Category Archives: CD Reviews

Entrancing Ambience from Laraaji, Arji OceAnanda and Dallas Acid

Laraaji • Arji OceAnanda • Dallas Acid – Arrive Without Leaving (2018)

Arrive Without Leaving is a fascinating collaboration that brings together various artists involved with acoustic and electronic ambient music, minimalism and sounds explorations.

On Arrive Without Leaving, Laraaji, Arji OceAnanda and Dallas Acid take the listener on a spellbinding voyage through mesmeric music, combining evolving electronic layers, mystical flutes and Laraaji’s signature sound on the electrified zither.

The lineup includes Laraaji on electrified zither, mbira, percussion, electronics, voice, ThumbJam electric violin, samples; Arji OceAnanda on percussion, ThumbJam strings, ThumbJam flute, Peruvian cacho seed pods, hand chimes, mbira, shakers; and Dallas Acid, featuring Linda Beecroft on steel tongue drum, gong; Michael Gerner on Moog synthesizers and Mellotron; and Christian Havins
Pn Moog synthesizers and Mellotron.

Buy Arrive Without Leaving

Dazzling Fusion by Vasil Hadzimanov Band

Vasil Hadzimanov Band – Lines In Sand (Moonjune Records, 2018)

Vasil Hadzimanov Band is one of the most fascinating progressive jazz fusion acts in the current international scene. Led by versatile Serbian keyboardist Vasil Hadzimanov, this superb fusion band incorporates jazz-rock fusion, world music elements, funk, and electronica.

Highlights include the opening title track “Lines In Sand,” where absorbing wordless vocals and trance-like drums intertwine with electric piano and cutting edge electric guitar; “San Snova,” a jazz-leaning piece where Vasil Hadzimanov showcases his talent on the acoustic piano; the exquisitely gorgeous female vocals and dreamy string synths on “Lost,” featuring the lovely singing by Marta Hadzimanov that transitions into remarkable guitar work by Branko Trijic; the forward-thinking trip hop set “Kazi” and “Kazi Gradiska;” and the Middle Eastern-inspired fusion track “Freedom From the Past.”

The band includes Vasil Hadzimanov on keyboards; Branko Trijic on guitar; Miroslav Tovirac on bass guitar; Bojan Ivkovic on percussion, vocals; and Pedja Milutinovic on drums
Special guests: Rastko Obradovic on saxophone; Marta Hadzimanov on lead vocals (track 4); and Dean Bowman on lead vocal (track 8).

Buy Lines In Sand

Thought-provoking Psychoyogi

Psychoyogi – Accident Prone (Psychoyogi, 2018)

Accident Prone is the latest recording by British progressive act Psychoyogi. The band’s style cuts across various musical genres, incorporating a wide range of influences and moods, including progressive rock, jazz and avant-garde expressions.

The vocal style is unique, sometimes more spoken word than traditional singing, with socially-conscious lyrics that cast doubt on western social values.

Psychoyogi’s sound mostly revolves around the quirky interaction between the guitar and saxophone and rhythm section. You’ll hear echoes of Henry Cow, Adrian Belew-era King Crimson and even some Canterbury minus the keyboards.

The band lineup includes Chris Ramsing on guitar and vocals; Justin Casey on drums and percussion; Izzy Stylish on bass; and John Macnaughton on alto and tenor sax.

Buy the CD from psychoyogi.bandcamp.com or the digital download from amazon.

Hungarian Folk Transformed Through Progressive Rock

Yesterdays – Senki Madara (Author’s Edition, 2018)

Senki madara is the third album by Hungarian progressive rock band Yesterdays. On this new recording, Yesterdays delivers a superb mix of classic symphonic progressive rock with Hungarian folk music. The approach of this concept is to take traditional folk songs and recreate them with 1970’s-style progressive rock arrangements.

The multifaceted mix works seamlessly. The progressive rock influences include some of the most iconic acts of the first wave of prog bands: Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Genesis and Camel. You’ll find a delightful combination of Hungarian vocals and vintage keyboards, including the revered mellotron.

Yesterdays is a Hungarian symphonic progressive rock band based in Carei, Romania, led by Bogáti-Bokor Ákos. Yesterdays’ previous albums include Colours Caffé (2010) and A szavakon túl (2009).

The lineup includes Stephanie Semeniuc on lead and backing vocals; Bogáti-Bokor Ákos on acoustic and electric guitars, bass, fretless bass, mellotron, Hammond organ, piano, Moog, synthesizers, percussion, backing vocals; Enyedi Zsolt on piano, Hammond, Moog, synthesizers; Fehér Róbert Benjamin on acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals; Kecskeméti Gábor on flute; Kósa Dávid on percussion and vocals; and Szűcs József on drums.

Special guests: Szirtes Edina Mókus on lead vocals; Tarsoly Csenge on lead and backing vocals; Bogáti-Bokor Orsolya on violin and viola; Márton-Sípos Dóra on cello.

Buy the CD from yesterdaysband.bandcamp.com or the Senki Madara digital album from amazon

Formidable Italian Band Syndone Addresses Misogyny in Concept Album

Syndone – Mysoginia (Maracash Records, 2018)

Italian progressive symphonic rock band Syndone has matured into one of the finest acts in the European scene. The band’s style is a mix of symphonic rock and jazz-rock fusion that revolves around the sounds of multiple electronic keyboards, sometimes exquisitely distorted; the mesmerizing vibraphone; glorious chamber music strings; and charismatic, theatrical vocals.

