Wasteland denotes a new stage in the career of Polish rock band Riverside after the death of its founding member and guitarist Piotr Grudziński. Although they are labeled a progressive rock act, the band delivers a mix of dark, melancholic rock, a pop-leaning ballad, and irritating prog metal.
From a progressive rock perspective, the highlights include the poetic and eerie opening track The Day After; the second half of Acid Rain after they ditch the metal riffs and get into an irresistible groove; and the forward-thinking Guardian Angel where vocals, acoustic guitars and piano are combined with soaring electric guitars and electronic ambiance.
The band includes Mariusz Duda on vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar; Michał Łapaj pn keyboards, Hammond organ, theremin, backing vocals; and Piotr Kozieradzki on drums.
California-based progressive rock band ScienceNV has put together a two-part concept album series dedicated to Prester John, a legendary Christian ruler in the East who inspired many writings in the Middle Age and appears in Umberto Eco’s Baudolino.
The music on this first volume is an unexpected mix of fascinating classic progressive rock with excellent guitar and keyboard work, quirky avant-garde explorations and free improvisation, Baroque music, operatic vocals and jazz-infused jams. The band members are still the same although the album features various guests.
The lineup includes Larry Davis on guitar and bass; David Graves on keyboards and vocals; James Henriques on guitars, keyboards and vocals; and Rich Kallet on drums and percussion.
Guests include: Carrie Adler on oboe; Michael Cooke on saxophones; Phil Freifhofner on oboe; Paul Rosason pipe organ; and the following vocalists: Roberta Lengua, Daniel Pribyls, Rose Taylor, Joyce Graves, Alan Munson, and Betsy Snyder.
ScienceNV has released a series of amusing videos that accompany the project:
Xavi Reija featuring Tony Levin, Markus Reuter, Dusan Jevtovic – The Sound Of The Earth (Moonjune Records, 2018)
The Sound Of The Earth is an album by a sort of western progressive music all-stars associated with the Moonjune label. Xavi Reija demonstrates his formidable skill as a drummer, along with some of the biggest names in the improvisatory progressive rock scene: Tony Levin, Markus Reuter and Dusan Jevtovic.
The album features high energy pieces with creative drumming, distorted guitars and outstanding bass work. The four musicians also delve into tranquil territory, with the guitarists developing exquisite ambient soundscapes supported by lightly touched drumming and imaginative basslines.
The lineup includes Xavi Reija on drums; Tony Levin on electric bass, upright bass, and stick: Markus Reuter on touch guitar; and Dusan Jevtovic on guitar.
And The Stars Above is the latest from Italian duo Armonite. It is a masterful collection of instrumental pieces (with brief vocals) where progressive rock and classical music meets jazz, electronica and other influences.
Armonite’s sound is characterized by the scorching electric violin and viola of Jacopo Bigi and the magnificent keyboards and electronics of Paolo Fosso.
The concept behind album is soundtracks. It’s envisioned as a set of pieces inspired by literature, dance and various other forms. And The Stars Above includes a charming piece titled Plaza De España that has a Spanish flavor, including castanets.
Guersts include Colin Edwin on bass; Alberto Fiorani on bass; Giacomo Lampugnani on double bass; Jasper Barendregt on drums; Emiliano Cava on drums; Corrado Bertonazzi on drums; Maria Chiara Montagnari on vocals; Diletta Fosso on child’s voice; Marcello Rosa on cello; Quartetto indaco string quartet.
Thirty years after the seminal electronic music album Dreamtime Return (Fortuna Records, 1998), trailblazing synthesist Steve Roach has released a double album titled Return To the Dreamtime.
This recreation of the original music is an expanded version created and recorded live at the Galactic Center in Tucson, Arizona, on February 10, 2018.
The project came out after Roach remastered Dreamtime Return for the 30th anniversary. Roach wanted to magnify and present this music live for the first time since the early 1990s. In order to do this, Steve Roach had to locate the archived sounds, samples, and location recordings he made in 1987 and 1988. Thankfully, the files were still cataloged and warehoused in his studio.
Disc 1 begins with a mammoth Berlin-style, sequencer-based piece called “Towards the Dream.” After that, Steve Roach goes deep into the spellbinding dreamzone, incorporating marvelous soundscapes and tribal sounds featuring distant drums and aboriginal musical instruments like the didgeridoo.
