Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Moon Hangs High / 月梦 (Tang Dynasty / 唐朝, 1992)

Tang Dynasty are rather on the metal side of Chinese rock, but they surely were influenced by progressive rock and never forget how melody and atmosphere are important when it comes to writing good songs. This one, for example, comes from the album "A Dream Return to Tang Dynasty" (well, the title itself seems interesting to me...) and belongs to their softer side. I like the way they take advantage of the classic song formula enriching it with instrumental bridges and a vocal emotional crescendo.

"A Dream Return..." was the debut album by Tang Dynasty.

Most of all, the themes are very well found and the Chinese lyrics add a special, unusual (for us) sound to the big picture. Kaiser Kuo's guitars and Ding Wu's vocals are the first contributions the listener appreciates in this track, but the entire band knows how to play without uselessly showing off their skills. After all, a beautiful song doesn't need too much tinsels...

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Baghdad I, II & III (Ilvcia, 2013)

Spanish folk, oriental mood and symphonic patterns... can you imagine such a mix? Well, it actually exists and you'll listen to it on the album "In The Nature of Reason", released by Spanish band Ilvcia. "Baghdad", in particular, is a suite of three tracks spanning over some 18 minutes and lining up a first acoustic part called The Gates, a more progressive and lively central section titled The Market and a liquid, pulsing finale (The Suburbs).

"In The Nature of Reason" was the first album by Ilvcia.

This three part piece of music is difficult to label, but this is exactly what I expect in a progressive song. Sure, you'll recognize here many traditional prog elements, namely the guitar / keyboard interplays and the atmospheric passages, but there are also so many folk, pop, space rock and even psych ingredients in this spiced kind of music that make me feel strangely happy when I listen to it. A good omen, no doubt.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Génesis (Vox Dei, 1971)

"Génesis" is the opening track of Vox Dei's first and likely best known album, titled "La Biblia" ("The Bible"), considered as the first Argentinian concept album ever. This band was founded in 1967 and started its discography in 1970, showing an eclectic approach to rock, a very prog attitude, I daresay. Multi-instrumentalist Ricardo Soulé is responsible for the lyrics and he was able to abridge the main books of the Bible into brief and effective stanzas, while the music - composed by the entire band - has a warm and melodic taste with some rocky moments.

"La Biblia" was the second studio album by Vox Dei.

"Génesis", in particular, features a beautiful bass guitar work and provides a soft and dense intro to the concept. Useless to say, the whole album deserves the progfans' attention, but "Génesis" is a very good way to get into Vox Dei's colourful and unpredictable world.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Remember Us (The Pineapple Thief, 2003)

This long track was the closing one on "Variations on A Dream" album and surely is one of the most emotionally-charged songs by Pineapple Thief to date. The acoustic, dreamy intro and the subsequent melodic line fade into an etheral instrumental section, one of the highlights of "Remember Us". Bruce Soord's guitar is stingy and almost obsessive, digging inside the listener's soul. Then here you are a keyboard-driven section, full of arcane effects and dark moods.

This is the K-scope 2011 re-release cover art.

The abrupt passage to a warm acoustic guitar is stunning and the suspended, delicate atmosphere is soon backed by a pulsing rythmic section, building up a thicker frame for the forthcoming vocal harmonies. The final section includes a beautiful electir guitar solo, midway between suspended waves and acid temptations. In short, this is a brilliant example of modern pogressive rock, well balancing experimental passages and pop-rock calls. An excellent way to spend your next 16 minutes, I daresay.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Four Horsemen (Aphrodite's Child, 1972)

A stunning track, this one is! It is taken from the album "666", a concept about the Book of Revelation released in 1972, when the band had actually already disbanded. Its structure is based on the strong contrast between quiet and loud passages and culminates with the final guitar solo (a very good one, IMHO), backed with Demis Roussos's fa-fa-fa vocal harmonies. As usual with this band, the song includes many diffferent - and even disparate - musical elements, but they all fit very well into a clever pattern.

The Four Horsemen as depicted by Viktor Vasnetsov in 1887.

This mix-matching skills probably are the best reason why Aphrodite's Child are so dear to the progfans worldwide. In addition to this, "Four Horsemen" displays a well found melody and a smart although close lyrical adaptation of the sixth chapter of its Biblical reference book. Useless to say, the Revelation will inspire other prog musicians, but this song and this album have a genuine flavour I still like.

Friday, 7 October 2016

The Count of Tuscany (Dream Theater, 2009)

This is a magnificent example of Dream Theater's fully progressive songs and comes from the album "Black Clouds & Silver Linings". True, some distorted guitars and high volume passages are there, but never too intrusive and perfectly mixed with the underlying melodic lines. How beautiful this long track is! The vocal harmonies, the guitars, the unpredictable changes... everything is perfect!

"Black Clouds & Silver Linings" was DT's tenth studio work.

Most of all, this is the brainchild of a well organized band, where each member has its own place and no one uselessly shows off his skills. I like the devilish interplays, the heartbreaking openings on wider horizons and, of course, the atmospheric passages. In short, this is prog rock at its best and even the eccentric lyrics about the Count and his brother are fit into the big picture. Enjoy.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Metamorfosi (Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, 1972)

One of the most intricated songs from the Golden Era of Italian prog, a true classic. This track comes from Banco del Mutuo Soccorso's debut album and spans over ten minutes of classical, jazz and rock variations, including melodic passsages and experimental ones.

Original artwork, remix artwork and an early '70s BMS's line-up.

The magic fusion of catchy pastoral tunes, devilish improvisation-like passages, symphonic interludes and abrupt changes makes of "Metamorfosi" one of the proggest tracks ever. The title says it all: this song is a long and enchanting musical metamorphosis, where the main theme goes through a series of reincarnations, culminating with the sung section and the bombastic finale. What else could a poor progfan looking for?