Category Archives: CD Reviews

Masterful Mixes of Early Gentle Giant

Gentle Giant – Three Piece Suite (Alucard, 2017)

Three Piece Suite gives new life to tracks carefully selected from Gentle Giant’s first three albums: Gentle Giant, Acquiring the Taste, and Three Friends.

The two-disc set includes a CD with new mixes of the tracks expertly crafted by musician and composer Steven Wilson, who has been doing a remarkable job with his remixes of classic and influential progressive rock albums.

It’s pure delight to listen to all the new details and nuances that Gentle Giant treats the listen to with full clarity. Gentle Giant was one of the groundbreaking prog rock bands and listeners can now enjoy the band’s earlier material with much improved sound.

There is also an unreleased song titled Freedom’s Child, from Gentle Giant’s first recording sessions with producer Tony Visconti.

The Blu-ray contains quite a few treats: animated videos made for the Steven Wilson mixes, instrumental mixes of all tracks, and flat transfers of all three complete albums in their original mixes.
The booklet contains an essay by journalist Anil Prasad that includes quotes from Gentle Giant’s members about the beginning of the band and their early recordings.

This set is highly recommended for longtime fans and newcomers to the magical world of progressive rock.

 

 

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Guilty of Innocence

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius – Guilty of Innocence

Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius – Guilty of Innocence (Melodic Revolution Records, 2017)

Guilty of Innocence is the fifth studio album from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius. Deninzon is known for his fiery violin solos and delivers quite a few great ones.

While in the past, Deninzon has recorded progressive rock and fusion-leanings compositions, Guilty of Innocence heads into a more commercial direction, with short songs infused with hard rock, AOR and pop hooks. Sure, there are brief spectacular violin solos and notable bass lines, but it’s mainly non-progressive material.

The highlights of the album are track 9, “Dream Day Cadenza,” where Deninzon showcases the marvels he can do with solo violin and effects; and track 10, “Soul Food.” This last song begins as yet another AOR piece, but when you get passed minute 4, it’s transformed into a wild instrumental prog rock ride with electric violin and guitar wizardry as well as splendid mandolin and piano.

Personnel: Joe Deninzon on electric violin, lead vocals, mandolin, and guitar; Aurelien Budynek on guitar, vocals; Jamie Bishop on bass, vocals; Lucianna Padmore on drums.

Guests include Renaissance’s Rave Tesar on keyboards; guitar maestro Alex Skolnick on guitar; Randy McStine on guitar, background vocals; Melanie Mitrano on vocals; Eddie Venegas on violin; Earl Maneein on viola; Leo Grinhauz on cello; Patrice Jackson on cello; and Benny Koonyevsky on drums.

Buy the digital download version of Guilty of Innocence. The CD is available from store.cdbaby.com

Absorbing Psychedelic Shapes

Quantum Fantay – Tessellation of Euclidean Space (Progressive Promotion Records PPRCD 051, 2017)

Belgian band Quantum Fantay continues to charm with its captivating mix of progressive rock, psychedelic music, electronica and reggae beats. Influences range from Ozric Tentacles to Pink Floyd.

The lineup includes Pete Mush on synthesizers and bubbles (effects); Jaro on bass; Gino Bartonili on drums; Jorinde on flute; Tom Tee on guitars; and Nette Willox on saxophone.

Tessellation of Euclidean Space is masterfully-crafted album by one of the leading progressive psychedelic rock bands of our time.

Buy Tessellation of Euclidean Space in Europe

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Oblivion: Intimate Portraits

Venus’s Delight – OIP (2017)

OIP (Oblivion: Intimate Portraits) is the title of the new album by Italian band Venus’s Delight. The group is led by multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer Alessandro Gregori.

On OIP, Alessandro Gregori delivers a set of melancholic songs influenced by post rock and Van Dr Graaf Generator sensibility.

One of the highlights is “White Morning,” a prog rock song where Venus’s Delight adds nicely-crafted keyboards and vocals, topped by a climactic guitar solo.

The progressive rock direction continues with “Kindflow,” where you’ll find creative bass lines, keyboards and edgy guitars.

Another high point is “From Ash To Sand,” a dramatic piece featuring jazz-style drums and a notable mix of acoustic and electric guitars.

The final standout is the final track, “OIP.” Here, Venus’s Delight treats the listener to mesmerizing looped electronic sounds and atmospheres that morph into post rock with introspective vocals.

Elipse

Como Asesinar a Felipes – Elipse

Como Asesinar a Felipes – Elipse (Koolarrow Records, 2017)

Chilean band Como Asesinar a Felipes presents a fusion of avant-garde jazz and hip hop. It’s an unconventional mix featuring improvisatory saxophone, electronic effects and rap vocals.

The lineup includes Koala Contreras on vocals; Gallardo on sax and flute; SebaBala on bass; Metraca on drums; and DJ Sp@cio on scratches.

