Category Archives: CD Reviews

Time Symmetry – Ghosts

Time Symmetry – Ghosts

Time Symmetry is a progressive metal band from Madrid, Spain, that began back in 1999. They play music similar to Dream Theater only with a great female lead singer. Elena Aznar, is that female lead; David Rubio, is a founding member, who provides the male vocals and guitars; Jorge Velasco, a schoolmate friend of Rubio’s and founding member, plays guitars and sings backing vocals; Alejandro “Ando” Martínez, provides drums; and Carlos Hernandez, plays bass.

 Ghosts is the third release from Time Symmetry. They first released a mini LP, self – titled Time Symmetry, in 2003. In 2006, they released their first full-length LP, Fate in Gray, to critical acclaim. And in 2013, Time Symmetry released their second full-length album, Tetraktys. This year, 2019, they return with Ghosts, and the addition of Elena Aznar on vocals and Carlos Hernández on bass provide new lift, talent, and sound for the band.

Hope you’re buckled in, because this rocket is about to launch. There is a little narration surrounded by cool spacey keys and effects before things reach take – off speed on the opener, “Winding Road”. The grinding guitars, metal bass and smashing drums roar forward as we hear Elena Aznar’s first vocals, “Walk with me, walk with me forever!” She sounds almost as gutsy as many male singers in the genre. Yet, her higher pitch is not ear piercing, like many other females in the genre. The launching lead electric solo guitars rocket skyward as Aznar’s voice purrs, then belts out screams. The blood is flowing and if you were at a show, I bet you’d be moving with the beat.

“Blue Lights”, opens with deep bass and pounding drums, before a drum roll welcomes the firepower of many lead electric guitars to the feast. That persistent bass reminds me of Les Claypool. It sounds that good. Then Aznar returns with powerful vocals, “With the lights and background noise I cut off my dark thoughts”. That lead electric guitar is torching the stage with clarity and force. The drums keep perfect pace, rounding out the sound. Another track summoned from Baelo Claudia itself. Amazing.

“The Circle”, brings powerful keyboards to its opening. They are followed closely with drums, bass and more great lead grinding electric guitar. Aznar leads on vocals, and David Rubio supports well with his own vocals. The combination is a great double-punch.

“Reboot System Now”, opens with robotic sounding keys and cool synths. The growling lead guitar returns like a lion set free from a cage. The bouncing bass synchronizes well with the pogoing drum kit. Aznar delivers her softest vocals and helps drive the revving train of sound. Then her vocals lift, “To feel this moment and to rise!”

“Entropy”, opens with welcomed soft acoustic guitar. Like a Rush or Yes classic. Aznar’s vocals are simply beautiful and heartfelt. They absolutely needed a song like this. One of, if not the best on the album. Aznar’s “oohs” are warm and wonderful. A nice break from the revving fire they have been creating up until now. Later, the power grinder returns without the revving this time. Building to a complete ballad/theme song.

“Arendt’s Sorrow”, begins with cool synths and keyboards before the hammer falls and drums, bass and electric lead thunder on their way once again. This time, though, they bring a very cool space circular vibration synth with them. The bass work right after is some of the best on the album. Aznar and Rubio alternate vocals to help add variety to the music. Aznar compliments the track with some spoken word narration set to formidable bass and drums, along with soloing lead electric guitar.

“Fireworks”, opens like more of a Foreigner rock-oriented sound. Then, cool keys build as the drums, bass and electric lead guitar buzz the airspace. Aznar sings, “Don’t tell me that it’s gone. Don’t tell me it could be wrong!” Later, motor engines join in on the fun. Cool.

The keys that open “Hunt or Be Hunted”, are wonderful. Cool synths too. The drum loops are cool. Aznar sings, “open your eyes…now”. The synths, bass and electric guitars are excellent after her vocal.

“Better Days”, opens with cool piano, synths and sounds like another softer melody, until the drums, bass and lead electric bring forth their power. Rubio’s best vocals yet, “Here was a drop in an endless sea, a man of the many. A beast to unleash”. Backing chorus vocals add epic proportions to the mix. It gives the soundscape a more symphonic sound.

“Ghosts”, is a cool instrumental overture from space, with Apollo narration and wonderful keys mixed with slow guitar.

