Category Archives: CD Reviews

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn Remastered

Pink Floyd - The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Capitol/EMI, 2011)

The first album by legendary progressive rock band Pink Floyd
, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, is now available digitally remastered. The album can be purchased individually or as part of a box set.

The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was originally released in 1967 and shows Pink Floyd in its pre-progressive rock period. Pink Floyd’s members at the time were Syd Barrett, who was the main songwriter, on guitar and vocals; Roger Waters on bass; Rick Wright on keyboards; and Nick Mason on drums.

In 1967, Pink Floyd was fully immersed in psychedelia. Barrett’s unconventional lyrics sent the listener to a world of fantasy, childlike rhymes and surreal creations. Barrett’s songs were the product of a musician experimenting with music and mind altering drugs.

Barrett also experimented with his electric guitar, using a series of effects that made Pink Floyd’s sound much more exploratory than other British bands of the time.

The album’s title, The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, came from the seventh chapter of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In The Willows. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was recorded in Abbey Road’s Studio 3 and produced by EMI resident producer, Norman Smith, while the Beatles were in the studio next door working on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Piper at The Gates Of Dawn is an album by a novice Pink Floyd with dreamlike lyrics and music experimentation by one of the leading songwriters in the rock underground of the late 1960s.

Circa Goes AOR

Circa - And So On
Circa

And So On (2011)

Rock band Circa was expected to be one of the great new progressive rock bands in recent years. With two former Yes members, Tony Kaye on keyboards and Billy Sherwood on guitars and vocals, there is definitely a strong Yes connection. The band has a formidable rhythm section formed by Ronnie Ciago on drums and an excellent bassist that does not appear in the credits. Guitarist Johnny Bruhns is the fourth member of the band.

I used the term rock band because there is little progressive rock in And So On. The album begins with a strong piece, with rich instrumentation that will remind the listener of early Yes. However, the vocals are weak (literally) and the songs are better described as 1980s-style AOR and hard rock. The best instrumental work on the album is provided by the lead guitar and bass.

‘And So On’ is the 4th release by Circa. “Although the album was not written as a concept record, the songs are somehow tied together and are all symbiotic,” Billy Sherwood explains, “it’s really just an evolution of Circa: music. This is our 3rd Studio release.”

The album is available for circahq.com/CircaStore/index.php

Space Music for Apollo

Synth.nl - Apollo
Synth.nl

Apollo (2011)

The new album by Dutch artist Synth.nl is an electronic music tribute to the Apollo Moon project. The musician behind Synth.nl is Michel van Osenbruggen. His music has the melodic sensibility of Vangelis and the spacey atmospheric environments of Tangerine Dream.

Synth.nl illustrates the Apollo Moon missions with a rich palette of dramatic, melodic and ambient synthesizers and electronic beats. He also uses NASA audio archives with voices from mission control, the astronauts and the people behind the project.

Michel van Osenbruggen provides information about each piece and details about the various Apollo missions. “For this album, I was inspired by the Apollo Moon missions, undertaken by NASA during the 60’s and 70’s of the previous century,” says van Osenbruggen. “Since I was born in 1969, the same year that Neil Amstrong set foot on the Moon, I have always felt a very strong connection to this event. Listening to this album will take you on a voyage from the Earth to the Moon and back again.”

Michel van Osenbruggen was born in The Netherlands on the 23th of April 1969. He started collecting synthesizers in 1990 because of his fascination with electronics. “Even though I produced a lot of sounds back then, I first started producing my own music in 2005 when I was at home with a burn-out from work.”

Synth.nl has released four solo albums so far: ‘AeroDynamics’ in 2007, ‘AtmoSphere’ in 2008, ‘OceanoGraphy’ in 2009 and ‘Apollo’ in 2011. In 2010, he released a collaboration album called ‘Refuge en Verre’, together with his good friend Ron Boots. Ron also runs the Groove Unlimited label that releases all of Synth.nl ‘s music.

