All posts by Angel Romero

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

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery, a Finely Crafted Work of Art

The Tangent – The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery (InsideOut Music, 2017)

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery is an album released in 2017 by The Tangent, one of the finest progressive rock acts in recent years. The band is led by keyboardist, composer, vocalist and drummer Andy Tillison. It’s a splendid recording that features some of the finest musicians in the European scene.

This is progressive rock in its supreme form. Tillison is a masterful keyboardist and orchestrator. In addition to state of the art symphonic progressive rock and jazz-rock rich in keyboards, he adds elements of funk, soul and even Santana-style Latin rock. Wildly eclectic and deeply satisfying.

The Tangent always attracts some of the finest players in the current scene. On this album, the band features the great guitar hero of our time, Luke Machin. His chameleonic guitar style is out of this world, ranging from knockout shredding to exquisite solos.

Other members include bass virtuoso Jonas Reingold, saxophonist and flutist Theo Travis, and Marie-Eve de Gaultier (from Luke Machin’s band Maschine) on keyboards and vocals.

The album only has 5 tracks and four of them are lengthy epics packed with instrumental goodness that flow beautifully. Andy Tillison cares about of the world and its ecosystems. His lyrics make reference to the endangered wild animals; the sorry state of mass media and fake news; and other equally important topics.

 

 

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery is a progressive rock masterpiece. It demonstrates that The Tangent is in perfect shape.

Buy The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery

The Laid Back Fusion of Daniel Santiago

Daniel Santiago – Union (Adventure Music, 2018)

Union is an instrumental album highlighting the guitar work of Brazilian musician and composer Daniel Santiago. The album has edgy electric guitar and electronic keyboards. At the same, it is very accessible and laid back. It’s an album that is eclectic and energetic enough to please fusion fans and the smooth jazz market as well.

The lineup on Union includes Daniel Santiago on acoustic and electric guitar, synth bass, keyboards and vocals; Pedro Martins on keyboards; Shai Maestro on piano; Frederico Heliodoro on bass; Rafael Vernet on keyboards; Thiago Rabello on drums; Gregoire Maret on harmonica; Antonio Loureiro on drums; Renato Galvao on drums; and Ricardo Braga on percussion.

 

 

Union is a delightful, masterfully-crafted album where jazz, fusion and Brazilian music find a common ground.

Buy Union

David Cross Crisscrosses The Tracks

David Cross – Crossing The Tracks (Purple Pyramid, 2018)

Groundbreaking electric violinist David Cross, best known for his work with King Crimson, has released a new album titled Crossing The Tracks this month. This album is an unconventional project for Cross. Cleopatra Records and German producer/composer Jürgen Engler approached him to complete 12 tracks by Engler and some well-known songwriters.

Crossing The Tracks is a mix of progressive rock instrumentals featuring superb electric violin solo work and electronic arrangements; and songs that highlight female vocalists.

The most captivating pieces are the instrumental performances, which is where Cross gets to showcase his talent as an instrumentalist, adding the melodies, string sections and electric violin solos.

 

 

The two vocal tracks that stand out are the ones featuring the late Yemenite-Israeli vocalist Ofra Haza and the Dead Can dance-flavored song with Sonja Kraushofer. The world music air goes well with the electric violin and electronic keyboards.

 

Buy Crossing The Tracks

Transfixing Psychedelia from Superfjord

Superfjord – All Will Be Golden (Svart Records, 2018)

All Will Be Golden is the second album by Finnish psychedelic rock band Superfjord, scheduled for release September 21, 2018. The band plays a superb mix of Pink Floyd-inspired space rock, progressive jam rock, trance music and mantra chants

The band includes Jussi Ristikaarto on guitars, electronics, vocals; Mikko Kapanen on guitar, vocals, percussion; Ilari Kivelä on drums, percussion; Teemu Soininen on bass; Juho Ojala on keyboards; and Jussi Peevo on drums, percussion.

All Will Be Golden is a mesmerizing album by a rising talent in the field of progressive psychedelic rock.

