Showing posts with label MuzikMan.net. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MuzikMan.net. Show all posts

Friday, September 4, 2020

Kevin Godley - The Final on Vinyl Interview

I had a great time interviewing Kevin Godley an amazing multi-faceted artist that was in 10cc on four excellent recordings, recorded some great music with his band mate Lol Creme and continued on with a solo career and many other projects.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Rock Review: Mandoki Soulmates-Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures

Release Date: June 19, 2020

Label: 2020 Purple Pyramid Records

Website 

Mandoki Soulmates debuted in 1991. The band consists of many members but, the founding three are Ian Anderson, Jack Bruce, and Al Di Meola; along with Leslie Mandoki. Often coined as a ‘supergroup,’ Soulmates present themselves as a unified front. They direct the band as one whole unit, rather than several different bodies and voices just up on a stage. While most artists and bands either remain on one side or the other of the political aisle or keep their personal politics out of their artistry, Mandoki Soulmates lightly sprinkles political undertones throughout their music, especially on the newest released album Living in the Gap + Hungarian Pictures.

Now let’s get down to the business of the music. “Living in the Gap” starts the album with a big-band/jazz, funk-fusion that is quite fitting for such a time as this. The group sings of unity and bridging the ‘gap’ to where we separate from others intentionally on almost every subject nowadays. It also hints of a thought that there is no “right and wrong” rather, it’s a matter of collective agreement or disagreement.

“Young Rebels” is a shout to how all different young individuals, each with varying backgrounds and experiences are trying to get through each day of this world and possible change in a peaceful but ever-so-nonchalant manner. In the same way, they cannot decide whether they are trying to bring about some old ideals as a youth, or much older but with youth mindsets and hopes. “Turn the Wind” takes a bluegrass-like spin in the record. It comes down to simply a relaxed tune, but, it does beg the question within, “can we stop anything, anymore, at all?” Or, is it a lost cause in trying to make a big change? “Where We Belong” sings of this back and forth between feel-good moments and some that dig in a little deeper in pain or sorrow.

What I might call the ‘anthem song,’ “Let the Music Show You the Way” is a bright and uplifting tune to bring anyone out of their funk. Completely void of any particular signaling or message, it simply enlightens the listener that music is the universal peacekeeper as it allows us to align our feelings to any song we choose. “Too Much Pride” belts out a trumpeted jazz message of an overwhelming sense of pride, unable to move out of our own way to see more clearly, other individuals and how they see and feel through life.

“Old Rebels” is a continuation of “Young Rebels” but, carries the same message from before with a wiser, somewhat opposing perspective. “Welcome to Real Life” eerily fits well with today’s political and human climate. Between the unrest of all of us being quarantined and innocent individuals dying all across the country, the lyrics ring too true, wherever your viewpoints may fall. “Hottest Queen of Cool” invokes a sexy, sleek, jazzy number to a woman who absolutely dominates what seems to be the entertainment lifestyle, almost emulating a Hollywood starlet, turning everything before her, about her.

“Wake Up” is a call-out type of song to all who will listen to change the things we see going on in the world before it might be too late, according to the band at least. Singing of “dark hearts and free minds,” one can imagine, the song is to be about making the world as bright and light as can be. “Mother Europe” follows with a song seemingly of a love of the European continent as though they are defending the nation. “I’m Not Your Enemy” begins with a 2-minute and fifty-second instrumental, cool and mellow guitar-turned-keyboard-turned trumpet solo. Afterward, the singer comes in calm and peacefully proclaiming how she and another do not have the same mindset of anger and resentment. Instead, she speaks of how she will always remain by the other’s side. Another minute and a half instrumental solo takes place before the chorus chimes back in.

A stroke of a piano keyboard twinkles the next song, “Sessions in the Village.” While the singer sings of what sounds to be a very poetically structured verse, the song then cuts from her to a synthesizer party, including a trumpet at times;  making waves in this piece to make it seem like it is a village celebration. “Utopia for Realists” brings back a male vocalist to explain how the band sees modern awareness of the world’s happenings as a glimpse of the utopia beyond. “Transylvanian Dances” is a piece of periodic verses and an overall somber tone. At the 12:22 mark, it begins to speed up for about a minute and eight minutes, turning into an all-out rock fest. Then, ending it out, it slows back down to a man singing of his son being pointed towards open roads.

