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 and Angel also produced Musica NA, a music show for TVE (Spain) featuring fusion, avant-garde, world music, new age and electronic artists.

Interview with Carlos Plaza on Kotebel’s Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble

Carlos Guillermo Plaza Vegas
Madrid-based symphonic progressive rock band Kotebel has released a new album titled Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble. Kotebel’s current line-up includes Carlos Franco Vivas on drums and percussion; César Garcia Forero on guitars; Jaime Pascual Summers on bass; Adriana Nathalie Plaza Engelke on keyboards; and Carlos Guillermo Plaza Vegas on keyboards.

Kotebel has released 5 albums since 2000, including the much-admired ‘Omphalos.’ The main body of Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble is formed by the four movements that comprise the ‘Concerto for Piano. There are four additional pieces on the album that are based on conceptual elements.

Kotebel’s music is an approachable amalgam of avant-garde symphonic rock influenced by classical music, jazz and world music.

Composer and keyboardist Carlos Plaza reveals details about Kotebel and its new album Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble in this interview with Progressive Rock Central.

Tell us a little about the origin of Kotebel?

Kotebel was born at the end of the nineties. Originally it was meant to be a studio project, and the aim was to enrich my language as a composer with resources from rock, jazz, etc. During most of the nineties I wrote chamber music, with a language heavily based in an impressionist language, also influenced by 20th century composers like Ginastera, Stravinsky or Rachmaninov.

Kotebel - Omphalos
After releasing “Fragments of Light” in 2003, I was invited to participate in BajaProg 2004. I assembled some musicians that participated in previous albums and newcomers like Jaime Pascual with the idea to do a unique set of concerts, ending with the one in BajaProg. The experience led to the concept of Kotebel as a band, and it has evolved until its current configuration as an instrumental quintet. So you can divide Kotebel in two distinct phases: the first three albums as a personal studio project, and the last three as a band.

Omphalos” was the only album with the configuration that we presented in BajaProg (7 members – including flute and voice) and the last two: “Ouroboros” and “Concerto”, as the stable configuration that we have enjoyed since the end of 2007.

What is the meaning of the band’s name, Kotebel?

Kotebel is a word made up by my daughter Adriana when she was about 3 years old. She used that word to refer to any language other than Spanish. Back then I had some British colleagues and when she heard us speaking in English, she would say that we were speaking in “Kotebel”. When I had the idea to create the project, this word came instantly to my mind and I never hesitated. Later, I realized it was a great idea to use a new word because it is very easy to find references in the Internet. Except for minor references to a region in Ukraine (Koktebel), all search engines point to us.

Some have described Kotebel as Venezuelan-Spanish. What is the Venezuelan connection?

Carlos Franco Vivas
I was born in Venezuela and moved to Spain 22 years ago. In fact, I come from a family with a long musical tradition in Venezuela. My father was also a composer and dedicated a fair part of his life teaching several generations of musicians. Carlos Franco is also Venezuelan and my daughter, despite the fact that she was born in Madrid, has close ties to Venezuela since most of our family is still there. From a musical point of view, there are many references to Venezuelan folklore; in some cases very explicit (the piece ‘Joropo’ in “Omphalos” is based on a Venezuelan rhythm in 3/8) and in others (many) is hidden in our music. For example, Carlos Franco, who is a percussionist expert in Venezuelan music, incorporates many references to local rhythmic patterns.

This thing about Kotebel being Venezuelan or Spanish (or both) has been raised in other occasions and has created some controversy. I think Kotebel’s language is rather universal because my musical language is heavily based in universal classical composers, or the classic 70’s prog bands; many of them from the UK, but others from Italy or the US. So it doesn’t make too much sense to argue where Kotebel is from. It is nothing more than occidental contemporary Art-Music.

What kind of musical training do the band members have?

Cesar García Forero
Carlos Franco is a classically trained percussionist who started working in classical orchestras and worked his way into jazz, world music and later into rock (basically my fault I guess…). Adriana has been studying music since she was three; in fact, she learned to distinguish notes in a score before learning how to read. She completed her intermediate classical studies in piano (10 years) at the age of 17 and is now studying contemporary music and jazz in Madrid.

