All posts by Professor Mark

Fine Soft Day – You Are Here

Fine Soft Day – You Are Here

Fine Soft Day was formed on the back steps of a house in Rusholme, Manchester, UK, in the summer of 1996. Three friends, Jeff Gascoyne, on bass, violin, guitar, and vocals; Martin Hanbury, on guitars and vocals; and Mark Sweeney, on keyboards and vocals; took their drinks into the warm evening air and begin a conversation, sitting on some old stone steps. The conversation was about music, about the bands they were in, and the band they would like to be in. From this casual conversation, we were fortunate to have the birth of Fine Soft Day.

Fine Soft Day is the kind of band Genesis began as; a folk, progressive band with soft melodies and deep emotional stories of reflections on life, in general. Fine Soft Day, is a wonderful drift back to the past, when we had more time to appreciate music, for the sake of music. Time to appreciate the rhythms, the melodies, the instrumental aspects and all of the lyrics., We were not in a hurry. We wanted to listen to the music and all of its intricacies. You Are Here, is all about enjoying what you have in the here and now. This is not an album to take in the car. It is an album, to sit and listen to and appreciate in the comfort of an easy chair.

Through You Are Here, Fine Soft Day create a concept album, “surrounding hope, humanity and the weaving of time and space”. You Are Here is the sophomore album for Fine Soft Day; with their debut album, Fine Soft Day released during 1998.

“River”, opens the album and is its best song. The opening is full of grand, deep piano, like a Bruce Hornsby welcome. Then lead singer, Martin Hanbury sings the first lines of the album, “Within time and space, the river flowing through this place. Joins the highlands to the sea. Weaves what was, but what will be. Before this place was ever made”. Hanbury’s lead vocals sound like a young Phil Collins, and you cannot help get lost in the quiet, relaxing melody and rhythm of the music supporting. A wonderful opening with deep electric guitar solos reminding you of the great Steve Hackett. It is very easy to get lost and absorbed into the world created by this song. Excellent!

“Reason”, brings to sound, another element of the band’s strength, Mark Sweeney, singing lead on this track. He has the ability of sounding like a young Roger Waters. This track is all about,,,well reason. Where the last song had been about relaxing and just the pleasure of enjoying all that is around you, this song is about reasoning and understanding why what is around you is important and how it affects you. A good example, “We are the stones on the cold river bed. Our edges made round by the dreams in our head”. The warm synthesizers and keyboards surround, while soft electric guitar sparkles like light on the swirling, cascading river described. Fine Soft Day really proves their ability to capture powerful visual impressions with these two tracks.

“Journey to Hear”, has a more rocking beat, with more instruments added to the mix. Drums, deep bass, and cymbals are added to the frolicking keys and lead electric guitar riffs. A fine instrumental interlude with some great organ keyboard work and a bouncy rhythm.

“Five Songs”, opens quietly with strings, then that elegant piano returns, just like a Hornsby classic. Mark Sweeney returns as lead singer on this album. Though there also seems to be some duel vocal harmony. This song would have found a rightful place on either Wind and Wuthering or just after “Ripples”, or “Entangled”, on Trick of the Tail. The keyboards play sounds of classic Tony Banks. More wonderful memories flow as the river of sound carries them along.

“Time Flows By”, has a harder, more powerful beat and rhythm to it. The guitars, both bass and lead, make their presence known throughout the track. There is still innovative keys and synthesizer moments, but this is a great guitar and drums rocker. Martin Hanbury returns to sing the emotive lyrics.

“Roll Up the World Part 1”, is part one of a two-part epic on this album. It is stunning in its clarity of voice and visually stunning guitarwork and keyboards; piano, synths and organ. Parts of the song take you to that familiar “Ripples”/”Entangled”, sound from Trick of the Tail, and these moments rise to the top. It is a wonderful time to just close your eyes and let the music take you back. A wonderful epic.

“Grandfather”, is a classic guitar piece of work that Steve Hackett would be proud to have authored. It is probably the second-best song on the album. Then, the singing begins with continued accompaniment from the acoustic guitar. The organ, drums and bass join in to create a wonderful picture made with music.

“Dance of the Little Lights from Nowhere”, opens with soft woodland pipe or flute. Then, cymbals, piano, pounding bass, and finally electric guitar. The gallop begins and a Deep Purple like run continues with the organ playing a lead role.

“Rhyme”, opens with quiet piano and soft acoustic guitar. Like something out of the early Phil Collins Genesis era.

“Time is Running Out”, is more of a rocker with deeper bass, drumming, and softer lead electric guitar. More of that mid – 70s Genesis sound to enjoy.

“Roll Up the World – Part 2”, is the closing refrain of the epic first part. This time with deep piano and more of that Roger Waters vocal. Then, back to that Ripples theme. Please just let the keys and piano go on forever.

With 11 tracks it seems that this band was determined to both make a statement and insure some of their favorite rhythms, beats, riffs and melodies made it to a record. Having been in other bands, how long these ideas had been waiting to be recorded, now that they were free to make the music they wanted to make. After years of building families and living life they came back for the music. The music which had inspired them and which they loved from the beginning. Take a trip back with them. Bring this album home and return to the past for a while. The journey will be well worth the price.

Only one way to close this review…

“After many days journey we came to a peak. Where the beast gazed abroad and cried out. We followed his gaze and we thought that maybe we saw. A spire of gold…Hello friend, welcome home”.

Track List

  1. River – 6:22
  2. Reason – 4:10
  3. Journey to Hear – 4:18
  4. Five Songs – 5:45
  5. Time Flows By – 4:19
  6. Roll Up the World Part 1 – 14:01
  7. Grandfather – 6:58
  8. Dance of the Little Lights from Nowhere – 3:27
  9. Rhyme – 4:44
  10. Time is Running Out – 4:41
  11. Roll Up the World – Part 2 – 14:00


Listen Now:
Smarturl.it/fsd-river

Bandcamp

finesoftday.bandcamp.com

Twitter

@finesoftdayband

Facebook:

@finesoftday

Instagram:

@finesoftday

“River”

Fine Soft Day – “Roll Up the World, Part 1

The Forty Days – The Colour of Change

The Forty Days – The Colour of Change

Are all of the great new bands from Italy these days? It seems that way. The Forty days is one of my latest finds on CDBaby.com. The Forty Days are from Pisa, Italy, yeah, the city with the leaning tower; and although they can play excellent progressive rock, they can also play solid psychedelic rock as well.