“Race to Nowhere”, is just what the title portends, blasting drums, heavy bass and grinding lead electric guitar. Aznar’s vocals are at some of their clearest on this track. Aznar sings, “Why cross the stars? This is our time?” This over 11-minute epic closer is worth the price of admission alone. Powerful grinding guitars, crushing bass, and racing pace drums.

This is a wonderful full – length album of heavier prog metal rock, veering ever closer to the metal side than progressive. But there are still progressive tones to the sound. The lead female singer does not burn your ears. It is a great album and I’m glad I have discovered them and would recommend this album to anyone with similar tastes in music.

The album was produced by Time Symmetry. Ghosts, was recorded at New Life Studios, in Madrid, Spain, and mastered by Ermin Hamidovic in Systematic Productions Studios, (Melbourne).

Track List

1.Winding Road – 4:40

2. Blue Lights – 4:44

3. The Circle – 3:32

4. Reboot System Now – 5:05

5. Entropy – 4:52

6. Arendt’s Sorrow – 5.53

7. Fireworks – 5:50

8. Hunt or Be Hunted – 5:25

9. Better Days – 5:12

10. Ghosts – 1:02

11. Race to Nowhere – 11:20

https://www.facebook.com/timesymmetry/

http://timesymmetry.es/

https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/TimeSymmetry

Farmhouse Odyssey – Fertile Ground

Farmhouse Odyssey – Fertile Ground

Farmhouse Odyssey is a progressive rock band from Arcata, California. I found them while searching artists playing this year at the Seattle Prog 2019 show, SeaProg: http://seaprogfest.org/.

I requested a demo immediately after listening to some samples at the CDBaby.com store:  https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/farmhouseoydssey

Farmhouse Odyssey was formed in 2012, and is made up of Alex Espe, on vocals, piano, Rhodes, Moog, organ, and mellotron; Aaron Laughlin, on vocals, guitars, mandolin, and mellotron; Alex Pepe, on guitars; Ian Taylor, on bass and synth bass; and Thatcher Norton, on drums. They are inspired by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest and endeavor to craft music to match its magnitude.

 Fertile Ground is a perfect name for this album. The album was released May 31, 2019. It is full of wonderful reminders of progressive rock’s legacy, while at the same time sounding innovative and original. Farmhouse Odyssey has a modern, yet transcending sound that is somewhere between the sounds you might here on early IZZ, Phil Collins era Genesis, and Midlake’s The Courage of Others. Nice mix, huh?

“The Call”, opens with soft mandolin and acoustic guitars, surrounded by keyboards and wonderful background effects. Aaron Laughlin sings, “Stirring song filled the dreamer’s ears, carried on the wind, that sent ripples across the water’s surface, shimmering – becoming”. Yes, Aaron Laughlin, writes most of the lyrical content that fills this short but magnificent 5 track album. The band uses a quote from Dostoyevsky, which is both relevant and capsulizes their mission with this Fertile Ground; “Dreams are extraordinarily strange. One thing appears with terrifying clarity, with the details finely set like jewels, while you leap over another, as though you did not notice it at all — space and time, for instance. It seems that dreams are the work not of mind but of desire, not of the head but of the heart… In a dream, things quite incomprehensible come to pass.”

That is what “The Call”, and the rest of this album is about, dreams and fulfilling them through a musical journey. The IZZ – like beginning gives way to a much slower pace after the mid-point. Beautiful Hackett – like guitar catches you breathlessly as Laughlin sings, “In the water there shone a dream – a great chance. Come quickly and walk with me. Is it Destiny we meet? Along the elemental stream of dreams? All of this is but to be a memory; A spiraling infinity calling through an ever-deepening mystery”. Then, they almost let one of those wonderful guitar riffs from Genesis’ “Entangled” take over. They finish with the sounds of water and birdsong. Wow, what an opener.

“Out of the Fog”, opens with piano that almost takes you back to the wonder of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. The electric guitar work supports well. Alex Espe, the bands’ lead singer sings, “I see a moonlit path before me. Filtered by fog creeping in. And out of my control. If only I could find some way to let go”. Later Espe sings, “Lost in tangled wood. All that I can see is the worn step I long to take in front of me”. Adventurous lyrics supported well with engaging music. The piano and keyboard playing truly sets a feast for the ears.

