Category Archives: CD Reviews

Conspiracy of Fools

Apogee ‎- Conspiracy of Fools (Progressive Promotion Records ‎PPRCD 064, 2018)

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.

Get Conspiracy of Fools from amazon uk

The Extraordinary Music of Béla Bartók and King Crimson Live

Dialeto – Live with David Cross (Chromatic Music, 2018)

Brazilian instrumental rock band Dialeto delivers a magnificent live version of its recreations of Béla Bartók’s Romanian and Bulgarian folk Dances. As the album title indicates, King Crimson violinist David Cross joined the band in Sao Paulo to perform Dialeto’s material as well as King Crimson classics (including a gorgeous version of “Starless”) and a piece by Cross.

The music is a captivating mix of power rock, classical, jazz and folk influences, heavy rock and progressive rock. There is superb musicianship and dazzling interaction between Cross and guitarist Nelson Coelho.

The album was recorded in 2017 at SESC Belenzinho in São Paulo, Brazil. The band featured David Cross on violin; Nelson Coelho on guitars; Fred Barley on drums, vocals; and Gabriel Costa on bass, vocals.

Although this an independent release, the band is getting distribution and marketing support from MoonJune Records.

Buy the Live with David Cross digital album from amazon or the CD from bandcamp.

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery, a Finely Crafted Work of Art

The Tangent – The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery (InsideOut Music, 2017)

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery is an album released in 2017 by The Tangent, one of the finest progressive rock acts in recent years. The band is led by keyboardist, composer, vocalist and drummer Andy Tillison. It’s a splendid recording that features some of the finest musicians in the European scene.

This is progressive rock in its supreme form. Tillison is a masterful keyboardist and orchestrator. In addition to state of the art symphonic progressive rock and jazz-rock rich in keyboards, he adds elements of funk, soul and even Santana-style Latin rock. Wildly eclectic and deeply satisfying.

The Tangent always attracts some of the finest players in the current scene. On this album, the band features the great guitar hero of our time, Luke Machin. His chameleonic guitar style is out of this world, ranging from knockout shredding to exquisite solos.

Other members include bass virtuoso Jonas Reingold, saxophonist and flutist Theo Travis, and Marie-Eve de Gaultier (from Luke Machin’s band Maschine) on keyboards and vocals.

The album only has 5 tracks and four of them are lengthy epics packed with instrumental goodness that flow beautifully. Andy Tillison cares about of the world and its ecosystems. His lyrics make reference to the endangered wild animals; the sorry state of mass media and fake news; and other equally important topics.

 

 

The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery is a progressive rock masterpiece. It demonstrates that The Tangent is in perfect shape.

Buy The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery

The Laid Back Fusion of Daniel Santiago

Daniel Santiago – Union (Adventure Music, 2018)

Union is an instrumental album highlighting the guitar work of Brazilian musician and composer Daniel Santiago. The album has edgy electric guitar and electronic keyboards. At the same, it is very accessible and laid back. It’s an album that is eclectic and energetic enough to please fusion fans and the smooth jazz market as well.

The lineup on Union includes Daniel Santiago on acoustic and electric guitar, synth bass, keyboards and vocals; Pedro Martins on keyboards; Shai Maestro on piano; Frederico Heliodoro on bass; Rafael Vernet on keyboards; Thiago Rabello on drums; Gregoire Maret on harmonica; Antonio Loureiro on drums; Renato Galvao on drums; and Ricardo Braga on percussion.

 

 

Union is a delightful, masterfully-crafted album where jazz, fusion and Brazilian music find a common ground.

Buy Union

David Cross Crisscrosses The Tracks

David Cross – Crossing The Tracks (Purple Pyramid, 2018)

Groundbreaking electric violinist David Cross, best known for his work with King Crimson, has released a new album titled Crossing The Tracks this month. This album is an unconventional project for Cross. Cleopatra Records and German producer/composer Jürgen Engler approached him to complete 12 tracks by Engler and some well-known songwriters.

Crossing The Tracks is a mix of progressive rock instrumentals featuring superb electric violin solo work and electronic arrangements; and songs that highlight female vocalists.

The most captivating pieces are the instrumental performances, which is where Cross gets to showcase his talent as an instrumentalist, adding the melodies, string sections and electric violin solos.

 

 

The two vocal tracks that stand out are the ones featuring the late Yemenite-Israeli vocalist Ofra Haza and the Dead Can dance-flavored song with Sonja Kraushofer. The world music air goes well with the electric violin and electronic keyboards.