Both César and Jaime have gone through formal studies to some extent, but they are in essence self-taught musicians. In my case, I started learning music very young and was fortunate to have a great teacher at home. I continued my musical studies (piano, theory, harmony, etc.) until I graduated from college at the age of 23. When I moved to Spain I had the privilege of studying composition with Román Alis, an excellent Spanish classical composer who died a few years ago.

Tell us a little about the members of the band.

Jaime Pascual
Carlos Franco is an accomplished percussionist who also plays the drums. That explains his fresh approach to drumming; sometimes he sounds as a jazz drummer, sometimes as an African or rather Afro-Venezuelan percussionist. His playing style reminds me a lot of [Bill] Bruford.

Jaime Pascual is a precision engine; he works in other projects much denser and harsher than Kotebel. Jaime is very talented and creative; his ideas always come to enrich my initial arrangements (well, this can be said for all Kotebel members).

César is an amazing guitar player, and very versatile. I was impressed to see how he was able to stand up to the challenge of combining electric, acoustic and Spanish guitar in the Piano Concerto. He is also a very talented composer and has contributed many fine songs in several Kotebel albums.

Adriana joined Kotebel when she was 16 and, already then, she had achieved a level as a performer that I would never reach. I wrote the Piano Concerto, but would not be able to play it like she does. She feels at ease in front of a stage piano or a synthesizer and her ability to engage tightly, even in very complex passages, is simply amazing. She belongs to that privileged group of musicians that make you think that what they are playing is easy because it looks and sounds effortless. And… sharing the stage with my daughter is an indescribable feeling.

How did Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble come about?

From the very beginning when I created Kotebel, I had the clear objective of merging my experience as a classical and rock musician. I felt that there was still a lot to be done in terms of combining elements of both, so that the end result was more than the mere sum of its parts. The Pentacle Suite, Ouroboros (Theme and Variations) and many other pieces are rock animals with a “classical” or “academic” soul if I can put it that way. You can take most songs and see that the way themes and motifs are presented and developed, is very classical. Also, many resources used in classical composition like anticipation, reduction, augmentations, mirroring, etc., are used.

Adriana Plaza Engelke
There is no difference in my approach to writing a piece for Kotebel or a classical piece for a chamber configuration. So the “Concerto” is a natural consequence of many years’ effort. I think that the Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble is the piece where I have been able to take that integration to its highest level. I had been entertaining the idea of writing a Piano Concerto for several years, but it wasn’t until after releasing “Ouroboros” that I felt properly equipped for this task. It is the most demanding piece I have ever written.

I want to take this opportunity to clarify something that has been pointed out by some reviewers and musicians that have already given me some feedback on the album. Some feel that the album should have ended on the 4th movement because the rest of the pieces in the album are entirely another “breed”. Well, I was happy to hear that because it was exactly my intention. I wanted the rest of the album to act as a counterbalance to the more “academic” or “dense” ideas presented in the Concerto. In addition, I wanted to write some songs under a “less is more” approach; in other words, see how far could I go keeping things as simple as possible. In that respect, I think The Flight of The Hippogriff part II stands out. Also, it is not an accident that there is no acoustic piano in the rest of the pieces (except the Bonus track). So, if you feel like listening to a more “rockish” and “direct” Kotebel, you can start listening to the album from track 5 onwards. It’s like two albums in one.

Who can you cite as Kotebel’s main musical influences?

That’s a difficult question because the sources are diverse. From my perspective, you have to combine classical composers like Ravel or Ginastera or Messiaen, with rock composers ranging from [Keith] Emerson and [Tony] Banks to Daniel Denis (Univers Zero). Carlos Franco incorporates jazz, Venezuelan folkloric music. Adriana is a lot into film music and jazz. Jaime and Cesar are both living music encyclopedias. When they start talking about musicians and bands, I cannot recognize more than half of the names…. What I can say is that all of us know and appreciate progressive rock very well.