The Forty Days got started in August 2014, as a 70’s rock cover band. Band members have also played in Pink Floyd tribute bands, and the influence can be heard throughout their debut album, The Colour of Change.

The band is made up ofGiancarlo Padula, on lead vocals and keyboards; Dario Vignale, on guitars and backing vocals; Massimo Valloni, on bass; and Giorgio Morreale, on drums.

The album opens with, “Looking for Change”, and the Pink Floyd similarities I mentioned before fill the soundscape. This one opens like a great mix of “Wishing You Were Here” and “Welcome to the Machine”, with some “Dogs of War”, added for good measure. Then screams from Giancarlo Padula, on lead vocals, adding to the wonderful keyboards he played from the start. The deep bass and lead guitar from Massimo Valloni and Dario Vignale fill the empty spaces well. Then those deep Floydian machine guitar grinds we remember from so many plays of Animals and others.

Giancarlo Padula, has a voice that reminds me a little of Simone Rossetti of Italy’s famous, The Watch. A little Gabrielesque, and that is wonderful to here with all this PF Animals sound, rocking around you. Peter Gabriel sitting in with Animals, WYWH, era Pink Floyd. Yes, that makes you want to hear more right? Me too.

“Uneasy Dream” is a wonderful Tony banks keyboard inspired instrumental. Again, those wonderful PF lead and bass guitar sounds makes this another classic mix of two great sounds you wish had mixed back in the 70s. Yes, Genesis meets Pink Floyd. That’s nice.

“The Garden”, opens with beautiful soft guitar, like LZ’s “Going to California”, before Giancarlo Padula softly describes his perfect version of the Garden of Eden. Wonderful guitar running through soft keys, with excellent rhythm from the drums. Not the epic storyline from “The Garden” of Unitopia fame, but rather a relaxing stroll through the same wild cultivated place that only really can be envisioned in dreams. The lead guitar solos from Dario Vignale would make David Gilmour smile, like I did.

“Homeless”, opens with soft acoustic guitars, befitting the subject matter. Powerful drums from Giorgio Morreale. Some of his best on the album. More great lead electric soloing from Dario Vignale. Padula’s singing and keyboards really make their mark felt on this track. The keys towards the middle take you right back to A Trick of Tail.

“John’s Pool”, opens with those wonderful keys you remember from Tony Banks’ past with Genesis, then a wonderful PF – like lead guitar from Dario Vignale. More Trick of the Tail like keys as Padula lays out the story, “I’m driving in my car, on my way to…” The power guitar playing takes you right back to some of the Led Zeppelin you remember so well.

“Restart”, opens with quiet singing from Padula, before he takes off on a Banks’ inspired Lamb – like keyboard assault. Listen closely and you might hear memories of side two of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, in Padula’s keyboards. The acoustic guitar work from Vignale is extraordinary. The band keeps everything so interesting and varied that you never hear too much of a good thing…even if, at times you want that guitar or keyboard solo to last all day.

“Four Years in a While”, is an excellent long closer track full of innovative keyboards and more creative guitar licks than we really ever expected. Padula’s vocals demonstrate his ability to reach out and force you to remember each song and make them a part of your memory.

This is an album I cannot urge you enough to try. This band is primed after years of working the trenches to sell out venues. The music is overwhelmingly ready for prime time. I cannot believe this band is not playing more festivals than they have already. Maybe if enough people hear this album they will. Must listening. Please get in on the ground floor before everyone else knows The Forty Days.

Track List

  1. Looking for Change – 5:45
  2. Uneasy Dream – 3:32
  3. The Garden – 6:52
  4. Homeless – 9:16
  5. John’s Pool – 5:49
  6. Restart – 7:27
  7. Four Years in a While – 8:21

The Forty Days – The Colour of Change, was released on Lizard Records, back in October 28, 2017, but better late, than never.

The Colour of Change – The Forty Days – Teaser #1

The Colour of Change – The Forty Days – Teaser #2

The Forty Days – “The Garden”

Even Flow – Mother

Even Flow – Mother

Wow! When I first heard that wonderful acoustic guitar and the elegant piano on CDBaby.com, I knew I was hooked! Mother is now one of my favorite albums of 2019. It is spectacular.

Even Flow is a progressive metal band founded in the late nineties by brothers Pietro Paolo, on guitar and backing vocals; and Giorgio Lunesu, on drums. Marco Pastorino, sings lead vocals; and Luca Negro, plays bass, to round out the band membership.

Even Flow calls Sassari its home, it is the second largest Italian city on the island of Sardinia. The closeness to the ocean definitely influences the band’s desire to express their ideas and emotions.

Mother is an EP of five songs, but you definitely get your money’s worth on the five songs they have recorded. In the meantime, please go back and listen to and buy their back catalog because there is so much to enjoy.

“Fly”, opens the EP with cymbals and elegant piano well supported with soft drums. We soon hear Marco Pastorino’s vocals, “Hello, my sunrise… Unsealed, wall of sound. Am I leaving the ground? Fly over the sun…, I cross the waves”. Yes, emotions well delivered. Pastorino’s vocals are hard to place. A little like Diego Marchesi, from Kingcrow. But excellent. His voice fits the music perfectly. The acoustic guitar which enters the space is fantastic. A little like Al Stewart’s Year of the Cat. The kind of guitar playing that stays with you long after the song ends. The lead electric guitar solos from Pietro Paolo are also wonderful. The song is too short, and full of emotion and adventure, that makes you want to hear more. There is so much more to enjoy…


Even Flow at Rock the Castle Festival in Verona, Italy

“Ancient Memories”, is full of more of that wonderful acoustic guitar at its opening. Pastorino’s vocals stand above the music this time. The guitar and percussion are a perfect match. This album is a greatest hits album, full of perfect musicianship and great lyrics and vocals. The piano sooths so well. Pastorino sings, “Find what is lost…in beauty and time! Calling you!” yes, get out there and explore the wonders of this world.

