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Last 50 reviews
Studio Album, 1991
3.24 | 19 ratings

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Yerself Is Steam
Mercury Rev Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

The first full album by Mercury Rev does not sound anything like what most people think Mercury Rev sounds like. First of all, the lead singer is not the same. Second, the music is completely different, in that it varies from soft noise rock to a full on wall of noise and distortion. The vocals are quite paranoid sounding also, adding to the strangeness of this album. The first three albums are a lot like this in fact, in varying degrees. And even though it is so different from the later sound of the band, I still love it. The timing of the tracks listed on the outer package is incorrectly noted and this, for some reason, was done on purpose, probably to contribute to the uncertainty of everything.

This album is considered to be one of the 50 greatest Shoegaze albums of all time, but it is so different from typical shoegaze music. There is a lot more to this music than just fuzz tones, there is chaos, even in the quiet passages, there are dynamics all through the album, lots of distortion and a feeling of being locked into something you just can't get out of. But even with all that, you want to hear more of it, because it is so different from everything else. Since two of the groups founders are also from "The Flaming Lips", a lot of people compare the two bands. I have heard some of The Flaming Lips albums, but as of yet, I haven't heard anything like this from them, unless maybe it is on their earlier albums. I will have to get better familiar with them if it is anything like this.

This album proves that there is beauty in noise and in chaos. But don't think this is all just a solid mass of noise, because it isn't that either. There are plenty of passages that are quiet, but still unsettling at the same time. The vocals constantly feel like someone just on the edge of sanity, either almost there or just barely tipped over onto the other side. The music matches the vocals too, everything fits together perfectly. Of course, those familiar with the more recent music by the band, know they are usually very mellow, but still very different and still full of emotion. In this debut album, the emotion is there, but it is not typical, as nothing about this is typical. Lyrics are strange, vocals are off kilter, instrumental passages are not typical, and it all fits together amazingly well.

The album name, "Yerself is Steam" is a lyric that keeps popping up on the first track and is a misinterpretation of the phrase "Your Self-Esteem". It is a study of contrasts throughout it's seven minute runtime. Loud and chaotic, soft and dissonant. "Blue and Black" has some deep vocals and remains the same throughout, not loud but definitely not peaceful at all either. "Sweet Oddyssey..." builds until it is taken over by fast paced drums and the guitars that combine to almost give it a gothic feeling, especially towards the last part of it. "Frittering" actually starts out with acoustic guitars and treated vocals that are given a far-away sound. Even here during a quiet moment, there is that sense of unease. At the 2 minute mark, drums kick in and so do the psychedelic sounds of guitars, building a wall of sound, the vocals becoming locked into the entire mix, not standing out, but not completely buried within either. It becomes more dissonant as it continues, then suddenly the wall is dropped and it's just acoustic guitar, but then it builds back again quickly. Guitar forms a melody just barely over the background noise.

"Very Sleepy Rivers" is a 12 minute track about a serial killer that uses a river as an analogy to how his moods can change so quickly from peacefulness to a sudden tendency to "snap". It is mixed at a subdued volume, vocals are again trapped in the mix, and totally psychotic sounding. The lyrics are very creepy but mostly indiscernible and the song is very dark, building in volume and intensity. Vocals also include some howling, but deep in the mix. This goes on a little too long in my opinion, and this works against the entire album unfortunately. This track is more of a shoegaze sound than the rest of the album. On the CD edition, there is also a hidden bonus track called "Car Wash Hair" which was released as a single as a follow up to the album. This is probably the most conventional song on the album, mostly because the vocals are easy to understand and mixed more to the front of everything. There is a nice combination of conventional and unconventional going on in the instrumentals behind the vocals that keeps things very atypical, and not very "single" sounding. When the guitars build their dissonance during the instrumental break, there is nothing conventional about it at all, but some sanity returns for the last verse, but loses control by the time we get to the end.

