Showing posts with label Indie Music Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indie Music Reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Rock-Progressive Review: 6 Turning 4 Burning-6T4B

Release Date: August 26, 2023

Label: Bomber Records


Those Hellraisers From Cleveland, Ohio, 6 Turning 4 Burning, have released a rock album for all true music lovers to give a spin or to blare from your vehicle while cruising down the roads of America. Listen to 6T4B, and I will tell you why track by track.

Indicative of the cover art, they will appeal to those who believe in the freedom of the U.S. and the open roads to travel anywhere. Their music is very eclectic, bordering or launching into full-on progressive.

"Crazy Peace" is an instant satisfying rocker, and the lyrics are a riot! It is about the lady friend or wife, as it may, having their crazy "time of the month." It is a great way to kick off the album. Also, you will hear some exemplary musicianship on the recording. It is bound to click when you assemble a group of seasoned players. The second track, which clocks in at 7:02, is a tribute to their all-around talents and a tight band exhibiting all their skills within one track. It is a killer track featuring all aspects of the band at each position. Notably, the vocals are outstanding.

"So Deep" was a famous track that got thousands of views. It is a rocking love song, a slow cooker, and a tremendous vocal performance. It serves as another dimension of the band to be admired and appreciated.

"Help Me Through This" differs significantly from the previous tracks for 8:29. The guitar playing is bluesy, which fits the lyrics nicely. I am getting more impressed the further I get into the album. The diversification is quite impressive. And because of that, it keeps things interesting. Also, with extensive songs, it is essential not to lose the listener. That never happens because of all the changes. This one is a progressive rocker.

"Something's Wrong" keeps up with the pattern of change. The track starts with a soft acoustic guitar as the bass and drums come in. The vocals are heartfelt and expressing the lyrics beautifully. If you like blues-country tracks, this one is a nice change from the previous track. They sound like a different band on this one.

"It's Over" starts with a funky bass line accompanied by a driving guitar line, then it changes into a slower pace to emphasize the lyrics about the abuse of drugs and all the struggles it can bring. It doesn't sound like any fun, and it should discourage those wanting to take drugs. I think that was the point. As the song lumbers along, the words hit you like a brick wall at 90 mph, saying, "Cocaine's got me down, rest in peace." About halfway through, the song turns into the fast line as the bottom end pushes it along. The guitar plays some fat chords and nice cutting lines to show off their chops. It is another excellent track with 8:44 of fantastic changes and music to keep you wondering what is coming next. Then, at the end, you can hear someone snorting coke.

"Karma" is another long one coming in at 9:34, so I am amazed at how they can keep pumping out all these impressive tracks with such length and complexities. It starts with some definitive chicken pickin', rapid drumming, and a big bass sound. It all changes as it goes back and forth with different paces and styles of playing. It's like a country-fried rocker with hints of the blues for extra color. You may wonder when the vocals will come in, but they finally arrive well into 3+ minutes. And in this case, that is a good thing, as I enjoyed the long instrumental intro. The vocals add their sentiments with lines like "Karma speaks to you all alone." Those words change how we can relate to and experience karma. Which, of course, works if you believe in it. I believe in it without question, so I found the lyrics relatable.

"Take a Hike" is their magnum opus, dialing in at 11:24. I did not know what to expect with a track this long; it had to be progressive. At least, that was my first thought. It starts epically with a hard-driving metallic power; then they start reciting lines from the bible to help save them from the dark master himself, the Devil. It is an incredible track with magnificent music. It is reflective, opaque, and anticipatory. This one convinced me what a superior group of players this band is. Fans of Black Sabbath would love this one for sure. It is most certainly a hike to the darker side of life. In typical fashion, at 4+ minutes, it completes changes in pace and sound. This bass is prolific here. The vocals reminded me of Ian Gillan of Deep Purple. It is so soulful and passionate, and if anyone wants to know how good this band can play, it should be your first track. It's a must! And remember what they say in the song "Don't listen to Devil!" "Take a hike, Devil, disappear!" All instruments are superb throughout the run of the song.

So, if all of that wasn't enough, they test their abilities by covering the ELP classic 'Lucky Man" within 10:07. Could they once again prove themselves as a legitimate force in music? It starts differently than the original, then changes to the more familiar melody you are used to hearing in 2+ minutes. The vocals are excellent, and the music from start to finish is outstanding. It was risky to close out such a superior recording like that, but they pulled it off like the five-star band they are.

6T4B is a title that may give people a different idea of what this band is all about, including the cover art. Trust me on this one; you are in for a treat for the senses with 6 Turning 4 Burning. Every track is entertaining and well-played, and you will be sorry it all ends, so play it again.

Keith “MuzikMan” Founder

December 6, 2023


1. Crazy Peace 5:26

2. Release Me 7:02

3. So Deep 5:28

4. Help Me Through This 8:29

5. Something's Wrong 4:25

6. It's Over 8:44

7. Karma 9:34

8. Take a Hike 11:24

9. Lucky Man 10:07

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Cinematic/Progressive Rock Review: Ben Craven-Monsters From The Id

Release Date: May 6th, 2022

Label: Self-released, available as a digital download from Bandcamp


Ben Craven is an Australian composer and multi-instrumentalist who first came to the music world's attention with the release in 2005 of the debut, Two False Idols. This was very much a "solo" work by a musician who had tired of the "group approach". This initial release was issued under Tunisia, but subsequent releases carried the Ben Craven name. 

These further releases were Great and Terrible Potions (2011), Dissected (By Ben Craven and The Section 2014), Last Chance To Hear (2016), and, the album under review Monsters From The Id (2022).


