self-taught musicians got together to develop and narrate musical stories. They choose the name Luz de Riada, which means flood of light to identify the generation of sound imagery. The current line-up includes Ramsés Luna on flute, sax, Wx5; Hugo Santos on grand stick, bass; Hugo Hernández on drums; and Alejandro Vergara on guitars.

Guests on the album include Wilfrido Terrazas on flute; Alejandro Otaola on guitar; Hugo Alfredo on surdo; Iván Tirado on surdo; Floriano Martin on vocals; Carlos Alegre on violin; Iván Bringas on guitar; Ernesto Mendoza on theremin; and Rodrigo Frenk on accordion.

Cuentos y Fábulas comes with innovative packaging, which includes several layers and a booklet with lyrics, photos, illustrations, a description of the music and credits.

Cuentos y Fábulas presents the uncategorizable sounds of some of Mexico’s most adventurous experimentalists.

Buy the album from http://www.luzderiada.com

Swedish Prog Band Moon Safari Releases Live Album The Gettysburg Address

Moon Safari - The Gettysburg Address
Moon Safari, one of Europe’s leading progressive rock bands, has a new album titled The Gettysburg Address. The Gettysburg Address is Moon Safari’s fourth release. It is a two CD set recorded live during their epic performance at the Majestic Theatre in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, at Rosfest 2011.

The Gettysburg Address includes some of Moon Safari’s most popular songs from all three studio albums.

Moon Safari is a symphonic progressive rock band from Skellefteå, Sweden. It was formed in 2003 and have three studio albums: A Doorway to Summer (2005), Blomljud (2008), and Lover’s End (2010).

The line-up includes Simon Åkesson on lead vocals, backing vocals, piano, Hammond organ, moog, mellotron, choir arrangements; Petter Sandström on lead vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica; Pontus Åkesson on guitars, backing vocals; Johan Westerlund on bass, backing vocals; and Tobias Lundgren on drums, percussion, backing vocals.

Album tracks

1 – CD1 – Moonwalk
2 – CD1 – Lover’s End – Part 1
3 – CD1 – A Kid Called Panic
4 – CD1 – Yasgurs Farm
5 – CD1 – The World’s Best Dreamers

6 – CD2 – Dance Across The Ocean
7 – CD2 – Heartland
8 – CD2 – New York City Summergirl
9 – CD2 – Other Half of the Sky

the album is available from therecordlabel.net

British Prog Band It Bites to Release Concept Album Map of the Past

It Bites - Map of the Past
Following on from the highly-admired The Tall Ships, British progressive rock band It Bites returns with its first concept album in a career that extends over 25 years.

Map of the Past is inspired by the discovery of an old family picture. It is a deeply personal journey that delves into love, passion, jealousy, anger, remorse and loss through the eyes of a previous generation against the backdrop of Britain as it moves into a new century and one of the most significant periods of its history.

Written by vocalist and guitarist John Mitchell and keyboardist John Beck over the course of 2011, Map of the Past was recorded at Outhouse Studios in Reading and features Bob Dalton on drums and Lee Pomeroy on bass.

Map of the Past will be released on March 26th, 2012. The band will be on tour to promote the album in the UK.

Track Listing:

Man In The Photograph
Wallflower
Map of the Past
Clocks
Flag
The Big Machine
Cartoon Graveyard
Send No Flowers
Meadow and the Stream
The Last Escape
Exit Song

Tour of The Past May 2012

18 May: York, The Duchess

20 May: London, Bush Hall

24 May: Newcastle, The Cluny

25 May: Bury, The Met

26 May: Workington

27 May: Bilston, Robin2

Trance Mechanics

Secret Saucer - Tri-Angle Waves
Secret Saucer

Tri-Angle Waves (Salad Form Studio SFS003, 2009)

Tri-Angle Waves is the third album by American space rock collective Secret Saucer. Track 1, ‘Night Encounter’ is a totally electronic piece performed by four synthesists, Steve Hayes, Dave Hess, Greg Kozlowski and Dan Schnell. It’s a mesmerizing piece that combines ambient sounds with synthetic night sounds.

On ‘A Sublime Metaphor,’ the musicians begin the jam, with Ted Boburka on drums; Billy Spear on bass, Dan Schnell on synths, Jay Swanson on synths, Paul Williams on synths, and Greg Kozlowski on soaring ebow guitar. It’s a … dreamy laid back piece

Synths and sequencers provide the intro to ‘Protoplasmic Acelerator’ and transition to a harder trance style, with keyboard melodies, throbbing rhythm guitar and Paul Williams’ electric guitar solos a la steve Hillage.

Track 4, ‘Approaching Hunab Ku’ is another all synth spacey piece with three keyboardists, mixing pulsating sequences and floating ambient harmonies.

‘Light Years Away’ has a heavier blues beat with synthesizer and electric mandolin interplay.

The album ends with ‘Mind Mechanics’ with dueling guitars played by Steve Taylor and Greg Kozlowski.
Tri-Angle Waves is a superb album of exploratory space music that incorporates the best of progressive rock, mesmeric ambient electronics and psychedelia.