How does the composition process work?

Kotebel - Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble
All of Kotebel compositions have been written by César or by me. The process is similar: we write the music using a sequencer as the main tool and we create a MIDI template. We distribute the parts to each musician so they can become acquainted with the piece and the proposed arrangement. When we get together, we have already studied our parts and are ready to suggest changes or directly start assembling the piece. In my case, I usually accept what they suggest because they are extremely talented musicians. In short, César or I write the music, and the arrangements are more of a collective effort. What we have never done (definitely due to my academic background and also lack of time) is to write together based on fragments or ideas from different band members.

Where does Kotebel get inspiration from?

You can see from the themes in the different albums, that my inspiration sources are very diverse; however, there is one that stands out: poems written by Nathalye, my wife. They have been a constant source of inspiration, even before Kotebel. I have many songs for voice and piano and even instrumental music, based on her poems. She is responsible for the lyrics in “Fragments of Light” and “Omphalos”. In some cases, they were pre-existing poems; in other cases, she wrote the poem with a specific song in mind.

Some pieces are based in Western philosophical / spiritual works like “Mysticae Visiones”, others from Eastern sources (e.g. “Dance of Shiva”). Some are derived from Magic and Alchemy like the “Pentacle Suite”, or other sources like Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings which is the source of all creatures represented in the album “Ouroboros” or the “Flight of the Hippogriff”. Of course, there are also pieces of “pure” music, with no extra-musical relationship. The best example is the Piano Concerto.

Tell us about your first recordings.

Kotebel - Fragments of Light
From “Structures” until “Fragments of Light”, Kotebel was still a personal project. In these albums I played the drums and bass in addition to the keyboards and had different musicians invited as guests. They were recorded in my project studio, with very limited resources; however, if you look at them from the right perspective, they had to be exactly as they turned out to be in order to follow the path that led to the second phase of Kotebel as a band. I wish I had Carlos Franco and Jaime Pascual back then, and in fact I have the project of releasing a revised version of “Mysticae Visiones”.

How’s the progressive rock scene in Madrid and Spain in general?

Art-Music in general suffers in Spain from lack of support from the media and the public sector. I know this is the case everywhere, but in Spain the situation is particularly acute. It is not easy to find alternative proposals; consumption of commercial music is massive… This scenario of course is not adequate for the proliferation of progressive rock. However, there are excellent bands trying to make their way and we try to help each other out.

Nathalye and I organized 2 very successful editions of Madrid Art Music Festival in 2008 and 2009, with bands like After Crying, Trettioariga Kriget and renowned musicians like Jerry Marotta, who played with the Argentinean stick player Guillermo Cides. We also had the pleasure of presenting the Spanish band Galadriel, who had not played live for quite some years. We plan to continue organizing the festival, but we are waiting for the economic conditions to improve.

Are you full time musicians?

Kotebel live
As most progressive rock bands, we do not make a living out of our activity in Art-Music. Carlos and Adriana are music teachers but this is only a part-time activity.

The positive side of this situation is that we do not have to compromise our music due to economic concerns. We do the type of music that we want to do, play where we like and go at the pace we feel comfortable. Even though the live aspect is important and we enjoy it very much, to me the essential aspect of what we do is what we leave behind in terms of recorded material.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?

I hope we can continue to work with bands similar to the ones with whom we have worked in the past and have become dear friends. Among others; After Crying, Koenjihyakkei and other Japanese bands (KBB, Baraka, Interpose+), the French band Yang (ex-Shylock, ex-Philarmonie) and fabulous Spanish bands like Senogul or October Equus. I’m in talks with several British, Italian and Belgian bands in order to do some collaboration, but this is in a very early stage so I cannot disclose names yet.

Do you have any plan to take Concerto for Piano and Electric Ensemble on the road?

