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Showing posts from 2013

Orne, Finland


Orne - The Conjuration by the Fire. 2006 Black Widow (Italy) CD + LP
Orne - The Tree of Life. 2011 Black Widow (Italy) CD + LP

I haven't heard Orne's debut, so we'll dig right into their second "The Tree of Life". Orne are yet another retro prog band on Black Widow. And honestly, at least from my viewpoint, you really can't have too many of those. In some ways, Orne are really like a 1970 band from the United Kingdom. That is, it can be a bit dirgy and slow. The English vocals are a bit flat, and not sure they're entirely necessary to be honest. On the plus side, the all analog instrumentation (though they cheat and use a Memotron rather than an actual Mellotron) is much welcomed, and includes some lovely Hammond B3 and flute, and that will always warm the cockles of my heart. Plenty of fine guitars leads as well, with the appropriate effects on display. But one does hope for a good meter break - the moment that transcends the composition to anot…

Solstice, England


Solstice - Silent Dance. 1984 Equinox (LP); 1991 Brainworks; 2007 F2
Solstice - New Life. 1993 Progressive International; 2007 F2
Solstice - Circles. 1997 A New Day; 2007 F2
Solstice - Spirit. 2010 F2 + DVD
Solstice - Prophecy. 2013 Esoteric Antenna

All of the F2 (Festival Music) reissues feature significant bonus material. I've put in bold the versions I personally own.


I'm probably one of Solstice's biggest fans. They have maintained their positive musical disposition throughout a distinguished, but sporadic, 30 year career.

"Silent Dance": Though typically lumped in with the New Wave of British Progressive Rock crowd (or the more common, but dreadful, "Neo Progressive" tag), Solstice were really the odd band out. No Genesis influences here. Perhaps some Renaissance due to the female vocals or even perhaps Yes, because of the generally positive vibes. Solstice play a very beautiful and relaxing progressive rock, with …

Museo Rosenbach, Italy

The Worm Ouroboros, Belarus

Website This site is similar to Facebook, but most of the posts for the band are in Cyrillic
Samples Same site - go to Audio Files section

The Worm Ouroboros - Of Things That Never Were. 2013 Fading (Italy)

The Worm Ouroboros is a new band from Belarus, a country that up until now has yet to make an appearance into my collection. No doubt they came as a reference from Rational Diet, a popular Belarusian chamber rock group, also settled in the AltRock canon.

The Worm Ouroboros are clearly informed by the classic Canterbury scene, and it's most apparent with regards to the fuzzy keyboard tones, copious use of flute, complex meters, kinetic electric guitar, and a melodic disposition.  All of which automatically elevates the album to top tier status in UTR's world. Certainly other classic early 70s progressive influences come to the fore where one can easily spot Steve Hackett, Pink Floyd, Camel, Genesis, Jethro Tull, and even Magma! Some of the acoustic guitar and flute duo's …

Le Porte non Aperte, Italy


Le Porte non Aperte - Golem. 2013 Ma.Ra.Cash

And we continue with the 2013 Italian goldmine. Now this one I waited on for quite some time. Both rating sites I belong to, Gnosis and RYM, had pretty much across-the-board low grades. The reviews were mediocre in most places. But there seemed to be a common theme amongst these reviews. "The vocals are awful..." I wondered: Could it be what I think it could be? Is it possible? So I pulled the trigger on the CD and hoped for the best.

And yes, it was just that. What exactly, Tom? Modern ears aren't as accustomed to that particular roughhewn voice, but I recognized it instantly as one of the true examples of the early 70s Italian sound: The vocals of Delirium, Odissea, and Jumbo. And the first group listed is probably the best guidepost here: Delirium. For years now, I've been screaming at the top of the mountain that Delirium's "Lo Scemo e Il Villaggio" and "III: Viaggio Negli Arc…

Progenesi, Italy


Progenesi - Ulisse L'Alfiere Nero. 2013 Raffinerie Musicali

And now back to the extraordinary 2013 Italian progressive rock renaissance.

