Friday, 24 February 2017

Place Called Home (The J Conspiracy, 2015)

New bands are more and more into streaming free distribution and among those I put into my blog a very interesting German act called The J Conspiracy and whose longest track, "Place Called Home", is a fine example of eclectic prog. I like the way these musicians line up different moments and moods to create a diversified and coherent suite divided into six parts. Modern as it can be, this song is also well rooted into the prog history solid ground and offers many interesting soundscapes.

 
The J Conspiracy: Ralf Brand, Chris Buß, Heiko Löb and Karl Schlesinger.

What's more, the band builds up their songs on strong melodies and very well found themes... not a common feature in a musical world where effects and arrangements take the main role. That said, the instrumental performances are first-rate and so is the visual project accompanying this song and available on the band's offical site (see below). Last but not least, the lyrics provide a poignant overview of the daily struggle between our need of a deep truth and the shallow commotion of modern life. Finally, here you are an excellent way to spend your next twenty minutes, if you ask me.
Enjoy the slide-based presentation for this song:  http://thejconspiracy.de/fotoslide/

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dreaming Light (Anathema, 2010)

Anathema are a very well established band and their musical evolution from metal to atmospheric prog is universally known. I could have chosen more intricated and longer tracks to put here, but I'm fascinated by this plain and dreamy song. It comes from the album titled "We're Here Because We're Here" and features one of the best melodies Anathema found in their career, IMHO.

"We're Here Because We're Here" was th eight CD by Anathema.

Light is an important topic of the entire album, as the cover art proves very well and the video for this song is also based on alternating shadows and lights. Its arrangement highlights are the atmospheric, ethereal keyboards by Les Smith (leaving the band soon after this CD), the dreaming, Gilmour-esque guitar solo (thanks, Mr. Vincent Cavanagh!) and - last but not least - the clear, moving vocals by Lee Douglas. Six minutes of wonder.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Avskjed (Neograss, 2012)

Prog rock is the land of contamination, as we all know, and this Norwegian band is a perfect specimen of such a musical graft. More than this, Neograss promote an unusual and promising blend including prog, of course, and bluegrass, a specially rich and joyous kind of country music. As you can imagine, their Scandinavian origins also provide a bonus atmospheric element.


"Overtru Fra Yttersia" is the fourth studio album by Neograss.

This track, "Avskjed" (meaning "Goodbye"), opens their 2012 album titled "Overtru Fra Yttersia" (that's "Superstition from the Coast") and is a beautiful example of both traditional and modern prog, with all the good old ingredients we love, plus a chamber orchestra and a fresh, lively rythmic addition of folk instruments, especially willow flute and banjo, both played by Emil Bekkevold. Surprising and enthralling, this is real prog, folks!

Monday, 30 January 2017

Mind over Matter (Us, 2006)

Prog rock ballads are quite rare, so I'm happy to add this "Mind over Matter" to my blog. It's the opening track from the album "The Young and Restless" and has the mellow, pastoral taste of some Golden Era bands (a "Trespass" feeling, if you ask me). The sung melody is simple and effective, while the instrumental breaks are light and redolent. Sure, this is not a musical revolution, but I sometimes indulge to plain and delicate flavours, especially when the musicians know how to write and play their music.

"The Young And Restless" was the fourth studio album by Us.

After all, the Dutch band Us is an experienced one, lining up a rich discography and an indisputable skill when it comes to melodic prog. See how guitars and keyboards melt into a coherent sound in this song and how the vocal harmonies are well found. Six minutes of peace... not a negligible gift nowadays!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Gusliar / Гусляр (Pesniary / Песняры, 1979)

This is the only track included in Pesniary's album bearing the same title and released in 1979. This Byelorussian band is responsible for several long suites based on local legends and poems and featuring music by contemporary composers from the Soviet Union. This track is divided into twelve sections and has a strong folk flavour, but also a recognizable symphonic plot.

The 1979  LP release on Melodiya label. You'll also find a
2000 CD re-release by Boheme Music.
 
The tempos follow one another with the most enjoyable variety and the vocal harmonies (a Pesniary's well known trademark) are simply impressive. Of course, the classical infuence is everywhere, but "Gusliar" is never too grandiloquent and has many intimate passages. If you like an unclassifiable kind of music and the orchestra / band interplays, this one is for you.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Estonia (Marillion, 1997)

What a sad and beautiful song! And the story behind it is also interesting: it's about the sinking of the passenger ferry Estonia in 1994 in the Baltic Sea, the worst European shipwreck since WWII. 852 people died and 138 were rescued alive, including Paul Barney, one of the two British passengers on the ship and the only survivor. Marillion's singer Steve Hogarth met him on an aeroplane and got the inspiration for the lyrics .

MS Estonia gave rise to a great disaster and, also, to a great song.

The music was also strongly influenced by the disaster and the morn, spritual mood of the song - especially of the dreamy instrumental part - is a heartbreaking depiction of death experience and after-death expectations. "Estonia" starts with Barney's story, but is more about the loss of loved ones than the actual sinking of the Estonia ferry. As a matter of fact, Hogarth's firts lines are still linked to the disaster's physical circumstances, then the focus moves to the unwordly side of such a painful occurrence. Moving and inspiring, IMHO.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Intoxicatingly Lost / 沉醉不知處 (Zhaoze / 沼澤, 2016)

Zhaoze (Chinese for "marsh") finally produced in 2016 a CD aimed to the International market and this is its title track, a 12 minutes instrumental. The blend of traditional and rock instruments set in a post-rock frame is fascinating and the beautiful variations bring a rather progressive mood into the song, a mood that is also invigorated by a dreaming electric guitar.  The creative drumming and the firm bass lines also beong to the rock side of Zhaoze, so that one couldn't label this instrumental as a mere atmospheric song.

This beautiful cover art reminds me of Eastern watercolors.

And after all the plot of "Intoxicatingly Lost" is a strongly structureted one, lining up crescendos and calandos, still interludes, interesting interplays and sweet passages. The final flute section  surely is one of my personal highlights from this track, featuring a perfect specimen of melodic deconstruction without any useless tangles. In short, this song is worth our attention and will encourage further explorations on Zhaoze planet.