Apollo is a skillful blend of space music and melodic electronic music by one of the finest acts in the current European electronic music scene.

Import CD (North America)

Digital download

Epic Cor Cordium

Glass Hammer - Cor Cordium
Glass Hammer

Cor Cordium (Arion Records, 2011)

The latest offering by progressive rock band Glass Hammer contains all the ingredients that make this musical genre so special: superb musicianship and captivating artwork. Cor Cordium begins with a suite loaded with state of the art keyboard work that includes glorious mellotron, organ and synthesizers.

Cor Cordium is Glass Hammer’s fourteenth studio album. It’s a follow-up to last year’s much-admired album titled If. It’s a delight to see a band that continues to develop long-form symphonic pieces of epic nature. Cor Cordium contains four suites, all of which are over ten minutes long, and two shorter pieces. If you like a mix of vocal parts with state of the art keyboard and guitar work, then you’ll really enjoy this latest offering by Glass Hammer.

Stylistically, the band is clearly influenced by the British masters of the early 1970s. Yes appears as a strong influence, especially in the vocals, guitars and some of the keyboard work. However, keyboardist Fred Schendel also displays influences from Keith Emerson and the band goes into Gentle Giant and fusion territory on track 3, ‘Salvation Station’ and folk rock in a section of ‘Dear Daddy’.

The line-up on this album includes Fred Schendel on keyboards, steel guitar, backing vocals; Steve Babb on bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals; Jon Davison on lead vocals, acoustic guitars; and Alan Shikoh on electric and acoustic guitars and sitar. They are joined by Randall Williams on drums, Jeffrey Sick on violin on ‘Dear Daddy’ and Ed Davis on viola on ‘Dear Daddy.’

We never set out to make If Volume 2,” says Babb. “But we are definitely heading in the same direction musically. Fans that loved IF are going to be equally excited about Cor Cordium.”

The CD version comes with captivating fantasy artwork and a 16 page full-color layout by artist Tom Kuhn and audiophile mastering by Bob Katz of Digital Domain.

Cor Cordium is a lovely and beautifully crafted progressive rock album by one of the finest bands in the genre.

Electric Infinity

My Brother The Wind - I Wash My Soul In The Stream Of Infinity
My Brother The Wind

I Wash My Soul In The Stream Of Infinity (Transsubstans TRANS090, 2011)

Swedish band My Brother The Wind continues the fine tradition of progressive psychedelic rock. Their new album is I Wash My Soul In The Stream Of Infinity and it is a mesmerizing series of dreamy instrumental pieces.

The band was formed by members from other well-known Swedish progressive rock acts: Nicklas Barker (Anekdoten) on guitar and mellotron; Mathias Danielsson (Makajodama, Gösta Berlings Saga) on guitar and tenor recorder; Ronny Eriksson (Magnolia) on bass; and Tomas Eriksson on drums.

The dual electric guitars are heavily processed, creating hypnotic effects. The mellotron adds an exciting vintage electronic sound to the mix. You can find influences from Echoes-era Pink Floyd and Ozric Tentacles.
I Wash My Soul In The Stream Of Infinity is a beautifully crafted atmospheric mix of rock, electronica, and psychedelia.

The album is available on CD, LP and digital download.

CD:

Digital

Europe:

Poetic Deep Space

Janet Robbins - Song of the Gypsy Tree
Janet Robbins

Song of the Gypsy Tree‘ (Star 7 Records, 2010)

I’ve always been interested in dark folk and deep space ambient music. Janet Robbins is an impressive discovery in this field. Her new album titled ‘Song of the Gypsy Tree’
introduces a magical and mesmerizing collection of poetry combined with remarkable overdubbed vocals, ambient music, whispering voices, electronic beats, beautiful distant vocals and choruses, global music samples and acoustic instruments such as the piano and frame drums.