I had been aware of the music of Ben Craven from the time of the release of album no 2, and featured tracks from both the two early albums, and then album no 3, on my radio show, but somehow missed out on the fourth release. When Monsters of the Id appeared for review, I was intrigued to see where Ben had gone musically since 2014.


I will say that I did not get past the first track for over an hour, as it was listened to three times before continuing. Occasionally, you come across an album that blows you away from the start, and this is one of those albums, as far as I am concerned. While listening to the rest of the album and working towards writing this review, I was aware of other reviews extolling the virtues of this Ben Craven release. Still, I can summarize the rest of my review very simply. Monsters Of The Id is a stunning album, and if you still need to get a copy, you are missing a gem from 2022. This album will feature in my Best Of 2022 radio show early in 2023. 


There are two epic-length tracks and four single/radio edit tracks on this album, as it is unlikely that many stations will play either of the two 19+ minute tracks. The opening track on the album, "Die Before You Wake" (19:32), comprises 7 sections, "Sleeping Spectre", "Ancient Majesty", "Die Before You Wake Pt 1", "Warming Glow", "Wicked Delights", "Die Before You Wake Pt 2" and "Endless Night", suggesting that there are 7 thematic areas within the 19+ min. The opening sequence is designed to grab your ears from the off, with an insistent thumping beat and a choir building the tension, before it drops into a quiet short section and then returns to the starting sequence with the guitar heralding in the section called "Ancient Majesty." Although the notes supplied suggest an instrumental album, the dulcet tones of Ben adorn the "Die before You Wake Pt 1" with the sound slowly building, including the appearance of a gothic-style choir behind the voice. As the music moves into section 4, there is some lovely guitar work as the track evolves into a more spacey atmospheric soundscape with some acoustic guitar and piano coming more to the fore. There is another guitar-led section, backed by the piano and joined by a synthesizer. The guitar then takes the theme on to section 5, an orchestral sequence that evolves into the second part of the "Die Before You Wake" section with the return of Ben's voice. A guitar and synthesizer section then takes the track into the final sequence, which returns to the more open, spacey, Floydian area and towards the return of the gothic-style choir, which takes the track out.

The instruction at this point would be to listen to the opening track again before proceeding with the album. Take another 19+ minutes to let the majestic opening track sink in.

Having done that, move to track 2, "Amnis Flows Aeternum" (19:11), and prepare to be blown away again.


I had liked the earlier material by Ben, but to be honest, nothing prepared me for the sheer excellence of Monsters From The Id. This is an album that grabs your attention from the opening few seconds and takes you on a fantastic journey. If you have not heard this album, do so as soon as possible and be prepared to add it to your collection.


Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson

Oct 13th, 2022


1.  Die Before You Wake (19:32)

2.  Amnis Flows Aeternum (19:11)

3.  Die Before You Wake (Single Edit 4:47)

4.  Wicked Delights (Single Edit 2:40)

5.  Guiding Voice (Single Edit 3:31)

6.  Amnis Flows Aeternum (Single Edit 4:51)

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Symphonic Prog Review: Oliver Wakeman-Collaborations

Release Date: April 11, 2022

Label: Elflock Records


While I have been aware of Oliver Wakeman for a long time, I have not listened to his music, but this changed a while back when I obtained a box set of 3 cds, Tales By Gaslight, which was a collaboration with Clive Nolan from the band, Arena. 

Now, I have been presented with another box set from Oliver, specifically called Collaborations which brings Oliver together with Steve Howe (Yes) with an album called The 3 Ages Of Magick, with Gordon Giltrap on an album called Ravens And Lullabies and a third disc, From A Stage, a live album, which pulls together music from Giltrap/Wakeman concerts.

The first disc, The 3 Ages of Magick, was originally released in 2001 and the Yes guitarist, Steve Howe worked together with Oliver. Oliver then joined Yes, I believe replacing his father, Rick, in the line-up, from 2008 to 2011. At that point, Oliver began working with another guitarist, Gordon Giltrap, resulting in the release of Ravens and Lullabies.

The 3 Ages of Magick contains 16 instrumental tracks with a total playing time of just over 74 min (74:04) with track 13, “Hy Breasail”, the longest at 8:36 min and track 12, “Through The Eyes of a Child”, the shortest at 2:13 min. 

The opening track on this album is “Ages Of Magick” (5:49) and starts with some very atmospheric keyboard swathes and great guitar work before some amazing violin work leads into a gothic style choir. The guitar and keyboards carry the track onwards, featuring some excellent piano work and a very melodic keyboard passage that moves the track towards the finale. The choir re-joins the proceedings and the guitar of Steve and the keyboards of Oliver merge to take the track out. An excellent opener which should draw the listener into the tracks that follow. 

Track number 10, “The Enchanter” (6:04) is another stunning track which again starts with the keyboards and there is a very classical feel to the music before the rest of the musicians join in. There is a keyboard passage which leads into a slow section where the guitar of Steve appears. From this point, the keyboard and guitar play little themed sections which should bring a little smile to the listener. This is the result of two excellent musicians being "in tune" with each other and enjoying themselves.

Ravens and Lullabies comprises 17 tracks with a running time of just over 71 minutes (71:13), with track 7, “Is This the Last Song That I Write?”, the longest at 10:02 min and track 12, “One For Billy”, the shortest at 2:11 min.

This album is very different from the first disc and although we have the same main instrumentation with keyboards and guitars, the feeling of the music varies. The opening track "Moneyfacturing” (4:10) begins with some excellent acoustic guitar from Gordon, soon to be joined by the rest of the band. This album also features Paul Manzi on vocals, and he possesses a very powerful, versatile voice. The lyrics themselves are very interesting and the track is filled with those little "hooks" that are not easily forgotten. One listen to this album and I guarantee that you will be singing along on the next play.

