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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 violin, female voice, and searing electric guitar. On this latter point, I could listen to band leader Andy Glass all day. He plays in an expressive way like no one else I've ever heard. Recommended.

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I've written about "New Life" before on the UTR, though this post will replace that one. I still consider this title their masterwork, though I know I'm in the minority here.


With a cleaner production than their debut from nine years earlier, New Life sees Solstice at their height. Andy Glass is in top form here, with some truly majestic guitar leads. He doesn't play fast or technical, it's all pure emotion unlike anyone else I've ever heard. "Guardian" is one of the most beautiful tracks I've had the pleasure of listening to. Plenty of wonderful violin and female vocals as well. A rich, beautiful album.

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On "Circles", I found that Solstice had disintegrated a bit too much towards the twee, and definitely pales compared to its predecessors. Bordering on pure new age music here. It's not a bad album, mind you, but lacks the energetic spirit of their other work. I eventually parted with it.

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Perhaps my comment about "spirit" on the previous album "Circles" is exactly what Glass was thinking, since he shut the band down (more or less) for about 13 years.  

"Spirit": This is really all I could have hoped for from a new Solstice album. Picking up where "New Life" left off, but avoiding the hippy dippy tweeness of "Circles", "Spirit" is a fine collection of beautiful songs from Andy Glass and company. All the trademarks of classic Solstice are here, including the soaring violin and the sweet female vocals. And, of course, Glass' superb guitar leads. And there's a bit of rough edge this go round, showing that Glass isn't all about peace and love after all. I'd like to see him explore his more aggressive and psychedelic side in the future. Overall, a splendid effort from one of the UK's most unappreciated progressive rock bands. There's also a DVD attached, which I haven't seen yet, but I'm sure to enjoy.

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And that gets us to the new album "Prophecy", in a quick turnaround (by Solstice standards) of 3 years. There are 5 new, and lengthy, tracks for Andy Glass to explore his emotional progressive style, as first laid out on "Silent Dance" - and as a shrewd move, three of those tracks have been added as bonus material, having received the Steven Wilson mix, and are included here for reflection and comparison. "Prophecy" finds Solstice right down the middle of their various styles. A selection of the best - and worst - Solstice has to offer (in my mind anyway). As such, "Prophecy" is almost certainly not the album that will change minds about them. The album artwork, and overall atmosphere, call out the American West - that of the Native American. There really isn't a more appropriate topic when considering the music of Solstice. It's an interesting anecdote then, that "New Life" first started sending chills up my spine while driving in Northern New Mexico on my way to Santa Fe from Denver (this was in 1994). So perhaps I was having the same musical visual that Glass himself was. Let's get to the problematic parts, and then we'll focus on the positive. Solstice, again for my tastes, always had a tendency to retain too much "praise to the heavens" in their music. You can just picture the female singer with her head up, eyes closed, slowly swiveling her hips, palms open and arms sweeping upwards, while howling to the moon in that annoying American Idol way. Pan the camera for a profile shot in a misty light. Not for me I'm afraid, sorry. On this album, you can definitely envision this scenario on tracks like 'Keepers of the Truth' and 'West Wind'. On the flip side, when Glass and company add a little muscle, and the soaring violin and electric guitar begin to lay out the sustain chords, the entire mood shifts from quasi-religious to pure emotional ecstasy. Now in this setting, the crystal clear female voice is heavenly rather than temporal. For this style, we get 'Warriors' and especially the rousing closer 'Black Water' which is absolutely Solstice at their best. The opening track 'Eyes of Fire', like the album itself, straddles both sides of the fence. In any case, I'm a huge Solstice supporter, and would recommend this highly to fans. Otherwise, you may want to start with "Spirit" if curious.

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On my original post of "New Life", our good friend Spyros had the following observation about Solstice, that I wanted to ensure remained public. He had a boots-on-the-ground perspective, so it's always great to get these first hand accounts: "SOLSTICE were a weird affair. Though by their sound one could easily label them as a neo-prog band, they belonged to the festival scene (being regulars to the most famous free festies of the times with bands like OZRICS, HERE & NOW, HAWKWIND etc). Sonically however, they had nothing in common with the festival bands by being a pure progressive rock combo.

They had also little to share with the pomp rock neo-prog clan as they deviated towards Renaissance's folkier edge and the 60s psych prog style. Add to this the fact that in their beginnings they had a late 60s hippy image. Probably the reasons of their limited success; no scene really embraced them as their own...

Great band Tom. Count me among their loyal followers."

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The ongoing HiPo list

Read about this the purpose and idea of this thread at the bottom of this post. Feel free to opine on any of these albums as you wish.

New additions (moved forward with this post)
Cosmic Triggers (Russia)

Karakorum (Germany)

Kungens Män (Sweden) This band many releases already, and 5 are durable mediums. Looks like a group to check out at least one of.