Progenesi are a traditional guitar, keyboards (analog of course), bass, and drums quartet with guests on violin and cello. Progenesi took the unusual step, for an Italian band that is, to go without vocals. There are 6 tracks in all, averaging about 8 minutes each. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this is that the band doesn't rely on loose jams or heavy repetition in order to achieve the extended length. Nor is it "overly composed" such as the Avant Prog bands would have it. And there's not even a hint that this is jazz rock fusion. No, this is just good old fashioned mid 1970s instrumental symphonic rock - and not something you hear much these days. Or in those days to be honest. Progenesi seem to have done a good job of absorbing the influences as the 1970s bands did, rather than being influenced …

One of These Days & Thee Heavy Random Tone Colour Lab, Spain


One of These Days & Thee Heavy Random Tone Colour Lab - A Peaceful Nacht in Hell. 2013 private. LP only

One of These Days & Thee Heavy Random Tone Colour Lab, a band that is certainly in contention for longest group name, is a new space rock / retro prog band from Spain. Specifically they are from A Coruña, located in the far northwest province of Galicia. Now that blew a cobweb off a brain cell, and sure enough, another space rock band came from the exact same town nearly 20 years ago: Kozmic Muffin. Who remembers them? They were one of the bright lights of the mid 90s psychedelic progressive scene. Not sure if One of These Days has any personal relationship with the group, but obviously the region has a propensity towards space rock acts. And there are some similarities in their music.

File One of These Days into the camp that believes music had no reason to go past 1975. You won't get much of an argument from me on that front. The all-analog instrumentat…

Kikagaku Moyo, Japan


Kikagaku Moyo - s/t. 2013 Cosmic Eye / Sound Effect (Greece EP); 2014 Captcha (USA EP)
Kikagaku Moyo - Mammatus Clouds. 2014 Cardinal Fuzz (UK LP); 2014 Captcha (USA LP)
Kikagaku Moyo - Forest of Lost Children. 2014 Beyond Beyond is Beyond (USA LP; CD)
Kikagaku Moyo - House in the Tall Grass. 2016 GuruGuru Brain (CD; LP)

A lot of activity has occurred with Kikagaku Moyo since we first published this post. Other then the first EP, I haven't heard anything further by the band. It appears I have some investigating to do.

----Kikagaku Moyo

Kikagaku Moyo is Japanese for Geometric Patterns, and is a perfectly fitting name for this promising up and coming psychedelic space rock group from Tokyo. Fantastic artwork adorns the cover and is appropriate for the music within. According to the label, Kikagaku Moyo set out to recreate the magic sounds of the early 1970s Japanese underground. From this listener's perspective there cannot possibly be enough bands to atte…

Birds and Buildings, USA


Birds and Buildings - Bantam to Behemoth. 2008 Emkog
Birds and Buildings - Multipurpose Trap. 2013 Emkog

Birds and Buildings is one of a handful of bands Dan Britton is involved with (others including Deluge Grander, Cerebus Effect, and All Over Everywhere). On top of his considerable music composition acumen, Britton is also a student of the progressive rock genre as a whole. He's not only aware of the surface groups, but also of the labyrinthine underground - many of the same obscure bands I feature across my three blogs. This deep research shows up in all his recordings, and he seems careful to not fall into the cliche traps he hears in others bands - especially modern ones who have the luxury of history on their side. Not only are music charts well studied, but so is the instrumentation, with a careful mix of analog and modern gear applied. Birds and Buildings would appear to be Britton's vehicle geared towards the more academic approach to rock, of…

Rhun, France


Rhun - Ih. 2012 private
Rhun - Fanfare du Chaos. 2013 AltRock (Italy CD); 2016 Soleil Zeuhl (LP)

Rhun are still active as of the summer of 2016.