“Strong”, opens with excellent keyboards and more of that wonderful guitar. The bass and drums are formidable. Pastorino sings, “Shine, to fly. Forever strong!” The ensuing guitar and keyboard solos are absolutely unforgettable. The percussion and drums do not miss a beat.

“Sun”, opens with soft guitars and interesting keyboards. This is another showcase for Pastorino’s vocals.

“Sunrise”, is an instrumental; opening with excellent fast-moving acoustic guitar, driven percussion and supporting beats. The guitar and keyboard closing will take you back to some of Rush’s adventures with “The Villa Strangiato”.

Even Flow has a long festival appearance history and have very good partnerships and relations with several well-known bands in the symphonic metal genre.

This year they played the second day of the Rock the Castle Festival in Verona, Italy, and were well received by the audience, despite the unusual heat, blistering Europe.

Please get out there and give this Mother a listen. Then, please do go back and check out the rest of the catalog. I am going to ask them to send the rest to me to review here. Ever Flow is an excellent band making quality symphonic progressive metal.

Track List

  1. Fly – 3:02
  2. Ancient Memories – 5:24
  3. Strong – 3:01
  4. Sun – 3:26
  5. Sunrise – 2:47
https://www.facebook.com/bandevenflow/

Nth Ascension – Stranger Than Fiction

Nth Ascension – Stranger Than Fiction

I reviewed Nth Ascension’s album In Fine Initium, back in 2016. Stranger Than Fiction, is the band’s third album, released in May of 2019; with, Ascension of Kings, being their debut, back in 2014. In Fine Initium was an excellent album and I was hoping to follow up on this band and hear and review their next work of art. Thankfully they obliged and sent me the demo.

This is magnificent music! The keyboards are some of the best I have heard all year. 2019, has become a great year for keyboard albums so far. Or maybe I am finding more of them. Not sure which is the best description. Anyway, this is a wonderful album of music that will enhance your album collection.

Nth Ascension is Michael Alan Taylor, on lead vocals; Darrel Treece-Birch, on keyboards; Craig Walker, on drums and percussion; Gavin Walker, on bass guitar; and Martin Walker, on electric and acoustic guitar. The band hails from the UK and produces the kind of Neo Prog that made the country proud back in the 1980s and 90s.

Rain and thunder welcome the listener to “The Opening”. One of the best tracks on the album. Flute, soft guitars, vocalizations, and wonderful keyboards fill the air. If only the whole album was like this…Later Marillion – like keyboards and guitars. Like a morning across the world, awakening anthem.

After a thunderous roar of guitar and drum, “True Identity” becomes a rocker full of Michael Alan Taylor’s lead vocals. At times he sounds and keeps the same kind of cadence as Euan Lowson; Pallas’ famous singer from the seminal album, The Sentinel. In fact, his voice is deeper and closer to Asia’s John Payne. But this song will really take you back to the feel of The Sentinel. The deep bass from Gavin Walker in the middle is a wonderful transition between keys and heavy guitars.

“Fire in the Sky” opens with beautiful piano and soft guitar. A real stunning opening for sure. The power of the grinding bass, steady drum, golden keyboards and guitars moving intricately to the beat, insure you that this band is firing on all cylinders. Taylor sings, “Let me see the fire in the sky. Let it show me the way”. With authority.

“Reconciled” is another heavy rocker full of charge. Pronounced drums, steady bass and interesting lead electric guitar themes. A powerful anthem, as Taylor lifts his voice amongst the skyward keyboards and brilliant guitars and drums. At times, this song reminds me of some of the powerful anthems Marillion used to write, when they had a Fish at the helm.

Next are the continuing story of the Clanaan Chronicles. Three songs that continue the story started with the debut, Ascension of Kings.

“The Gathering (Clanaan Pt 7)” opens with deep keys and soft drums. Then Taylor sings, “Welcome my people. We meet from afar. This is our story. We make our mark. The cause of freedom. We resurrect. Too long we’ve watched. Too long we’ve slept”. This one sounds very Marillion. Fish – Marillion, the best and only Marillion for me. “No need to fear!”. Derek Dick’s vocal themes mixed well with wonderful keys and guitars along with bass and drums. Like a return to Script, full of passionate and thoroughly pleasing music. They end it with a guitar solo even Steven Rothery would be proud to call his own.

“Journey’s End (Clanaan Pt 8)”, is full of darker images, lyrics and guitar with steady drums. Not the regal symphony that came before, but a deep, dreading, metal – like power driver. When the vocals and standard beat stop, the beautiful keyboards and guitar solo make this one of the best songs on the album. Like a wonderful Yes, “And You and I’ moment, well worth the price of admission.

“Lament (Clanaan Pt 9)”, is a short acoustic guitar interlude that you wish would have been 10 minutes long. Wonderful.

“Sound to Light”, is the powerful over 18 minute closer you were hoping for. It opens with acoustic guitar. Then Taylor singing, “I hear your voice. The universal truth. What we see and what we see through. So perfect and unique. So complex and so complete. I hear your voice”. Then the band sings chorus, “In the oceans roar, on the mountain tor”.

The instrumental section slowly kicks off full speed ahead with lead guitar deep keyboards, bass and rocking drums. Wonderful spacey effects and dream visions fill the near mid – section. Like Yes’ Topo Oceans. Just lay or sit back and look up into space and dream. The keyboards will take you away. You will never want this song to end…and sometimes it feels like it won’t. Not even Floyd or Yes let you relax and fill your head with this much spatial beauty. Let your mind fly to distant places. The piano and keyboards that return, along with the guitar solos are all here for you to enjoy. A band full of hope for you or anyone to recognize what they are offering. Amazing!

Then a powerful build-up as the song moves towards the end. More rocking, but I’d rather dream further right now. Yes, “I hear your voice!” But I’d rather hear those brilliant keys again. And so, as if they heard me, the piano and keyboards return as the song slowly ends. Ah, but wait…there’s more…They heard me, after all.

This is an excellent album. One of my favorites of the year, so far. The wonderful artwork of Oliver Pengilly captures the power and feel of the album well with the swell of the ocean. The album was engineered by Darrel Treece-Birch and Martin Walker. The album was mixed and mastered by Eric Gillette, (Neal Morse Band), at EKG Studios in the USA.

