Category Archives: CD Reviews

Plurima Mundi’s Paths

Plurima Mundi – Percorsi (2017)

Percorsi is the title of the first full-length album by Italian progressive rock band Plurima Mundi. It’s an independent release featuring vocals in Italian, which is always welcome.

All the music is composed by fiddler Massimiliano Monopoli, who provides one of the key ingredients of the band: the fiery electric violin. Another essential element is vocalist Grazia Maremonti, who has a gorgeous, passionate voice that sounds classically-trained.

The rest of the band provide the rest of the ingredients familiar in progressive rock, including fine keyboard and guitar work.

The lineup includes Massimiliano Monopoli on electric violin; Massimo Bozza on bass; Grazia Maremonti on vocals; Silvio Silvestre on guitar; Lorenzo Semeraro on piano; and Gianmarco Franchini on drums.

 

 

Buy Percorsi

Absorbing Prog Rock and Movielike Electronics

Djam Karet – Sonic Celluloid (HC Productions HC019, 2017)

Progressive rock band Djam Karet has released another gem. Sonic Celluloid is envisioned as “sound as cinema.” While the description cinematic quickly comes to mind, this is not a richly orchestral album. Instead, Djam Karet treats the listener to 10 tracks where mellotron, real drums and sequencers are mixed with progressive rock and spacey guitars.

The band reveals that Sonic Celluloid has more minimoogs and mellotrons than any of the previous releases. And it’s pretty evident. Fans of mellotron will really enjoy this album.

The lineup on the album includes Gayle Ellett on electric and acoustic guitars, Greek Bouzouki, Moog, Mellotron, Hammond organ & Rhodes; Chuck Oken, Jr. on drums, analog and digital keyboard sequencing and soundscapes; Henry J. Osborne on bass; Mike Henderson on guitar feedback; Mike Murray on guitar atmospheres and piano; and Aaron Kenyon on bass effects.

Djam Karet continues to impress with their forward-thinking vision of progressive music, fusing well-crafted progressive rock with mesmerizing electronics.

Buy Sonic Celluloid

Remarkable Finnish Zeuhl

Dai Kaht – Dai Kaht (TKGO01, 2017)

Dai Kaht is a great debut album by a Finnish band deeply inspired by 1970s progressive rock and Zeuhl, the innovative progressive music genre developed by French band Magma. Following Zeuhl tradition, the band members have created their own language, which they use in their songs.

Although the band’s sound definitely draws a lot of ideas from Zeuhl, the sound is more rock oriented, featuring two guitar players; it’s less jazzy and operatic than Magma.

The band members have adopted artistic names in their new language: Alemaahr Kempah (Atte Kemppainen) on vocals and bass; Willargh Shirow (Ville Sirvio) on guitar; Zwerie Stöbah (Tommi Ruotsalainen) on rhythm guitar; and Ozamö Sharif (Osmo Saarinen) on drums, vocals.

Dai Kaht is a remarkable Zeuhl album by a talented prog rock band from Finland with a promising future.

Buy the digital download version of Dai Kaht. The album is also available on CD.

Fascinating Electric Guitar Variations

Yang – The Failure of Words (Yang Music, 2017)

French progressive band Yang released its third album, The Failure of Words, earlier this year. Yang is an instrumental rock quartet that incorporates elements from progressive rock, jazz, hard rock, and world music.

Yang’s pieces are impeccable, exquisitely-crafted works, featuring memorable dual guitar and interplay and masterful creative drums. The guitar and bass interactions use various techniques, ranging from parallel melodies to counterpoints, call and response and looped patterns.

The lineup includes Frédéric L’Épée on guitars, keyboards; Laurent James on guitar; Nico Gómez on bass; and Volodia Brice on drums.

Previous albums include A Complex Nature (Cuneiform Records Rune 197, 2004) and Machines (Yang Music VOC1527, 2010).

 

 

 

Buy The Failure of Words

The Continuing Journey of Rahul Mukerji’s Guitar

Rahul Mukerji – Ma De Re Sha (Rahul Mukerji, 2017)

Ma De Re Sha is a great electric guitar album by Rahul Mukerji, an Indian musician living in the Washington D.C. area. Mukerji combines powerful rock guitar hero licks with jazz-rock fusion, Middle Eastern beats and Indian music influences. He also uses a note bending technique that gives it a South Asian flavor and sets him apart from western guitar players.

The lineup includes Rahul Mukerji on guitars, guitar synth, e-bow, sampling, tabla and drum programming; Bruce Ng on additional drum and percussion programming on all tracks; Ruben Rubio on bass.

Buy the CD from rahulmukerji.bandcamp.com/releases

The Mesmerizing Prog Rock Vampiric Tale Continues

Nad Sylvan – The Bride Said No (Inside Out Music, 2017)

Swedish singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Nad Sylvan has risen to the top of the progressive rock scene because of his solo work and collaborations with Steve Hackett and Roine Stolt. The Bride Said No is his new solo album and continues the story he initiated with the acclaimed Vampiric album Courting The Widow.