“You’ll Find Me in the Mirror” is the singer looking back and reflecting on what might have been of him and now he longs for that same trust and security back that he once had. Then comes in “Return to Budapest,” and it’s exactly what you’d expect from that title. It’s a soothing, alluring song of tradition and simplicity. “Barbaro” does give off the initial impression of barbarianism with its rush of drums. When the trumpet kicks in, it turns into more of a jam session of beautifully blending instrumental families. With the piano, it kind of throws a bit of a side curveball but keeps the dramatization of the piece going, sounding like the song is growing faster and faster; thus, more exciting. Ending out the entire album, “The Torch” sings of empowerment and strength to those who come after the singers, in relaxed, chant-like fashion.

Key Tracks include: “Living in the Gap,” “Too Much Pride,” Barbaro,” and “I’m Not Your Enemy”

Gregg Keniston - MuzikMan.net Staff
July 15, 2020

Track Listing:
01.   Living in the Gap
02.   Young Rebels
03.   Turn the Wind
04.   Where We Belong
05.   Let the Music Show You the Way
06.   Too Much Pride
07.   Old Rebels
08.   Welcome to Real Life
09.   Hottest Queen of Cool
10.   Wake Up
11.   Mother Europe
12.   I’m Not Your Enemy
13.   Sessions in the Village
14.   Utopia for Realists
15.   Transylvanian Dances
16.   You’ll Find Me in Your Mirror
17.   Return to Budapest
18.   Barbaro
19.   The Torch


Sunday, May 17, 2020

Prog Rock Review: Notion Blue-The Son, The Liar and The Victor

Release Date: May 12, 2020
Label: Digital Self Released


This was an unexpected album for review, The Son, The Liar and The Victor, as I had not heard of the band, Notion Blue before. A little bit of research gave me some info about the 3-piece rock band from Connecticut.

Unfortunately, the unifying force behind the formation of Notion Blue was a tragedy. Brothers, Gabe (drums/vocals), and Luke (vocals/guitar/bass) Chase had often joined Max (vocals/synthesizer/keyboards) and Johny (bass) Barbi for gigs since high school days. Although this happened a lot of the time, they never actually considered forming a band. Everything changed in 2018 when Johny died unexpectedly and in dealing with this loss, the three remaining friends decided to form an official band to produce a concept album about the life and times of Johny Barbi. Over the following 12 months, they worked hard, writing and recording demos and wrestling with rough ideas.

The resulting album, The Son, The Liar and The Victor, is a prog concept album greatly influenced by concept albums from The Neal Morse Band, Dream Theater and Steven Wilson to depict Johny Barbi’s life.

The album is a 10-track release with a total running time of just over 42 minutes. The longest track on offer is track 5, “Keeping Apart” which clocks in at 5:41 minutes, and the shortest is the opening track, “Memories” at under 2 minutes.

Opening the album is “Memories” (1:31) a short introduction to the album with excellent piano, strings joining in around 35 seconds, and a plaintive vocal appearing after 60 seconds. A really good piece of music to set the listener up for the rest of the album.

The fourth track, “The Liar” (5:40) has a stunning keyboard/guitar intro before dropping away to the vocals and then returning to the opening passage. The tempo builds up to another stunning keyboard/guitar interplay which drives the track on until dropping away with the return of the vocals and the opening theme. An interesting guitar riff takes the track towards the finale and a gentle fading away.

The last featured track is track 6, “Doubt Is Not A Destination” (5:36) which commences with a gentle acoustic guitar and vocal, taking the track onwards for the first 1:30 minutes, before the band starts to flow with an excellent section and a great guitar backed passage. By 3 minutes the music has returned to the gentleness of the opening section before building up as the track enters the final quarter with some excellent harmonized vocals and strings again reappearing. The gentle acoustic guitar from the start escorts the track out.


This was a huge undertaking by the three remaining friends and musicians, and they have produced an excellent prog-rock album. If I have one niggle, I do tend to find that in trying to convey areas and happenings in the life of Johny, the flow of the lyrics sometimes doesn’t quite work, but with such excellent music, it is only a niggle. The band provides sensitive lyrics, great vocals, both on lead and on the harmonies, superb bass, guitar, and keyboards going from the delicate to the soaring and the gentle to the driving.

I found The Son, The Liar and The Victor to be an excellent first album and congratulate the three band members on their achievement. Grab a listen to this album, and while I cannot guarantee that everyone will be blown away by it, I feel that many prog followers will find this of sufficient interest to add it to their collection.