If All Goes Wrong

The Aaron Clift Experiment – If All Goes Wrong

The Aaron Clift Experiment – If All Goes Wrong (Aaron Clift Productions, 2018)

The Aaron Clift Experiment is a Texas-based rock band led by keyboardist and vocalist Aaron Clift. Although the band describes itself as a progressive rock act, the new album titled If All Goes Wrong is a mix of various styles.

The majority of the album features hard rock and pop songs with catchy beats. There a handle of progressive rock-leaning songs like “Absent Lovers”; the straight-ahead progressive piece “Castle in the Sky”; “Dream within a Dream”; and the mellotron-rich “If All Goes Wrong.”

Even though the prog rock sections have fine guitar and keyboard work, the vocals are the weakest part of the band and could benefit from some guests vocalists.

In addition to Aaron Clift, the album features Devin North on bass, electric guitar, fretless bass and upright bass; and Tim Smith on drums and percussion.

Guests include Dave North on electric and acoustic guitar; Van Wilks on electric guitar; Derek Halfmann on electric guitar; Dave Sebree on guitar; Fred Springer on classical guitar; Arielle on electric guitar and backing vocals; Kevin Chin on electric guitar; Jon Blangero on mellotron; Milo Hehmsoth on piano; Charles Anderson on violin; Lana Dziekonski on viola; and Ellie Prager on cello.

Buy the digital version of If All Goes Wrong or the CD from theaaroncliftexperiment.bandcamp.com

The Mighty Haken Live

Haken – L-1ve

Haken – L-1ve (InsideOut Music, 2018)

Prog metal powerhouse Haken has released its first live recording in astronomical fashion, as a quadruple set with 2 audio discs and 2 DVDs recorded in Amsterdam. Even though we prefer straight ahead progressive rock, Haken is one of the prog metal metals that has wider appeal. Their mix of complex rhythms and arrangements, fine vocals, and enough highly skilled progressive rock musicianship make them a decidedly attractive act to follow.

Nevertheless, they are still a heavy metal band with the clichéd brutal riffs and occasional growling that metal fans love.

The 2CD & 2DVD digipak edition includes a 5.1 mix of the main show and the bonus tracks.

Buy L-1ve

The Dame Delves into the Roaring Twenties

The Dame – Losing Sight of What You Want (independent, 2018)

Losing Sight of What You Want is the debut album by The Hague-based Dutch rock band The Dame. The group is inspired by the sexy, elegant women and stylish men of the early 20th century. The group is fronted by vocalist and lyricist Marian van Charante and guitarist and composer Stephen de Ruijter.

Although The Dame describes itself as a progressive rock band, the first four tracks on the albums feature a mix of classic rock, folk-rock and blues influences, showcasing the soulful vocals of Marian van Charante and the notable guitar work of Stephen de Ruijter.

On the final three tracks, we get to enjoy the progressive rock side of the band. The title track “Losing Sight of What You Want” has remarkable, nuanced vocal work and highly satisfying electric guitar and Pink Floydish prog rock arrangements.

 

 

The music gets enjoyably eerie and phantasmagoric with “Thy Father’s Bidding,” a fine example of dark progressive rock and a top candidate for the upcoming Halloween prog rock playlist.

The album closes with yet another progressive rock beauty, a suite titled “Conveniently Distant,” in which The Dame once more delivers the progressive rock goods in high fashion with notable vocal, guitar and ensemble work.

The Dame includes Marian van Charante on lead and backing vocals, guitar; Stephen de Ruijter on lead guitar; Michel Krempel on bass; Thijs de Ruijter on keyboards; and Ruben Meibergen on drums.

Losing Sight of What You Want is a stylish debut album by The Dame, a rising act in the European progressive rock scene.

Buy Losing Sight of What You Want

The Neal Morse Band Powerhouse Live

The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude of a Dream: Live in Tilburg 2017 (Radiant, 2018)

The Similitude of a Dream: Live in Tilburg 2017 is a four disc set with two audio CDs and two DVDs featuring the powerhouse progressive rock act The Neal Morse Band. The band did a worldwide tour in 2017 and this performance in Tilburg (The Netherlands) is a live presentation of the concept studio album The Similitude of a Dream that was released in 2016.