I’m singing on this album – there’s more compositional structure for the lyric, although there are formless passages of lyric as well,” explains Janet. “Sonically I still draw from a source of tone and musicality, that seems to reside in middle earth and deep space. I do feel the quality of journey and travel still exists within the music.”

Janet Robbins introspective lyrics are richly poetic with themes of love, the environment, nature, science fiction, dreams and mystery. She composed, wrote and performed most of the music. Robbins is an accomplished piano player and also uses a wide variety of electronic keyboard sounds. Two percussionists, Chris Armstrong and River Guerguerian participated in the album.

For me, the album is about relationship of all kinds,” says Janet, “the struggles we create when we ignore our relatedness to one another, the animal kingdom, and to the environment, and the offerings of the natural and spirit world and the surrender that’s needed.”

I think we have the gift of almost unlimited creation and a responsibility for what/the world we create,” adds Janet. “So cook a great meal and share it with friends! Sing a little tune to someone on the street, turn a moment into a radical departure from social dictates, use your voice and break the numbing acquiescence of a collective sleep. But enjoy life.”

Song of the Gypsy Tree‘ conjures a futuristic, mysterious world with an impressive range of layered vocal talent and hypnotic deep space ambient sounds. An extraordinary album by new dark ambience talent Janet Robbins.

Polymorphic Moraine

Moraine - Metamorphic Rock
Moraine

Metamorphic Rock (Moonjune Records MJR040, 2011)

Metamorphic Rock captures the live performance of the progressive rock jam band Moraine at the 2010 North East Art Rock Festival (NEARfest) in Bethlehem (Pennsylvania). As the title of the album indicates, Moraine plays an ever changing form of rock music infused with elements of progressive rock, avant-garde jazz and improvisation. The sound of the band is unique thanks to a combination of fiery electric guitar, baritone saxophone solos, soaring electric violin and the intense sounds of the NS/Stick, an 8 string extended-range tapping bass designed by Emmett Chapman.

In addition to the vibrant rock and freeform jazz improvisation elements, Moraine also introduces world music elements such as captivating East Asian and Arabic melodies as well as reggae beats.

The band featured on the album includes Dennis Rea on electric guitar; Alicia DeJoie on electric violin, James DeJoie on saxophone, flute, and effects; Kevin Millard on bass; and Stephen Cavit on drums.

Metamorphic Rock presents the live performance of an outstanding group of creative avant-garde musicians who can easily navigate the waters of high energy progressive rock, jazz fusion and exploratory improvised music.

Jon Anderson ‘s Wondrous Open Journey

Jon Anderson - Open
Jon Anderson

Open (Open Music, 2011)

Fans of Yes and its longtime vocalist Jon Anderson should not miss his latest work titled Open. This marvelous 21-minute epic piece brings back the magic that made Yes one of the most cherished progressive rock bands of all time. Open combines dramatic symphonic sounds alongside peaceful vocal passages with messages of peace and love and the fabulous overdubbed vocals that Jon Anderson pioneered and mastered.

Although Jon Anderson has made many solo albums, his masterpiece was Olias of Sunhillow. Open takes his music back to that level of creativity. At a time when the new Yes album is a disappointment for progressive rock fans, Jon Anderson picks up the torch with this gem, demonstrating that he was one of the brains behind the essential Yes sound.

The impressive orchestral work was composed by Anderson’s neighbor and good friend Stefan Podell. “’Forever taken to that place of understanding,’ are the first lyrics of ‘Open’, as though I am always remembering my true musical journey,” says Jon Anderson. “To create this work, I sat with my 19th Century guitar and strummed ideas last spring 2010. Songs just poured out of me that week, and before I knew it I had created a long form musical idea, and with the help of Stefan Podell’s powerful orchestration, we put together what is now ‘Open.’

It has 4 movements all intertwined, and seems to have a life of its own. For those who love this kind of music, I feel so happy to present it as one of many I hope to create over the coming years. My love ‘Janee’ has helped in production with her unique musical observations and her angel voice.”