Not a lot of people will probably like this, especially if you are expecting something like the albums "All Is Dream" or "Snowflake Midnight", but I find that I keep coming back to this and that I actually enjoy it. It took me a few listens to get it, but it stirred my curiosity enough to want to understand it, so I kept listening until I grew to appreciate it. It's not perfect though, there are places where things fade out too quickly and other places where things go on for too long, but overall, I love the feeling of uncertainty, that feeling of going back and forth over the thin line of sanity/insanity. This is very interesting music, and it has a lot of emotion and dynamics, but is just not quite good enough to be considered a masterpiece, and I almost get the feeling that was the intention. Anyway, I consider it an excellent addition to my collection, and suggest that if you like Mercury Rev already, maybe you should venture into their earlier music and see if it suits you also.

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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 18:31 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1946752)

Studio Album, 1969
3.93 | 55 ratings

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King Kong - Jean-Luc Ponty Plays The Music Of Frank Zappa
Jean-Luc Ponty Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by WFV

This collaboration feels natural from the first note to the last. Zappa's personality shines through of course but Jean Luc Ponty plays a great second fiddle. There's a few Mothers songs but the real winners are How Would You Like a Head Like That and Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra. A must for the Zappa fan and the Ponty fans, a curiosity for the uninitiated. Ponty plays fusion leader for the first time, and while I do find his instrument too shrill from time to time, he's obviously a virtuoso of the highest order so listening is still fun for me. I love this album because it is a true left field entry into the Zappa oeuvre and Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra helped bridge my interest in orchestral and classical music. I would consider this an early fusion classic and an album I'm guessing John McLaughlin listened over and over
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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 17:19 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1946549)

Studio Album, 1972
3.64 | 103 ratings

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Flash
Flash Eclectic Prog

Review by SonomaComa1999

REVIEW #10 - "Flash" by Flash (1972). 07/08/2018

Guitarist Peter Banks was unceremoniously expelled from the band Yes two months prior to the release of their second studio album "Time and a Word". Despite playing on the album, its cover featured a picture of the band which included Banks's replacement Steve Howe, although he never appeared on the album at all. Over the next couple years Yes would become a household name and a leviathan of progressive rock, releasing seminal albums such as "The Yes Album", "Fragile", and "Close to the Edge" with their new and far superior guitarist, who brought a classical style which helped define their sound. At this point it might seem like Steve Howe had always been the guitarist for the band, especially considering he's the band's sole remaining "original" member to this day on tour. As for Banks, he became an afterthought, quietly passing away in 2013 with very little fanfare. He did release some material following his expulsion from Yes, but mostly with his group known as Flash.

Flash was formed in 1971 by Banks and vocalist Colin Carter, who did some work with future Camel keyboardist Peter Bardens. Banks added a friend of his in Ray Bennett who he had knew since his time in Yes to play bass guitar, and then recruited Mike Hough to play drums. Initially desiring to be a standard prog quintet, after signing onto Capitol subsidiary Sovereign, the label expressed their desire for the band to add a keyboardist, making the band's lineup very similar to that of the now-immensely popular Yes. Banks would further recruit former Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, who had also been unceremoniously booted by the band following "The Yes Album" to make room for Rick Wakeman. Both exiled musicians represented a more mainstream and rocking sound than what Chris Squire and Yes were pushing for at the time, and naturally Kaye appears as a featured keyboardist (not a part of Flash itself) for the band's self-titled debut album. In typical Hipgnosis fashion, the album cover is abstract, this time being a rather shameless drawing of a girl's upskirt. All that aside, Flash presents itself as a rather unscrupulous Yes clone, but unlike blatant rip-offs such as Starcastle and the like, this band actually features past members of the band, while still retaining the original sound which Yes captured on their first two albums. Furthermore, Flash serves as an indicator of how Yes would have went given it kept Banks and Kaye in the band rather than acquiring Howe and Wakeman.