Track number 3, “From The Turn of a Card” (3:47), is another example of a piece of music littered with “hooks”, whether they be a repetitive lyric line or a little theme from the guitar or keyboard. It may be only 3:47 minutes in length, but it is a very enjoyable experience.

From A Stage has 15 live tracks with a total playing time of just over 68 min (68:06), with track 8, “Dodo’s Dream”, the longest at 8:09 min and track 4, “Glimmer of Light”, the shortest at 3:11 min.

Track number 14 from this album is one of the tracks from Ravens and Lullabies, “Ravens Will Fly Away” (4:51) and starts with some superb acoustic guitar from Gordon, soon to be joined by the voice of Paul Manzi. This is a very melodic track which has Oliver providing an “orchestral accompaniment” as the track approaches the four-minute mark and then flows onwards to the finale. 

The final track on the album is “Heartsong” (4:21) which comes from the album Perilous Journey by Gordon released in 1977 and is an excellent instrumental highlighting the musical skills of both Oliver and Gordon and is a fitting finale to the live album and indeed the Collaborations box set.

The Collaborations box set is a very good package, bringing together the musical skills of Oliver and Steve, Oliver and Gordon and a live Giltrap/Wakeman band retrospective. I will admit to enjoying the smooth melodic music produced across all 3 albums and suggest that people grab a listen to this release as it might well surprise people. 

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson

May 1,2022

Track Listing

The 3 Ages of Magick:

1. Ages Of Magick

2. Mind Over Matter

3. The Forgotten King

4. The Storyteller

5. The Whales Last Dance

6. Time Between Times

7. Flight Of The Condor

8. Lutey And The Mermaid

9. Standing Stones

10. The Enchanter

11. The Healer

12. Through The Eyes Of A Child

13. Hy Breasail

14. Hit 'n Myth

15. The Faerie Ring

16. Dream Weaver - (The Storyteller Demo)

Ravens & Lullabies:

1. Moneyfacturing

2. Fiona's Smile

3. From the Turn of a Card

4. LJW

5. Maybe Tomorrow

6. Wherever There Was Beauty

7. Is This the Last Song I Write?

8. A Mayfair Kiss

9. Anyone Can Fly

10. A Perfect Day

11. Credit Carnival

12. One For Billie

13. Ravens Will Fly Away

Bonus tracks

14. Praeludium (from the Well Tempered Clavier)

15. The Forgotten King

16. Roots

17. The Wedding Approaches (Instrumental version)

From a Stage:

1. Nature's Way

2. Wherever There Was Beauty 

3. Elizabethan Pirates

4. Glimmer of Light

5. Isabella's Wedding

6. Maybe Tomorrow

7. If You're Leaving

8. Dodo's Dream

9. Picture of a Lady

10. Anyone Can Fly

11. Lutey and the Mermaid

12. Roots

13. Mother's Ruin

14. Ravens Will Fly Away

15. Heartsong

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Progressive Instrumental Vinyl Review: The Hallucinant Telepherique-Call of The Resonant Star

Release Date: April 1, 2022

Label:  Erratic Music


That fantastic and versatile sibling team of Gino Montoya (Guitars) Sergio Montoya (Drums, Bass, Keyboards, Guitars) are back on the progressive music radar with their third embodiment of The Hallucinant Telepherique. I know that is quite a mouthful but a genius name for a group. The latest effort is titled Call of The Resonant Star. It keeps them on track for their sci-fi storylines and more esoteric subjects.

They always release a limited number of copies (500) of the recordings on vinyl. And it sounds incredible. You all knew I was going to say that, didn't you? Well, it is true; most music does sound better on vinyl. When it's all progressive instrumental, it is a party of assorted ear candy.

Side one starts with "No Third." It begins with a layer of keyboards that follow the pace and changes that the guitar offers. They go from fast and furious to quirky and complex. That is their template for this band, and it never fails to entertain. The keys are a nice touch and give some space and order to the otherwise extreme changes. It is a classic prog instrumental track and a great way to open the curtain to more.

The title track "Call of The Resonant Star" is the magnum opus clocking in at 12:02. What you hear is everything that they can produce in one track. A nice acoustic guitar starts with a gentle keyboard passage, and then they are blasting off the launching pad into a more aggressive-driven style. Jazz flavored guitar lines enter the mix with more keys and more muscular guitar work. I was reminded of Al DiMeola's electric phase (Electric Rendezvous is my favorite). A multitude of changes is the goal here and a different kind of segue into heavy bass and more of the jazz-prog keys. What an amazing slice of music!

"Spider" is a shorter track at 5 minutes, but in the realm of prog, that is the norm for one that is not extended, such as the previous track. It closes out side one with a light and airy atmosphere, some great bass, and some nice blended guitars. Keys are in the spotlight, and I couldn't help myself; Chick Corea came to mind more than once. The keys that drank too much energy drink imitates a spider on the move going in for the kill.

Side two opens with "The Unread Letter" (4:54). It sounds like a soundtrack to conflicting emotions reaching an apex. Then it all stops and changes course with the entrance of a bass line to drive it all along further. It is like a dream state of pensiveness, then back to a more energetic path of swirling emotions and all the color they hold and ever-changing, then to the finale of musical fireworks. It is instrumental genius from where I sit.

"Turn" offers some lovely Latin flavored picking to start some nice rhythms between several different musical passages of joy and excellent instrumentation. At times it is intense and complex to a lighter instrumental road with some of those melting synth sounds for that sci-fi effect. I could liken it to a classic sci-fi movie like the original The Day the Earth Stood Still. That came to mind and this music ignites those kinds of images in your mind.