Behind the Curtains

Paidarion - Behind the Curtains
Paidarion

Behind the Curtains (Seacrest Oy, 2011)

Behind the Curtains
is the second album by Finnish prog band Paidarion. The group combines progressive rock with jazz fusion and traditional jazz-infused ballads.

Paidarion is known for its virtuoso instrumentalists. The band was formed in 2006 with musicians from two well-known progressive music bands in Finland: Mist Season and Progression.

Electric bass plays an important role throughout Behind the Curtains with attention-grabbing solos on tracks 1, 6, 8 and 10. Most of the bass parts are played by bass maestro Jan-Olof Strandberg (from the band Progression) although Behind the Curtains features a guest appearance by renowned American bassist Michael Manring, who plays two solos.

The guitarist on the album is Jaan Jaanson, who showcases his fine technique with guitar solos throughout the album. Elina Hautakoski is the lead female singer in the tracks that feature vocals. She has an excellent smoky voice that would feel at home singing the blues and traditional jazz. At times, her vocals feel a little awkward within the fusion context.

The drummer is Kimmo Pörsti, who is able to switch easily from subtle jazz to fiery rock style drumming.
Skillful horn master Risto Salmi plays tenor and soprano solos.

Album highlights include the instrumental ‘Behind the Curtains’; ‘A Small Wish’ with its dual vocals and series of guitar, bass and sax solos; another instrumental titled ‘Trapeze’ which has more of a progressive rock rather than fusion; the longest cut titled ‘A Vertical Rope’ with a fusion feel and another serpentine collection of solos; the organ fugue meets galloping prog rock of ‘A Leap Into the Unknown’; fusion piece ‘Paidarion’; and the last track titled ‘The Final Show’ with a beautiful violin solo that transitions to jazz fusion-infused melodies on bass, saxophone and electric guitar.

Prog Rock Separation

Arena - Seventh Degree of Separation
Arena

Seventh Degree of Separation (Verglas Records, 2012)

There are albums that mark the end of an important musical phase in the life of a band; in this case a shift from progressive rock to another style. Genesis had ‘And then there Were Three’ and Yes had ‘90125.’ Arena’s is Seventh Degree of Separation. If you are looking for progressive rock, look elsewhere. Seventh Degree of Separation marks a solid genre change. Arena has moved from prog rock to a mix of AOR and tiresome heavy metal. The only piece that ventures into progressive rock is track 4, ‘The Ghost Walks.’

Seventh Degree of Separation is a concept album with interesting artwork. The deluxe edition comes with a bonus DVD with a documentary about the making of the album.

The line-up includes Clive Nolan on keyboards; Mick Pointer on drums; Paul Manzi on vocals; John Mitchell on guitars; and John Jowitt on bass.

IZZ Moves

IZZ - I Move
IZZ

I Move (2002)

I Move is the second album by IZZ, one of the most eclectic American progressive rock bands in recent years. IZZ is based in the New York and is led by the versatile Galgano brothers. On I Move, IZZ presents a wide range of musical influences. The first cut, ‘Spinnin’ Round’ features trip hop with hip hop beats and DJ scratching (no rapping) along with soaring guitar. It’s unconventional and they only use it once. It’s a strange opener and very different from what comes later in the album.

The following two songs venture into pop rock and alternative rock, with an occasional guitar solo. Track 4, ‘I Already Know,’ is a delicate gem, with superb slide guitar and vocals that at times sound like Steely Dan. There is excellent guitar and synthesizer work throughout the piece.

Songs 5 and 6 are soft rock efforts with ear catching melodies. Things get more interesting again on track 7, ‘Star Evil Gnoma Su’, a longer composition that features elaborate instrumental passages with counterpoints a la Gentle Giant and King Crimson. The synth and piano work is exquisite.

‘Another Door’ is a ballad with a great guitar solo. It’s followed by two additional soft rock songs with more of the fine keyboard work.

‘Knight of Nights’ is another long serpentine piece. It’s fascinating mix of epic Genesis and ELP-style keyboards with vocals inspired by guitarist Eric Johnson and Peter Gabriel.

Track 12 is a short and sweet Celtic ballad titled ‘The Mists of Dalriada.’ Things get festive with ‘Oh, How it’s Great!’ which has a PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi) flavor, with more fine guitar and keyboard work.

The longest piece is track 14, ‘Coming Like Light,’ where IZZ’s musicians show their dazzling virtuosity with superb piano, guitars and synths accompanied by a turbo charged rhythm section that sometimes achieves breakneck speed, similar to what Yes did on Relayer. The album concludes with Light From Your Eyes.

The line-up on the album includes Tom Galgano on- keyboards, lead and backing vocals; Paul Bremner on electric and acoustic guitars; Brian Coralian on electronic and acoustic percussion, drum programming; Greg DiMiceli on acoustic percussion; and John Galgano on bass, acoustic and electric guitar, backing and lead vocals. Guests who participated in the recording are: Laura Meade on vocals; Anmarie Byrnes on vocals; Paige Rigilano provides spoken word; and Abigail Lombino also on spoken word.