Flash's first album did see some surprising commercial success, largely thanks to the success of a edited single version of the opening track "Small Beginnings". In its original form it presents itself as a near ten-minute rocker, but for radio it was cut down to just over three minutes - both variants are good in their own respective ways. First Ofertas de de Refine compras Adapt de verano en Adidas Originals Refine Adapt de las mujeres f035fce impressions are pretty clear-cut; Flash sounds very similar to Yes, from the symphonic style all the way down to Colin Carter's voice, which is a slightly deeper clone of Jon Anderson's vocals. Musically it fuses the Yes album and Time and a Word into a concise hybrid, with a more rocking and accessible tone. "Small Beginnings" rose as high as #29 on the American Billboard Hot 100, while the album in its entirely followed close at #33. Given that the year of this album's release was 1972, it coincided with the popularity of Yes's "Close to the Edge" album, which took the world by storm and spawned several imitators. Listening to the single version of this song, it will omit the very progressive instrumental shifts and guitar escapades, opting rather to focus on Carter's vocals in a more succinct way that would work on the radio rather than on a deep cut. That being said, by listening to the edited version you are not missing much; while Banks does a lot of work on the guitar, none of it is particularly resonant, at least on this track. Kaye's keyboards are relegated to a backing act, reflecting the band's desire to follow the quintet style. Perhaps the greatest similarity to Yes comes at the end, when the wordless vocals come in alongside the synth, which provides that sublime sound similar to "Siberian Khatru".

Bennett takes over on acoustic guitar and vocals for the next song "Morning Haze", which apart from being a fine upbeat ballad, still retains that Yes acoustic tinge. It seems that Flash wanted to take Yes's more poppy sensibilities and use those entirely to compose their music. However, this album is still obviously progressive rock; if the three longer cuts did not already indicate that. "Haze" is only half as long as the album opener, and is a rather refreshing interlude, even if it hardly stands out as a takeaway on the album. We return towards more proggy and fast-paced tendencies with "Children of the Universe" which matches "Beginnings" at roughly nine minutes long. Here is where the album begins to pick up steam and allows itself to stand out; this piece features a rather comfortable tempo driven by the bass rhythm and Kaye's keyboards (he is allowed to do a Moog solo through the middle of this one). Just like the music, Flash's lyrics are like a watered-down version of Yes, with the band trying to retain the

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pretentious and philosophical lyrical style of Anderson. On "Universe" Flash emerges packing a punch with their music, combining the maritime guitar style of Banks with the symphonic vocals to make a song which despite approaching ten minutes, does not drag on like those written by obscure 70's prog acts.

Opening up the second side of the LP, Flash presents their strongest offering in the form of their longest piece, the nearly thirteen-minute epic "Dreams In Heaven" which I consider to be the biggest takeaway from this album. Opening up in a furor, the band shifts back and forth from outright rock to mellow acoustic passages before introducing the central musical themes of this song. Before exposing the lyrics, the band reveals a crescendo that reminds me a lot of the riff from Black Sabbath's 1973 song "Spiral Architect" off the album "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath", released a year later. I mean, it sounds remarkably similar, which wants to make me think that Sabbath was somehow influenced by Flash for that song, although it might be a trick of my imagination and/or pure coincidence. On "Heaven" Carter's vocals seem to diverge from those of Anderson's in terms of intensity, which is a promising sign given I can only handle so much of pure imitation. This is a pretty textbook progressive epic, with two lyrical sections book-ending a musically rich middle instrumental section that allows Banks to show off his Raleigh Mid Shoes | Los empleados de Sneaker Store descifran la popularidad de adidas NMD | Official Authorized Af4150 Adidas Consortium Stan Smith Primeknit Adidas NMD HUMAN RACE REAl VS FAKE comparación / verificación de fiar Adidas Soccer Cleats Adidas UK Shoes Store Blanco New Mens Adidas Compre zapatos baratos para hombres | , venta de la marca c3e6d 35c50 adidas yeezy boost 350 v2 semi frozen yellow Hombre adidas ORIGINALS SAMOA TEX Sz 7 & Shoes BB8599 tan blanco 779 mejores imágenes de tendencias de moda en Pinterest | , adidas Originals Hamburg: Blanco / Goma | , London Adidas Mens Adidas Supernova Store | Cheap Adidas Neo | adidas Campus 80s Red talla para hombre | , Zapatillas Hombre Azul Slip on Espadrille Canvas adidas D65798 Adidrill UK , adidas STAN SMITH CF MUJERES Blanco / Verde / Serpiente | , 1710 adidas 10K Zapatillas de running para hombre AC7587 | Fresh Adidas ZX 700 rojo blanco 50804072 adidas en Tingalpa 4173, QLD | Pantalones de chándal adidas Originals XBYO (Negro) BQ3108 Zapatillas Adidas de Stella McCartney | Gorra adidas Adizero II para hombre, talla única, base verde / negra Zapatillas de tenis adidas Pharrell Williams Hu Red Trade Sports , Adidas Originals Tubular Doom Sock Primeknit negro / negro / cristal Zapatillas adidas | Comprar zapatillas adidas para mujer marrón> OFF45% Descuento , Increíble Adidas Performance Energy Cloud V para mujer Black Neutral Tinte único de lavado con ácido teñido slouchy adidas camiseta festival urbano de botín , Adidas Ultra Boost Uncaged Multicolor Las últimas zapatillas de running Adidas ClimaCool Aerate 2 para mujer Tech Grey Chaleco de aislamiento adidas Terrex Skyclimb 2 Outdoor AW17 refined guitar techniques. While I usually never go into obscure prog albums expecting to have legitimate takeaways that I could go back to far after I've made my review, "Dreams in Heaven" might very well last a decent amount of time on one of my playlists; the "Spiral Architect" motif and the intensity of the beginning and end serve as very listenable prog, which is very promising. My favorite part of this song follows the vocal bridge at around the eight-minute mark, when the tone of the song gradually grows sinister thanks to the heavy riffs of Banks, coupled with some jazz influences. Overall this is a track definitely worth giving your attention to. The album concludes with another mellow piece titled "The Time It Takes" which puts greater emphasis on the keyboards of Kaye than an acoustic guitar. The band makes use of the sound of crashing waves in order to conclude the album, which is a nice little touch that sort of salvages a rather weak closing track.