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson – Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
March 16, 2020

Tracks:

01. Memories (1:31)
02. The Gathering/Overture (4.47)
03. Always Tomorrow.\ (4.27)
04. The Liar (5.40)
05. Keeping Apart (5.41)
06. Doubt Is Not A Destination (5.36)
07. I See The Light (4.03)
08. Passing (4.20)
09. Homecoming (3.13)
10. Gates of Heaven (3.11)

 

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Rock-Americana-Progressive Review: Euphoria-The Reverie Suite

Release Date: September 17, 2019
Label: Independent

Euphoria’s second release titled The Reverie Suite was released in September 2019. This is the kind of music that can be hard to put into a corner and stick a label on. For my ears, that is a fine start knowing that I was in for a lot of diversity and surprises.

I would call it Rock-Americana with a Progressive twist, just as the band describes it. What is initially indicative of the progressive leanings is the length of the tracks.

The band explains the album like this: It is a concept album based on the life of vocalist Saskia who delivers her story with an earnest passion that’s hauntingly beautiful. Its theme is centered around childhood and musically presented with a sound that evokes America in all its beauty – whether it be folk, rock, jazz, or Native purple mountains majesty with progressive tinges.

I think that statement puts it all into a proper perspective for potential listeners. It serves as a looking glass into what you can expect. It is everything and more than one would expect actually. Saskia has a rich powerful voice that pulls you right into the story and holds you. The music is all very tasteful and well suited to the lyrics and vocal style of Saskia. Every track is a musical carpet ride that will capture your imagination. In a word, it is all quite cinematic. Choosing the recording to be a concept album worked well.

Hoyt Binder’s guitar is fantastic. He can be powerful with some meaty chords or tone it down to sound quieter and more textured. He also utilizes a banjo and mandolin to get that Americana element in place sandwiched in between his power strokes. I most certainly appreciate all of his work with the stringed instruments. His multitude of talent leads the way, inviting Saskia’s inviting vocals to come out and play with the music making it a complete experience for a listener. Her vocals were giving me goosebumps.

The Reverie Suite is engaging, precise, diversified, exciting, and filled with the many colors of the world and cultures. I sincerely appreciate that kind of take on a recording, it is always impressive and something you cannot forget. The musicianship is stellar. Ronald Van Deurzen adds the quintessential keyboard element while The Americana Daydream Revival Orchestra delivers background harmonies, flute, percussion, harmonica, bass, and strings, which in turn gives their sound a layered effect that makes each track a real musical journey. (I have included a list of all contributors below)

Their magnum opus is ”Paradise Road,” which clocks in at a hefty 9:42. With this one track, you get the whole package and stylings that this band commands in one track. It is quite impressive to sit back and hear everything going on. I loved every minute of it. The long instrumental breaks are a testament to this band’s all-around talent. This is the one track I would call definitively progressive. The way it ends so suddenly with Saskia singing “And paradise is her name,” puts the final touch on the elements of prog as the door shuts and you get ready for the next track (or another one opens).

Then you get the full instrumental track “Remind Me.” It is a delight, bringing a distinct Americana/Celtic flair to your senses, transporting the listener to a world stage. Getting the full instrumental treatment of their sounds encourages you to paint your personal picture on the canvas of their music.

The Reverie Suite
may take a few listens to get it all into perspective, but I believe that any listener that has an appreciation for rock, prog, Americana, folk, or any combination thereof, will find great value in this album.

LINE-UP:
Saskia Binder - Vocals
Hoyt Binder - Guitars, banjo, mandolin, background harmonies
Ronald Van Deurzen - Piano, organ
Trevor Lloyd - Strings
Tollak Ollestad - Harmonica
Rebecca Kleinmann - Flute
Paulo Gustavo - Bass
Chris Quirarte - Drums
Mike Disarro - Background harmonies
Bobby Albright – Percussion

Mixed by Smiley Sean
Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Howie Weinberg Mastering

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 28, 2020
Founder of:

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

Track List: 
01. Prelude/ She's Calling 04:54
02. Reverie 07:12
03. On My Way 07:31  
04. Heartbeat 04:53
05. Bridge of Dreams 04:38
06. Queen of Hearts 04:47
07. Paradise Road 09:42
08. Move On 05:21
09. Seasons 07:00  
10. Reprise 03:24
11. Remind Me 05:44
12. Content 05:57

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Progressive Rock Review: JJ Chardeau - In Terra Cognita?

