Tag Archives: Progressive rock

Barock Project Announces Departure of Vocalist Luca Pancaldi

Barock Project
Barock Project

Italian symphonic progressive rock band Barock Project announced today that, after ten years in the band, vocalist Luca Pancaldi will be leaving the band. The departure comes right after the newly released double live-album release ‘Vivo‘.

Pancaldi was the vocalist on all four Barock studio albums: Misteriose Voci (2007), Rebus (2009), Coffee in Neukölln (2012), Skyline (2015) and the previously mentioned live album Vivo.

Barock Project summer 2016 lineup: Luca Zabbini on piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar, vocals; Eric Ombelli on drums; Marco Mazzuoccolo on electric guitars; Francesco Caliendo on bass guitar.

Absorbing Turkish Space Rock

Siddhartha – Trip to Innerself (Trail Records, 2012)

This edition of Siddhartha’s Trip to Innerself is a remastered version of the album originally released in 1999. Siddhartha was an excellent Turkish psychedelic progressive rock band deeply inspired by Echoes-era Pink Floyd, German space rock band Eloy and Middle Eastern melodies.

On Trip to Innerself you’ll find structured epic pieces along with absorbing space rock jams and acoustic ballads featuring classical-style guitars. In addition to the original material, Trip to Innerself includes a bonus track.

The lineup included Özgür Kurcan on vocals, guitars; Ege Madra on guitars; Ulas Akin on bass; Volkan Yildirim on keyboards; Orkun Öker on keyboards; and Kaan Sezgin on drums.

Guests featured: Nil Karaibrahimgil on vocals; Kerem Özyegen on vocals; Neslihan Engin on keyboards; Berke Özcan on percussion; and Serkan Yilmaz on percussion.

This re-edition is dedicated to band member Özgür Kurcan who passed away in 2011.

Siddhartha was worth re-discovering. It’s fabulous album that will appeal to fans of the progressive rock side of psychedelia.

Buy Trip to Innerself

Multidimensional Musician Releases Epic Prog rock Album

Steve Hughes – Once We Were – Part One (Progressive Promotion Records, 2016)

Once We Were – Part One is the second solo album by British multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, composer and producer Steve Hughes. He’s the former drummer of two essential second generation British progressive rock bands, Big Big Train and The Enid.

This is a very ambitious album that opens with a mammoth 33-minute suite about love, misguided politicians and war titled “The Summer Soldier.” Although Steve Hughes is best known in the progressive rock scene as a drummer, he shows his talent as a composer and performer of a wide-range of instruments. He uses keyboards to deliver synth-based high intensity classic prog rock as well as wonderful electronic atmospheres. Hughes guitar work is also impressive. On this composition he duels it out with two other guitarists on this track: J. C. Strand and Keith Winter.

“The Summer Soldier” progresses along with a series of sections where we encounter epic symphonic progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, hard rock and even electronic trip hop. Steve Hughes is like a 21st-century English version of Todd Rundgren.

After the fierce strength of “The Summer Soldier,” Hughes switches to a more relaxed mode. “A New Light” has some vocals, but most of the track sounds like melodic electronic music.

The beginning of “For Jay” has the feel of Big Big Train’s pop side. The piece later morphs into an epic progressive piece with memorable guitar.

On “Kettering Road” Hughes returns to powerful rock drums, bass and guitars. The second part features great harmony vocals that lead into a mesmerizing dreamlike section with spellbinding vocoder work and more outstanding guitar work. Along with “The Summer Soldier”, this song is one of the highlights of the album. Many current progressive rock bands totally ignore electronic music. Hughes, however, embraces it in a creative way.

“Propaganda, Part One” is a short and laid back keyboard symphonic piece.

Next is “Was I Wrong,” a vibrant song with a fabulous electric guitar solo by Dec Burke (Frost and Darwin’s Radio) and notable keyboard work as well.
“That could’ve Been Us” is a bittersweet love song with nicely-crafted vocal harmonies and a violin solo.