"Penumbra" (4:17) has a very mellow start with the soft guitar sounding very Yes like. 70s prog but reinvented with some jazz-infused guitar to follow it up. That distinct synth with the prog-rock flavor adds more ingredients to the classic sound. Things change to the more aggressive side of the coin towards the end, with sharp guitar licks shredding the air you breathe and cascading to the finish line.

Relearn (3:38) closes the curtain on this magnificent display of musical prowess. It is under 4 minutes; can you imagine that? The drive-it-home bass line enters the mix, and some fast keys and guitars get hard at work. A very compact moving composition that is all organized to close out the proceedings.

Call of The Resonant Star
is a masterful collection of musical diversity that should not be missed.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Progressive Music Reviews Founder

March 15, 2022

Side One:
01. No Third (4:21)
02. Call Of The Resonant Star (12:02)
03. Spider (5:00)

Side Two:
04. The Unread Letter (4:54)
05. Turn (6:48)
06. Penumbra (4:17)
07. Relearn (3:38)

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Crossover Prog Review: Downes Braide Association-Halcyon Hymns

Release Date: Feb 5 (Dig), Feb 12 (CD/DVD) and April 2 (Vinyl) All 2021

Label: DBA Records


The Downes Braide Association is a studio-based project by Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Chris Braide (singer/songwriter), both of whom have a rich musical heritage.

Geoff has been a member of The Buggles, Yes and Asia, while Chris has written and produced music for film scores, advertising campaigns and worked with Lana Del Ray, Beyonce, Paloma Faith, David Guetta and co-wrote the music for Seven Worlds One Planet (A David Attenborough BBC TV series) together with Hans Zimmer and Sia.

The debut album from the Downes Braide Association was issued in 2012 and titled Pictures of You, followed 3 years later by Suburban Ghosts and then in 2017 by album No 3, Skyscraper Souls. A live album from the band was also issued in 2019, DBA Live In England.

Under review is the fourth, and latest, album from Downes Braid Association, entitled Halcyon Hymns. This is a 12 track album with a total playing time of around 64 minutes (63:37), with tracks 11 (Remembrance), and 10 (Late Summer) being the longest at 11:44 minutes and the shortest at 2:24 minutes respectively.

The opening track, “Love Among The Ruins” (6:24) starts with a short spoken section before a gentle acoustic before the vocals of Chris Braide appear. The guitar of guest musician, Dave Bainbridge (Iona/Strawbs) soon soars over the track and adds an interesting dimension, as the track repeats the previous themes leading to another guitar section. A pleasant enough entry into the album, but not one that made this listener too optimistic about what was to come, and my overall impression was that the opening track overstayed its welcome and detracted from the effect “Love Among The Ruins” had.

Track No 2, “King Of The Sunset” (6:37) features additional vocals by David Longdon (Big Big Train) and more superb guitar work from Dave Bainbridge. This track is a definite grower and initially boosted my interest after the opener. The sound drops away around two minutes from the end of the track to leave an instrumental fade out featuring mandolin and guitar which was a bit unexpected. The thought that floated across my mind was that the ending section was not necessary.

As you progress through the tracks, there are some excellent passages, melodies that penetrate deep into your mind and will not go away, stunning vocals and guitar playing, and as the long track (second last on the album) approached, I was beginning to look forward to what the band could do on a 10 minute plus excursion.

The long track, “Remembrance” (11:44) starts off with piano, some spoken word By Barney Ashton Bullock before the acoustic backing starts to build courtesy of the mandolin. Excellent lyrics carry the track along and the listener eases into the journey that is unfolding. The narrative short interludes work very well but there seemed to be a fair repetition of some lyrics which, to my mind interrupted the journey. By the halfway point, the track was beginning to pull the listener back but the disappointment was that the track then seemed to retread the music that had already gone and appeared to lose its way. I think that this was another example of a track running out of ideas.

Halcyon Hymns
has its moments, but the band seem unable to maintain those high points or to use them as jumping-off points. While I was not blown away by Halcyon Hymns, that is my personal opinion, and I would suggest, as always, that you should give this album a listen and see what you think. I will go check out the earlier albums and perhaps find the spark I seemed to miss from album No 4.

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson – Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
April 21, 2021

01. Love Among The Ruins (6:24)
02. King Of The Sunset (6:37)
03. Your Heart Will Find The Way (5:20)
04. Holding The Heavens (7:54)
05. Beachcombers (3:31)
06. Warm Summer Sun (4:43)
07. Today (6:59)
08. Hymn to Darkness (2:59
09. She’ll Be Riding Horses (4:35)
10. Late Summer (2:24)
11. Remembrance (11:44)
12. Epilogue (0:36)


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Symphonic Prog Review: The Emerald Dawn-To Touch The Sky

Release Date: March 20, 2021

Label: World’s End Records


I have been an avid follower of the band, The Emerald Dawn, since before the release of their debut album, as I received some demo material for airplay on my radio show. With each release, the band has evolved and grown in confidence with their music and album No 4, To Touch The Sky, raises the bar yet again.

The Emerald Dawn was formed in Edinburgh in 2010 by Alan Carter (Ally) and Katrina Stewart (Tree), both multi-instrumentalists and then the band relocated to Cornwall. Joining Ally (electric and acoustic guitar, guitar synth, tenor and soprano saxophone, keyboards and vocals) and Tree (keyboards, piano, flute, acoustic guitar, percussion and vocals) was Thomas Jackson (drums) and the debut release was in 2014, Searching For The Lost Key. This first album was followed in 2017 by Visions and in 2019 by Nocturne together with some personnel changes. Under
review now is the most recent album No 4, To Touch The Sky.