Release Date: November 15, 2019
Label: L RECORDS, Muffin Records Productions USA

A chanting overture, “Evolution,” leads into a battle-like track with “Dream In Moscow.” In Terra DCognita? (The Music of the Rock Opera Magic Musical Man) is a musical phenomenon. Not only is it an impactful recitation of wonderful instrumentation, but, the listener is gifted with a culture shock of all different languages and origins.

JJ Chardeau is certainly a man of uniqueness. As seen throughout this album, Chardeau does not limit himself to one particular styling or sound. Instead, he will push boundaries to see great success in his work and artistic expressions. For over 30 years, he’s been making Progressive Rock all his own and bending every rule he can.

“Dream In Moscow” is a beautifully written out build-up of battle or struggle. It begins as an illuminating piece, soothing the listener’s ear with a piano intro, as the orchestra and Chicago’s Danny Seraphine, along with Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre lending their voices to this piece amongst others throughout the album. “Black Taj Mahal” is a good contour for the prior track as the chimes, flute, and what sounds to be a triangle echo out a mental escape to a serene picturesque land.

“Farewell Lhassa” is another ode to a foreign area, China. One that offers up a more haunting vibe of chimes and an occasional gong and guitar riff. Voices arise of an alert message that conflict has now arisen and materials (missiles) have been stolen, almost as though someone has been compromised. This is followed up by another strictly instrumental piece.

Filled with the xylophone, keyboard, and drums to keep the rhythm in place, “DMZ” bridges the album together keeping a steady relaxed tone throughout the track. Leading into “Frisson Nippon,” is a thrilling, excitement lead-up of chimes and whistle-into-chant. It feels as though the song is taking the listener sailing through steady waters or hiking up to conquer some challenges on land or sea. “Les larmes du pacifique” starts as a tropical island getaway, going into a tragic song of tears and struggle.

“Nunavut,” is a hushed and fluted piece that has a god-like messenger speaking throughout. It sounds as though, a mission is being explained or what might be next to come on the listener’s journey, wherever the figure may be thinking of. Then we approach “The Last Rockaway.” It is different and fun from the rest of the record where it feels more like a classic rock n’ roll song. It asks of the individual’s humble beginnings as he is the sole person left of his own.

“Pablo Tequila” is a fun international song that throws even the most anti-dancer into a hip-shaking good time. It is a simple feel-good song that poses as a rarity for the record. Following that up, “Machu Picchu” is a strictly instrumental styled piece that has a very simplistic sound to it. A piano at the beginning and end, a flute, and some percussion give life to this song as it sends the listener through another conflict-to-resolution type of scenario; ending with a serene resolution.

Heading into what sounds like a Middle-Eastern piece, the majority of “Cabale Kabyle” is an easy, melodic tune that appeals well to the average listener. Towards the end there seems to be a bit of struggle or issue of sorts but, within a minute the struggle resigns to more of the strings ending the tune with peace. Next, “Walls of Lament” (the single off the record), gives a feel to me like a spy movie. It reminds me of where the spy or hero is trying to get past the laser-covered room to reclaim his stolen artifact. But, by the middle of the song, it becomes something back into a foreign land to adventure through thickets of fog as the listener wanders.

“Tchad” is probably the most complicated of the tracks to understand to a person whose only language is English. It sounds as though the vocalist is proclaiming the area their own. The fact that they will not go down without a fight shows their strength and resilience to protect what is theirs. This, combined with the finale of “The End” leads to a very powerful finale. The brightness and intensity show how to end a story properly.

Key tracks include: “Dream In Moscow,” “Les larmes du pacifique,” and “Pablo Taquila.” 
 

Gregg Keniston- MuzikMan.net Staff
March 8, 2020



Track Listing:
01. Evolution (Magical Musical Man Ouverture)
02. Dream In Moscow
03. Black Taj Mahal
04. Farewell Lhassa
05. DMZ
06. Frisson Nippon
07. Les larmes du pacifique
08. Nunavut
09. The Last Rockaway
10. Pablo Tequila
11. Machu Picchu
12. Cabale Kabyle
13. Wall of Laments
14. Tchad
15. The End? (Magical Musical Man Finale)

 


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Symphonic Prog Review: Marco Bernard & Kimmo Pörsti (The Samurai Of Prog)-Gulliver

Release Date: January 25, 2020
Label: Seacrest Oy
Website
This band was originally formed as a multi-national collaboration project in 2009, with Marco Bernard (bass), an Italian resident in Finland, Kimmo Porsti (drums), from Finland and an American multi-instrumentalist, Steve Unruh. The Samurai of Prog is this core trio plus guest musicians when required. The debut release appeared in 2011, Undercover, and the album now under review is No 8, Gulliver, a concept album released last month.

