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Showing posts from December, 2013

Orne, Finland

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…