Professor Tiptop (Norway)
Weserbergland (Norway)


Prior entries that have yet to be purchased or heard
Cherry Five (Italy) Reformation album, so won't consider this against the 1975 album.

Consorzio Acqua Potabile - Coraggio e Mistero (Italy) New album with Alvaro Fella (Jumbo!) on vocals. Considering this HiPo because of the Fella presence

Fatal Fusion (Norway)

Il Fauno di Marmo (Italy)

Hadal Sherpa (Finland)

Jordsjo (Norway) OK - just a quick update that Jordsjo will have a CD out in the fall. Yaay!

Merry Go Round (Italy)

Mythic Sunship (Denmark)

The Winstons (Italy)

Witchwood  (Italy)

Wucan (Germany)

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Anglagard, Sweden

News: According to the band's website from October 8th: "The band has gone into songwriting mode after several concerts in North America (which happened to include full renditions of "Hybris"). In related news, Jonas, Johan and Erik have apparently started a side project with Thomas Johnson playing some sort of progressive jazz music. In terms of website news, the recent DVD releases have finally been added to the discography." Great - add a distraction there. These guys are hilarious. Probably by 2024 we can expect a new album then...

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Location: Stockholm

Overview: Probably the foremost contemporary post 1990 band to capture and recreate all that was great about the early 1970s original progressive rock movement.

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Omnia Opera, England

News: Omnia Opera are still kicking! They're actively looking for a new keyboard player, so it seems they're ready to get going again. They also have an offshoot band called 7Shades and they recently played with The Oroonies - yet another blast from the past. Both of these bands have old cassettes that are in dire need of reissue.

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Location: Kidderminster (SW of Birmingham)

Overview: Omnia Opera can best be described as a heavier and more in-yer-face variation of the classic UK festival space rock sound. More Hawkwind and less Gong that is to say. About the only band I can think of that rocks harder than Ozric Tentacles in this genre.

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Homunculus Res, Italy

News: It appears the new album from Homunculus Res will be coming in November, based on a comment back in August. So great news there. No title or cover as of yet, so I'll leave the second album up.

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Location: Palermo, Sicily

Overview: Homunculus Res is a tremendous new Canterbury styled band from Italy that have perfectly captured the spirit of another era. Brilliantly mixing melody and complexity, with a jazzy undertone.

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Secret Saucer, USA

News: Secret Saucer have just released their 7th album The Reset. It appears to be LP only at the current time (and released in Germany). I've lost track of Secret Saucer, as I haven't heard anything from them since Tri-Angle Waves in 2009.


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Overview: Secret Saucer could best be described as a space rock jam band. Similar to Oresund Space Collective and  others of its ilk.

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October Equus, Spain

News: There's talk of a new album, and in at least one post, it was discussed it might be without a rhythm section - a chamber type work. Nooo.... don't do it! Resist the temptation. :-) Permafrost, from 2013, remains the last album, and I never did get any notes down for it. I'm sure I will eventually.

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Location: Madrid

Overview: October Equus'first album was almost like a psychedelic Present (Belgium), a very interesting combination that I found highly appealing. With each subsequent release, October Equus ups the ante on complexity, while toning down the more jamming aspect of their sound.

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Nuova Era, Italy

News: Return to the Castle was released late last year, and has received mixed reviews. It would appear their controversial decision to move to English has divided the fan base.

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Overview: Probably more than any other band, Nuova Era can be credited with bringing back the classic early 70s Italian progressive rock sound... kicking and screaming into the 90s. The band has reformed in the 2010 decade, though strangely they've moved to English vocals, something that goes against the very core of the style. I haven't heard them yet, so can't say how successful the reformation has been.

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Quaterna Requiem, Brazil

News: Quaterna Réquiem are very active on the live front in their home country of Brazil. No word on a new album though.

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Location: Rio de Janeiro

Overview: Quaterna Réquiem were one of the first bands of the late 1980s/early 90s progressive rock renaissance to review the works of the Mediterranean bands such as Quella Vecchia Locanda and Gotic, rather than the standard English "Big 3" of Genesis, Yes, and ELP.

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Lumerians, USA

News: Lumerians are very active playing live and touring. There's talk of a new album, but nothing since Transmissions From Telos Vol III from 2014 (which came after IV...) - an album I haven't heard yet myself.
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Location: Oakland, California

Overview: Lumerians' rhythms are pure Krautrock motorik, straight from the Can and Neu! school. The dreamy vocals recall Barrett era Floyd, or perhaps more to the point, the early 90s neo psych of Sun Dial

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Astrakan, England

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Location: London

Overview: Astrakan are a fine band operating between Canterbury and jazzier forms of rock. Comets and Monsters adds an avant prog edge.

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