Aaron Laughlin, returns to sing most of “Betwixt and Between”. The almost eight and half minute epic opens with soft flute like keys and some of the most innovative acoustic guitar I’ve heard in a long time. Very early Genesis sounding, but original and different. I hear a great mix between the sound of early Phil Collins Genesis and Midlake’s The Courage of Others. Yeah imagine the blending of those two bands’ sounds. Laughlin sings, “Alone I stand, as I plant my feet in the cool morning sand, to softly bury my uncertainties and yesterdays. In the riddles of the green woods that linger within reach; and the tireless ocean breeze”. Yes, the image of the Pacific Northwest captured perfectly. Those verses capture why we all live here. Later, he captures the magic of Fertile Ground, with these lyrics, “The fertile state of unknowing; just letting it all be, lit by the light of dream”. Meanwhile the crashing waves of pulsing drums, grinding guitars, thick bass and keyboard wonders, shower your ears with amazing sounds. Perfect.

 “Ancient Yet Eternal”, opens with that beautiful piano, before soft percussion and bass join in. Espe sings, “Somewhere in the fire’s low, amber glow there are worlds upon worlds, shining soft, in far off unknowns”. The keyboards and piano take center stage and envelope you in a bliss rarely captured on record. Espe closes the track singing, “You don’t need ears to hear or eyes to see, when all life is like a dream. Lit by the light that brings the same flame that ignites dominance. Lights the way for love to find us. Calling from the other side”. They close with thunder and the sound of heavy rain. The kind of rain we have on the Pacific Coast in October. Thunder, which reverberates on the ancient, yet eternal forests which cover the Pacific Coastline; providing nourishing rain after the long summer dry spell.

 “Verve”, opens with excellent synthesizer and piano. Deep bass and electric guitar join in as rhythm forms and builds towards a melody. Espe sings, “Above the clouds I see no rainfall. Through the clouds I hear a faint call”. Bass, electric guitar, drums and amazing keyboards and synths fill the track. Espe closes the track with the heartfelt lyrics, “Live not in the past. Let resentment wither. Darkest hour of night, light still shines a sliver”.

Fertile Ground is an album full of both sincerity and intricate/innovative progressive rock. As Dostoyevsky said, “It happened as always in a dream when you leap over space and time and the laws of life and mind, and you stop only there where your heart delights.” Heed the call, and please get this album for yourself and sit back and dream of a new future.

Fertile Ground was recorded, mixed and mastered by Aaron Laughlin at Odyssey Studios.

Track List

The Call – 4:30

Out of the Fog – 12:33

Betwixt and Between – 8:48

Ancient Yet Eternal – 6:49

Verve – 6:25

https://farmhouseodyssey.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Farmhouse-Odyssey-170678113070893/

https://farmhouseodyssey.bandcamp.com/album/fertile-ground

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

Farmhouse Odyssey – “Daybreak”

Rubycon, Berlin School Mastery


Tangerine Dream – Rubycon

Tangerine Dream – Rubycon (Virgin Records, 1975/2019 reissue)

Rubycon is part of the reissue set of classic Tangerine Dream electronic music albums. Rubycon was Tangerine Dream’s 6th album, first released in 1975.

The original album includes two tracks, Rubycon Parts 1 and 2. The album begins with layers of synths and mellotrons and mysterious sounds that seem like haunting whale chants. Slowly and gradually, the sequencers drift in, creating an ecstatic, trancelike atmosphere accompanied by bubbling sounds and distant melodies.

This new remastered version includes a bonus track, an extended introduction of Rubycon mixed by progressive music artist Steven Wilson.

The lineup during Rubycon was the same as one ther iconic Phaedra album: Edgar Froese on mellotron, guitar, gong, VCS 3 synthesizer, organ; Chris Franke on double moog synthesizer, Synthi A, organ, modified Elka organ, prepared piano; and Peter Baumann on organ, EMS Synthi A, electric piano, ARP 2600 and prepared piano.

Rubycon refined the trailblazing sound of Tangerine Dream, one of the group’s finest recordings.

Buy Rubycon

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

Snarky Puppy, Unrivaled Masters of Funk and Fusion

Snarky Puppy – Immigrance (GroundUp Music, 2019)

Snarky Puppy, the finest funk jazz band in the current scene is back with a superb album titled Immigrance. Band leader Michael League clarifies the title of the album: “The idea here is that everything is fluid, that everything is always moving and that we’re all in a constant state of immigration. Obviously the album’s title is not without political undertones.”