Flash's self-titled debut album is not bad at all; in fact it has a lot of good moments, something which surprised me given that solid obscure prog works from the 70's are few and far between. Nevertheless, this album is more mediocre than good, only being saved by the epic "Dreams In Heaven", and being hampered by the band's reliance on the Yes sound. Flash would release two more albums before abruptly breaking up in 1973, but even then those do not match up to the original in terms of innovation or commercial success. The band found a way to enter all their albums into the Billboard 200 album charts here in the States, which I found surprising - probably owing to the NSFW cover art. A fan of symphonic prog and Yes in particular should certainly give this album a listen, and even a more generic listener might want to give this one a go. As for my review, I will play it safe and give it a three-star (77% - C+) rating which is respectable for an obscure band. Basically a microcosm of the early Yes sound.

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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 14:29 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1946538)

Studio Album, 2004
3.69 | 154 ratings

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Amplifier
Amplifier Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

One fact is clear about Amplifier... I think they are a love it or hate it band!

From the noisy, alternative and stoner atmosphere to truly space-rock moments, Amplifier are not the typical prog rock band. So, if you are seeking for some conventional progressions and instrumental flourishes, you are in the wrong direction.

The album opens with the incredible Motorhead, a blast of a track with powerful guitar, serious vocals and tons of ambiences disguised as a simplistic song. Wow! And surprisingly Airborne is even better with its sampled guitars and powerful bass lines. Is a song which grows and grows to an intense and catchy ending. At first listening it's a shock, but after a few plays you will not able to take this music out of your mind. The riff after minute 06:00 is pure magic!

Panzer does not give truce with even more power which takes the album close to stoner metal. And that's not a problem to me, because after progressive rock stoner is my favorite genre. What a blast! Old Movies has a beautiful beginning with hypnotic guitars, followed by the mellow voice of Belamir. The voice of this man is maybe not spectacular, but he sings in a deep, mellow tone which makes the music of Amplifier very nice to be heard despite the amount of noise that they sometimes make. And Old Movies is a good example. I love the guitars about 02:30!

Post Acid Youth has a strong bass at the beginning and a marvelous vocal melody, followed by another amount of hypnotic guitars and spacey ambients, with some strong distortion here on there. Definitely, it's nothing like Amplifier in the scene of music. Take it or leave it! At 03:35, we can hear a crazy rhythm with cool guitar effects followed by convoluted guitar riffs and space rock keyboards. And don't ask me how, it magically works!

