Category Archives: CD Reviews

Absorbing Cosmology

Kotebel – Cosmology (Musea, 2017)

Kotebel, the masters of symphonic rock are back with an album about the cosmos plus an assortment of other pieces. The Madrid-based band is known for its two talented keyboard players (father and daughter) along with outstanding guitar, bass and drum work. On cosmology there is also notable flute work performed by guest musician Omar Acosta.

Cosmology is an instrumental work, like other Kotebel albums, where classically-influenced progressive rock is combined with avant-garde music and other influences in the form of mini symphonies.

The lineup on the album includes Carlos Franco Vivas on drums, percussion; César García Forero on electric and acoustic guitars; Jaime Pascual Summers on bass; Adriana Plaza Engelke on piano, keyboards; and Carlos Plaza Vegas on keyboards. Special guest: Omar Acosta on flute.

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Ancestor’s Tale

Ut Gret – Ancestor’s Tale (AltrOck Productions, 2014)

Ancestor’s Tale is the fourth album by American progressive music band Ut Gret. The ensemble’s sound is characterized by the combination of prog rock instrumentation and various wind instruments such as the bassoon and clarinet. It’s a mix of avant-garde jazz, free form improvisation, chamber music and Canterbury-style progressive rock.

Ut Gret intertwines structured musical works with unexpected experimental improvisation.

The lineup on Ancestor’s Tale includes Joee Conroy on electric guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar, fretless bass; Steve Roberts on organ, electric piano, mellotron, marimba, vibes, samples; Jackie Royce on bassoon, flute, contra-bassoon; Steve Good on clarinet, bass clarinet; Gary Pahler on drums; Sydney Simpson: double bass; Cheyenne Mize on vocals, violin; and Gregory Acker on flutes, percussion, digeridoo, baritone saxophone.

The CD booklet includes fascinating artwork and descriptions of the musical pieces.

Buy Ancestor’s Tale in the rest of the world

Buy Ancestor’s Tale in Europe

Falling for Ascension Modules

Markus Reuter featuring Sonar and Tobias Reber – Falling for Ascension (Ronin Rhythm Records, 2017)

Prolific music explorer Markus Reuter continues to daze with his musical projects. On Falling for Ascension Reuter brings together several progressive music traditions: featuring Fripp-inspired improvised guitar techniques, hypnotic ambient sounds, minimalism and creative prog-rock drumming.

The lineup includes Stephan Thelen on guitar; Bernhard Wagner on guitar; Christian Kuntner on bass; Manuel Pasquinelli on drums; Tobias Reber on live electronics; and Markus Reuter on touch guitars U8, soundscapes.

Falling for Ascension presents a remarkable mix of exciting grooves, evolving guitar patterns and mesmeric atmospheres.

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Epic Grimspound

Big Big Train – Grimspound (English Electric Recordings, 2017)

Big Big Train is a third generation British progressive rock band (which also features American and Swedish members) that has matured to such a degree that it has become of the finest British progressive rock bands of all time. Grimspound came out in April 2017 and is one of the two albums released this year by Big Big Train. The other album is The Second Brightest Star (2017) released in June.

Grimspound was originally envisioned as an EP companion to 2016’s Folklore. However, as the band readied to release the EP, it grew into a fabulous full length album with state of the art progressive rock.

Big Big Train’s style draws from 1970s and 1980s classic progressive rock bands, but they also honor progressive rock pioneers by adding traditional folk, classical, jazz and even electronic elements. This makes Big Big Train a true delight to listen to.

On Grimspound you’ll find stellar musicianship, masterfully constructed musical pieces and lead vocals and exquisite vocal harmonies that immediately hook you. The listener is treated to memorable keyboard, guitar, flute and fiddle work, where moments of calm lead seamlessly to epic progressions.

Getting things right in terms of composition and arrangements in the complicated world of progressive rock is not easy, but Big Big Train are at a stage where the music flows perfectly.

Grimspound contains abundant folk music influences and references. The gorgeous voice of folk singer Judy Dyble (a folk singer with a prog rock soul) appears on “The Ivy Gate.”

The physical version contains beautiful artwork, lyrics and song descriptions.

The lineup on the album includes Nick D’Virgilio on drums, percussion and backing vocals; Danny Manners on keyboards and double bass; Rikard Sjöblom on guitars, keyboards and backing vocals; Rachel Hall on violin, viola, cello and backing vocals; Greg Spawton on bass guitar and bass pedals; David Longdon on lead and backing vocals, flute, piano, acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, banjo, lute, melodica, celesta, synthesizers, percussion; Dave Gregory on electric 6 and 12 string guitars; Andy Poole on acoustic guitar, keyboards and backing vocals. Guests:
Judy Dyble on vocals; and Philip Trzebiatowski on cello.

Check out the videos for this album and get this band’s great albums. It’s one of the finest prog rock bands in the current scene.