At this time, Open is only available as a digital download. Hopefully, Jon Anderson will add more gems to incorporate it into a full album.

Open is one of the indispensable progressive rock releases of 2011, demonstrating that Jon Anderson is still one of the great creative forces in the genre.

Gdeva’s post-Krautrock

Gdeva - Kleti Quatro
Gdeva

Kleti Quatro (Musea, 2011)

Russian space rock band Gdeva returns with Kleti Quatro, an album that brings together progressive rock, psychedelia, and electronics. You can hear traces of Pink Floyd, Kraut Rock and the spacier elements of Porcupine Tree.

Gdeva was formed in 2005 in St. Petersburg as an improvisational trio performing instrumental psychedelic music when guitarist Andrei Petrov joined forces with bassist Valery Berestov and drummer Alexander Kravtsov.The debut collection of improvisations, “Bubbles, Bubbles…”, was recorded that same year with vintage musical instruments, and eventually saw the light of day on the Raig label in 2007. One year later, a fourth member was added to the band, and the music style made an abrupt shift from long-drawn-out to more clearly improvised structures.

The musicians themselves call their style “post-Krautrock”. The result of the new line-up was creation of the album “Kleti Quatro“, which was recorded in autumn 2009, and eventually published by the Musea label in the year 2011.

Currently, the band members are engaged in new projects, and Gdeva has become a one-man-project spearheaded by guitarist and band leader Andrei Petrov.

Kleti Quatro is an outstanding space rock album by the musical shifting Gdeva.

The New Fusion Universe

Abstract Logix Live! - The New Universe Music Festival 2010
Various Artists

Abstract Logix Live! – The New Universe Music Festival 2010 (Abstract Logix ABL030, 2011)

Some of the best international jazz fusion musicians can be found on The New Universe Music Festival 2010 – 2 CD Set. The recordings were made during the spectacular gathering of virtuoso musicians that took place November 20 and 21, 2010 in Raleigh, North Carolina at The New Universe Music Festival, produced by the Abstract Logix label.

The event brought together several generations of fusion musicians. The impressive line-up included John McLaughlin (guitar); Jimmy Herring (guitar); Wayne Krantz (guitar); Alex Machacek (guitar); Tom Guarna (guitar); Matthew Garrison (bass); Anthony Jackson (bass); Etienne Mbappe (bass); Neal Fountain (bass); Richie Goods (bass); Gary Husband (keys); Scott Kinsey (keys); Matt Slocum (keys); Vince Evans (keys); Jeff Sipe (drums); Mark Mondesir (drums); Gary Husband (drums); Lenny White (drums); Ranjit Barot (drums); Cliff Almond (drums); Arto Tuncboyaciyan (percussion, voice); Zakir Hussain (tabla); and Bala Bhaskar (violin).

Highlights of disc 1 include the superb Indian fusion sounds of drummer Ranjit Barot, accompanied by Wayne Krantz, Bala Bhaskar, Scott Kinsey, Arto Tuncboyaciyan and Matthew Garrison.

Percussion wizard and vocalist Arto Tuncboyaciyan returned with two pieces inspired by the sounds of the late Joe Zawinul. Arto Tuncboyaciyan worked with Zawinul for several years and was a key element in Zawinul’s hybrid sound. In addition, keyboardist Scott Kinsey has picked up the Zawinul torch and treated the audience to state of the art electronic keyboard work combined with jazz and global sounds. Tuncboyaciyan and Kinsey were supported by Matthew Garrison on bass and Ranjit Barot on drums.

Standouts from disc 2 are the pieces by legendary fusion pioneer John McLaughlin and his multinational band. For this occasion, McLaughlin was accompanied by Etienne Mbappe on bass, Gary Husband on keyboards, Mark Mondesir on drums and special guest Zakir Hussain on tabla.