On “Second Chances” Hughes sings along with Angie Hughes. For some reason the dreamy vocals accompanied by guitars remind me of some of Michael Oldfield’s work.

The album ends with “Saigo Ni Moichido.” The best part is the instrumental second half of the song featuring epic guitar and violin.

The musicians featured in Once We Were – Part One include Steve Hughes on drums, percussion, keyboards, bass, electric, rhythm and acoustic guitars, and vocals; Angie Hughes and Katja Piel on vocals; Alex Tsentides on bass; Maciej Zolnowski on violin; Keith Winter, J.C Strand, and Dec Burke on guitars; and Richie Phillips on saxophone.

Additionally, Hughes produced, engineered and mixed Once We Were – Part One. The second part of this album will be released in December 2016.

The CD physical version includes a booklet with song lyrics, credits and paintings by Jim Trainer.

Once We Were – Part One is a truly impressive forward-thinking progressive rock album by the multidimensional British artist Steve Hughes.

Buy Once We Were – Part One

Rising Prog Talent from Rome

Perspectives of a Circle – Masks Faces Whispers (2015)

Masks Faces Whispers is the debut album of Italian progressive rock band Perspectives of a Circle. In addition to the influence of English and Italian classic acts from the 1970s, Perspectives of a Circle seem to be influenced by American band Echolyn.

Perspectives of a Circle combines technically proficient instrumental progressive symphonic rock passages and jazz bass with beautifully crafted English-language (except one song which is in Italian) vocal harmonies that borrow from folk music, prog rock and even the Beatles. The best track on the album is the Italian-language song “La Scala Che Sende.”

The lineup on Masks Faces Whispers includes Lorenzo Corsi on vocals, rhythm guitar, and flute; Lorenzo Politi on vocals, lead guitar, 12-string guitar; Tommaso Calemme on keyboards, backing vocals; Francesco Marchetti on drums, backing Vocals; and Vittorio Pagano on bass.

A really promising debut by yet another outstanding Italian progressive rock band.

Buy the digital download version of Masks Faces Whispers

Floydian Inspired Songs of Alienation

Airbag – Disconnected (Karisma Records, 2016)

Norwegian progressive rock band has effectively taking the torch of the classic Pink Floyd sound. The group is characterized by melancholic vocals combined with guitars that channel David Gilmour. Additionally, the group adds effects and lavish electronic atmospheres that take the listener into a world of psychedelic progressive rock mixed with post rock sensibilities.

Guitarist Bjørn Riis provides the most significant moments throughout the album. Riis extracts a wide-range of sounds out of his electric guitars. It’s astonishing how he’s managed to emulate many of the sounds that David Gilmour showcased in his Pink Floyd albums and concerts.

The title of the album reflects the life changes experienced by guitarist and composer Bjørn Riis: “The idea and inspiration for most of the lyrics, and the title track in particular, came from me realizing that I had to make some changes in my life. I was tired of the daily routine, working 9-5 in an office doing basically nothing and never having enough time for my family and music. I took a year off and started writing for the album.”

Riis and his colleagues discussed adding more electronic elements and giving more room to the drums, “allowing them to be more percussive and basically avoid the usual rock formula on all songs.”

The lineup on Disconnected includes Asle Tostrup on lead vocals; Bjørn Riis on guitars and vocals; Henrik Fossum on drums; Anders Hovdan on bass.

Airbag’s previous releases include Identity (2009), All Rights Removed (2011) and The Greatest Show on Earth (2013).

Disconnected is a well-crafted recording featuring a set of memorable relaxed songs heavily-influenced by Pink Floyd’s guitars.

Buy Disconnected

Lines in the Sky’s Parallel Travel

Lines in the Sky - Parallel Travel (Faster Steps Records, 2016)
Lines in the Sky – Parallel Travel (Faster Steps Records, 2016)

Nashville-based band Lines in the Sky is described as an alternative rock band and also a progressive rock band. Their new album Parallel Travel points more towards the alternative rock direction.

It’s true that the trio includes three great instrumentalists, who deliver notable guitar, bass and drum work. But the majority of the songs are fundamentally alternative rock.