Snarky Puppy – Immigrance

The opening track, “Chonks” couldn’t be more spectacular; it starts with fabulous funk keyboards and progresses into outstanding jazz-rock fusion topped by Mark Lettieri’s brilliant guitar solo.

Michael League brings in some of the best young keyboardists to Snarky Puppy’s sessions and that’s what makes the band such a delight. Instead of the tired saxophone solos that other bands utilize, Snarky Puppy has a much modern, edgy sound with the use of electronic keyboards, guitars and a solid brass section.

“Bigly Strictness” is a seductive composition with a wonderful, creative global percussion section, smoky trumpet solo , Shaun Martin’s and Justin Stanton’s fantastic synths solos and mesmerizing gliding guitars. Pure beauty.  

“Coven” begins laid back with intricate bass lines, brass arrangements and forward-thinking trip hop feel. Shaun Martin delivers another masterful synth solo that leads into Chris Queen’s electric guitar solo. Progressive fusion at its best.

The trip hop returns on “Blig Blingi,” a bass-heavy funk piece, where chilled, futuristic keyboards and funk synth solos, dubbed drums, and brass, and complex, but accessible drum beats continue to impress. 

Track 5, “Xavi,” the longest piece on the album is more jazz-fusion oriented, featuring a breathtaking electric violin solo by Zach Brock; and an equally good Minimoog solo by Bobby Sparks. Percussionist Keita Ogawa also gets an opportunity to showcase his talent with an ocean drum solo. The track concludes with a great piano solo by Bill Laurance.

“While We’re Young” features steady funk drum beat, funk synth solo, majestic mellotron and reverb-rich brass.

“Bad Kids to the Back” is perhaps the least striking piece, featuring funk beats and predictable saxophone solo.

The final track, “Even Us” takes the music in a totally different direction, into the realm of contemporary world music, with Michael League picking up the ud. There are references to modern tango, Middle Eastern modes and western chamber music. It’s beautifully-orchestrated and deeply satisfying.

Buy Immigrance

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”

Sverre Knut Johansen’s Spellbinding, Deep Sonic Landscapes

Sverre Knut Johansen with Robert Rich – Precambrian (Spotted Peccary, 2019)

Norwegian electronic music instrumentalist and composer Sverre Knut Johansen takes the listener on a mesmerizing voyage across the prehistoric progress of planet Earth and its inhabitants. He is joined by the great musician, sound investigator and composer Robert Rich.

Sverre Knut Johansen with Robert Rich – Precambrian

Together, Johansen and Rich create a splendid set of electronic music pieces that incorporate ambient textures, cinematic passages, soaring melodies and spellbinding sequencers combining electronics, samples, sound effects and natural sounds.

Each musical piece on Precambrian takes the listener through important geological periods and evolutionary occasions of Earth’s 4.6 billion year history.

The epochs on Earth are an exciting topic for me,” says Johansen, “so I was inspired to create an album around the concept of the Earth’s geological time scale. The music is epoch-based where I try to convey with nature sounds what might have happened on Earth, creating moods around certain events that have taken place, like oxygen, birds, water, and ice.”

The physical CD version of the album is beautifully packaged, featuring a trifold package and a gorgeous booklet, filled with stunning photography.

Buy Precambrian

Rhy Dongju, Korean Guitar Hero

Rhy Dongju – Lions’den II: Essence (Lions’den Records, 2019)

Lions’den II: Essence is a set of superb instrumental electric guitar pieces from Korean guitar virtuoso Rhy Dongju. He is deeply influenced by artists like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.

Lions’den II: Essence presents a tasty mix of laid back bluesy pieces, masterful progressive rock and jazz-rock.

Buy Lions’den II: Essence

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/

A Whirlwind of Progressive Psychedelia

Quantum Fantay – Yemaya Orisha (Progressive Promotion Records, 2019)

Belgian band Quantum Fantay has gradually become one of the most exciting psychedelic progressive rock acts in recent years. The group combines the best of instrumental spacey progressive rock with transfixing electronic music and world music elements.

Quantum Fantay – Yemaya Orisha

The current line up includes Pete Mush on synths; Tom Tee on guitars; Jaro on bass; and Louis Van der Linden (who replaced Gino Bartolini) on drums. Guests include Charles Sla on flutes; Maera on vocals; and Rafaela on vocals.

Yemaya Orisha contains a set of masterfully constructed progressive music wizardry. So far, one of the finest progressive rock releases of the year.