----Fanfare du Chaos

Like Caillou, Rhun is a new French band that fits squarely into the Zeuhl tradition. While Caillou were looking outward to the jazz side of the medium, Rhun sits very comfortably with the master creator of the genre itself: Magma. There are both jazz and classical references presented on "Fanfare du Chaos", a new CD from AltRock that combines last year's EP (first 3 tracks) with a 2008 unreleased demo (last 3). The music is rough and tumble for the most part, with the expected operatic Kobaian used as the vehicular language. Soft flute and bassoon are often juxtaposed against a blitzkrieg of fuzz bass, electric guitar, pounding drums, and squealing sax. Hard to imagine fans of both "1001 Centigrades" and "Mekanik" era Magma - as well as the great Weidorje - not lapp…

Psicomagia, USA


Psicomagia - s/t. 2013 El Paraiso CD + LP.

Like yesterday's Ampledeed, Psicomagia pay homage to one of my personal favorite styles of music. Not Canterbury this time, but rather the freaked out - yet still highly melodic - early 1970s European jazz rock scene. There were many bands operating in Continental Europe that had been influenced by Frank Zappa's landmark "Hot Rats" 1969 masterpiece. Perhaps that's why San Diego based Psicomagia chose a Danish label to release their album? Ha! Not really of course, since El Paraiso is responsible for similar retro artists coming from contemporary Denmark like Causa Sui and Papir. And Psicomagia are no strangers to the retro play either, as saxophonist Brian Ellis also plays in Astra (on lead guitar) - a band that I personally adore, though inexplicably I have yet to feature here on UTRCD (I'll fix that eventually).

There are only 4 tracks on Psicomagia's debut, and the centerpiece is the two part …

Beyond-O-Matic, USA


Beyond-O-Matic - The Flight of Luis Garcia. 1994 Chroniclers of the End
Beyond-O-Matic - Sonic Reclaimator. 1998 Jamelot
Beyond-O-Matic - Your Body. 1998 Jamelot
Beyond-O-Matic - Time To Get Up. 2010 Trail Records (2003-2004 recordings).
Beyond-O-Matic - Relations at the Borders Between. 2013 Trail Records

Now here's a band I haven't thought about in a long time. San Francisco based Beyond-O-Matic (though leader Fuhry now resides in Austin, TX) were one of many US space rock bands to emerge on the scene in the 1990s, only to disappear into the ether without a trace. So I was quite surprised to see they have re-emerged, and on America's preeminent space rock label Trail Records no less. This isn't my first experience with Beyond-O-Matic, as I once did own "Sonic Reclamator", but I recall little about it sadly, and it seemed to blur with other bands from that era (same with Farflung, F/i, Escapade, Salamander, etc...) - many of which …

Caillou, France


Nothing new from this band since January 2015. I do hope they march on!

Caillou - s/t. 2013 Soleil Zeuhl

New all instrumental group from France that is firmly within the confines of the jazz rock wing of the Zeuhl factory. Fender Rhodes and electric guitar  lead the solo parade (and both will occasionally fuzz out, much to my glee). Drumming is scattered in the jazz tradition, while the bass rumbles along, trying to hold it all together. Analog synthesizer definitely adds much needed color. Comparisons I've read to One Shot are spot on. Caillou are their best when they attempt songwriting, and throw in a memorable melody or two (such as on 'Victor F.' and '200 Toiles'). It stands as a fine debut, though they can certainly improve in the composition department, while adding a bit more complexity and trimming off the solo excess. It can seem a bit monolithic over the course of the 55 minutes on display. I look forward to where they go …

Various Artists - Tripwave: A Retrospective Collection of Russian Psychedelic Progressive Music

Various Artists - Tripwave: A Retrospective Collection of Russian Psychedelic Progressive Music

2011 Trail Records (USA CD)

Starting from the beginning, which the label conveniently placed in chronological order:

Eastern Syndrome – Celt. 1989. A mix of unhinged psychedelia and 1980s New Wave songcraft and associated production qualities. Vocalist sounds like David Byrne, while the reckless psychedelic guitar abandon could be from an old F/I album circa “Space Mantra”. Some fine spacey sax as well. A little bit like the Saqqara Dogs overall here. It appears this track comes from an unreleased album called “Studio 13”. Fascinating stuff, and perfect for a compilation.

