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 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

The Extraordinary Indonesian Progressive Jazz of Dwiki Dharmawan

Dwiki Dharmawan – Rumah Batu (Moonjune, 2018)

A group of superb musicians from the jazz fusion and world music scenes got together in La Casa Murada studio in northeastern Spain in 2017. What they recorded is Rumah Batu, an extraordinary genre defying album that combines progressive jazz, Indonesian music, flamenco and other influences.

Indonesian pianist, composer and producer Dwiki Dharmawan is an acclaimed maestro, known for his eclectic music work and openness. In La Casa Murada, he was joined by a stellar group of musical colleagues: Vietnamese-French electric guitar wizard and note-bending innovator Nguyên Lê; famed Spanish flamenco fretless bass player Carles Benavent (Paco de Lucia’s bass player); and the formidable rhythm section of UK-based bassist Yaron Stavi and drummer Asaf Sirkis.

Although most of the album was recorded in Spain, additional musicians were recorded in Indonesia, adding a strong Southeast Asian essence to the album: Indonesian suling flute virtuoso Sa’at Syah; Ade Rudiana on kendang percussion; Dewi Gita on lead vocals; Teuku Hariansya & Indra Maulana Keubitbit on Rapa’I Acehnese percussions; Nyoman Windha’s Gamelan Jass Jegog Balinese gamelan and percussion; and Smit on vocals and LaLove traditional Sulawesi flute.

Although the majority of the album is instrumental, track three features the mesmerizing and evocative vocals of Dewi Gita.

 

 

Rumah Batu is an exceptionally expressive and imaginative album featuring an impeccable kaleidoscope of jazz and Indonesian sounds.

Buy Rumah Batu

Brainticket’s Live Spontaneous Electronic Music

Brainticket – Zürich / Lausanne

Brainticket – Zürich / Lausanne (Purple Pyramid, 2018)

Brainticket was one of the great Swiss progressive music acts of the 1970s. The double album Zürich / Lausanne features a set of live experimental performances where electronic music meets jazz improvisation and avant-garde sound experimentation.

This set of recordings were made in the 1980s and feature Joel Vandroogenbroeck on synths and electronics; Bruno Spoerri on lyricon and electronics; and Markus Fürst on percussion.

This was the year when the MIDi was introduced and the concert was part performance, part exhibition of the capacity of new technology. The final result is a fine example of live improvised electronic music from the mid-1980s.

Buy Zürich / Lausanne

Soyuz Inspiration

Gazpacho – Soyuz

Gazpacho – Soyuz (KScope, 2018)

Norwegian band Gazpacho is described as a progressive rock band, although their style is closer to minimalist post rock, with a strong melancholic and gloomy feel.

Soyuz’s better moments are the electronic beats, ambient soundscapes and trance-like guitars.

The lineup includes Jan Henrik Ohme on vocals; Jon-Arne Vilbo on guitars; Thomas Andersen on keyboards; Mikael Krømer on violin and mandolin; Kristian Torp on bass; and Lars Erik Asp on drums.

Buy Soyuz

Juno Reactor Releases Dancing-Robot Futurism Video “Let’s Turn On”

Electronic Dance Music (EDM) masters Juno Reactor have released a music video of the song “Let’s Turn On” that appears in its new album titled The Mutant Theatre.

The video features illuminated bodies in motion, suits of LEDs and lasers and reflective surfaces, in perfect sync with the wave of trance beats and bass synth growls.

The performers are the members of the Mutant Theatre, a collective of dancers, singers, and instrumentalists who have been dazing audiences with Juno Reactor since 2016.

Colosseum Drummer Jon Hiseman Dies at 73

British musician and producer Jon Hiseman who founded seminal British progressive rock and jazz-rock bands Colosseum, Tempest and Colosseum II died June 12, 2018.

Philip John “Jon” Hiseman was born June 21, 1944 in Manchester, England. He studied piano and violin as a child. However, he became passionately interested in percussion during his early teens.
From 1969 to 1978 he led three groundbreaking jazz-rock groups: Colosseum, Tempest and Colosseum II.

He later recorded several albums with his wife, saxophonist Barbara Thompson.

Jon Hiseman released a solo album titled ‘A Night In The Sun’ with a band led by Márcio Montarroyos, made in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1982.

In 1994 Colosseum got together again. The reformed group released a live reunion album and a new studio recording, ‘Bread and Circuses’ in 1997, followed ‘Tomorrows Blues’ (2003) and ‘Time On Our Side’ (2014).

Martyn Hansen wrote about about Hiseman titled ‘Playing The Band – the musical life of Jon Hiseman’, published in 2011.