Return To the Dreamtime is a masterful performance by the prolific Steve Roach, one of the great electronic music artists of our time.
Soft Machine, the legendary British band from Canterbury, has a new album titled Hidden Details. Soft Machine was the jazzier side of the famed Canterbury progressive rock movement of the early 1970s.
The current lineup includes John Etheridge on electric and acoustic guitar; Theo Travis on saxophone, flute, and Fender Rhodes piano; Roy Babbington on bass; and John Marshall on drums.
The music on the album includes progressive jazz-rock, improvisatory pieces and some sound experimentation. The structured musical works are more satisfactory and engaging. Theo Travis really stands out when he picks up the flute or the electric piano, developing mesmerizing crystalline sounds.
Album highlights include “The Man Who Waved at Trains,” a spellbinding composition featuring Fender Rhodes and great flute/guitar dialog; the excellent bluesy guitar on “Broken Hill”; the dreamy keyboards on “Out Bloody Intro”; the delicate guitar on “Drifting White”; the splendid ensemble work on “Fourteen Hour Dream”; and the magical flute and percussion on “Breathe.”
French composer Alan Simon has been combining cinematic orchestral music, rock, pop and Celtic music in the past years. He is the composer of the celebrated Excalibur: The Celtic Rock Opera. Big Bang is Simon’s vision of the creation of the universe.
The album features Celtic music legend Alan Stivell, John Helliwell of rock band Supertramp and Michael Sadler of AOR band Saga.
Big Bang features masterfully-constructed modern symphonic pieces along with electronics and a prevalent smooth jazz saxophone throughout the album.
Roland Bühlmann – Bailenas (Roland Bühlmann, 2017)
Bailenas is an excellent instrumental album by Swiss multi-instrumentalist Roland Bühlmann. He delivers an engaing combination of progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, electronics and post rock.
The sounds revolves around various electric guitar sounds although Roland Bühlmann also plays hanottere (a Swiss cittern), bass, stones, and shofar (Hebrew horn) along with loops, drums and percussion generated with Beta Monkey Music samples.
Bailenas is a beautifully-crafted album highlight the versatility of the electric guitar.
Italian band Il Bacio della Medusa (Medusa’s Kiss) is highly regarded within progressive rock circles. Seme is the band’s first album in six years and it is a mix of various genres with diverse results.
The highlights of the album are the progressive rock tracks: the delightful “La Sonda” where Il Bacio della Medusa combines passionate vocals, beautiful flute, acoustic guitars and a great synth solo; the fabulous Banco-inspired “5 E 1/4 ….Fuori Dalla Finestra Il Tempo E’ Dispari” where symphonic and jazz-rock come together with more stellar keyboard work; the mesmerizing instrumental “Uthopia…Il Non Luogo” where prog rock and electronica find common ground; the climactic “Il Sentiero Di Luce” that showcases fine vocal, guitar and flute work; and the final instrumental “Animaemotica.”
The rest of the album contains a hard rock song, a couple of singer-songwriter folk rock pieces and one country inspired song.
The musicians on the album include Simone Cecchini on lead and backing vocals, acoustic 6 and 12-string guitars; Simone Brozzetti on guitar; Simone Matteucci on electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals; Eva Morelli on flute, alto and soprano saxophones; Federico Caprai on bass and backing vocals; and Diego Petrini on drums, percussion, piano, synthesizer, mellotron, backing vocals.
Conspiracy of Fools is the new album by Apogee, the ambitious project of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Arne Schäfer (Versus X). He plays practically all instruments except for drums. His music is solidly in the symphonic progressive rock camp, with influences from the great bands of the 1970s and 1980s.
Five of the six track clock over 10 minutes and feature notable guitar and keyboard solos, the always mellotron orchestrations, odd meters and a mix of instrumental and vocal passages. Arne Schäfer has added extra layers of vocals in the form of harmonies. There is also spoken word which works really well.
Lineup: Arne Schäfer on lead vocals, backing vocals, electric, acoustic guitar and slide guitar, keyboards, and bass; and Ebi Graef on drums.