Please pick up Stranger Than Fiction, Nth Ascension’s return to recording. It is a powerful third album for this band who deserves so much more praise than they are receiving. Please pick up the rest of the catalog. It is that good…while you only have to buy three albums…

Track List

  1. The Opening – 5:59
  2. True Identity – 5:26
  3. Fire in the Sky – 7:51
  4. Reconciled – 10:27
  5. The Gathering (Clanaan Pt 7) – 7:17
  6. Journey’s End (Clanaan Pt 8) – 15:49
  7. Lament (Clanaan Pt 9) – 1:40
  8. Sound to Light – 18:14
https://www.facebook.com/NthAscensionMusic/
https://www.facebook.com/NthAscensionMusic/

https://nthascension.bandcamp.com/

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/nthascension2

Perfect Era – Beneath the Clouds We Dream

Perfect Era – Beneath the Clouds We Dream

Perfect Era is a progressive rock band from Milford, CT in the US. They have debuted July 1st, with a powerful progressive album full of excellent guitar, drums and keyboards, set to exploring lyrics and dark stories. This band is already fit for prime time, and Beneath the Clouds We Dream, is a foundational testament to what this band can do and the future looks bright, right now. By the way…what an excellent title for an album. Despite the clouds and sadness, we dream.

The band is made up of Arnab Sengupta, on vocals; Todd Paskin, on guitars; Roger Bush, on keyboards; Don Beatrice, on bass; and Brian Hopkins, on drums.

This album kicks off with a powerful instrumental welcome titled, “A Different Time”. Deep, dark moody keys and flashing guitars highlighted with impactful drumming.

After a squeaky door opens, keyboards and guitars burst through with solid drumming to open “No Absence of Memory’s Glow”. We hear Arnab Sengupta’s first vocals. He sounds a little like James LaBrie, only with a much higher pitch to his vocals. The music is a good mix of Styx and Dream Theater. Yes, Sengupta’s vocals have some close similarities to Dennis De Young at times. The keyboards, effects, solid bass, guitars and drums create a symphonic imagery that will make you smile.

The piano opening to “No Needs to Explain” is melodic and a warm welcome. Sengupta’s vocals help expand the lyrics and storyline of each song. But this song is a highlight for one of his best vocal performances on the album. The deep bass and expert keyboards which finish the track stand out as some of the best playing on the album.

“Clandestine Worlds” is one of my album favorites. A dynamic cannonball of effects, keyboards, bass, guitars and drums. Simply Boston-like musicianship, from a new generation. The video they made to accompany the music is wonderful to watch.

“The Skyline Dream” is another of the best tracks on this album. It launches like a rocket off the platform with solid keys and effortlessly reaching guitars. Great bass and drum support, with Sengupta’s vocals laying out the story.

“Lost Again” is another powerful track of excellent lead guitar work, supported by bass, keyboards and well-placed drums.

“Tides Rush In” is a dream creating, closer at over nine minutes. “Will it be enough this time? What I’ve given is sublime. My mind opens wide. I stand there with perception, empowered by the winds…when the tides rush in”, Sengupta sings. Yes, I know what he means from watching many tides rush in, during stormy weather in the fall. The tides are wonderful and awe inspiring. You can find a lot of creative inspiration from the imagery. On this track, you can also hear a little more influence from Freddy Mercury in Sengupta’s voice. The keyboards really stand out on this track. But the guitar work and drumming support the music very well.

This is a very solid debut that I think any band would be proud to produce. I really enjoyed the creativity and deep lyrics, along with the power of their sound. Give this band a try, with this solid debut. You will not be dismayed.

Tracklist

  1. A Different Time – 1:36
  2. No Absence of Memory’s Glow – 7:36
  3. No Needs to Explain – 4:27
  4. Clandestine Worlds – 6:32
  5. The Skyline Dream – 8:26
  6. Lost Again – 5:07
  7. Tides Rush In – 9:05

Perfect Era – “Clandestine Worlds”

Omega Zero – Ocean Paradox – Part 1

Omega Zero – Ocean Paradox – Part 1

Omega Zero is a progressive metal band from Rome formed in 2014. The band’s founders, Filippo Rosati and Simone Arcari, designed the band to provide more to audiences than just the usual heavy metal firepower. They wanted a story behind their music and so Ocean Paradox – Part 1, is the initial part of a trilogy of albums which will introduce the band as a creator of themes as well as powerful progressive metal music.

Ocean Paradox Chapter I was released on June 15, 2019. Omega Zero includes: Filippo Rosati, on guitars; Simone Arcari, on bass; Alessio Pascucci, on drums; Adrea Germano, on keys; and Flavio Marcello Troiso, on vocals.

This band can rock! And at the same time, create wonderful theater of the mind music with their orchestral productions. The opener, “Lost World Overture”, is a perfect example. Powerful dark keys and effects open the track with hard pounding drums following close behind. Just what you would imagine from the cover artwork from Marco Tudini. Place that artwork before you as you take in the vast array of metal power chords on this fantastic opener. Imagine these menaces of the deep moving slowly to the soundtrack surrounding you. Magnificent!

“Legends” opens with thunderous drums and lead guitar. It doesn’t mess around with introductions. It hits like a cannonball gut punch before Flavio Marcello Troiso’s first vocals are heard. He sounds a little like Kingcrow’s Diego Marchesi. In fact, some of the vocal harmonies of the band members remind me of that of Kingcrow. Which is a very good thing indeed. However, this band uses more keyboards and effects, much to their credit. But don’t let that distract you. The metal power drumming and heavy electric axes are abundantly present in this glorious anthem.

“Memory of the Lost”, opens with cool piano rhythms, before full on synthesizers with matching driving drums transform the scene. Electric lead guitar follows closely behind, while a Dream Theater sounding theme builds, before more elegant piano fills the soundscape. Troiso sings, “Here I am chasing the past. Truth and reality, a lot of these mysteries are coming alive again”, reminiscent of LaBrie. This is the longest track on the album and the vocals, orchestration, and heavy metal power are anthemic. “Don’t be afraid!” Troiso sings. The lead electric solo that follows is characteristic of how well the music on this album fulfills your sound wishes. The keyboards and musicianship which follows are some of the best on the album. “Dawning of a new day has just begun!”, Troiso sings. A new band emerges, to fill the void when other headliners are creating their new works of art.