Gulliver
is based on the novel by Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), and deals with Gulliver’s adventures in 4 different lands.

 Only Marco and Kimmo from the core trio are fully involved in Gulliver as Kimmo explained to me that Steve was busy with another project and I think that it may be with United Progressive Fraternity (UPF). Steve does appear on some tracks and there are 21 guest musicians also involved with the release.

Gulliver is a 6-track album with track 2, “Lilliput Suite” running to just under 18 minutes and the final track, “Finale,” clocking in at just over 3 minutes. The total playing time is just over an hour (62 minutes).

As ever, a concept album makes picking out individual tracks difficult as the storyline continues through the album, but I will try to give a flavor of Gulliver.  A mention should also be made of the superb artwork on the 6 panel CD cover from none other than Ed Unitsky.

I always feel that the opening track is very important to “grab the listener by the ears” and set them up for what is to follow. “Overture XI” (7:42) is the opener and is an instrumental dominated by old-style key-boards and switches in tempo from thunderous keys to quiet, almost pastoral, sequences. This is symphonic prog at its best. A guitar appears to take the track onward before passing the baton onto Marek Arnold and his superb saxophone. As the track reaches its conclusion, the listener is presented with a dilemma, either to continue onto the following track or replaying that superb opening track. There is a difficult choice to be made.

The second track is the longest track on the album “Lilliput Suite” (17:53) and is split into 6 sections, namely I) The Voyage Of The Antelope, ii) Prisoner, ii) Inside The Emperor’s Palace, iv) Peculiar Tradi-tions, v) The Theft Of The Blefuscudian Fleet, vi) The departure, which sees more guest musicians em-ployed to add flute, violin, and trumpet. This is majestic music with the sweeping changes in sections, from full band involvement to moments of a more delicate nature linked by superb instrumental passages.


All in all, this is a superb release by two-thirds of the Samurai of Prog core trio and as the “Finale” ends, the listener should find themself marveling at the majestic swathes of keyboards, tight guitar passages and excellent flute/violin pastoral sections.

This is one of the best Samurai of Prog releases, and if you have not dipped into the Samurai of Prog music previously, then Gulliver is the one to start with. This is an album that should be found in any true symphonic prog fan’s CD collection.



Jim “ The Ancient One” Lawson – Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
March 3, 2020


Tracks: 

 1. Overture XI (7:42)
2. Lilliput Suite (17:53)
3. The Giants (8:42)
4. The Land Of The Fools (14:30)
5. Gulliver’s Fourth Travel (10:17)
6. Finale (3:11)

 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Progressive/Rock Review: Bernie Shaw & Dale Collins -Too Much Information

Release Date: September 13, 2019
Label: Bernie Shaw / Dale Collins
Website
Kicking off the album Too Much Information, Bernie Shaw is very bright and uplifting as "So Many Times" begins. The album reminds me a lot of the band Journey and their unique sound to 80's Rock. Longtime friends Bernie Shaw and Dale Collins team up to produce an album of seismic proportions. With the assistance of Ron Restall on drums and Jason Gardenits on the keyboard, the perfect blend of Blues and Progressive Rock chemistry.

The depiction of the artwork can be interpreted as a dawn of a new day, or as the light in the sea of gray. It sizes up to the tone of the record as it avails the roughness of the waves and the heaviness of songs like "Alone" and "Hey Jimi," while that glimmer of light shone beyond the sea reflects on a more positive note of "Here We Go" and "Rock On."

Running back on "So Many Times," the song captures a lighter side of Bernie Shaw, where he typically adheres to more of an intense Metal sound. It is an excellent battle between letting the light in, feeling good, and thinking there was more one could have made a better choice along the way. "Alone" is an immediate stark contrast. The song proclaims how the singer will now be operating daily life on his own, he cannot continue to carry the weight of his other half with no sign of change or improvement.