We have confirmed concerts in Madrid (June 30th and July 12th), Austria (August 8th) and two additional concerts in Madrid in September and October. Depending on current conversations, we might add additional concerts in other Spanish cities, and the UK before the end of the year. The best way to stay updated on our live calendar and other relevant Kotebel news, is to join our Fans List at

Are you working on other projects?

Kotebel - Mysticae Visiones
We are still not working in new material for a next album. Our next important project is a 2-hour concert that we will do in Madrid at the end of October, with the intention of releasing our first live DVD. The concert will include a full rendition of the Piano Concerto, as well as material from our previous albums. Also, as I mentioned earlier, I want to work on a revised version of “Mysticae Visiones”. The idea is to re-record drums and basses but I want to preserve all the other original tracks. I also plan to recover some of the songs in the first few albums, and record them live with new arrangements. So we plan to still keep quite busy….

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Space Rock Maestros

Beyond-O-Matic - Time to Get Up

Time To Get Up (Trail Records, 2010)

Beyond-O-Matic was a San Francisco-based space rock band that unfortunately is no longer active. This album is as far as I know Beyond-O-Matic’s second and final recording and it is progressive space rock at its finest. Time To Get Up contains dreamy and flowing music, with captivating psychedelic vocals and extended trance-like jams featuring outstanding synthesizer and guitar work along with less conventional instruments such as electric accordion, flute, melodeon, and harmonium.

The pieces featured in Time To Get Up were recorded 2003-2004. At the time, Beyond-O-Matic included composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Fuhry on guitars, vocals, flute, accordion, bass, effects; Stenzo on synthesizer, samples, effects; Anthony Koutsos on drums; and David Jayne on drums and tabla. Guest musicians who participated in the sessions include Melody Paine on bass, Rachel Shane Shultz on bass, KJ Luker on backing vocals.

Trail Records has been doing an admirable job, recovering lost progressive rock gems in the areas of psychedelic and space rock. They tracked down this album and remastered it, giving Time To Get Up improved sound quality and new life. The CD came out in 2010.

Time To Get Up is a masterful collection of highly creative laid back space rock. It’s a must have for any space rock music fan.

The Expert Craft of Sebastian Hardie

Sebastian Hardie - Blueprint
Sebastian Hardie

Blueprint (independent, 2012)

Blueprint is the first studio recording by legendary Australian progressive rock band Sebastian Hardie since 1976’s Windchase. Blueprint brings the classic line-up from the 1970s: Alex Plavsic on drums, percussion; Peter Plavsic on bass guitar; Mario Millo on lead guitar, vocals, mandolin; and Toivo Plit on keyboards.

Despite the years, Sebastian Hardie remains loyal to symphonic rock, delivering an album with extensive instrumental passages full of captivating guitar melodies and outstanding keyboard atmospheres, combining classical music, blues and jazz infused progressive rock. Toivo Plit contributes a wide palette of keyboards, including electric organ, epic mellotron and synths. Meanwhile, Mario Millo uses mesmerizing slide guitar, wah wah and other creative guitar effects.

Sebastian Hardie released two excellent albums in the mid-1970s, Four Moments (1975) & Windchase (1976). They disbanded in the late 70s. The band reformed a few times for special occasions. Getting Sebastian Hardie together again for Blueprint was no easy task. All the musicians had their separate careers and while the majority still lived in Sydney, drummer Alex Plavsic was based in Queensland, about 1000 kilometers from Sydney.

Uplifting and delectable, Blueprint is an expertly crafted new album by one of the significant masters of Australian progressive rock.

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Andalusian Prog Jams

Imán Califato Independiente - Edición Especial 30 Aniversario
Imán Califato Independiente

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario (Aristillus, 2006)

Imán Califato Independiente, the legendary Andalusian progressive rock band celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006 with the release of a collection of live recordings. Although Imán only released two albums, they were a favorite of the rock festival circuit in Andalusia (southern Spain) and other parts of the country. While the studio albums were more structured, the live performances featured extended pieces in jam rock fashion, combining symphonic rock, cutting edge fusion, blues, Flamenco and Arabic music influences.