Neon is bit more conventional, with guitar riffs which maybe could bring some post-grunge bands to mind. But this feeling soon disappears when a cool bass is introduced making the track sound like something new again. In this little details is where Amplifier really shines, and if you are not a thorough listener you can easily pass over them. On/Off starts again in a mellow semi-acoustic way which could bring even bands like Pearl Jam to mind and this time the song keeps this way, contributing to a very welcomed alternative variety to the album, till the song grows again around the minute 4 returning the omnipresent distortion, powerful drums and a curious falsetto from Belamir.

The Consultancy starts with a curious and piercing riff, which transform itself in the verses in a great rhythm for one of the most punk and direct songs of the album, with even some pop elements towards the end! It's also one of the shortest. And after that comes One Great Summer, my personal favorite of this album together with UFO's which is an hymn to positivism, self-confidence and the power of will. Just a perfect song for bad moments with a very well-crafted instrumental interlude!

And finally, UFO's closes this great album with a pure space-rock song with a truly beautiful guitar work and an incredible psychedelic ending with an astonishing instrumental passage which lead to one of the most intense vocal sections of the album at minute 06:00. Marvelous!

Conclusion: Amplifier is one hell of an album. Intense, extremely well written and with a bunch of really incredible songs. If you are into this kind of alternative-stoner-space-psychedelic rock you must hear this band!

They are one of the most underrated and criminally ignored bands of the last decade, and in their first and excellent album they managed to sound mature, consolidated and truly innovative.

Best tracks: Motorhead, Airborne, Panzer, One Great Summer, UFO's.

My rating: ****1/2, rounded down to four stars.

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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 13:40 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1946532)

Studio Album, 1977
3.55 | 15 ratings

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Fritt Fall
Kornet Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by WFV

Later period fusion album expertly crafted. The group is a nice entry into the jazzrock world, obscure yet extremely competent. No real sustained fireworks and the interest lags a little from time to time but this is a great example of terrific music that has gone nearly unheard. I'll draw some parallels to Jukka Tolonen (Tasavallan Presidentti)'s work of the time in the area of accessible jazzrock. I'd say Tolonen is more funky overall but this is a really good album. Slsta Skrikrt and Platniklas, the longest tracks on the album, embody the spirit I feel they are attempting to convey.
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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 13:24 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1946530)

Studio Album, 2014
4.21 | 31 ratings

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Similarity
Eyot Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

EYOT are a band out of Serbia that is very much a piano driven affair with bass, drums and guitar. All instrumental as well I should mention and I reviewed their 2017 release about 6 months ago and the fact I'm back so quickly reviewing another from this band considering the mass amount of stuff I need to get to should tell you how much I like their sound. Piano driven music isn't usually my thing but the compositions are so well done and varied plus even the titles of these songs took some creative thinking in my opinion. I'd rate this higher than "Innate" but I haven't heard the first two albums. We also get some guest viola on one track and trumpet and sax on another.

Up first is "How Shall The Dust Storm Start?" and drums and bass lead the way as the piano comes in over top. It settles back around 3 1/2 minutes but the tempo does shift slightly at times. It picks back up with power after 6 minutes to the end. Nice. "Druids" is such a cool tune, very melancholic with piano and a beat to start, quite relaxed. It picks up after 1 1/2 minutes as the bass joins in along with viola. This is really good, quite meaningful. Viola only after 4 1/2 minutes to the end.

"Similarity" is the longest track at over 10 minutes. Drums and bass to start along with faint guitar expressions as the piano joins in. Why does this sound so good? Just a killer track that slowly builds before settling in around 4 minutes then it calms back down. It builds again and check it out after 8 minutes. So good! "Pools Of Purple Light" opens with piano and drums as the bass joins in. A fuller sound before 1 1/2 minutes but it settles back again quickly with some intricate guitar as well. It's building again after 4 minutes then a calm arrives a minute later with piano, guitar and drums, very laid back here. It stays this way to the end.

"New Passover" starts out with drums and piano as we get some energy here. Some power 1 1/2 minutes in but it's brief. We're cooking before 3 minutes. "Nirvana" is catchy and powerful to begin with but it settles quickly with bass and drums before the piano returns. It kicks in again around 1 1/2 minutes as contrasts continue. I like the calm after 3 minutes as it's kind of dark with bass and drums before the piano returns again.