The band on this newest album is Ally, Tree, Tom and David Greenaway (fretted and fretless basses) and they have produced a superbly atmospheric album. To Touch The Sky comprises just 3 tracks and has a
total playing time of just under 50 minutes (48:39), with the opening track “The Awakening” the shortest in length at 11:15 minutes and the final track, “The Ascent,” the longest at 22:17 minutes. This last track is
also split into 14 sections/parts.

The opening track, "The Awakening" (11:15), starts with a simple piano passage above some excellent bass playing and sympathetic drumming. There then follows some superb keyboard work before the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Tree enters the proceedings. This atmospheric, powerful start to the track will have drawn the listener into the world of The Emerald Dawn and the instrumental passage that follows will have transported them deeper into that realm. Some stunning guitar work by Ally carries the track along with superb support from the keyboards, bass and drums before those ethereal vocals from Tree reappear around the 7:15 minute point, and the guitar takes the lead again just after 8:00 minutes. This is the driving section towards the track finale, and the ending is reached after a short piano and guitar passage.

This has been an excellent opener to the album and should certainly have grabbed the listener by presenting them with entry into the symphonic, cinematic, powerful music of The Emerald Dawn.

Track 2, “And I Stood Transfixed” (15:07), commences with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums and bass and continues the aural soundscapes that the opening track introduced. The feeling depicted in this piece of music is uncertainty and of meeting with the unknown. Melodic passages, interspersed with some stunning saxophone playing, those ethereal vocals, orchestral keyboard sweeps and gentle melodic flute hold the listener a little on edge as the music swirls through phases of light and dark. The way the band move from the light melodic passages to the darker more discordant themes and back shows the confidence that The Emerald Dawn now has in their music.

The first two tracks have been setting the scene for the 22:17 minute track, "The Ascent" when our imaginary group start on a climb having passed through feelings of excitement and uncertainty. With 14 parts to this epic track, ranging from “Exordium,” “In The Foothills,” “Passing Through The Final Village With Its Bustling Street Market, They Ponder The Challenges Ahead,” to “The Last Push,” “As The Wind Dies Down And The Clouds Part, They Find Themselves at The Summit,” “On Top Of The World” and “Addendum: The Dangerous Descent Commences,” the music of The Emerald Dawn continues to paint such detailed soundscapes that the listeners are there beside the group, feeling the emotions every step of the way.

The music starts gently before moving into a simple classically-styled piano passage with a flute motif appearing before the piano leads into the electric guitar passage leading to the start of the journey. These themes will be revisited throughout the length of the track. There is a change as those beautiful vocals appear after a stunning keyboard theme to explain that the travellers have glimpsed “The First Sight Of The Mountain." The band released a couple of the parts of "The Ascent" as a sampler/teaser before the pre-order date of To Touch The Sky, and these were part (vii), "While Pausing On A Steep Slope, They Watch An Eagle Soaring Effortlessly Above Them" and part (viii), "Resuming The Climb, They Feel The Wind Rise As The Clouds Close In." I was standing in my kitchen gazing into the distance at the snow-covered Red Cuillin mountains in the sunshine listening to these clips of music and the view, the music and my imagination all combined to produce the "perfect moment." "The Ascent" is a majestic track that shows the musical evolution of this band.

From the melodic to the edgy guitar, the stunning keyboards and piano, the ethereal vocals of Tree, the haunting flute and that superb melancholy, discordant saxophone all underpinned by stunning bass and excellent drumming, I think I have a contender for my “Album Of The Year 2021.” I am aware that it is only March, but To Touch The Sky is a magnificent album that seems to provide evidence that The Emerald Dawn are truly on their way. The first 3 albums showed a progressively evolving style, but this release has taken a quantum leap forward.

My simple advice is to clear a space on your CD shelves to house this masterpiece.

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson    Prog Rock Music Talk Staff.
March 25, 2021

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Prog/Cinematic Rock Review: Esthesis-The Awakening

Release Date: November 14, 2020

Label: Autoproduction



Esthesis is a French project formed by Aurelien Goude (keyboards, vocals, guitar, bass) and inspired by 70’s British Rock, especially prog rock. In collaboration with three other musicians, Baptiste Desmares (lead guitar), Marc Anguill (bass) and Florian Rodrigues (drums), the four-piece band have released an EP, Raising Hands, in 2019 and a full-length debut album, The Awakening, in November 2020.

I chanced upon this band by accident, and count myself very lucky to have done so, as I was instantly transfixed by the stunning music found on the full-length debut. I was lucky enough to get hold of one of the limited-edition CDs initially released as they sold out fairly quickly, but the band have now issued a standard CD to allow for the increasing demand for the bands' music.

With repeated plays, it is possible to detect very specific influences, such as Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree from the UK, Rick Miller (another great discovery I came across late in 2020) from Canada and those Norwegian giants, Airbag.

The Awakening is a six-track release with a total playing time of just shy of 60 minutes (59:39), with the opening track, “Downstream,” the longest at 16:31 minutes and the penultimate track, “The Awakening,” the shortest on offer at 6:26 minutes.