The Moon Pierrot – Moon Dream. 1990. Thick bass, happy rhythm guitar, danceable beats, sonorous vocals. Sounds like 1985 New Wave to me! But… I thought this was a psych prog collection? No, the Moon Pierrot belongs somewhere else, despite some fine electric guitar about half way through. I like it anyway.

Do Major…

Trespass, Israel

UMR notes

Eccentric Orbit, USA


Eccentric Orbit - Attack of the Martians. 2004 private
Eccentric Orbit - Creation of the Humanoids. 2014 private

A long time ago, I reviewed a then new album by the Israeli group Trespass for Gnosis. The review basically states that if you like keyboard trio proggy prog circa 1972, then you must own “Morning Lights”. Well... same deal here. Maybe less similar to the Dutch group Trace and more like the Japanese virtuoso Motoi Sakuraba, but this still delivers the goods all day and all night. With some added and varied instrumentation, these guys could create that extra dimension similar to how Pochakaite Malko did on “Laya”. Special recognition to bassist Bill Noland, who likes to rip out some fuzz bass from time to time. Fuzz bass + mellotron = me like. Opener and closer are the definite highlights, as the aggressiveness plays well for Eccentric Orbit. This album drew almost straight 10s from the Gnosis rat pack (of which I'm part of), and I'm …

Egonon, Italy


Egonon - Risveglio. 2011 private

Here's one courtesy of our Gnosis friend Eddie - the same gentleman that brought us all those wonderful Romanian albums earlier in the year.

The 1970's Italian progressive rock greats are regarded as such because of their innate ability to compile and distill the influences of their day. Namely classical, jazz, rock, indigenous folk, avant-garde, and canto. And a big old scoop of youthful exuberance. Considering this, Egonon are true to the philosophy of their ancestors. Rather than recreate the sounds of the 70s, as many Italian bands are doing today (and wonderfully so I might add), Egonon are assimilating their own influences. In their case, the list might look like: Heavy Metal, Alt-Rock, World Music, funk, and... everything that was also included in the 1970s Italian progressive rock scene, including the end result of said scene, which they clearly respect and pay homage to. It may be a restaurant with too many ite…

Il Segno del Comando, Italy


Well I can see that I never created any notes or updated this post for Il Volto Verde. I bought it after release and think it's great! So next time I hear it, I'll update here and move the whole thing forward.

Il Segno del Comando - s/t. 1997 Black Widow (CD; LP)
Il Segno del Comando - Der Golem. 2002 Black Widow (CD; LP)
Il Segno del Comando - Il Volto Verde. 2013 Black Widow (CD; LP)

----Il Segno del Comando

Il Segno del Comando's debut comes from the 90's renaissance wave of darkly influenced Italian progressive music as promoted by the Black Widow label of Genoa. Their haunting formula includes pipe organ, synthesizer, echoplex'd guitar, and impassioned vocals in Italian. Il Segno del Comando were the culmination of Black Widow's stable of the era, which included Runaway Totem (especially at the time of their debut), Standarte, Malombra, and Abiogenesi. Perhaps a bit more space rock influenced than the aforementioned bands, making it …

Arabs in Aspic, Norway


Arabs in Aspic - Progeria (EP). 2003 Borse Music
Arabs in Aspic - Far Out in Aradabia. 2004 Borse Music
Arabs in Aspic - Strange Frame of Mind. 2010 Pancromatic LP. 2011 Black Widow (Italy) CD
Arabs in Aspic - Pictures in a Dream. 2013 Black Widow (Italy) CD + LP

Robert Fripp has stated that "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" means: "Something precious which is stuck, but visible. Something precious which is encased in form."  So with that heady bit of insight, it's obvious to me that Arabs in Aspic means... yea, I have no idea either. [shrug]

But what is "in aspic" is the band's ability to recreate the sounds of the 1970s. Specifically the American FM sound of 1975 and '76. Despite being from Norway, Arabs in Aspic are yet another band that would fit well in my USA Midwest / Ontario Progressive Rock (1970's/early 80s) list. Sounds odd doesn't it? Well... it's not as strange as it may first appear.