"Walking On Thin Ice With Iron Shoes" opens with bass but soon a beat and guitar join in. Still it's relaxed. Piano just before a minute with a meaningful melody. Contrasts continue. A chilled tune(haha). I like how the bass is out front yet it's all so melancholic and laid back. "Blessing" ends it. It has this trippy beat with guitar playing over top in a laid back manner. Horns just before 2 minutes replace the guitar. Great sound 3 minutes in then it calms down with a beat and piano with horns over top. Piano takes the lead before 5 minutes. Horns are back. Such a good closer.

A band that exudes class and the music is so well composed and meaningful, I just think every one should check them out.

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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 10:28 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1946517)

Studio Album, 2018
3.83 | 29 ratings

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Saison 8
Lazuli Eclectic Prog

Review by The Crow
Prog Reviewer

After enjoying their performance live recently on Midsummer Prog Festival 2018 and having only listened their first album before (and not enjoying it very much), I decided to go through the last record of the band!

And I have to say the very positive impression that these songs gave me when I listened live are more or less the same than in this album. Their music is not really progressive, groundbreaking or original, but the overall quality of the record is just excellent, both in terms of production and compositions.

The album starts with J'attends un Printemps is a very beatiful and delicate way, with fine keyboards and vocals, accompanied by soften guitars, but soon the power of the whole band explodes in 02:57 sounding just great and very cohesive, making a crescendo which is a trademark of the band.

Un Linceul de Brume is even better, with a great beginning with echoed guitars and the great voice of Dominique Leonetti, who shows his qualities as a great Singer. The final part of the song is an apotheosis of le�de, distortions and a brutal double pedal on drums. Mes Amis, Mes Fr�res is rockier, even with some Hammond organ in the verses and a great guitar solo. Not so good as the two previous tracks, but good for being played live.

Les C�tes es a very surprising change of directions, with a very cool beginning which sounds like a strange carnival music, dark and atmospheric. And even the predictable crescendo maintains catches the listener's attention! Just like Chronique Canine, another dark tune which follows the path of the previous one but in a more rhythmic and guitar-oriented way and with another great use of the le�de, an instrument which gives this band an special and very welcomed personality.

Mes Semblables retrieve the rock mood of the third track, but with an oriental influence in the verses and a good instrumental bridge. De Deus Choses Lune is another hit of the album with powerful percussions on the verses, fine vocals (again) and tons of dramatism. And the le�de steals the show again!

The album ends with the excellent Les 4 Mortes Saisons, a sweeping acoustic song which is almost perfect in its minimalism.

Conclusion: if you are searching for intricated prog passages or tons of complexity you are on the wrong track, because Lazuli are some kind of world music rock band with some touches progressive elements. But the quality of their music is undeniable, just like their very strong and catchy live performances.

They are not the most original sounding band and they abuse of crescendos in their songs, but the incredible and unique use of the self-invented instrument le�de and the quality of the production, the vocalist and the rest of the band, make the listening of this album a real pleasure.

Excellent work! I'm eager to hear more albums of this band.

Best songs: Saison 8 has not a single bad or mediocre song, but J'attends un Printemps, Un Linceul de Brume, Les C�tes, De deux Choses Lune and Les 4 Mortes Saisons are the best.

My rating: ****

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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 09:06 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1946496)

Studio Album, 1969
4.33 | 1471 ratings

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Hot Rats
Frank Zappa RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by WFV

The original jazzrock album and arguably the best. Frank warped the sensibilities in others like no musical artist before or since. The recommendation for listeners is sit down in a room alone and either blast this album through your best speakers or listen with headphones on. Frank sets the stage with his most resplendent peaches en regalia then the Beef warms the cockles singing about street merchant Willie. Sugar Cane Harris and Jean Luc Ponty add unbelievable color to the already colorful and the result is one of the most important and individualized statements released in modern times. Frank didn't break molds, he made them.
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Posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 08:55 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1946494)

Studio Album, 2018
3.08 | 11 ratings

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Silhouettes
Klaus Schulze Progressive Electronic

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

It is hard to really comprehend just how important Schluze has been to Krautrock and electronic music in general, from his early days with Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel he then moved into solo works, and I am sure that many progheads have at least a couple of his albums in their collection. The four pieces on the album were created between summer and autumn 2017 following an extended period which was, due to health problems, very quiet and for this reason very meditative at times. Schulze: 'The result automatically was a phase of reflection, of retrospection, of pure contemplation. In the wake of your 70th birthday you naturally find yourself looking back at the past ' so the result is a reorientation, a renewed awareness of what is really important.' Schulze describes the music on 'Silhouettes' as a 'reduction to the essential things' and has consciously worked only very sparingly with solos and vocal elements. He explains: 'No great distractions, nothing to force your attention in a certain direction, no major effects or gimmicks, no frills or dominant rhythms. It was important to me to paint the pictures in the depth of the space, the sonic fields of tension and atmosphere.'