To start a debut album with “Downstream,” a 16+ minute epic, shows the self-belief that the band carry at the moment. An atmospheric start leads to guitarist, Baptiste, gets to show his bluesy side before the vocals of Aurelien appearing, smooth and understated, but so fitting the music. The track progresses with instrumental sections interspersed with those vocals and that blues styled guitar very much the central feature. The band even manage to fit in an atmospheric whistling section, which reminded this reviewer of the whistling section in the “Wind Of Change” track by the Scorpions. This opening track gently transports the listener along on a very subdued, laid back journey. During the journey, the piano of Aurelien, the guitar of Baptiste, the soft gentle vocals of Aurelien and the tight power unit of Marc (bass) and Florian (drums), flow effortlessly. At around the 9:30 minute point, there is a change in tempo increasing the urgency of the track, but the superb guitar playing maintains the atmospheric soundscape. At 11:30 minutes, another change reinstates the piano as the main instrument with the guitar slotting into the background but exerting a huge influence. A bit of vocalization adds to the aural picture the band are setting out for the listener. Entering the last 2 minutes, the track starts to drive toward a finale. Some more aggressive playing takes the track out and sets the listener up for the rest of the album.

“No Soul To Sell” (8:33) track 2 on the album is a very different style and hints at the wide-ranging ability of the musicians. With a chunkier guitar riff, more "in your face" drumming and a superb bass produce a total style contract to the opening track of The Awakening. A heavier riff-laden section fades and the bass reappears away in the distance as the track moves into an atmospheric meander, leading to an acoustic guitar passage before the organ, bass and guitar drive the track to completion.

“Chameleon” (8:06), and the fourth track, starts with an acoustic guitar riff before being joined by the smooth vocals and then some vocal harmonizing. The sound continues to be “fleshed out” by the presence of the bass and drums and ultimately, the organ appears swirling away in the background. Just before the 3:00 minute point, that bluesy style guitar soars over everything before disappearing as firstly the voice takes over and then the organ. A chunkier section of the acoustic guitar then gives way to a simple but sublime organ passage and a little more of the harmonizing vocals. An interesting change of sound style just before the 7:00 minute point ushers in a swirling heavier sounding organ that escorts the track out.

The Awakening is an amazing debut album by Esthesis which is a pleasure to listen to. From the smooth vocals, intense drumming, intricate and chunky guitars, superb bass lines and beautiful piano plus swirling organ, the members of the band grab the attention of the listener at the album outset, take them on a 60-minute journey of discovery before gently returning them as the last few notes fade away.

My simple advice is to grab a listen to The Awakening and then add it to your collection.

By the way, Esthesis has just announced that a trip-hop version of the closing track, "Still Far To Go" will be released on Bandcamp on March 5th 2021.

Jim "The Ancient One" Lawson Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
February 26, 2021

1. Downstream (16:31)
2. No Soul To Sell (8:33)
3. High Tide (10:35)
4. Chameleon (8:06)
5. The Awakening (6:26)
6. Still Far To Go (9:28)

Friday, February 12, 2021

Neo-Prog Review: Fish - Weltschmerz

Date: September 25, 2020

Label: Chocolate Frog Records (Self Released)


The new, and final studio album from Fish (David Dick), is the superb Weltschmerz, which is album No 11 from the ex-lead singer of Marillion (1981-1988). The debut release of Vigil In A Wilderness of Mirrors was issued 30 years ago (1990) and we have now reached the end of the line.

The album is available as a 2CD, 2CD and Blu-Ray deluxe edition, a digital version and a 2-album vinyl version.

The band on Weltschmerz is Fish (Vocals), Steve Vantis (bass/keyboards and guitar), Robin Boult (guitar), John Mitchell (guitar), Craig Blundell (drums), Dave Stewart (drums), David Jackson (saxophones), Liam Holmes (keyboards), Foss Paterson (keyboards), Doris Brendel (vocals), Mikey Owers (brass) and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (strings). Many of these musicians have been long term members of the Fish band and hence the band members are comfortable with what is required of them.

I have at this point to state that I preferred the Fish led Marillion rather than the post-Fish band, but I was never “blown away” by his solo material. There were some great tracks, but I tended to feel that the consistency of the music could be variable. That state of affairs however changed with the release of Feast Of Consequences, album No 10, which was a superb piece of work, especially the 5 part "High Woods Suite." I have looked forward to this final studio release from Fish for several months before the release.

The title, Weltschmerz, translates as world pain or world-weariness and may well sum up the feelings of the artist at the time, but the contents of this superb double album certainly are a long way from that downbeat title.
The Fish voice has been described as both distinct and also as a fusing of Roger Daltrey (The Who) and Peter Gabriel (Genesis), but it is his lyrics, classed as “poetic prose” that add an additional facet to the mans’ music. Fish can and does, interject spoken word lyrics into his music which seem to accentuate the storytelling aspect of his work.

Weltschmerz is a 10 track release with a total playing time of 84:30 minutes, track 5 “Rose Of Damascus” being the longest track at 15:45 minutes and track 4, “This Party’s Over” being the shortest at under 5 minutes (4:22).

The opening track, “Grace of God” (8:19), is exactly what I want to hear when listening to a new album, and that is something that immediately grabs the interest of the listener. There is a sparseness about the music behind the voice of Fish as he ventures into his storytelling, which is somehow very compelling. The lyrics paint such detailed scenarios that the listener becomes immersed in that storytelling.

The longest track, “Rose Of Damascus" (15:45) brings together the aspects that make the area in question such a volatile area to exist in, as seen through a young woman (Rose) who is trying to flee the war-torn area. In under 16 minutes, the listener is taken on a long journey through different sections with those superb lyrics tying everything together and trying to make sense of the problems that exist. The music twists and turns and holds the listener almost spellbound as the storyline unfolds.