 

 

 

 

Buy Grimspound in the Americas and rest of the world

Buy Grimspound in Europe

Stellar Lost World Band

Lost World Band – Of Things and Beings (Samum Publishing, 2016)

Of Things and Beings by Lost World Band is undoubtedly a progressive rock masterpiece. The talented artists behind this project are four excellent Russian musicians. Stylistically, plays masterfully-crafted symphonic progressive rock filled with stellar instrumental performances and magnificent orchestrations.

Lost World Band have developed their own style. It is founded in the interplay between multi-instrumentalist Andy Didorenko and flute player Vassili Soloviev. The rhythm section is equally superb, with creative drumming and bass lines. To get an idea of the band’s sound, picture a mix of Stravinsky, Anglagard, Canterbury jazz-rock and Mike Oldfield.

The lineup includes Andy Didorenko on all guitars, violins, keyboards and vocal; Vassili Soloviev on flute; Konstantin Shtirlitz on drums; and Alexander Akimov on percussion

 

 

Of Things and Beings is an impressive progressive rock release by Lost World Band, one of the finest bands in the current scene.

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Rising Gentle Knife

Gentle Knife II – Clock Unwound (Bajkal Records, 2017)

Gentle Knife is a pretty large Norwegian ensemble described as a progressive rock collective. The album opens with an exquisite piano and trumpet instrumental piece titled “Prelude: Incipit.” It leads into a lengthy suite titled The Clock Unwound where the band goes into full electric mode. The piece begins as hard rock and gets much better when the spectacular synth solo is added. The Clock Unwound also includes a notable guitar solo and fine flute work. Gentle Knife really stands out when they drop the regressive hard rock and metal riffs.

Track 3, Fade Away takes the band into an excellent progressive rock direction, featuring great keyboard, horn and flute work.

On track 4, Smother, the band gets initially more pop oriented although they later head in a more interesting jazz direction.

Plans Askew begins with delicate acoustic guitars that lead into vocals and flutes. Additional instruments are added as the track builds very nicely.

The last track, “Resignation” is one of the highlights of the album with a brooding introduction featuring keyboards, percussion, flute and mesmerizing spoken word sections. It builds into a great epic and has an Änglagård flavor.

The lineup includes Astraea Antal on flutes, bagpipe chanter and alto saxophone; Pål Bjørseth on keyboards, flugelhorn, trumpet, viola, alto recorder and backing vocals; Odd Grønvold on bass; Thomas Hylland Eriksen on tenor saxophone; Veronika Hørven Jensen on vocals; Håkon Kavli on vocals, guitars; Eivind Lorentzen on guitars and synthesizers; Charlotte Valstad Nielsen on alto and baritone saxophone; Ove Christian Owe on guitars; Ole Martin Svendsen on drums, percussion; and Brian M. Talgo on mellotron, samples, and vocals.

 

 

Clock Unwound is an ambitious recording by a rising talent in the Norwegian progressive rock scene.

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Experiments of the Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere

Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere – Theta Three

Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere – Theta Three (Discus Music, 2017)

Theta Three is the third album by the Orchestra of the Upper Atmosphere. It’s a captivating group of musicians that combine trance-like electronic music, progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion and avant-garde classical music through improvisation.

The new album is a two-disc set, Alpha (α) and Omega (Ω). The pieces flow seamlessly, crossing progressive music boundaries with total ease.

The lineup on Theta Three includes Martin Archer on keyboards, electronics, saxophones, clarinets, flute, bass recorder, and bass harmonica; Chris Bywater on keyboards, electronics, laptop, percussion, voice, and random processed electric violin; Steve Dinsdale on electronic drum kit, floor percussion, and keyboards; frostlake on voice, electronics, and viola; Yvonna Magda on violin and electronics; Walt Shaw on percussion, electronics and voice; and Terry Todd on bass.

Guests: George Murray on trombone; Paul Schatzberger on violin; Aby Vulliamy on viola; and Angela Rosenfeld on cello.

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Avant-Garde Nirvana

Aranis – Smells Like (Homerecords, 2017)

Aranis is one of those bands that is hard to classify. It’s an acoustic music ensemble that plays contemporary music with an avant-garde edge. It has very close connections to the Rock In Opposition genre minus the rock. You’ll find melodic chamber music segments, minimalism and some dissonant moments as well.

Smells Like contains Aranis’ vision of some of Nirvana’s best known songs. They are skillfully transformed into contemporary acoustic pieces that provide new life to these compositions.

The lineup includes Liesbeth Lambrecht on violin and viola; Pierre Chevalier on piano; Marjolein Cools on accordion; Jana Arns on flute and alto flute; and Joris Vanvinckenroye on double bass.
Smells Like is a highly original experimental recreation of the music of Nirvana.

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Spellbinding Logical Drift

Logical Drift – “Sands of Time” (NYC Music, 2017)

Logical Drift is the project of remarkable musician and composer John Matarazzo. His album “Sands of Time” is a fabulous mix of acoustic rhythms, samples, voices and cutting edge electronics.

Logical Drift takes you to distant lands. The artist’s creative arrangements add a progressive music element to “Sands of Time” that makes it deeply satisfying.

“Sands of Time” is a spellbinding musical voyage to a world of exotic vocals and musical instruments.

Buy the Sands of Time MP3s