The album opens with one of the best cuts, “History.” It’s an intimate song with beautiful vocal work accompanied by piano and ambient synths. Very different from the rest of the album.

Another high point is the piece “Admiral” that includes excellent instrumental sections showcasing great guitar, bass and drum work.

The high point is the final track, titled “Ocean,” where Lines in the Sky decide to explore their progressive side. The vocals and guitars quickly indicate that there are good things to come. “Ocean” grows into an epic with memorable progressive rock guitar work and a delightful laid back conclusion. I’d love to hear more of this side of the band.

The lineup on the album includes brothers Jesse and Bowman Brock and Zack Wakefield. Jesse is on lead vocals, guitar, backing vocals, keyboards and programming; Bowman plays drums and percussion; and their colleague Zack Wakefield is on bass and vocals. Stephanie Middletown makes a guest appearance on backing vocals.

Lines in the Sky by Parallel Travel shows us a young rock band with tremendous potential.

Memorable Live Recording by Rising Italian Progressive Rock Masters

Barock Project – Vivo – Live in Concert (Artalia ART002, 2016)

Italian progressive rock band Barock Project showcases its talent on its first live album titled Vivo – Live in Concert. As the name of the band indicates, Barock Project is deeply influenced by classical music and symphonic rock. The group of young musicians is led by keyboard maestro and composer Luca Zabbini.

Vivo – Live in Concert is a 2-disc set with live versions of some of the band’s most iconic pieces. There is also a Genesis tribute, with a version of Los Endos, an instrumental piece that appeared on Genesis’ a Trick of the Tail.

The repertoire includes straight-ahead symphonic progressive rock inspired by Baroque music, ELP, Genesis and the great Italian progressive bands of the 1970s and some hard rock in the Deep Purple vein.

The vocals are primarily in English although the album includes two songs in Italian that truly captivating. In fact, I much prefer when Italian bands sing in Italian. They have special charm within the progressive rock realm.

I gravitate towards the more progressive pieces. Highlights on Disc 1 include: “Coffee in Neukolln,” an epic piece where Luca Zabbini deploys symphonic keyboards, dreamlike classical piano and synths. There’s also fascinating call and response vocals and creative bass lines.

On the somewhat operatic “Fool’s epilogue” we get to experience the admirable skill of drummer Eric Ombelli and guitarist Marco Mazzuoccolo playing admirable classical-inspired electric guitar as well as fabulous shredding with jazz-rock elements. Zabbini also treats the listener with masterful electric organ and other keyboards.

Another high point is “Un altro mondo”, an exquisite vocal and piano duet with lyrics in Italian that builds into an epic with the addition of guitar, bass and drums and grand finale with synth solo. It’s followed by another fabulous Italian-language song that feels like PFM meets ELP.

The last track on Disc 1 is the remarkable rendition of Los Endos. A version that progressive-era Genesis would be proud of.

The high spots on Disc 2 are: “Overture”, a scrumptious keyboard fest by Luca Zabbini that sounds like a 21st Century version of ELP.

Another standout is “Skyline,” a long suite with various phases featuring memorable keyboard and guitar work. At times, however, they stray a little towards hard rock.

The final highlight is “The longest sigh,” where the band returns to state of the art progressive symphonic rock, featuring brilliant synth and mellotron work by Luca Zabbini and a great guitar solo by Marco Mazzuoccolo.

The lineup on Vivo – Live in Concert includes Luca Zabbini on piano, keyboards, acoustic guitars, vocals; Luca Pancaldi on lead vocals; Eric Ombelli on drums; Marco Mazzuoccolo on electric guitars; and Francesco Caliendo on electric bass.

Buy Vivo – Live in Concert in North America

Buy Vivo – Live in Concert in Europe

Progressive Psychedelia from China

Zhaoze – Intoxicatingly Lost (Trail Records, 2016)

Intoxicatingly Lost, the latest album by Chinese progressive rock band Zhaoze is now available internationally through Trail Records. Zhaoze delivers a fascinating mix of instrumental psychedelic progressive rock, post rock and Chinese musical influences.