My wife found me intently listening to this album and burst out laughing, as I had my eyes closed, and she just wouldn't believe that I wasn't actually asleep. But this is an album that really does work best when all other sensory distractions are removed, and one can just fall into the soundscapes being created. In many ways this reminds me of some of his earlier work, where trance was an influence, and the music becomes layered soundscapes for the mind. It is more direct than many of Jean Michel Jarre's works, but in some ways it does have similar style, yet somehow that little bit more direct. It doesn't fall into the New Age of some of Wakeman's solo works either, but combines many elements that just work. Of all the solo albums I have heard from Schulze, I must admit that this is my favourite so far, although to be fair I have only come across such as small amount of a man with a prestigious output. Fans of both electronic music and prog will certainly enjoy this.

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Posted Saturday, July 7, 2018, 21:13 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1945991)

Studio Album, 2018
4.39 | 22 ratings

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�mr
Ihsahn Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

There are some musicians who have had such a major impact on a genre that they have the right to be viewed in a different manner to mere mortals, and Ihsahn is surely one of these. He originally came to prominence as frontman, guitarist and keyboard player with legendary Norwegian black metal pioneers Emperor. They released classic albums like 1995's 'In The Nightside Eclipse' and 1997's 'Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk' before initially calling it a day in 2001, although they have returned a few times since then and are currently active again. However, Ihsahn (Vegard Sverre Tveitan) has gone on to release solo albums that have shown amazing diversity that look back to what he has achieved in the past while also looking ahead into pastures new, creating sounds and songs that captivate anyone who hears them.

With just drummer Tobias �rnes Andersen, and a guest guitar solo on one number from Opeth's Fredrik Akesson, Ihsahn has created what to my ears is his most diverse and powerful solo release yet. There are songs, and sections of other songs, that could easily be played to a listener and they would have no comprehension that the man behind them has also produced some of the most amazing black metal anthems ever, as it bears no relationship to them at all. But, there are also times when he lets his past come back into the present, to create something that is taking the essence of Emperor and turning it into something new. Some of the songs may have gruff vocals, while other shown Ihsahn in a few more melodic and contemplative mood. It is this refusal to sit within any implied structure or rigour that makes this such an outstanding piece of work. One just never knows what is going to come next, what twist or turn is going to take place, and the result is a progressive metal album that is true to both words.

This is progressive music in its truest sense, attempting to take a genre and twist and meld it as opposed to siting inside one particular genre or another: the music is a breathing living beast and Ihsahn is sat there guiding it further and further into the dark bleak void. Ihsahn says, "Knowing that the form would be somewhat similar to what I did on the previous album, and given that I write stuff in a certain way, I wanted to change the wrapping this time. So instead of going with my go-tos of strings and orchestration, I focused on analog synths and more in-your-face sounds. It goes back to the beginning of Emperor, when we brought in strings and horns inspired by orchestral movie scores by John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, but at the same time we loved all those eerie synth soundtracks of f.ex John Carpenter�s Halloween. I've also been listening to some contemporary r'n'b and hip-hop stuff with those deep, deep 808s. It's just somehow darker than a lot of metal or black metal. It has a depth and an energy to it that I find captivating, so I wanted to explore those arrangement styles as well."

Listen to the delicacy of his vocals on "Where You Are Lost And I Belong", contrast that to what is going on musically, which is jagged and sparse, and there is no doubt that this is yet another classic that fans will be talking about for years to come. Ihsahn is undoubtedly one of the most important musical talents to come out of the Norwegian metal scene, and this is an essential release.

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Posted Saturday, July 7, 2018, 18:59 EST | Review this album | Report (Review #1945982)

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