Monday, 29 August 2016

Equatorial Rain (Ache, 1971)

Taken from the band's second album "Green Man", this "Equatorial Rain" combines Hammond-driven early prog and electronic effects in an arcane, rather dark song. The intro is based on rain effects and keyboards, while Torsten Olafsson's voice draws nocturnal landscapes. Then the tempo rises up and a Hammond plus drumming break comes in, introducing a lively, even joyous section à la The Nice. 

"Green Man" also exists on CD, including Ache's debut album.

Then, "Equatorial Rain" features some beautiful electric guitar / keboard interplays, just before the final reprise of the opening mysterious atmosphere. Seven minutes of beautiful progressive rock, IMHO, cleverly structured on a four movements pattern, a coherent and diversified architecture showing once again how great Ache were. They're surely worth a wider attention from my progressive friends over there.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

In The Name of God (Aragon, 2004)

I do think Aragon are an underrated band. These Australian musicians (all born in different European countries) surely like traditional neo-prog atmospheres and melodic songs, but they also know how to write and perform excellent songs, like this "In The Name of God", taken from their 2004 album "The Angels Tear". The acoustic first half is a beautiful and peaceful moment, based on warm and charming chords. The keyboards rise up slowly and the song gets deeper and depper, until the guitars come in for the "rock break".

"The Angels Tear" was the sixth album by Aragon.

The final section is more diversified, but still is down tempo and melodic, with an acid twist here and there. Really, I find  here some 9 minutes of musical pleasure, crowned with the sax solo between minute 7.30 and 8.00... so good! And what about the final gilmour-esque guitar/sax interplay? Well, it tells me: "quick, play this once more!" I'll surely obey.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Melancholy Man (The Moody Blues, 1970)

Another Mike Pinder's melancholy (yes, yes, it's in the title) and inner song. This one comes from "A Question of Balance" album, likely one of the rockiest works by The Moody Blues, still I couldn't imagine a dreamier and more atmospheric track. The melody is simply perfect, and the rich arrangements never go too sweet, opening a distant horizon to the listener's ears. Asusual with The MB, there's a good deal of overdubbing and assorted effects, but such an elaborated studio work never spoils the magic the band build up in a few more than five minutes.

The Moody Blues liket to explore cosmic paths, as you can see here.

"Melancholy Man" also has a beautiful set of lyrics, an awesome depiction of man's situation between the solid ground and the infinite sky. There's a sense of loneliness balanced (yes, the allbum's title, this time...) by the wonder inspired by the cosmic architecture. Ten out of ten, I daresay.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Sparkling / 花火 (Fragile, 2010)

Chinese rock scene specialises more and more in post-rock acts, and some of them show many interesting progressive sides. This is the case with Fragile (well, the name isn't necessarily inspired by the Yes album...), a band that surely knows how to create delicate atmospheres, unpredictable changes and slow, majestic crescendos. "Sparkling" comes from the debut EP of Fragile, called "White Shadows" and is a charming instrumental, based on a well found series of chords and including some delicious breaks and a mandolin-like electric guitar à la Steven Wilson.

As many other young bands, Fragile debuted via Bandcamp site.

This kind of music is somehow dangerous as it can easily slip into a mere ambient sound, but Fragile are clever enough to skip such a risk, thanks to a good deal of musical diversions along the usual post-rock path. They like coherent tracks, but they know that coherence doesn't mean boredom. Hope to listen more from these Hong Kong musicians.

Friday, 19 August 2016

El Hijo del Sol (El Polen, 1973)

When it comes to acoustic folk-rock with proggy elements, it is difficult to find a better band than El Polen. These Peruvian musicians had a suprisingly large choice of arrangements and a wide range of instruments, mostly coming from their National tradition, but also from other, unexpected cultures. In spite of their strong Andean roots and of their acoustic set, El Polen also are a proper rock band, and exploit in a very clever way some of the main features of prog: tempo changes, instrument interplays and enthralling solos.

"Fuera de la ciudad" was the second album by El Polen.

Sure, all these solutions also exist in traditional music throughout the planet, but their combination in a single everchanging (and rather long) song is a Seventies innovation. So, "El Hijo del Sol" is a kind of suite, lining up different themes and different traditions, especially the South-American and the Far-Eastern ones. Not a common mix, believe me.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Египтянин / Egiptyanin (Пикник / Picnic, 2001)

Picnic (in Russian, Пикник) surely are one of the most eccentric and crossover bands from Eastern Europe. Their sound ranges between space rock and folk, including synth rock and many traditionally prog features.This is the title track from their eleventh studio album, obviously dedicated to the Ancient Egypt, one of the band's favourite topics.

This cover art reveals the ironic side of Picnic's songs.

The song has a rather traditional structure, a dreamy, catchy slow tempo ballad with a Floydian finale, where Edmund Shklyarskiy's guitar flies high above the listener. He even creates for this song a new instrument he calls novoegyptian to add a bit of visual show to the live performances. What I especially like in Picnic is the way they mix different elements to build up an evocative, arcane sound that also includes the right dose of irony. A theatrical way to (prog) rock Picnic never gave up during their long and everchanging career.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Into The Lens [I Am A Camera] (Yes, 1980)

As you might have read in other posts from my blog, "Drama" is an album I like very much, in spite of its weird Buggles  + Yes line up. More than this, "Into The Lens" actually was a fully-Buggles song (the duo also was working on it when they joined their new band and also released it in 1981 as "I Am A Camera"). To transform a synthpop tune in a progressive rock track was a challenge Yes accepted and won. The song has a an epic flavour, even if its "plastic" and 80s side isn't completely abandoned. Chris Squire provides the backbone for this version and a series of interplays, changes and vocal harmonies are spread throughout the song.

A short-lived line up, still responsible for an excellent album. 

Of course, the melody was a good one in the first place and the tricky arrangement only enhances it and gives to it the special symphonic rock touch that we all know and love. I also like the pleasant contrast between the tight and rythm-based verse and the wide open, full-bodied chorus, something that Downes had in common with the Yes tradition. Still an excellent track this one, and always worth one more listening.