Listen to samples or buy CD or MP3s:

Deadlock of the Spirit

RPWL - Beyond Man and Time
RPWL

Beyond Man and Time (Gentle Art of Music, 2012)

The new album by German prog band RPWL was eagerly awaited by fans. Although described as art rock, RPWL is characterized by a mix of melodic pop-rock and state of the art symphonic progressive rock.

Beyond Man and Time is a concept album based on a musical journey through the world outside of Plato’s (the Greek philosopher) cave. It begins with outstanding keyboard work, especially synthesizer solos on track 2, ‘We Are What We Are (the Keeper)’. Track 3, ‘Beyond Man and Time (Time Blind)’ is an excellent anthemic piece with epic electric guitar and delicate catchy vocals.

The next set of pieces goes into pop and hard rock direction. Progressive rock returns with a bang on track 10, which is the lengthy suite ‘The Fisherman (I. High as A Mountain Part 1 & 2 – II. the Abyss)’. This is symphonic rock at its best with sitar-like guitars, masterful mellotron passages, soaring electric guitar that would make Steve Hackett proud, hypnotic vocals and an epic grand finale.

The last piece is a beautiful song called ‘The Moon (the Eternal Moment of Return)’ with a great guitar solo.

Beyond Man and Time ’s central character is on a journey and meets various individuals, partly adapted from Zarathustra, as means towards new awareness. The basic understanding is a so-called “revaluation of values” in terms of a new approach of thinking. In this world “beyond man and time” there are already creatures of higher wisdom that the protagonist meets symbolically along his way: the keeper of the cave, the willingly blind, the scientist, the ugliest human, the creator, the shadow, the wise man in the desert, and the fisherman.

In addition to the regular version of the album there is also a bonus edition limited of 2,000 copies. This special edition includes an supplementary audio book that unites the music even more closely to the philosophical approach, plus a topographic map of the new world that is to be explored.

The goal is to open eyes, look further, see more, and see differently,” says vocalist Yogi Lang. “Words that everybody approves of are not going to lead to progress. We call that: “deadlock of the spirit”. Too many approaches of our time disappear in the void of the equal – the conformist.”

The line-up includes Yogi Lang on vocals and keyboards; Kalle Wallner on guitars; Markus Jehle on Keyboards; Werner Taus on bass; and Marc Turiaux on drums.

Beyond Man and Time contains excellent symphonic progressive rock pieces and demonstrates that RPWL has an enviable talent for making memorable songs, with ear catching melodic hooks.

Shamanistic Petroglyphs

Ole Lukkoye - Petroglyphs
Ole Lukkoye

Petroglyphs (Trail Records TR 08, 2010)

Petroglyphs is a compilation of material amassed by Russian band Ole Lukkoye during 20 years. St. Petersburg-based Ole Lukkoye is one of those acts that is hard to describe and categorize. At times they sound like a world music band, fusing tribal, shamanistic and global electronica with acoustic instruments. At other occasions they venture into psychedelic progressive rock and trance adventures.

Whatever the category, Ole Lukkoye play music that is captivating and exotic, incorporating hybrid sounds from Russia, Siberia and East Asia. Aside from the Russian vocals, the band uses mesmerizing shamanistic and Siberian vocal styles.

One of the foundations of Ole Lukkoye is the effective rhythm section consisting of electronic loops and sequences mixed with live instruments such as the West African jembe, the Middle Eastern darbuka and the shaman drum.

Ole Lukkoye musicians include composer and lyricist Boris Bardash on keyboards, vocals, guitars, percussion, music, lyrics; Andrey Lavrinenko on bass, jembe; Alexander Frolov (aka Frol) on bassoon, flute, ocarina, horn, trumpet; and Tatyana Kalmykova on vocals. Guests featured: Georgy Starikov on guitars; Petr Akimov on cello; Vladimir Konovalov on bass; Oleg Shar on jembe, congas, vibraslap, percussion; Igor Kaim on banjo; Ekaterina Sidorova on percussion; and Yuri Lukyanchik on jembe, darbuka

Petroglyphs is a totally addictive album by Ole Lukkoye, a phenomenal world trance band from Russia.

Buy CD from http://www.trailrecords.net

Listen to samples and buy digital version

Mysterium Magnum

Cannata - Mysterium Magnum
Cannata

Mysterium Magnum (Oxford Circus, 2006)

Cannata’s album Mysterium Magnum, released in 2006, came to me because Jeff Cannata’s connection to progressive rock. He was a member of an American progressive rock band called Jasper Wrath in the 1970s. Cannata produces his own recordings at the Oxford Circus Studios in Connecticut.

Despite the promising and attractive artwork, Mysterium Magnum is not a progressive rock album. 90% of the music is a mix of finely executed AOR and melodic hard rock, influenced by bands like Kansas. Music intended for commercial FM radio. The only piece that brings back the progressive rock flame is the longest track on the album: ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sun.’ Here is where Jeff Cannata shows his talent as a musician and composer. ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sun’ has exquisite flute sections and dazzling keyboards.

Mysterium Magnum will appeal to fans of late 1970s Album Oriented Rock (AOR). If you are looking for progressive rock, download ‘Somewhere Beyond The Sun.’

CD

Somewhere Beyond The Sun