Thursday, 30 November 2017

House of The Mind (Comedy of Errors, 2017))

This band was already responsabile of some excellent neo-prog music (and you can find a few posts about them in this blog), but their 2017 album has a somewhat richer taste. This title song is an enjoyable and unpredictable collection of moods,  some old and some new, some rough and some elegant.
 
"House of The Mind" was the band's fourth studio album.
 
There's a great guitar work, both rythm anGrazie d solo ones and, of course, a good choice of atmospheric keyboards. Last but not least, the melodies are all very well found and the arrangements are all effective. And as I also like the dynamic tempo changes, I can only recommend this track to you all.     

Sunday, 26 November 2017

In The Dark (Matthew Parmenter, 2008)

Matthew Parmenter of Discipline fame (see elsewhere in this blog) is a very interesting musician and composer, during both his band member and solo careers. This song, taken from the album "Horror Express", is strongly influenced by Hammill and VDGG moods, and is a highly dramatic one, matching irregular melodies and dark lyrics. Sad and hypnotic passages, based on obsessive piano and percussion paces, deeply dig into the singer's and the listener's souls, with no concessions to easy tunes nor predictable developments.

No doubt this is a disquieting cover art. Well, the music inside too.

Each note here has its own part of sorrow, still the whole composition is such a beautiful emotional clockwork that it mixes sad thoughts and majestic beauty. That's why "In The Dark" isn't a mere musical trip, but an inner experience I highly recommend to you all. And if you happen to share my opinion, don't hesitate and go on discovering other songs by Mr. Parmenter. Something tells me you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Différences (Arrakeen, 1990)

When I first lisened to Frernch band Arrakeen's CD titled "Patchwork", I immediately appreciated Maïko's voice, something between Annie Haslam and Kate Bush. But very soon I loved all the rest. Meaning good arrangements, beautiful melodies, skilled musicians and - last but not least - a rather eclectic approach to neo-prog, including classic quotations, Marillion hints (Steve Rothery also appeared on the CD's last track) and folk passages.

"Patchwork" was Arrakeen's debut album.

This song, the longest one from the album, is intended as a dialogue between five characters (She, He, The Painter, The Other One and The Echo) and is mostly based on a fluid mid-tempo and melodic pattern. Some good guitars and a clever keyboard background are also among its highlights. Unfortunately, Arrakeen were a short lived act and only released two albums. Such a shame, IMHO.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Parlour Games (Groundburst, 2017)

Ireland is a fairy land, probably that's why it dishes out some fresh and unpredictable music. Groundburst are an eclectic band from Dublin, ranging from electronic sounds to solid rock tracks and - last but not least - very good at communicating emotions. Take this "Parlour Games", for example. They mix post-rock, jazz hints and a light, proggy atmosphere in one coherent song, where you get hints of King Crimson, Radiohead and Police at the same time. 

"Parlour Games" comes from the band's "Triad" EP.

These three musicians know how to experiment new sound solutions without giving up consistency and agreeableness, so that this track is both challenging and blooming. I actually like the way Groundburst mix delicate and trenchant passages making use of skilly tempo changes... and you'll find a lot of this in their "Triad" EP. In our era of useless noises and ostentation, I'm glad to find here a rare example of good taste.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The New Kings (Marillion, 2016)

"The New Kings" was a Marillion fans' favourite from the very start and for many good reasons, IMHO. Firstly, the leading melodies are excellent, enjoyable and far from trivial. Secondly, the plot of this suite, divided into four movements, is coherent and diversified. Thirdly, the instrumentation is rich and intriguing, including a string quartet, a hammered dulcimer (played by Hogarth) and some beautiful backing vocals.

"The New Kings" was the F.E.A.R. album leading single.

Last but not least, the lyrics about the illegal gain underworld are topical like never before. The warm and well mixed acoustic / electric sounds are fascinating and richly arranged, full of sharp changes and liquid solos, the way Marillion have to be both classic and modern. After all, the F.E.A.R. album is likely the band's proggest work in twenty years... excellent news, no doubt.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

King of Hearts (Drifting Sun, 2016)

A little neo-prog today. Drifting Sun are an International band including French, British and American members and based in the UK. I happen to like their rather eclectic approach to a sub-genre usually considered as an immutable canon. Listening to this song, taken from these musicians' "Safe Asylum" album, you'll find some Fish-era Marillion and IQ hints, but also a sprinkling of metal riffs and some Asia-like epic sounds. 

"Safe Asylum" was Drifting Sun's fourth studio album.

The melodies are well found and the ever changing arrangements add a less predictable side to this band's music. Peter Falconer's vocals perfectly match with the music and its contrast-based pattern, while the rest of the band plays as one, even if some very good solos  and even better duos enrich the track. In short, if ever you're into enjoyable, creative and inspiring (neo-)prog, this song and this band were made for you. Anyway, they surely were for me. 

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Lady of Shalott (Atmosphera, 1977)

Back to the Seventies, here you are a long epic by Israeli band Atmosphera, taken from their only album, released in 1977 and re-released in 2002 with an entire bonus CD. Efrayim Barak's voice sounds much like Jon Anderson's, but Atmosphera aren't just another Yes clone: their music ranges from Procol Harum to Camel, including glimpses of Genesis, Pink Floyd and - of course - Yes. Rather easy and melodic, this composition also features more tricky passages, some interesting keyboard and guitar solos (Moti Fonseca has an excellent touch, IMHO), and I especially like Yuval Rivlin's piano and Alon Nadel's intriguing bass lines. 

The 2 CDs version  also includes a videoclip of Lady of Shalott.

This suite (well, it is virtually a suite, even if an undivided one) has a solid and coherent pattern and isn't a mere period piece, being as enjoyable as it was in 1977. Some tempo changes actually strike me, and each passage seems to me well conceived and even better performed. In short, if you're searching for neglected jewels from the Golden Era of prog rock, this one's for you.