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario contains music extracted from long forgotten tapes recorded during Iman’s live performances. Drummer Kiko Guerrero and sound engineer Pepe Almadana kept these tapes in their archives. Thanks to the persistence of music fans, these recordings made in 1978 and 1979 were recovered. For the first in many years, progressive rock music fans were able to experience Iman, during its golden era.

The album features 2 jams, ‘Improvisación atmosférica’ (atmospheric improvisation) and ‘Improvisación 1-B’ and two well-known pieces that never made it to the studio: ‘Tema de Abdu’ and ‘La forja de los Tarantos.’

Musicians featured include the core band members Kiko Guerrero on drums and percussion, Manuel Iman on guitars and vocals, and Marcos Mantero on keyboards. The band’s first bassist, Iñaki Egaña, appears on tracks 2 and 4, and Urbano Morales, the secnd bassist, is featured on tracks 1 and 3.

The CD booklet holds vintage photos, detailed information about the band and biographies of all the musicians.

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario brings back the live magic of one of the most original and influential progressive rock bands in Spanish history.

In The Mist of Morning

Nordagust - In The Mist of Morning

In The Mist of Morning (Karisma KAR054, 2010)

Norwegian band Nordagust is a rising talent in the area of symphonic progressive rock. They are inspired by Nordic mythology and are characterized by a dark, slow-tempo sound with somber vocals, heavy use of grand mellotron, Nordic folk instruments and wailing guitars.

The name of the band Nordagust originates from Nordic mythology. It was the spirit of the north wind, said to be exceptionally knowledgeable, and was believed to have understanding of all things. The life-force was also called “the grieving souls spirit”. The founders of Nordagust are very interested in Norse legends and its connections with Scandinavian folk music. Even though the band uses primarily electric instruments like guitars, keyboards and bass, Nordagust also uses the beautiful kantele, a folk zither primarily found in Finland.

Like many of the northern European prog bands, Nordagust has some elements of formulaic heavy metal, with guitar riffs that drown out the mellotron and are totally unnecessary. Dark and brooding atmospheres are certainly possible without the use of metal. Case in point, Norwegian folk singer Unni Løvlid. When Nordagust uses more creative non-metal guitar, it really shows great potential.

The band featured on In The Mist of Morning includes Daniel Solheim on guitars, keyboards, kantele, mandolin, lead vocals; Ketil Berg on drums, percussion and vocals; Knud Strand on bass; Jostein Skjonberg on keyboard, flute, vocals; Sissel Os on keyboards and vocals; and Guro Strand on guitar and keyboards.

Highlights of the album are ‘In the Mist of Morning’, the kantele-rich ‘In The Woods’ and ‘Frozen.’

Nordagust’s debut album In The Mist of Morning shows great promise and will please fans of dark and mellotron-driven progressive rock.

Alberto Rigoni’s Rising Bass

Alberto Rigoni - Rebirth
Alberto Rigoni

Rebirth (Nightmare Records, 2011)

Italian bassist Alberto Rigoni shows his masterful bass technique in a solo album titled Rebirth that incorporates a wide range of musical influences and genres.

The album opens with a fusion piece titled ‘Free’ with fine work on the bass and Federico Solazzo’s keyboards emulating Return to Forever. Track 2, ‘Rebirth’ is a graceful solo bass piece, where Rigoni showcases his talent in constructing bass melodies.

The solo bass work continues on ‘Story of a man’ with exquisite overdubbed bass lines and interplay. Rigoni is joined here by fellow bassist, renowned American bass virtuoso Michael Manring. Track 4, ‘The Net’ gets a little more experimental seeking the world of electronic music.

‘Emptiness’ is a hard rock song, with vocals, of little interest. ‘A New Soul’ brings back more of the outstanding overdubbed bass melodies. Michael Manring returns to provide another session of ebullient dueling basses.

‘With all my forces’ is the other heavy rocker on the album.

‘Ontogeny’ features a full electric ensemble, playing masterful progressive rock and fusion with more outstanding keyboard and bass work.