“A Sea We Call Life”, is full of more of that wonderful orchestration and a sea of guitars. “The horizon will show us the way. The sky now is here to stay. Searching this place, that we used to call home”, Troiso sings. Wavy synthesizers that just brilliantly fill the soundscape so perfectly. Followed closely by electric guitar solos, before thunderous drum rhythms. Awesome! The first video for the album captures many of the affects you hear on the track.

Wonderful Styx – like guitar, reminiscent of the opening of “Suite Madame Blue”, one of my personal favorites, kicks off “Purpose Within”. Troiso sings, “I don’t know what I am looking for. I’m confused”. “Let’s go, to find what is lost…between two worlds…in search for a new land”. That wonderful Italian spirit of adventure. “The sea is the link between two worlds!”, Troiso sings.

“The Paradox – Part 1”, the title track will take the listener in many different directions. It opens with cool keys and effects. But it is merely an opening to a three-track unending descent to the ocean’s bottom and return to the light of day.

On “The Great Descent”, The drum and synthesizer blazing effects are awesome! Deep and dark, like the cavernous Mariana Trench. Blistering electric guitar and swarming drums light up the heaviest track on the album. The drum rhythms will take you back to Mike Portnoy. The growling and yelling also threatens darkness…but it is not overwhelming. Similar to Arjen Lucassen’s music. Growls of “Fear!”. Enough for effect, not a death metal extravaganza at all. Cool keys bring back tranquility, along with a wonderful lead electric solo, supported with dynamic bass.

“As You Can Breathe”, closes the album with power. The opening guitar and cymbals quietly calm, before menacing power drums and heavy bass follow. Surging synthesizers and all the band can unleash to blow your mind are brought to bear on the soundscape. Regal lead electric guitar and beautiful piano merged to create magic.

Ocean Paradox – Part 1, will definitely be on my top ten list at the end of the year. It is like hearing Kingcrow and Coma Rossi, last year for the first time. A wonderful discovery, and a new band to look forward to hearing new music from in the future. This band is everything the artwork on the cover of the album promised. Epic music, great vocals and a story that you can enjoy along with it all.

Ocean Paradox – Part 1, is the band’s debut. Get in on the ground floor beginning of this band and enjoy their future development with more chapters of the trilogy unfolding in the future. This is the new music you have been waiting to buy!

“A Sea We Call Life Video”

Logo by Ilaria Toscano (KeirArt)

Graphics and Artwork By

Track List

  1. Lost World Overture – 4:41
  2. Legends – 6:03
  3. Memory of the Lost – 8:47
  4. A Sea We Call Life – 6:02
  5. Purpose Within – 6:50
  6. The Paradox – Part 1 – 1:28
  7. The Great Descent – 5:44
  8. As You Can Breathe – 5:45

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/OmegaZeroBand/

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu7riyZb2gxhut4xggDOTHg

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/omegazero_band/?hl=it

OCEAN PARADOX CHAPTER I: https://soundcloud.com/user-

613805377/sets/oceanparadox/s-VBaPU

Moon Letters – Until They Feel the Sun

Moon Letters – Until They Feel the Sun

Moon Letters is a Seattle, Washington based progressive rock band. I found the band and previewed their new album, Until They Feel the Sun, on the Seattle Progressive Rock Festival’s website: http://seaprogfest.org/artist/index/2019.html.

The band just completed their show at the SeaProg Festival, on the Columbia Theater Main Stage; opening day 2, of the festival at 7pm, on June 8th of 2019. Until They Feel the Sun was released on the same day. The band also played Seaprog in 2017.

This band had a wonderful time at SeaProg and played their new album track by track. Missing the entire Until They Feel the Sun  album live was very unfortunate, however, I had other obligations. After the success of their performance and the coverage they are receiving from critics and progressive rock websites, I doubt it will be their last. I plan to attend as many as I can see in the future.

The band is made up of John Allday, on keyboards, vocals, and trumpet; Mike Murphy, on bass, vocals, and trumpet; Kelly Mynes, on drums and percussion; Michael Trew, on vocals and flute; and Dave Webb, on guitars.

The members came from other local progressive bands with names like: Autumn Electric, Wah Exit Wound, Panther Attack! Bone Cave Ballet, Cumberland Big Band, Bill Green Quartet, Cantrip, Chaos and the Cosmos, and Spacebag.

Until They Feel the Sun  opens with a wonderful instrumental tribute to “Skara Brae”, one of the best-preserved Neolithic settlements in Western Europe. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Royal, high note lead electric guitars, along with the thunder of drums bring regal power to the track. Then the thunder drums get heavier as wonderful synthesizer adds to the chorus of instruments driving the song higher. They finish with wonderful flute and birdsong.

“On the Shoreline”, opens with flute, just like Peter Gabriel played on the first Genesis’ album, From Genesis to Revelation. The flute fills the air as Michael Trew sings his first lyrics. You can hear that perfect G to Revelation, adolescent vocal sound that I remember from childhood. Lyrics that remind you of songs like , “Fireside Song”, “Take your hand, it’s very cold. Take you to my home, sit beside the fireplace”…remember that one. Easily one of my favorites already. The flute and warm guitar brings back so many memories, then Allday lays on the Banks’- like keyboards from ….And Then There Were Three…leaving you drifting on a sea of reminiscence…

“What is Your Country” opens with gulls and thunder. Then harmony vocals that follow, encapsulate a return to that G to Revelation sound. Wonderful vocal harmonies blended well with drums and bells. Dreamy keys and effects that take you to the finish.

“Beware the Finman” has a strong heavy guitar and gut punching drum opening. The heaviest song on the album. Oversize guitar licks meet raised vocals. Is it a warning of the coming of more men like Erik Finman, of Bit Coin fame, or something much more? You decide. The keys and electric guitar solos tell a sinister tale of their own.

“Those Dark Eyes” opens with brilliantly played guitar plucking and cool eerie backing vocals. That driving synthesizer pulsating with the drums is awesome! At times you can hear a Doors/Manzarek organ sound, bringing with it more elegance. Then full power keys and synthesizers. Enough to make both Dream Theater and Genesis fans smile with joy. Some of the notes and sounds on those keys have not been heard for a very long time. Taking you back to the very beginning of prog. Another of the best songs on the album. Excellent lyrics, “And now we have our children three. You take them bathing in the green, green sea”.