In 1990, in my Euro…

Willowglass, England


Willowglass- s/t. 2005 private
Willowglass - Book of Hours. 2008 private
Willowglass - The Dream Harbour. 2013 private

We pick up Willowglass on the second album "Book of Hours"... What do you do with a guy who is enamored with the European Medieval past of stained glass windows, Celtic crosses, and towered villages - and who has an obsession with 1970-1973 era Genesis? Someone who distills those ideas, reshapes it in his own image, and then pushes back out to the wilds for all to critique. It's easy to pan such an effort, but when it is done this well and with this kind of passion, one really does have to admire the final product. If early Genesis is your thing, and you're OK with no vocals being present in such a setting, then it's highly likely you will enjoy, or at the very least appreciate, Andrew Marshall's Willowglass. 


As a reviewer myself, I tend to read dozens of reviews. It can be wearisome to see the same tired critiques…

Henry Fool, England


Henry Fool - s/t. 2001 Cyclops; 2013 KScope
Henry Fool - Men Singing. 2013 KScope (CD; LP)

The band's last activity was in 2014, which seems to be their pattern I'm afraid.

----Henry Fool

I suppose a Porcupine Tree comparison is unavoidable on Henry Fool's debut album. Especially considering the vocal tracks. That is to say, the more melancholic efforts from Porcupine Tree replete with mellotron. The instrumental parts range from lounge jazz to pure psychedelic bliss - and all points between. Radical in its own way - though not necessarily ground breaking. It's not until track 4 that vocals are even heard. There are 16 tracks in all. This is the same spirit that classic progressive rock had in the 1970's - making music just to make music. No end purpose in sight. Exciting concept if you think about it... 

----long interlude

I didn't think we'd hear from this band again.... BUT I was wrong.... as is often the case. Fortunately....


Not a Good Sign, Italy


Not a Good Sign - s/t. 2013 AltRock

OK - back to regular postings on the UTR for awhile. And here's another one of the new exciting bands coming from Italy. I suppose it's really a collaboration effort, rather than a true band. Though it could certainly evolve into that as Hostsonaten did from Finisterre.

Not a Good Sign (NAGS), though from Italy, have really nothing to do with their own heritage in progressive rock. NAGS, a band that could also be called the AltRock Label All-Stars, clearly have their sights up north towards Scandinavia, where the instrumentals recall Anglagard, Sinkadus, and Wobbler. The English vocals, sung in a somewhat commercial style, recall the Swedish group Anekdoten - especially on their later efforts. This is a band who wear their "prog patch" proudly on their collective jackets. We're pretty much at ground zero here for the style, so if you don't like this, then you probably have to question whether or not …

Il Cerchio d'Oro, Italy

SoulenginE, Italy

Temple of the Smoke, Serbia

News: Last sighting of the band was a couple of live shows in 2016.

Facebook Samples
Location: Belgrade

Overview: Temple of the Smoke are a psychedelic spacerock band who mix stoner metal motifs with that of progressive electronic music.Very unique and satisfying.

UMR notes

Hokr, Czech Republic

News: There's been no activity from Hokr since 2013.

Website Samples Facebook
Location: Prague

Overview: Somewhere between Van der Graaf Generator and Elephant9 is where you'll spot the sound of Hokr.

UMR notes

Setna, France

News: It would appear the band is defunct at the moment, with almost no online presence beyond an ancient looking website.

Location: Rouen

Overview: Setna are a Zeuhl band operating on the more atmospheric elements of said genre.

UMR notes

Oxhuitza, Italy

News: Been a couple of years since since there's even been a posting. It appears the band is inactive now.

Location: Tuscany (not sure the city)

Overview: A mix of 90s neo prog metal and 70s retro prog. Unusual band.