Starting the second album is track 6, "Garden of Remembrance" (6:07) and is, for me, the most powerful, emotive track on Weltschmerz. Based on the changes in a relationship due to Alzheimer's, the lyrics are simple but literally oozing emotion as Fish relates the interaction, or rather, the lack of interaction between husband and wife. Musically there is a beautiful melody on piano behind his voice which underpins those lyrics, and latterly, a superb orchestral theme.

As a final studio album, Weltschmerz is an excellent way to bow out of further studio recording. Early in the review, I suggested that with the title translating as world-weariness, that could sum up how Fish must have felt with the personal situations that he had to confront during the recording process. Over the 5 years that Weltschmerz took to get to completion, he has touched on these moments throughout the ten superb, if very different, tracks and has produced a stunning swan song.

If you haven’t already purchased the album, I would humbly suggest that you give Weltschmerz a listen from start to finish and then part with some of your money to add the album to your collection.

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson Prog Rock Music Staff 

February 9, 2021


CD 1:  
1. Grace Of God (8:19)
            2. Man With A Stick (6:27)
            3. Walking On Eggshells (7:18)
            4. This Party’s Over (4:22)
            5. Rose Of Damascus (15:45)

CD 2:   
  1. Garden Of Remembrance (6:07)
             2. C Song (The Trondheim Waltz) (4:41)
             3. Little Man What Now? (10:54)
             4. Waverley Steps (End Of The Line) (13:45)
             5. Weltschmerz (6:51)

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Crossover Prog Review: Lunatic Soul-Through Shaded Woods (Deluxe Edition)

Release Date: November 13 2020

Label: Kscope


Lunatic Soul was founded in 2008 in Warsaw, Poland, and to date, has released 7 studio albums, from the debut, Lunatic Soul in 2008 up to the album under review here, Through Shaded Woods earlier this year. Lunatic Soul is the creative vehicle for Marius Duda, the vocalist, and bassist for the Polish band, Riverside.

Through Shaded Woods is available as a single CD, a 2CD deluxe edition, as well as in vinyl and digital versions. The review is based on the deluxe version of the release.

Through Shaded Woods (Deluxe Edition) has 8 tracks and a total running time of just over 72 minutes (72:27) with the final track, “Transition II,” the longest at 27:45 minutes and the penultimate track, “Hylophobia” the shortest at just over 3 minutes (3:20).

Although being aware of both Riverside and Lunatic Soul and having featured tracks from Riverside on my radio show, I had never managed to “get into” Lunatic Soul releases, and I approached the review of Through Shaded Woods with no real expectations.

Regular readers of my reviews will be aware that I put a great deal of value on the opening track of releases, and am always looking for a hook, an amazing riff, basically something that “grabs your ears and shouts, Listen.”. Enter track 1 of this album, “Navvie” (4:03) and we find exactly what I am looking for. Obviously, folk-based and immersed in the more Nordic/Scandinavian folk arena, "Navvie” has a repetitive riff that becomes almost shamanic and in just over 4 minutes has succeeded in drawing the listener into a stunning mesmeric aural landscape.

Track 6, "The Fountain" (6:04), starts with a simple acoustic guitar, then Marius’s clear vocals take the track on and a piano appears in the background before moving to center stage. This is a beautiful, melodic track that flows along, carrying the listener along with it. As the song progresses there is the addition of some amazingly symphonic orchestration. Around the 4:40 minute point, there is a change to leave the piano theme to carry the track to its finale. This is another superb track from a stunning album.

The final track, “Transitions II” (27:45) is a real epic in terms of length and is a simply wonderful working and reworking of riffs and themes, reminiscent of Mike Oldfield. The original “Transitions” appears on Lunatic Soul II and initially, the opening of "Transitions II" harks back to this 2010 release. The additional instrumentation starts to suggest a change of direction and indeed, around the 4-minute mark, the “fuzzy” guitar starts the track moving into the realms of the aforementioned Mike Oldfield. For several minutes this style is maintained before moving into the sphere of New Age music, carrying the listener along with a minimalist soundscape style. The music is melodic, gentle, and intensely relaxing, before another change in style and direction nudging the 18-minute point when the piano takes on more responsibility and the other instrumentation washes in and out again, continuing the painting of an aural soundscape of gentleness, but different to that which had gone before. The track almost stops around the 21-minute mark and a very different picture comes into focus. The breathy vocals, or to be more correct, vocalizations, from Marius, float over an acoustic guitar theme and there is again a return to the folk area prevalent in “Navvie." This carries on until around 24:30 minutes when an ethereal choral section seems to appear, with an acoustic guitar theme in the background before the final section which harks back in time to a Gregorian chant before slowly fading away.

Through Shaded Woods is a superb release and well worth checking out. As I suggested early in this review, despite being aware of Lunatic Soul, I was not “into” the solo work of Marius. This album has changed my mind and I will now be revisiting the previous releases with more interest. Through Shaded Woods demands a place in many peoples’ CD collections, so grab a listen and see what you think

Jim “The Ancient One “ Lawson Prog Rock Music Talk Staff
January 22, 2021


1. Navvie (4:03)
2. The Passage (8:57)
3. Through Shaded Woods (5:51)
4 Oblivion (5:03)
5 Summoning Dance (9:52)
6. The Fountain (6:04)
7. Vyraj (5:32)
8. Hylophobia (3:20)
9. Transition II (27:45)



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Instrumental Progressive Ambient Review: Green Isac Orchestra-b a r (140 gram vinyl LP)

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Label:Spotted Peccary



My only regret after hearing the most recent Green Isac Orchestra’s release b a r, is that I did not discover them years ago! This is some of the most creative and color progressive instrumental ambient music I have heard in some time. I had the pleasure of hearing it for the first time on 140 gram vinyl.