"Here We Go," keeps the beat of every traveler's anthem. However, the song speaks of an irritating, repetitious situation that he finds himself caught in the middle of. To me, it feels very much like hiking up an endless trail or mountain; albeit, it even reminds me of the scene in Rocky, climbing the Philadelphia stairs.

"Too Much Information," the title track, is a great bridge-like track. It is not too detailed or overly emotional. Rather, it is a pleasant earworm for guitar lovers everywhere. Contrary to the title, it doesn't feel like overload at all. I probably stand alone in this thought, however, it is nice to see an artist not make the title of the album his or her main focus.

We turn now to a darker note, but, it turns out to be my favorite track of the album. "Sad Song" possesses a great blend of Shaw's vocals and both Shaw's and Collins' instrumental technique. The song has a great way of rocking like the sea, building up like a solid wave and crashing into the shore, at the height of Shaw's chorus lines.

An excellent ode to the late, great Jimi Hendrix follows up a solemn track. Upon initial listening, one is safe to assume, this might be a more somber or even heartwrenching tribute. As the song progresses it is anything but. The song calls out to the spirit of Hendrix and does his honor well by majoritively dedicating this track to being an instrumental piece. One of the great kings of Rock music would be jamming right alongside Shaw and Collins if he were able to hear this today.

"Just A Little Bit" is a great in-your-face anthem of how someone can just try to break another person down in every possible way. The person being tormented wants nothing more than to see the damage right in front of their face. You can tell as the song progresses, the singer won't let this irritation get the best of him and builds upon the harm caused by the other party.

With that rise-from-the-ashes tune, we arrive at the final song of the album, "Rock On." It is a steady, fun track emphasizing the carefree spirit of the duo. The song solidifies what every musician, band, and concert-goer have in common; and that's to simply – rock on. When everything around you seems to be on sensory overload or you might just be feeling a bit down about something in life, the message is clear; rock on with Too Much Information.

Key tracks include: “Sad Song,” “Hey Jimi,” and “Rock On.” 


Gregg Keniston- MuzikMan.net Staff
February 19, 2020

Reviews Provided By:

Track Listing:
1. So Many Times
2. Alone
3. Here We Go
4. Too Much Information
5. Sad Song
6. Hey Jimi
7. Just A Little Bit
8. Rock On

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Progressive Rock Review: Art in America - Cloudborn

Release Date:August 1, 2019
Label: Art in America



Like a book, music can catapult you into an imaginative adventure. Art in America most definitely built their latest LP, Cloudborn around the concept of an alternate universe where all your troubles just disappear and the listener cannot wait for what may lie ahead.

The theme of experimental simplicity is fitting for this band as the band members started, as they state on their site, “in their living room kicking around some musical ideas with guitar, bass and some unusual instrumentation - … and a Japanese Koto.” Band members and siblings, Chris Flynn – lead vocals and guitar, Shisonee Flynn – harp, koto, tamboura, and vocals; and Dan Flynn – on drums and percussion, began the venture of artistry and bringing together the framework of a band. Soon, after adding Jim Kuha – on bass guitar and backing vocals, and Garry Galloway on the keys; the band was finalized and two albums later, Art in America is on the rise to become a part of every Progressive Rock N’ Roll lover’s collection and earworm.

“A Tale of the Unexpected” sounds like that of a videogame cut scene. It offers the listener a way to both, relax and get introduced to a realm of unusual instruments that typically is not included within Progressive Rock album concepts. The harp, an Indian piece called a tambura, and a Japanese koto are fused throughout the track list.

Much of the rest of the album gives off a blend of 80’s and 90’s Progressive Rock/Pop vibe. As soon as I heard the first few lines of “I Am I,” I felt like I was inside a Classic Progressive Rock or Action movie soundtrack music video. “Someday” hits right in the heart of any listener with half a sense of aspiration and hope. It proclaims that one day soon he (the singer), will get to where he needs to be.

Just take a look at this particular album art. It is of a vast and new unexplored world that leaves an imprint of a powerful image on the listener’s mind. “Drool,” on the other hand, gives the feel of a traveler that is in search of something but; no one quite knows what. The singer may just be wandering down an endless road. Rounding out the first half of the track list, “The New Swami” is one of those songs that you just cannot exactly place your finger on how to react. It contains elements of the tambura giving the tune some peacefulness. It is sung so brightly but, if you listen to some of the lyrics: “The new Swami smiles, as rubies turn to rubble;” the Swami is not as peaceful as proclaimed.