“Sea Battle” opens with air raid siren keyboards; before more keys, electric guitar, bass, and drums get the battle under way. Probably my second or third favorite song on the album. I am fairly certain this will also make my end of the year list. It is just as epic its title promises. Like ELP’s “Mars the Bringer of War”, only set at sea. 9 minutes of epic progressive music like it used to be. So much wonderful keyboard work you will want to put it on repeat. I did.

“The Tarnalin” is another interesting story. Does it follow the story of Mr. McDonnell’s novel? Or does it stand on its own? You choose.

“It’s All Around You”, takes you right back to G to Revelation. Some of the lyrics even remind me of those from, “In Hiding”.

“The Red Knight”, is full of more great powerful progressive rock music. Is the songs’ theme Miles Cameron’s book or the game Fortnight, you choose? Whichever, it is full of emotional playing and would sound wonderful live.

They close with, “Sunset of Man”. My favorite song. This deep and powerful closer is one of the best closers I have heard since TPC’s “Vision”. It moved me to rate it as one of, if not, the best songs I’ve heard this year. The lyrics and music are perfect. When everything comes together like this…magic happens. From the warm opening flute to the calming keys that welcome you to the vastness of this anthem, you should and will be amazed. Michael Trew’s vocals are at their best, and the lyrics match the caliber of play on this epic. “Oh Lyonesse, are you really lost? Once did the sun caress your golden shore. I swear it was here. I swear I can hear my mother laughing. I was asking She said, sometimes when you lose, you’re victorious. To forgive is a joy, and a light you can hold in your hand. For, if you do not soften your heart. You’re content to play your part, in the sunset of man” Yes, forgiveness is so important in this difficult world in which we live. Sit back and enjoy John Allday’s keyboards take you away to dream time, like Tony Banks used to do back in the 70s.

Please get this album and enjoy every minute of it, like I did. Right now, it is my favorite prog album of 2019. A wonderful surprise found exploring my backyard, on the Internet.

Track List

  1. Skara Brae – 2:50
  2. On the Shoreline – 3:37
  3. What is Your Country – 2:35
  4. Beware the Finman – 7:47
  5. Those Dark Eyes – 7:36
  6. Sea Battle – 9:00
  7. The Tarnalin – 4:34
  8. It’s All Around You – 1:10
  9. The Red Knight – 4:25
  10.  Sunset of Man – 7:29

All music copyright Moon Letters 2019 
Produced by Barrett Jones and Moon Letters 
Engineered and mixed by Barrett Jones at 
Laundry Room Studio – Seattle, WA 
Mastered by Jeffery McNulty at 
The Pachinko Parlour 
Logo by Suzanna Fisher 
Photos by Hans H. Bjorstad 
Model: Johannsdottir 

Links:

United Progressive Fraternity – Planetary Overload – Loss Part 1

I have been a friend of Mark Trueack’s online since I first heard Unitopia’s The Garden album. He and the band created a world of new progressive music that I think shook up the neo-prog that was dominant at the time, with that album.

Trueack has moved on now beyond Unitopia to assemble the United Progressive Fraternity. A group of musicians that love making progressive rock music, but also love the cause of preventing climate change and alerting the world to the damage we as humans are doing to our Earth.

They have already released their debut album, Fall in Love with the World, in 2014. It was a great debut and introduced the world to what could happen if a huge collection of progressive artists came together to work on such an important project.

Now, they return with the follow up Planetary Overload – Loss Part 1. This is the first part of a group of albums coming with additional guest artists that will surprise many fans.

The collection of artists on this album would take a couple of pages to fill. The main members of the fraternity include: Mark Trueack, on lead vocals, composer, and co-producer; Steve Unruh, on violin, guitars (electric, acoustic 12-string, slide), sitar, mandolin, flute, keyboards, congas, kalimba, floor tom, tabla, percussion, composer, and co-producer; Christophe Lebled, on keyboards, piano, synths, and soundscapes; Cornel Wilczek, on orchestration and conducting; Matthew Atherton, on synth, soundscapes, and backing vocals; Marek Arnold, on sax; Daniel Mash, on bass; Mark Franco, on fretted & fretless basses; and Joe Toscano, on drums, drum programming, and backing vocals.

Guest artists include, (the short list): Jon Davison, lead vocals, (tracks: 1,11); Lisa Wetton, vocals, (tracks:1,3,10,11); Hasse Fröberg; vocals (track:5); Matt Williams, on electric & acoustic guitars, bass, synth & vocals (track:7); Steve Hackett / nylon-string acoustic guitar (track:11); and Michel St-Père, on guitar (track:11).

As always, the out of this world artwork was created in the mind of Ed Unitsky!

The album opens with “Loss Anthem”, and its slow strummed guitar with haunting female vocals from beyond. Narration and synths surround the soundscape as flutes and chimes welcome the listener to the what almost sounds like a morning awakening. Then Trueack and Lisa Wetton duet as a symphonic Lion King like orchestral production rises from the jungle.

Then Jethro Tull like flute and more of that Lion King level orchestration. Trueack sings, “Down, but not out! A world in drought!” Violin supporting as “What Happens Now?” gets in full swing. Lots of interesting guitar and bass soloing. Kind of a jazzy, beat poet, kind of mix of multi-talented musicians chiming in at different times. An amalgam of choruses and music compelling a feeling of excitement.

More narration and mixed soundbites, before a powerful guitar solo. Then Trueack begins to lay out the album’s story and theme, on the third track, “Cruel Times”.  “These are cruel times. We are the ones who can make this right. The shining light”, he sings. Interesting guest violins and instrumental insertions meant to keep you on your toes and listening. Trueack’s voice is low and sounds full of sadness. A rambling caravan of guest musician virtuosity. Hints of ELO, maybe an attempt at later Yes. Great piano solo work mixed well with powerful drumming. Great high-pitched synth augmented with Kansas-like violin.

“What are we doing to Ourselves”, opens with kind of a jazzy rap from Trueack, “Hey you, what are we doing to ourselves”. A funky little beat not heard on most prog albums, innovative and sounding more like an orchestrated movie soundtrack.