Remarkable Vintage Keyboard Fest on Per Aspera Ad Astra

Taproban – “Per Aspera Ad Astra” (Musea Parallele, 2017)

“Per Aspera Ad Astra” is the new album by Italian symphonic progressive rock trio Taproban. The band features three talented musicians that deliver high energy prog rock highlighting keyboard wizardry, creative bass lines and outstanding drum work.

For this project, the band’s fifth album, the musicians used an arsenal of vintage musical instruments from the 1970s, recreating the magical sound of the era.

The lineup on “Per Aspera Ad Astra” includes keyboard maestro Gianluca De Rossi on Minimoog Model D, Hammond C3 organ, Mellotron SM400, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, Roland JX8P, Nord Electro 3 HP, EMU Vintage Pro, acoustic grand piano, glockenspiel and vocals; Roberto Vitellion Rickenbacker bass 4003 Jetglo, Geddy Lee Fender Jazz, Moog Taurus I & III, Gibson Les Paul Gold Top, E-bow, and Fender 6 string acoustic; and Ares Andreoni on Gretsch Catalina maple drums, Zjildjian Sabian and Paiste cymbals, rototoms, cowbell, darbuka, windchimes, and vibraslap.

Guests: Francesco Pandico on drums and percussion and Antonio Marangolo on tenor saxophone.

Buy Per Aspera Ad Astra in Europe

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Otherworldly Cello

Joan Jeanrenaud – Visual Music (Deconet Records, 2016)

Visual Music is an outstanding recording of cello music by composer and cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, who used to be a member of the famed Kronos Quartet for 20 years.

Joan Jeanrenaud delivers a set of solo cello pieces that range from captivating melodies and cinematic soundscapes to mesmerizing ethereal compositions and neoclassical pieces as well as experimentation using various layers and cello techniques.

There are truly fascinating tracks such as are the beautiful “Solo Prelude,” and the hypnotic pieces “Isola” “Moon Above” and “Ethereal Tree” where Joan Jeanrenaud ventures into deep space and other worlds, mixing her multifaceted cello with ambient electronics.

 

 

The tracks on Visual Music were originally made for Joan Jeanrenaud’s Dance, Theater and Art Museums.

The musicians on the Visual Music album include Joan Jeanrenaud on cello; PC Muñoz on marimbata, cajón and drum kit; William Winant on vibraphone; and Dohee Lee on recorder and electronics.

Buy Visual Music in Europe

Buy Visual Music in the rest of world.

Masterful Norwegian Progressive Rock Alchemy

Wobbler – From Silence to Somewhere (Karisma Records, 2017)

Wobbler is the Norwegian progressive rock powerhouse. It’s a band deeply influenced by some of the finest classic progressive rock bands of the 1970s. Unlike other progressive acts that draw their influences exclusively from British bands, Wobbler’s music is also inspired by the great Italian bands of the 1970s.

In Wobbler’s new album, From Silence to Somewhere, you’ll find Gentle Giant-style early music influences as well as passages inspired rooted in progressive rock-era Yes, King Crimson and Genesis. On the Italian influence side, Wobbler pays tribute to masters such as Museo Rosenbach, PFM and Banco.

For music fans, this is symphonic progressive rock at its best. From Silence to Somewhere contains four extensive musical pieces loaded with captivating mellotron, distorted organ a la Canterbury and other classic keyboard sounds along with beautifully-constructed vocals derived from Renaissance music, superb dual guitars, bass and percussion work.

The lineup on From Silence to Somewhere includes Lars Fredrik Frøislie on keyboards, backing vocals; Kristian Karl Hultgren on bass, bass clarinet, bass pedals; Martin Nordrum Kneppen on drums, percussion, recorder; Andreas Wettergreen Strømman Prestmo on vocals, guitar, glockenspiel, percussion; and Geir Marius Bergom Halleland on lead guitar, backing vocals.

From Silence to Somewhere is one of the best prog rock releases so far this year. It’s scheduled for release on October 20, 2017.

Superb Bass from Malta

Simon Sammut – Crossing (Simon Sammut, 2017)

Crossing is the second album by an excellent bass player from Malta named Simon Sammut. The album crosses numerous musical boundaries ranging from funk jazz and fusion to world music and ambient electronic influences.

Crossing is beautifully-packaged with innovative fold out packaging and fascinating artwork. It goes well with Simon Sammut’s multifaceted bass sounds.

The lineup on Crossing includes Simon Sammut on upright bass and electric basses; Tony Sammut on piano; Mark Attard on piano; Melchior Busuttil on drums, percussion and programming; Marc Galea on classical and electric guitars; Jonathan Ellul on electric guitars; Kris Spiteri on melodica; Kevin Abela on trumpet; Ivan Borg on tenor saxophone; Godfrey Mifsud on baritone saxophone; Jesmond Azzopardi on bass trombone; and Marlene Sammut on vocals.

Buy the MP3 version of Crossing.