On The Similitude of a Dream: Live in Tilburg 2017 you’ll find five outstanding instrumentalists. The music is a combination of epic progressive rock, classic rock and Christian ballads. The instrumental passages are top notch, with brilliant ensemble and solo work and the climactic sections that progressive rock fans enjoy so much. The vocal parts, on the other hand, are catchy, with plenty of pop hooks and sing along sections.

Religion plays an important role in Neal Morse’s life. The Similitude of a Dream is loosely based on a Christian allegory by John Bunyan called The Pilgrim’s Progress. This means that you’ll find Christian lyrics and messages throughout the album. I don’t think Neal Morse is trying to push any agenda, it is just a reflection of his current stage in life.

The lineup includes Neal Morse on lead vocals, keyboards, and guitars; Mike Portnoy on drums and vocals; Randy George on bass, bass pedals and vocals; Bill Hubauer on keyboards, mandolin, saxophone and vocals; and Eric Gillette on guitars and vocals.

The set is also available on Blu-Ray and digital download audio.

 

 

Buy The Similitude of a Dream: Live in Tilburg 2017

The Art Rock of Laura Meade

Laura Meade – Remedium (Doone Records, 2018)

Remedium is the first solo album by singer-songwriter Laura Meade, the IZZ vocalist. While IZZ plays progressive rock, Remedium is an elaborate album that incorporates theatrical, experimental and accessible avant-garde influences.

 

 

Laura Meade demonstrates her talent as a songwriter and vocalist with beautifully-constructed songs in which she uses a wide-range of meaningful vocal techniques and overdubs. She’s joined by her colleagues from IZZ on keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and electronic beats who occasionally add some progressive rock instrumental moments.

 

 

Remedium showcases the music of a superb vocalist who explores sounds beyond the tired mainstream.

Buy Remedium

Spock’s Beard for the Masses

Spock’s Beard – Noise Floor (InsideOut Records, 2018)

American rock band Spock’s Beard is still described as a progressive rock band. However, their new double album Noise Floor is not what you would expect from a progressive rock band.

The opening track, “To Breathe Another Day”, gives you a pretty good preview of what the album is about. It’s hard rock with pop hooks, pretty much AOR. The only prog rock is the outstanding work by keyboardist Ryo Okumoto, who injects intricate keyboard solos and atmospheres.

Track 2, “What Becomes of Me” is a pop ballad where Ryo Okumoto shines again and Alan Morse delivers a great guitar solo. The next song, “Somebody’s Home” combines AOR with progressive rock segments.

The longest song is “Have We All Gone Crazy Yet.” It’s a mix of hard rock with progressive rock. The prog parts kick in halfway through the track and the listener gets treated to superb keyboard instrumental work.

Track 5 “So This is Life” is sappy and sounds a lot like the Beatles, although Spock’s Beard are much better instrumentalists.

On “One So Wise, it’s more AOR with pop hooks. Superb bass lines from Dave Meros; and mellotron, organ and synth work from Ryo Okumoto.

“Box of Spiders” is an instrumental, composed by Ryo Okumoto. Without the vocals, the band switches to full, satisfactory progressive rock mode. The listener is treated to spectacular work from all instrumentalists. The band should form a prog rock side project and leave Spock’s Beard to AOR, hard rock and ballads.

 

 

Disc 1 ends with the anthemic hard rock “Beginnings,” featuring pop hooks.

Disc 2, titled Cutting Room Floor contains four short tracks. The first three are forgettable AOR songs. The only keeper is the last track, a great instrumental titled “Armageddon Nervous,” where the musicians get yet another opportunity to shine.

The current incarnation of Spock’s Beard includes Ted Leonard on lead vocals; Alan Morse on electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals; Ryo Okumoto on keyboards; and Dave Meros on bass guitar, backing vocals.

Guests include Nick D’Virgilio on drums and percussion, backing vocals; Eric Gorfain on violin; Leah Katz on viola; Richard Dodd on cello; and David Robertson on English horn.

The star on Noise Floor, from a progressive rock perspective, is Ryo Okumoto. It would be great to see him collaborate more often with like-minded progressive rock instrumentalists.

 

 

Buy Noise Floor