The final track is ‘White Shine,’ a delectable bass and piano.

Musicians featured on Rebirth include celebrated musicians: drummers Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) and John Macaluso (Ark, LaBrie, Malmsteen); bassists Michael Manring and Yves Carbonne; Swedish vocalist Jonas Erixon (Alicate), guitarists Tommy Ermolli (Twinspirits) and Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios); keyboardists Federico Solazzo (Alexia), Andrea Pavanello (Centrica), Filippo Lui and Emanuele Casali (DGM, Astra).

In addition to his solo work, Alberto Rigoni plays bass for progressive metal band TwinSpirits and is founder of the electropop duo Lady & the Bass.

Rebirth is a luscious electric bass album with a colorful range of exquisitely crafted progressive rock, fusion and neoclassical sounds.

The Missing Fireflies Unearthed

Locanda delle Fate - The Missing Fireflies
Locanda delle Fate

The Missing Fireflies (AltrOck Productions, 2012)

Italian band Locanda delle Fate made one of the most beautiful progressive rock albums of the late 1970s, Forse le lucciole non si amano più (Polydor, 1977). At the time, CDs didn’t exist and vinyl LPs had limited time capacity so two pieces, ‘Crescendo’ and ‘La Giostra’ were left out of the album.

The Missing Fireflies has rescued these masterful pieces that had been forgotten. At last they’ve been recorded, using vintage instruments, giving them a classic symphonic rock essence that connects them to the Forse le lucciole non si amano più spirit. In addition to ‘Crescendo’ and ‘La Giostra’, the band has recorded a short piano piece titled ‘Sequenza circolare’ that will delight classic Italian prog rock fans. The last studio piece is a recreation of the magnificent ‘Non chiudere a chiave le stelle’ which originally came out in Forse le lucciole non si amano più.

The current line-up of the band features Leonardo Sasso on vocals, Oscar Mazzoglio on keyboards, Luciano Boero on bass and Giorgio Gardino on drums joined by two new members, guitarist Massimo Brignolo and keyboardist Maurizio Muha.

The rest of the album contains three live pieces recorded in 1977 by Locanda delle Fate’s classic line-up which included Leonardo Sasso on vocals, Ezio Vevey on guitar, vocals; Alberto Gaviglio on guitar, flute, vocals; Michele Conta on keyboards; Oscar Mazzoglio on keyboards; Luciano Boero on bass; and Giorgio Gardino on drums.

The Missing Fireflies is a phenomenal album that brings back one of the legendary bands of Italian progressive rock. Let’s hope that this not a one-time reunion and that the band puts out more of their masterful music.

The album is available from most of the usual progressive rock outlets.

Ampersand, Volume 1

IZZ - Ampersand, Volume 1

Ampersand, Volume 1 (Doone Records, 2004)

Ampersand, Volume 1 is the third album by the great American progressive rock band IZZ. The disc has two types of tracks. The first set, tracks 1-7, are studio tracks. The rest are live recordings with pieces from earlier albums.

IZZ goes acoustic on the first track, ‘Ancient Memory.’ The song begins in folk-rock style with acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies clearly influenced by early Crosby, Stills and Nash. Midway through the piece, keyboardist Tom Galgano treats the listener to one of his tasty, although brief synth solos. Tom Galgano is a skillful keyboardist and the sounds he extracts out of the synthesizers are engaging, not the old presets other bands use. I’m always expecting the solos to last a little longer.

The acoustic tone continues with the ballad ‘Afraid to Be Different.” Things turn electric with the dynamic ‘The Wait of It All’ which includes engaging male vocals and the outstanding female vocals of Annemarie Byrnes. Her voice is not only gorgeous, but her delivery is perfectly suited for progressive rock. I’d love to hear more of her in future recordings. She is undoubtedly one of the finest vocalists in the current progressive rock scene. ‘The Wait of It All’ also features another of Tom Galgano’s signature synth solos.