Morten Lund and Andreas Eriksen were together know as Green Isac for 25 years as a duo only, until the Green Isac collaboration expanded to a five member ensemble and rechristened themselves Green Isac Orchestra in 2015. bar is their second release as a quintet.

There is never a dull moment on b a r, in fact, this is full of brilliantly executed compositions. The operative words here is “creative” and “expansive.”

“Volcanic” starts things off and the title is very descriptive of what you will hear to get your heart pumping and your imagination kicked into high gear. It comes in just shy of a healthy 8 minutes of instrumental bliss starting off with ambient texture and building into a volcanic eruption of sounds. The track ebbs and flows between power and softer moments provided by the cello then it switches back to that colorful blasts of passion and sound. I do not think there could have been a better track on the album to get things started. When you look and see six tracks your first impression may be that is not many however you can take my word for it, it more than fills both side of the 140 gram vinyl.

“Le Grand Sportif” is 7+ minutes and it begins with a spacey intro into nice keyboard work allowing for a minimalist approach to introduce the cello. The track engages you and is in a continual evolving cycle that can be fascinating. Some good percussive sounds push it to another level as it moves closer to the end before closing out.

“With Hat” is shorter journey at 3:25 with orchestral sounds of the cello leading the way then a heavy drone like sound comes in sounding like a powerful but suggestive hammer then the gentler part of song is ushered in with an emphasis on the synths. The track has some very strong progressive movements that would please any instrumental music listener.

Side B opens with “Don Progini” (note the last name) letting us all know if we already didn’t that this is definitely progressive music! There are some interesting changes going on in this track and so many sounds converging into a blossoming full sound taking advantage of all the tools at their disposal, the band makes sure you are still paying attention. The keyboards reminded me of Tubular Bells.

“Aarwaaken” comes in over 6 minutes and starts with a spacey/spooky synth with a world edge provided by the percussive elements then it morphs for a very short period over to classical path. Mind melting synths arrive to give it that sci-fi feel as well to keep things interesting. The only way to describe this masterful composition is to call it acoustic-progressive-ambient with a classical underpinning.

“Without Hat” closes the curtain on this aural journey starting with a guitar, which was different in comparison to all the other tracks. Various synths are the building blocks of the track and it provides excitement and leads the listener to a colorful ending to close out the album.

Why stay the same is the mantra for b a r and that works very well for this excellent recording. They never do the same thing twice and that is what makes b a r  so enjoyable and something you will want to hear more than once.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-TFOV Founder

January 3, 2021

Track List:

Side A:
1. Volcanic
2. Le Grand Sportif
3. With Hat

Side B:
4. Don Progini
5. Aarwaaken
6. Without Hat

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Prog Rock Review: Circuline-Circulive New View

Release Date: October 9, 2020

Label: Circuline Music


Prog Stock 2017 was attended by actual people, how different? Things that were normal every day things have changed in the new norm. I usually attend at least 5 concerts a year and I went to one just before the virus spread like wildfire.

Circulive New View just came out this month. I covered Circuline-Circulive::Majestik DVD in 2018. That was an excellent prog-rock experience so I anticipate the same with the new release and was not disappointed.

The band Circuline is a prog-rock band out of New York that is no stranger to the stage. Circuline is Andrew Colyer (keyboards, vocals), Darin Brannon (drums, percussion), Alek Darson (guitars), Joel Simches (bass), and lead vocalists Billy Spillane and Natalie Brown.

Their performance at the festival was captured on a magnificent Blu-ray and DVD. This is a 3-disc set including a CD so all formats are covered for thirteen tracks offered on this superb audio-visual experience. There also bonus features with official videos, tour posters, images, and more.

Circuline members are polished professionals and bring a very entertaining show to the stage. Their music is distinctively prog-rock with an in-sync rhythm section, two incredibly talented vocalists, a guitar player suited to play through all the many changes one song can go through, and of course the amazing Andrew Colyer on keyboards. Andrew is recognized for his accomplishments but not on the level he should be. Based on what I have heard over the last few years, he ranks right up there with some of the best and most tasteful players active today.

Coming in under the wire in the prog world is nothing new because it refuses to go mainstream. Fans such as myself and thousands more are grateful for that and thank them for staying true to themselves and the music. That is something that is accepted going into this type of music and the music remains the most important factor, endearing fans of all ages to their work. This set is a document to the excellence of Circuline as a functioning musical unit without exception.

The two performances I enjoyed the most were the “Piano Challenge” on track #5 and “The Forbidden Planet + Drum Feature” on track 10. The drum performance was quite entertaining as everyone on stage was playing some sort of percussion. They all were in sync as well, which is not an easy task, especially if it is not your primary instrument.

The bonus you get has two choices of viewing for the video and then the soundtrack on CD for strictly the audio experience. Also, something interesting is the option of watching the video to a band commentary, however, I would recommend watching just the concert first then the commentary version to see what they all have to say about the performance.

Circulive New View
is the complete audio and visual experience you could have. Excellent musicianship is the most important factor and that is what makes everything else the icing on the cake.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Prog Rock Music Talk Founder
October 24, 2020

Track List:
01. Intro / Erosion (Live)        
02. Soleil Noir (Live)        
03. One Wish (Live)    
04. Nautilus (Live)    
05. Piano Challenge (Live)    
06. Hollow (Live)    
07. Return (Acoustic) [Live}        
08. Fallout Shelter (Live)    
09. Pale Blue Dot (Live)    
10. Forbidden Planet / Drum Feature (Live)    
11. Inception (Live)    
12. Summit (Live)        
13. Stereotypes (Live)