“Stop Time”, opens with narration, water, and then the sound of plastic wrinkled. A heavy synth and drum extravaganza. Fun rhymes with Trueack singing. It is full of many time sig changes, definitely alternative prog. The middle has cool funky synths, but I wish for more The Garden level of musicianship. At times this sounds a little like a stab at Kino’s Radio Voltaire.

“One More”, opens with more narration and birdsong. Pink Floyd, Wall – like guitar, then Trueack, “One more drop. One more glacier caves into the seas”. Then, the best lyric on the whole album, Trueack sings, “Take a look around you, don’t hide behind some wall”. Trump needed that, thanks.

“Mercenaries” is my favorite song on the album. Narration and loads of sound effects that Unitopia was famous for using. More sound waves and synthesized music. Powerful lead guitar and some of the best keyboards and synths I have heard on an Unitopia or UPF album yet. A little Tull with flute and synth, before Kansas and violin. The launching violin solo that follows is one of the best on many an album I can remember recently. The Middle eastern rhythm that picks up speed is wonderful, but it is cut off too soon. Then, almost like a Marx Brothers movie, too much gets thrown into the pot near the end. Rather than hearing the  refrain again, I wish they would play more of that Middle eastern music.

“What if” is a lead vocal with horns and soft guitar. This song contains some of the best lyrics on the album.

“Forgive Me My Son” opens with gunfire and soft guitar. The momentum builds preparing for Trueack to unleash the words, “Forgive Me My Son”. A plea for no more war. Trueack’s most dramatic vocal in years. The musicianship is some of the best on the album.

“Dying to be Reborn” opens with Trueack singing to quiet accompaniment of guitar and drums.

“Seeds for Life” tells the story of how seeds have been preserved to repopulate the planet with crops that may die during climate change. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a safeguard for the world to be able to recreate what may or will be lost. A good portion of the song is narration and the story, with synths and keyboards filling the air. The bubbling synths that start after the narration are great. A Noah’s Ark type story lyrically.

This song is probably the second-best track because it includes a blistering guitar solo by Steve Hackett. No one can match Hackett on guitar. He is the master and all boats rise with his presence…even in spirit. A 19:34 minute epic song, that should have been the closer. The piano work is excellent and dreamy.

“Loss to Lost”, is the closer. Piano opens the sound, with sitar and flute. Then back to the power of orchestration, a, la Lion King.

Planetary Overload – Loss Part 1 is another great project from the creator of Unitopia and the United Progressive Fraternity and its members. It captures some of the power of the debut album, but also makes me nostalgic for Unitopia’s past.

Although the UPF is full of incredibly talented musicians, the quirky lyrics, narration, and sound effects take up too much space on this album. The story is important though, and a strong foundation is laid out well, with wonderful music supporting.

The support the band has received from so many scientists and influential people in the field of climate change has been wonderful. The fact that any one band is making climate change such an important issue that they would write an entire album to support and tell the story of its nature is enough to earn your support.

This is a good album in that it was made with wonderful good intentions. Please give it a listen and show your support for protecting the world we share.

Planetary Overload – Loss Part 1 is available for purchase on their label GEP – Giant Electric Pea:
https://www.gep.co.uk/store/

“Mercenaries” Video:

Track List

  1. Loss Anthem – 3:26
  2. What Happens Now? – 4:04
  3. Cruel Times – 8:06
  4. What Are We Doing to Ourselves – 3:19
  5. Stop Time – 6:56
  6. One More – 2:37
  7. Mercenaries – 6:49
  8. What If – 1:45
  9. Forgive Me, My Son – 7:47
  10. Dying to be Reborn – 5:20
  11. Seeds for Life – 19:34
  12. Loss to Lost – 5:16

The Far Meadow – “Foreign Land”

The Far Meadow – Foreign Land (Bad Elephant Music, 2019)

I really enjoyed the Far Meadow’s Given the Impossible, especially “Seamless Shirt”, with Marguerita singing the lyrics to Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, “Scarborough Fair”. That album was a magnificent surprise for someone who had never even heard of the band. When I heard they were working on the follow up I knew I had to hear and review it.

I am pleasantly surprised again by Foreign Land, which stands on its own with innovative sounds thanks to Eliot Minn, filling every corner of this record with legendary keyboard play. The keyboard work absolutely, separates this band from many of their peers globally. The fine tune of the delivery and the inspired choices made, are simply stellar.

The Far Meadow – Foreign Land

With the loss of Keith Emerson, fewer bands seem inspired to use the keyboard as a central instrument of their production. The Far Meadow, with Minn, stand out, holding the line. Place my early vote now for Eliot Minn, “keyboard performance of the year” in progressive rock.

You hear Minn’s work early and often on the opening track of Foreign Land. “Travelogue” opens with soft keys, but later powerful keyboard innovations will bring back memories of Keith Emerson’s highlights. Later, the organ work he has designed will take you back to early Gabriel – era Genesis. It simply must be heard to be believed. And then that piano…oh my. So, brief recap, synthesizers, organ, and piano. A song to make every keyboard prog fan happy. One of the best songs of the year, so far. But wait…there is more.

Foreign Land is an album for prog lovers who enjoy epic long track albums. Only five tracks with enough space to take in the world and its many flavors. The kind of album you have been waiting years to hear. Extended tracks that allow every band member to shine supreme.

The second major weapon this band has is the exquisitely wonderful voice of Marguerita Alexandrou. I loved her voice on Given the Impossible, but she is used more sparingly on Foreign Land, but in places where only the sophistication of her voice was vital to the sound. She drives the music to a higher level with each note she sings. Her elegant voice adds such magnificence to the overall sound the band delivers.

“Sulis Rise”, is a good example of the strength of these two key members of this band. Alexandrou’s voice highlights the story, bringing beams of the light she is describing. Then Minn delivers Genesis – level keys that take you right back to memories of the early ‘70s.

I have neglected the other members of the band far too long. Denis Warren’s lead and rhythm guitars have their excellent solo moments throughout the first two and final three tracks. Keith Buckman’s bass guitar is ever present adding background depth to the sound. Paul Bringloe’s drums are well placed and help keep a great beat.