The Bride Said No still has plenty of first class symphonic progressive rock inspired by 1970s bands like Genesis and UK. However, The Bride Said No adds a music theater element and masterful vocal interplay between Nad and his guest lead vocalists Tania Doko and Jade Ell.

Nad Sylvan is a generous vocalist. His albums always provide plenty of space to the virtuoso instrumentalists that participate in his recordings. The most noticeable difference I find in The Bride Said No is that there is less mellotron than in the previous album. However, keyboard lovers don’t despair, Nad and his colleagues provide plenty of succulent synth solos and majestic keyboards throughout the album.

 

 

 

For prog rock guitar fans, track 5 ‘What Have You Done” is true delight. Nearly half the piece features two outstanding, hats off epic electric solos. The first is by the grand master of progressive rock guitar, Steve Hackett. The second solo is by the equally talented Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats, Asia, Erotic Cakes). But there is more. If you manage to filter out the guitars (which is hard to do because they’re so good), you’ll notice remarkable bass work underneath by yet another master, Tony Levin.

 

 

Although Nad Sylvan’s vocals are superb throughout the album, on track 6, ‘Crime Of Passion,’ Nad stands out even more, delivering all vocal parts, lead and backing vocals. Guitars also play a leading role with Steve Hackett again, along with another regular collaborator, one of the busiest and finest guitarists in the prog world, Sweden’s Roine Stolt.

Another favorite is ‘A French kisses in an Italian Café,’ a beautiful laid back song with a trip hop beat that captivates you right away. It’s enriched with beautiful orchestrations by Nad Sylvan, Steve Hackett’s fabulous guitar, Tony Levin’s masterful Chapman stick and bass, and the delightful backing vocals.

 

 

The final song on the album is the most theatrical, with attention-grabbing interplay between Nad Sylvan and his female guest vocalists. It’s prog rock meets neosoul. This track has a hidden song. There are over 2 minutes of silence and then a pop song appears.

The lineup includes Nad Sylvan on vocals, keyboards, guitars, orchestrations; Jade Ell on vocals; Sheona Urquhart on vocals and saxophone; Anders Wollbeck on keyboards, programming, orchestration and additional sound design; Tania Doko on vocals; Jonas Reingold on bass; Nick D’Virgilio on drums and percussion; Tony Levin on Chapman Stick and bass; Doane Perry on drums; Alfons Karabuda on waterphone; Steve Hackett on guitar; Guthrie Govan on guitar; and Roine Stolt on guitar.

The Bride Said No is another captivating forward-thinking progressive rock album by the multi-faceted and talented Nad Sylvan.

Buy The Bride Said No in the Americas and other territories.

Buy The Bride Said No in Europe

Ghosts Don’t Dance with Shoes

Tree Tops – Ghosts Don’t Dance with Shoes (indie release, 2017)

Ghosts Don’t Dance with Shoes is the debut album by a very promising rock band from Knoxville, Tennessee called Tree Tops. Their sound is an exciting mix of guitar-led jam rock, progressive jazz-rock, funk and even some occasional Frank Zappaesque humor and zaniness.

The band’s line includes Jon Mann on drums and percussion; Cory Smith on guitar and vocals; David Webb on guitar and vocals. Additional musicians: Chris Pope on keyboards and Jack Willard on bass.

 

 

Buy the digital download edition of Ghosts Don’t Dance with Shoes. The CD is available from treetopsmusic.bandcamp.com.

Calculated Risk

Force of Progress – Calculated Risk

Force of Progress – Calculated Risk (Progressive Promotion Records, 2017)

Force of Progress is what is described as a progressive rock project put together by four German multi-instrumentalists. It’s a very keyboard-centric album, with great synth and piano work, although throughout Calculated Risk the band adds hard rock and heavy metal guitars.

There is way too much hard rock and metal riffing for this album to be seriously regarded a progressive rock album. Toning down the guitars would have helped a lot.

The lineup includes Hanspeter Hess, Dominik Wimmer, Chris Grundmann and Markus Roth.

 

 

Buy Calculated Risk

Carptree Immersion

Carptree – Emerger (Reingold Records, 2017)

Carptree is a Swedish band formed by an excellent vocalist named Niclas Flinck and multi-instrumentalist Carl Westholm. The vocals, the magnificent keyboards and the rhythm section are fabulous, taking the listener to a beautiful world of epic symphonic progressive rock. However, this is one of those bands that injects heavy metal in most of its songs. By the time I got through with the album, I had had enough of heavy metal. This album is a prime candidate for a prog remix.

Flinck and Westholm are joined by the No Future Orchestra, a talented group of musicians who provide support to Carptree.

Buy Emerger

Progressive Rock Band Zeitgeist Releases Animated Video

Leeds-based British progressive rock band Zeitgeist has a new single titled ‘The Brightest Stars Leave The Blackest Holes.’ The band has released the single in music video format. ‘The Brightest Stars Leave The Blackest Holes appears in the ‘Vacuums’ EP that came out in March 2017.

The musical piece is about planetary death and the cyclical nature of the universe.

The Zeitgeist lineup includes Aleks Podraza on keyboards, Sam Quintana on electric bass and Tom Higham on drums.