“Someone Called My Name,” is all about looking for answers. It’s a journey where all but, the voice he keeps hearing over and over again remains a constant in his life. We never do learn if he discovers who or what he has been searching for. Art in America goes back to a wild-western-type of a theme on “For Shelly.” It sings of coming to a realization of whom he had however, now she’s gone out of his life
Trying to find any remnants of back to when he and his friend or lover back to simpler times, the singer is in a daydream-like state and the rhythm remains constant to maintain that feel of flashbacks. It’s a very mellow peace to bridge the album together, it almost becomes instrumental.

Going from an almost monotone beginning to an action-packed four minutes and twenty-one seconds, “Facelift” is a fun changeup from the rest of the record. It feels like the singer or the listener could be charging up to something blending with a somewhat mystical sound towards the end. It becomes one of the standout tracks on the album for the simple reason that it brings some life and rejuvenation back into the record; like a reawakening of sorts.

The last three tracks create their own personalities. “Don’t Look Down” keeps with the upbeat sequence of the prior track. It’s guitar solo, is on the shorter side but, still offers what every Progressive Rock lover desires, a pure shred of the strings through your speakers. “No Wonder” finds its way on this record perfectly as its unique sound, almost like a movie scene, or story time sequence. The lyrics do not reflect much in terms of positivity because the man in question has made some mistake that he cannot seem to identify but, she knows quite well what he did. It’s the typical couples’ flare-up of arguments, disagreements, and sometimes breakup. Finally, taking a look at the last track “Goodbye My Love / Mind’s Eye / Peace of Mind,” it is truly an ideal finale to a perfect Progressive Rock album. It begins slow and swing-like, then, by the time it gets to “Mind’s Eye,” it blossoms into an up-tempo grand finish to make the listener feel as though they are leaving the concert of their life.

Cloudborn is that album that defines experimental. It pushes all types of Progressive Rock boundaries and draws the ear of various listeners. If you are looking for a record that makes you daydream, that makes you feel good overall, and that can turn any day around; this is the album for you. Often, Progressive Rock is misconstrued as angry – when commonly dealing with Metal, or disturbed when playing a bunch of Alternative artists; there’s a third avenue of eclectic and experimental sound that can accompany a typically positive intonation.

Key tracks include: “A Tale of the Unexpected,” “The New Swami,” and “No Wonder.”

Gregg Keniston- MuzikMan.net Staff
February 15, 2020

Reviews Provided By:

Track Listing:
 

01. A Tale of the Unexpected
02. I Am I
03. Someday
04. Drool
05. The New Swami
06. Someone Called My Name
07. For Shelly
08. When We Were Young
09. Facelift
10. Don't Look Down
11. No Wonder
12. Goodbye My Love / Mind’s Eye / Peace of Mind

Monday, January 27, 2020

Prog Rock Review: DBA-Geoffrey Downes/Christopher Braide-Live In England

Release Date: November 29. 2019
Label: Cherry Red Records
Geoff Downes and Christopher Braide are DBA. DBA stands for Downes Braide Association. Both gents are well known in musical circles and Downes has carved out a legendary slice of time with Asia and Yes and several other projects over the years, with his keyboard wizardry. Braide is a multi-talented artist, vocalist, musician, producer, and collaborator.

This matchup is one to die for with excellent musicianship and vocals beyond compare. Besides those two key players, there are important parts of the whole to make all this music complete, including Andy Hodge (bass), Dave Colquhoun (lead guitar) and special guests David Longdon (vocals and flute) and narration by Barney Ashton Bullock.

Live In England folds out into four sections holding two CDs and one DVD and an informative booklet.

I have always loved Yes and Asia including the 80s version of Yes with Downes. As all fans know that is why Asia was born. What you will hear in this immense set are 16 audio tracks then the same in the DVD. So, you get the best of both worlds. I watched the DVD first, of course, to get the full in-house impact when it was recorded at Trading Boundaries in East Sussex on September 28, 2018. The stage was normal and no-frills, just straight-ahead great music which suits me just fine thank you very much.

Christopher has an amazing voice, there is no other way to explain it. For me, it was goosebump time when the lead-off track “Prelude/Skyscraper Souls” kicked in. He has a smooth voice that can hit those high notes and perfectly enunciated for every part of each song. I did notice that when he sings in the lower register it reminded me somewhat of David Gilmour. When he goes high forget it, there are not too many vocalists that can pull off a performance as Christopher did on so many songs in one performance. I particularly appreciated that I could understand all the lyrics thanks to Christopher’s pinpoint vocal style. So enough about the vox humana.