Then, there is that classic opening of “Mud”! That pipe organ sound just absolutely caught me by surprise. It sounded so fantastic I wish it had continued throughout the entire song. The lyrics at times took me back to Peter Gabriel’s opening story for the live version of “Supper’s Ready”.

“The Fugitive”, is another great story set to those awesome keyboards and some of the best lead guitar work on the album. The buzzing lead guitar and bouncing bass help buoy the mid-section of the song.

“Foreign Land” is one hell of an album closer. Spellbinding lead guitar, followed by Alexandrou’s voice, then deep bass, and keyboards supporting. Alexandrou sounds very similar to Kate Bush in her early days, melded with Barbara Streisand on this and most of the album – excellent!

Then Minn gives us those deep keys and Warren the heavy guitars you may remember from early IQ and Genesis. Stunning.

Foreign Land is a perfect follow up album. The Far Meadow is definitely on my watch list now. Wish I could get over to see them at Summer’s End. Get this album and go back and complete the catalog. If you miss the music, we used to hear on the radio daily, back in the 1970’s, and that we used to take for granted, please don’t take the Far Meadow for granted. There are too few of these stellar bands left on this planet.

The Far Meadow are:

Marguerita Alexandrou – lead and backing vocals
Paul Bringloe – drums and percussion
Keith Buckman – bass guitar
Eliot Minn – keyboards
Denis Warren – lead and rhythm guitars
All titles written by The Far Meadow with Paul Mallatratt (1, 4 & 5), Nok (1, 4 & 5) and Lawrence Pollinski (4).

Mixed by Joe Gibb
Mastered by David Elliott
Art & design by Brian Mitchell

The Far Meadow will be making their debut appearance at Summer’s End in Chepstow in October 2019, with more dates to be announced throughout the year.

Track List

  1. Travelogue
  2. Sulis Rise
  3. Mud
  4. The Fugitive
  5. Foreign Land

The Claypool Lennon Delirium – “South of Reality”

The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality (ATO records, 2019)

I was intrigued by the formation of this band from its first announcements in 2015/16. I have been a fan of Primus and Les Claypool’s work for some time. I have also enjoyed Sean Lennon’s solo work. When I heard their first album would be from the progressive rock genre, all I could imagine; before hearing the music, was, that it could sound like John Lennon singing on a Pink Floyd album?

Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality

Well, Monolith of Phobos, their first album, from 2016, debuted and it did not disappoint. It sounded indeed, as if John Lennon was singing on a Pink Floyd album. Claypool’s bass intricacies and the warm sound of Sean Lennon singing over the top of the intricate keyboards, bass and lead guitar melodies was perfect. It became one of my favorite albums of 2016.

Then, I heard them play King Crimson’s classic In the Court of the Crimson King live, and I was a fan for life. They later made a studio version of this classic cover on their 2017, EP, Lime and Limpid Green…along with other classic covers like the Who’s “Boris the Spider”; “Astronomy Domine” from Pink Floyd, and “Satori (Enlightenment), Pt.1”, from the Flower Travellin’ Band.

Now they return with their sophomore effort South of Reality, and they have crafted an even better album than Monolith. This album picks up where Monolith left off. It is a bit more accessible than Monolith in the amount of more lyrically driven melodies. At this moment it sits atop my favorite albums of 2019.

On a Claypool/Lennon album, the lyrics to all of their music are simultaneously relevant, memorable and satirical.

The album opens with “Little Fishes”, which starts with some backmasking, quickly followed by a reminder of mercury in the assumed healthy choice of consumable fish. All set to this rockin’ little, unthreatening melody of picked bass thunder. It later discusses many of the changes that we as Boomers and early Millennials have had to contend with daily. Including 3D printers and the effects of an Internet that vastly controls our lives. When they go off on a wild musical scamper, you can only wish you were watching it live.

Next up is my personal favorite song, “Blood and Rockets”. “The Movement I, Saga of Jack Parsons”, is a wonderful story set to a fun beat. The story of Jack Parsons is worth a Google search. The fact that this band attempted to describe the story of this legend before the advent of the US Space Program, within a song, and found such a bouncy melody to tell it, is worth many replays. “Movement II, Too the Moon”, is a prominent and valuable instrumental movement section of the song.

“South of Reality”, the title track is another dynamic song about space and all its multitude of adventures. This time, as seen looking up from the Earth.

“Boriska” is an interesting Internet story set to spacey rhythms and music. Google the name of this, at the time, 11-year-old boy, who claimed to be from Mars. The story is fun to read and listen to, set to music.

“Easily Charmed by Fools” is a fun ironic turn of the satirical pen from Lennon and Claypool.

“Amethyst Realm” is a unique story from England. About a woman who claimed to have fallen in love with ghosts. Cool, spacey music with ghostly noises and voices.

“Toady Man’s Hour” is another favorite. I like to think it deals with the story of our current White House resident, President “Orange”. Even if it isn’t it about him, it is wonderful satire.

“Cricket Chronicles Revisited” opens the track, “Ask Your Doctor”, with wonderful sitar and Beatlesque wanderings. Sean sounds like John and George off Magical Mystery Tour. “Psyde Effects” is a cool verbal feast of ideas and sounds.

“Like Fleas”, immediately reminded me of Perry Farrell’s wonderful satire and lyrical twist in the song “We’ll Make Great Pets”. Yes, the Earth may be trying to shake humans off like fleas after all we have done to the climate.

Wonderful satire set to interesting and complex music. Bouncy rhythms filled with thick bass, weird and wonderful guitar and keyboards. Just what the doctor ordered to keep your mind off the current state on the tragic world political stage.

South of Reality was produced by Les Claypool and Sean Lennon. Claypool engineered and mixed the album at his own Rancho Relaxo studio in Sonoma County, California. South of Reality was released worldwide on Feb 22nd, 2019.

Track List:

Little Fishes – 6:07
Blood and Rockets – Movement 1 – Saga of Jack Parsons – Movement 2 – Too the Moon – 6:31
South of Reality – 3:29
Boriska – 5:26
Easily Charmed by Fools – 5:12
Amethyst Realm – 7:49
Toadyman’s Hour – 3:14
Cricket Chronicles Revisited – Part 1, Ask Your Doctor – Part 2 – Psyde Effects – 6:24
Like Fleas – 3:33