Ampersand features some short tracks where some of the band members showcase their talent. ‘One Slice to Go’ is one of these; a delightful acoustic guitar piece by Paul Bremner.

‘Confusion’ shows us an elegant pop piece with deep The Beatles influence. It could easily have been a radio hit if the radio gatekeepers wouldn’t keep the doors closed to independent music.

‘The Bar Song’ is another ballad. It’s followed by ‘My Best Defenses,’ a solo piece by IZZ’s other female vocalist, Laura Meade. She sings a beautiful song, accompanying herself on the piano. IZZ has managed to bring together three excellent vocalists. It’s striking, especially when you think that many of the modern bands have very weak vocalists.

The rest of the album is live cuts. ‘Molly’s Jig’ has a Celtic flavor. ‘Razor’ and ‘Another Door’ are well known pieces from earlier albums. The album closes with IZZ’s great progressive rock epic, ‘Star Evil Gnoma Su.’

The line-up for this recording included Tom Galgano on keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitar; Paul Bremner on guitars; Brian Coralian on electronic drums, acoustic drums, programming; Greg Dimicelli on acoustic drums; and John Galgano on bass, vocals, guitars, piano. They were joined by Annemarie Byrnes and Laura Meade on vocals.

Ampersand, Volume 1 shows IZZ incorporating outstanding female vocals, and still showing two tendencies: melodic pop-rock ballads and state of the art progressive rock.

Tomorrow Will Tell The Story

Echo Us - Tomorrow Will Tell The Story
Echo Us

Tomorrow Will Tell The Story (Absolute Probability Recordings, (2012)

Tomorrow Will Tell The Story is the latest release by the uncategorizable project called Echo Us. Tomorrow Will Tell The Story is a mysterious sonic journey composed of musical collages composed of songs, electronic and acoustic musical passages and sampled sounds. Ethan Matthews is the artist behind the surreal project. He is joined by several collaborators, including singer-songwriter Henta, harpist Raelyn Olson and hermeticist Rawn Clark who contributes meditation canticles.

‘I’ve always gotten the lot of my musical ideas from dreams and trance states- but this time was different..,” says Ethan. “Words and phrases came from completely outside of me into my mind very clear and vividly- and I’d never recalled them before. These were spiritual sayings and ideas that were quite alien to me. This became not only the inspiration for, but direct material lifted for The Archaeous of Water suite. This experience led me to discover Kabbalism and esoteric works such as The Seth Material along with other forms of spiritualism.”

Tomorrow Will Tell The Story is sometimes angelic, while other times it is dark and out of this world, creating variable moods and changeable atmospheres. It will appeal to music fans with a taste for the challenging and exploratory.

The CD album also includes two extra album tracks and one bonus track not originally slated for release.

Signed pre-orders for Tomorrow Will Tell The Story are on sale at

All Rights Removed

Airbag - All Rights Removed

All Rights Removed (Karisma Records, 2011)

Norwegian band Airbag has attracted the curiosity of Pink Floyd music fans with its attention-grabbing mix of progressive space rock and melodic rock. Imagine the offspring of Coldplay and Animals-era Pink Floyd and that will give you an idea of the group’s sound.

The Coldplay influence is larger in the vocal parts, which have a melancholic soft rock feel. Airbag‘s music really takes off when they venture into the instrumental sections with tasty keyboard atmospheres and guitar riffs and solos that would make David Gilmour proud.

Most of the pieces are pretty lengthy. The only short piece is a beautiful instrumental piece titled ‘Light them All up.’ The album ends with an excellent 17:21 suite titled ‘Homesick’ which is divided into 3 parts.

The band members featured in the recording are Anders Hovden on bass; Asle Torstrup on vocals, programming, keyboards; Bjørn Riis on guitars, vocals, keyboards; Henrik Fossum on drums; and Jørgen Hagen on keyboards, programming.

With its wonderful combination of elegant melodies and exquisite Floydian space rock, All Rights Removed is definitely an album you will want to have in your modern progressive rock collection.