The concept album Mysoginia (Misogyny) is Syndone’s seventh album. Vocalist and lyricist Riccardo Ruggeri describes the spirit of the album: “It emerges from its very single word, from people’s reactions, through certain looks, from a grimace. Humanity and its fight against female sex. Misogyny – of men and women – against those who can damage the power, against those who can give life but aren’t able to give love. A crime destined to go on for centuries, in which we are all immersed and accomplices. A story we must not forget, to respect all the victims and all the heroines. A tribute to those women who have suffered violence in our blind, bully and ignorant society. From Caterina de Medici to Ipazia… Look at yourself in the mirror, you cowardly man! You woman daughter of a cold mother! And rip out this evil from your heart!

The current lineup includes composer Nik Comoglio on keyboards; Riccardo Ruggeri on vocals and acoustic guitar; Maurino Dellacqua on bass and Taurus bass; Marta Caldara on vibraphone and keyboards; Gigi Rivetti on keyboards; and Martino Malacrida on drums.

Buy Mysoginia

Glass Hammer Travels Back to Early Prog

Glass Hammer – Chronomonaut (Sound Resources/Arion Records, 2018)

Chronomonaut is part 2 of a concept album developed by American progressive rock band Glass Hammer. The story follows Tom, a progressive rock-obsessed individual who received alien voices speaking to him through his favorite albums. Volume 1, Chronometree centered on Tom’s teenage years in the late 1970s. On Chronomonaut, Tom has grown up and experiences a mid-life crisis. The voices have returned and have been inciting Tom to time-travel back to the splendor days of the early progressive scene.

Glass Hammer have nailed it. They have captured the essence of early progressive rock, where proto symphonic influences met Beatles influences; brass-fueled rock-jazz similar to Blood, Sweat and Tears and early Chicago; folk-rock, and psychedelia. Although considerably less symphonic than many of their previous recordings, the instrumental section led by current members Babb, Raulston and Schendel is formidable, with memorable guitar solos, magnificent keyboards, creative drumming and lead bass lines.

On the vocal side, the band uses various vocalists, including current member Susie Bogdanowicz as well as Discipline’s Matthew Parmenter and a local Gospel singer called Patton Locke.

The Glass Hammer lineup on this album includes Steve Babb on bass, keyboards, lead and backing vocals; Fred Schendel on keyboards, guitars and backing vocals; Susie Bogdanowicz on lead vocals; and Aaron Raulston on drums.

Guests featured: Brian Brewer on guitar, steel guitar and mandolin; Jamison Smeltz on saxophone; Matthew Parmenter on lead vocals; Chris Herin on guitar; Reese Boyd on guitar; Phil Stiles on guitars; Tommy Ogle on saxophone; Bria Poteet on trombone; Stephen Bearden on trumpet; and Randall Williams on drums.

Buy Chronomonaut

The Tangent Delivers another Masterpiece

The Tangent – Proxy (InsideOut Music, 2018)

Composer, keyboardist and vocalist Andy Tillison is the social conscience of progressive rock. He’s a musician that doesn’t have any problem exposing society’s problems. Tillison is also one of the great innovators in the current progressive rock scene. The Tangent puts out a brilliant mix of progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, funk, forward-thinking trip hop and, on the Proxy album, Spanish influences.

The band, as usual, is outstanding. Andy Tillison always surrounds himself with some of the finest musicians in the progressive rock scene, including remarkable guitarist Luke Machin, who combines an enviable skill with a multi-faceted set of guitar sounds. On the enchanting track “The Melting Andalusian Skies” he channels Al Di Meola and the great Andalusian rock guitarists.

The band on Proxy includes Andy Tillison on vocals and keyboards; Jonas Reingold on bass; Theo Travis on saxophone and flute; Luke Machin on guitars; Steve Roberts on drums; and guest Goran Edman.
Proxy is yet another masterful progressive rock work by The Tangent.

Buy Proxy in Europe

Buy Proxy in the rest of the world

Mesmeric Space Rock from The Spacious Mind

The Spacious Mind – The Drifter (Trail Records TR-020, 2018)

Trail Records never fails to deliver the good stuff. The Drifter is a collection of tracks by the fabulous psychedelic progressive rock band The Spacious Mind, from Sweden.

The Spacious Mind recreates the enchanting atmosphere of progressive psychedelia generated by Echoes-era Pink Floyd, with a boatload of acid guitars, vintage keyboards, spellbinding effects and modern electronic sounds.

The material on The Drifter includes tracks from the late 1990s through the mid-2000s. Great stuff indeed.

Buy The Drifter

A Darker Riverside

Riverside – Wasteland

Riverside – Wasteland (InsideOut Music, 2018)

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.

ScienceNV’s Prester John Adventure

ScienceNV – The Quest for Prester John Volume One (independent release, 2018)

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:

 

Buy The Quest for Prester John Volume One. Earlier recordings include Really Loud Noises, Pacific Circumstances and Last Album Before the End of Time.