Where would all of those beautiful vocals be without an amazing soundtrack to sing along to? That is exactly what Downes and company provide from start to finish on this performance. Downes is and was the musical centerpiece of the presentation and he even gets the stage all to himself to perform some familiar music instrumentally for the audience.

This is not just progressive rock its prog! And with some of the best-seasoned talent on the planet to present it all, fans of this kind of music will find a lot to enjoy on this set. The music covers their studio releases with precision and energy that will greatly be appreciated even with the most particular listeners.

If you don’t have the three studio albums, after hearing Live In England you will likely seek out all of those releases, I know I will.

Watch for the vinyl version of Live In England to be released on February 14th!


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
January 26, 2020

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Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

Tracks

DISC ONE:

 1. SKYSCRAPER SOULS
2. MACHINERY OF FATE
3. LIVE TWICE
4. VANITY
5. SUBURBAN GHOSTS
6. BOLERO / VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR
7. GLACIER GIRL
8. ANGEL ON YOUR SHOULDER


DISC TWO:
 

1. TOMORROW
2. LIGHTHOUSE
3. SKIN DEEP
4. DARKER TIMES
5. FINALE
6. HEAT OF THE MOMENT
7. THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES
8. DREAMING OF ENGLAND


DISC THREE – DVD (NTSC REGION 0)

1. SKYSCRAPER SOULS
2. MACHINERY OF FATE
3. LIVE TWICE
4. VANITY
5. SUBURBAN GHOSTS
6. BOLERO / VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR
7. GLACIER GIRL
8. ANGEL ON YOUR SHOULDER
9. TOMORROW
10. LIGHTHOUSE
11. SKIN DEEP
12. DARKER TIMES
13. FINALE
14. HEAT OF THE MOMENT
15. THE SMILE HAS LEFT YOUR EYES
16. DREAMING OF ENGLAND
 

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Prog Rock Review: Nektar-The Other Side

Release Date: January 24, 2020
Label:  Independent
Website



Early influencers of the ’70s prog-rock movement, Nektar has returned with a satisfying new release. The Other Side reaches into the past and skillfully carries the band’s groundbreaking sound into the modern age. Like many prog-rock pioneers, Nektar took chances. Their debut album, for example, contained a single 40-minute song. As with any early 70s band that is fortunate enough to remain together, Nektar has gone through changes. Today, Nektar consists of three original members (Mo Moore, Ron Howden & Randy Dembo), a returning stint player (Ryche Chlanda), and a new keyboardist (Kendall Scott).

These are experimental rock songs with driving, complex rhythms supporting flights of fancy on keyboard and guitar. Think of Jones & Bonham of Led Zeppelin meeting Rick Wakeman of YES meeting Steve Hacket of Genesis. The most enjoyable moments on this album come when the band flies away from the derivative and predictable choruses and allows Chlanda and Scott to take the listener to new heights.

Case in point is the opening track, “I’m on Fire.” The lyrics Mo Moore wrote in 1978 for his fiancé fall flat against the imaginative underlying sonic texture. “SkyWriter” is a more accessible and reminiscent of an Asia track bridging prog with pop. On the other side of the coin, “Love Is/The Other Side” is a masterful progression of melodies and tempos taking off mid-way and not relenting until the end. “The Light Beyond” and “Look Through Me” are slower, more orchestral, and introspective songs heavy on keyboard with strains of Alan Parsons.

At times it feels as if The Other Side is attempting to combine the experimental and ethereal nature of progressive rock with down-to-earth hard rock sensibilities. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. As a listener, I found myself tuning out for the chorus and turning in for the jams. Overall, the offering is strong, and the experience is worthwhile. The better news is that Nektar is still producing quality albums and is still touring. Legend has it that they do not let their live audiences down, so check out their tour list and go see this iconic band while you have the chance.

Tom Endyke - MuzikMan.net Staff
January 23, 2019

REVIEWS PROVIDED BY:
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Tracks:
1. I’m On Fire
2. SkyWriter
3. Love is/The Other Side
4. Drifting
5. Devil’s Door
6. The Light Beyond
7. Look Through Me
8. Y Can’t I B More Like U