UMR notes

Mantric Muse, Denmark

News: Not much happening with Mantric Muse, with a posting of a live concert in 2015 being the last activity.

Website Samples
Location: Copenhagen

Overview: Mantric Muse are bread and butter Hillage-era Gong styled progressive rock. For fans of early Ozric Tentacles and Quantum Fantay.

UMR notes

Walrus, Sweden

News: There's been no activity from Walrus since 2013. Poo.

Location: They allege they are from Barentsburg, but that's an island in the Arctic Sea inhabited by Russians mainly. Probably from Stockholm...

Overview: Walrus mixes retro progressive with classic Krautrock sounds.

UMR notes

Kama Loka, Sweden

News: It would appear Kama Loka were a one-off gathering of musicians from Denmark and Sweden to record one great album in the legendary Silence Studios. Maybe they will consider a reunion?

Location: Stockholm

Overview: Kama Loka brings back the classic psychedelic progressive rock of early 1970s Sweden.

UMR notes

Kharmina Buranna, Peru

News: It would appear are no longer around, with no internet presence whatsoever. That's too bad as they were really quite accomplished.

Location: Lima?

Overview: Though from Peru, Kharmina Buranna remind me quite a bit of the 1970s Argentine progressive rock scene. They squarely fit the "retro prog" category and play a direct mix of early 70s styled blues rock mixed with classic era Yes, and a dose of 70s Italian progressive rock.

UMR notes

Montibus Communitas, Peru

News: Not much to report on here since 2014's The Pilgrim to the Absolute, an album I haven't personally heard.

Samples Facebook
Location: Lima

Overview: Though a 6 piece ensemble, who play a myriad of acoustic and electric instruments, the band seem more like a free folk collective than a rock band per se. Montibus Communitas' music is about cycles, trances, and meditation. Deeply ritualistic.

UMR notes

Sanhedrin, Israel

News: It would appear the band is completely defunct at the moment, which is too bad.

Location: Tel Aviv

Overview: An excellent modern band from Israel capturing the European Warm progressive sounds of bands like Asia Minor, Minimum Vital, Solaris, and Rousseau.

UMR notes

Diagonal, England

News: Diagonal at the current time do not appear to be active, with no significant activity since 2014.

Facebook Samples
Location: Brighton

Overview: Diagonal are the first modern UK band, that I know of anyway, to truly capture the essence, atmosphere, and sound of the original progressive rock movement from 1970-1971 England.

UMR notes

Psycho Praxis, Italy

News: There's talk of a second album and the band are posting frequently, but nothing of consequence yet.

Website Facebook
Location: Brescia (east of Milan)

Overview: Psycho Praxis are a retro prog Italian band heavily influenced by the early 1970s UK scene.

UMR notes

My Brother the Wind, Sweden

News: Nothing new to report on here. One of the band members has released a solo album recently.

Facebook Samples
Location: Stockholm and Gothenburg

Overview: Formed by guitarists Mathias Danielson (Gösta Berlings Saga, Makajodama) and Nicklas Barker (Anekdoten), My Brother the Wind (named after an obscure Sun Ra album from 1970) exists as the musician's vehicle for improvised space rock.

UMR notes

Ornithos, Italy

News: Ornithos are still posting on Facebook, but they don't appear very active nor are the new albums on the horizon.

Facebook Samples
Location: Umbria

Overview: Ornithos are a sextet that is culled from the excellent ensemble Il Bacio delle Medusa. Like many new progressive bands from Italy, Ornithos looks back to the classic 1973 era for inspiration.

UMR notes

Sithonia, Italy

News: Not much a happening in the world of Sithonia. Hopefully the reunion wasn't a one and done.

Website Facebook
Location: Bologna

Overview: Sithonia were one of the best of the neo Italian prog bands that emerged in the late 1980s. Their composition style was a cut above the rest, but the sounds were decidedly digital. Their reformation brought back more solid analog gear, and probably their best album objectively speaking.

UMR notes