The quartet blends rock instrumentation such as guitar, bass and drums with Chinese musical instruments, including guqin (plucked zither) and xiao (a vertical bamboo flute).

Intoxicatingly Lost features mesmerizing cinematic atmospheres and melodies, featuring a fascinating interplay between guitars and guqin. Another innovation by this band is that multi-instrumentalist Hoyliang sometimes played the guqin with a cello bow.

 

 

The lineup on Intoxicatingly Lost includes Hoyliang on guqin, xiao and keyboards; Littledream on guitar; Roy on bass; and Seasean on drums and glockenspiel.

Intoxicatingly Lost is a magnificently-crafted recording by forward-thinking Chinese progressive music band Zhaoze.

Buy Intoxicatingly Lost

Greg Lake’s Solo Work Remastered

Greg Lake - Greg Lake / Manoeuvres
Greg Lake – Greg Lake / Manoeuvres

Greg Lake – Greg Lake / Manoeuvres (Creative Musical Arts, 2015)

Greg Lake, the memorable vocalist and bassist for King Crimson and Emerson Lake and Palmer, moved away from progressive rock in the 1980s. He recorded two albums, Greg Lake (1981) and Manoeuvres (1983) that feature 1980s-style AOR rock, hard rock and pop, with the typical reverberating pounding drums of the era.

Both albums are now available, remastered, as a two-disc set. The best part of the songs on Disc 1 are the guitar solos by the great Gary Moore (who passed away in 2011). Disc 1 has three bonus tracks that feature members of popular rock band Toto.

Disc 2 includes a great progressive rock song, “I Don’t Know Why I Still Love You” that has an Emerson Lake and Palmer feel, including majestic electric organ and synths by Tommy Eyre, fretless bass by Tristram Margetts and grand percussion by Ted McKenna. This band had a great potential as a progressive rock act, but the early 1980s was a cruel era for progressive rock in the UK.

The CD booklet includes extensive liner notes and interviews with Greg Lake.

Buy Greg Lake / Manoeuvres

Electric Fiddle Master Reconnects with His Progressive Rock Side

Darryl Way – “Myths, Legends and Tales” (Right Honourable Records, 2016)

Darryl Way, one of the great progressive rock violinists, has a new solo concept album titled “Myths, Legends and Tales”. Way was the founder of two excellent progressive bands from the 1970s, Curved Air and his own group, Darryl Way’s Wolf.

“Myths, Legends and Tales” is inspired by ancient and present day mythologies. The album features a mix of progressive symphonic rock and rock songs. Darryl Way plays all the instruments and also provides all the vocals. Way does an outstanding job with the arrangements, but where he really shines is with his fabulous violin solos and symphonic orchestrations.

Highlights on “Myths, Legends and Tales” include the instrumental “Orpheus and the Underworld,” where we find a series of fiddle styles and overdubs, ranging from scorching solos to romantic passages; and the captivating progressive rock song “Strange Goings On” that features Way’s best vocal work (including a mesmerizing spoken word section) and a superb violin solo.

Other high points include the dreamy, slow tempo instrumental, “Aphrodite”; the upbeat “Helter Skelter” composition, where Darryl Way gets closer to jazz-rock, delivering an infectious beat; and the final piece, a symphonic marvel full of magic and mystery titled “Prometheus Chained” where Way showcases his talent as an orchestrator and fiddler.

As a rock violinist I have always been searching for that elusive sound, turn of phrase and means of expression that would give the electric violin a legitimate voice in the idiom of rock music,” says Darryl Way. “With this album, I feel that I have come closer than ever before to achieving this goal. ‘Myths, Legends and Tales’ is another attempt by me to fly the flag for ‘prog rock’. I’ve raised the flag up the mast as far as I am able and can only now hope, that it will be seen and appreciated by the devoted fans of this neglected genre.”

It’s great to see this extraordinary violinist back in the progressive rock scene.

Buy Myths, Legends and Tales