 

Buy Crossing The Tracks

Transfixing Psychedelia from Superfjord

Superfjord – All Will Be Golden (Svart Records, 2018)

All Will Be Golden is the second album by Finnish psychedelic rock band Superfjord, scheduled for release September 21, 2018. The band plays a superb mix of Pink Floyd-inspired space rock, progressive jam rock, trance music and mantra chants

The band includes Jussi Ristikaarto on guitars, electronics, vocals; Mikko Kapanen on guitar, vocals, percussion; Ilari Kivelä on drums, percussion; Teemu Soininen on bass; Juho Ojala on keyboards; and Jussi Peevo on drums, percussion.

All Will Be Golden is a mesmerizing album by a rising talent in the field of progressive psychedelic rock.

If All Goes Wrong

The Aaron Clift Experiment – If All Goes Wrong

The Aaron Clift Experiment – If All Goes Wrong (Aaron Clift Productions, 2018)

The Aaron Clift Experiment is a Texas-based rock band led by keyboardist and vocalist Aaron Clift. Although the band describes itself as a progressive rock act, the new album titled If All Goes Wrong is a mix of various styles.

The majority of the album features hard rock and pop songs with catchy beats. There a handle of progressive rock-leaning songs like “Absent Lovers”; the straight-ahead progressive piece “Castle in the Sky”; “Dream within a Dream”; and the mellotron-rich “If All Goes Wrong.”

Even though the prog rock sections have fine guitar and keyboard work, the vocals are the weakest part of the band and could benefit from some guests vocalists.

In addition to Aaron Clift, the album features Devin North on bass, electric guitar, fretless bass and upright bass; and Tim Smith on drums and percussion.

Guests include Dave North on electric and acoustic guitar; Van Wilks on electric guitar; Derek Halfmann on electric guitar; Dave Sebree on guitar; Fred Springer on classical guitar; Arielle on electric guitar and backing vocals; Kevin Chin on electric guitar; Jon Blangero on mellotron; Milo Hehmsoth on piano; Charles Anderson on violin; Lana Dziekonski on viola; and Ellie Prager on cello.

Buy the digital version of If All Goes Wrong or the CD from theaaroncliftexperiment.bandcamp.com

The Mighty Haken Live

Haken – L-1ve

Haken – L-1ve (InsideOut Music, 2018)

Prog metal powerhouse Haken has released its first live recording in astronomical fashion, as a quadruple set with 2 audio discs and 2 DVDs recorded in Amsterdam. Even though we prefer straight ahead progressive rock, Haken is one of the prog metal metals that has wider appeal. Their mix of complex rhythms and arrangements, fine vocals, and enough highly skilled progressive rock musicianship make them a decidedly attractive act to follow.

Nevertheless, they are still a heavy metal band with the clichéd brutal riffs and occasional growling that metal fans love.

The 2CD & 2DVD digipak edition includes a 5.1 mix of the main show and the bonus tracks.

Buy L-1ve

The Dame Delves into the Roaring Twenties

The Dame – Losing Sight of What You Want (independent, 2018)

Losing Sight of What You Want is the debut album by The Hague-based Dutch rock band The Dame. The group is inspired by the sexy, elegant women and stylish men of the early 20th century. The group is fronted by vocalist and lyricist Marian van Charante and guitarist and composer Stephen de Ruijter.

Although The Dame describes itself as a progressive rock band, the first four tracks on the albums feature a mix of classic rock, folk-rock and blues influences, showcasing the soulful vocals of Marian van Charante and the notable guitar work of Stephen de Ruijter.

On the final three tracks, we get to enjoy the progressive rock side of the band. The title track “Losing Sight of What You Want” has remarkable, nuanced vocal work and highly satisfying electric guitar and Pink Floydish prog rock arrangements.

 

 

The music gets enjoyably eerie and phantasmagoric with “Thy Father’s Bidding,” a fine example of dark progressive rock and a top candidate for the upcoming Halloween prog rock playlist.

The album closes with yet another progressive rock beauty, a suite titled “Conveniently Distant,” in which The Dame once more delivers the progressive rock goods in high fashion with notable vocal, guitar and ensemble work.

The Dame includes Marian van Charante on lead and backing vocals, guitar; Stephen de Ruijter on lead guitar; Michel Krempel on bass; Thijs de Ruijter on keyboards; and Ruben Meibergen on drums.

Losing Sight of What You Want is a stylish debut album by The Dame, a rising act in the European progressive rock scene.

Buy Losing Sight of What You Want