Skip to main content

Under the Radar changes for 2017

As stated on my flagship blog Unencumbered Music Reviews, changes are afoot on my remaining 2 blogs. In effect, Under the Radar is now out of the review business. All of the existing reviews will eventually be moved over to UMR. It will take some time, and it won't be a dedicated project, so this blog will be a hodgepodge for a long while I suspect. I was miles behind on getting the contemporary reviews up (1990's and on), and rather than force a band page because a review existed, I have given up on that quest.

What this does do, however, is free this blog up for something that I've wanted to do for some years. Basically a gathering place for active - or potentially active - contemporary progressive rock bands and their activities. My coveted "A-List" as it were. So each band page will have an overview, along with the latest album news, as I hear about it (or you all alert me!). As news evolves, I will just simply move the band page to the top to highlight that news. This will replace the need for a monthly Roundup post, and it will also allow me to get band pages up much quicker, and not worry about reviews and discographies, which is what slowed this blog down to a crawl. Bands that are no longer active, and have no active internet presence (many of the bands we featured from the 90s for example), will simply be removed, and added to the UMR site. So you will see some pages go away while new ones get added at a quicker clip.

In addition, when I do add new reviews to UMR, I will also move the band page forward. To see the review, simply click the album cover and it will take you there. I'm still messing around with the design of the new band pages, but it must be simple, or I'll be back to taking forever to get anything done.

Look for some new band pages to go up first thing in 2017, and then like UMR, it really just depends on when I have some free time.

Oh, and one design note. Since links are an important part of UTR, I have tweaked the HTML code so that a new window always opens when you click on a link. I think that's easier than using the back button, and it allows you to open Facebook, a webpage  and some samples without having to open them up manually.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Corima, USA

News: The band are active, and playing some "CD new release" shows, some 8 months after the release. That's a good sign! I managed to get some notes down for the new album as well. See UMR link below.

Facebook Samples
Location: Los Angeles (formed in El Paso, Texas)

Overview: For my tastes, perhaps the best Zeuhl group since the glory days of Eskaton!

Unencumbered Music Reviews

Vespero, Russia

News: Vespero is still very active and have two new LP's out, or coming out soon, as part of their Liventure series. No word on a new studio album.
Website Samples Facebook
Location: Astrakhan

Overview: Vespero are a space rock band from Astrakhan, a city on the northern shore of the Caspian Sea in Southern Russia, near the border of Kazakhstan. So, in effect, miles from anything familiar. And yet there are few bands today - or perhaps none - that have captured the European spirit of space rock, Krautrock, and progressive rock like Vespero has. Their music is at once exotic, and yet familiar. Somewhere between Korai Orom, Ole Lukkoye, Hidria Spacefolk, 60's Pink Floyd, Can, Ash Ra Tempel, and a yet-to-be-identified group from Kazakhstan.

Unencumbered Music Reviews


Taipuva Luotisuora, Finland

Website
Samples
ProgArchives

Taipuva Luotisuora - Planetaariset Ilmanpainevyöhykkeet. 2004 (Demo)
Taipuva Luotisuora - I. 2005 Kaakao
Taipuva Luotisuora - II. 2006 Kaakao
Taipuva Luotisuora - IV. 2009 Kaakoa
Taipuva Luotisuora - 8. 2013 Kaakoa. CD + LP.

Taipuva Luotisuora are absolutely one of the best albums in the Ozric Tentacles genre. Perhaps second only to Hidria Spacefolk.

For their debut album, I had a little fun with the below review, which I wrote for Gnosis some 7 years ago:

Deep in the dark forests of Finlandia, where lurks the mysterious Hidria Spacefolk, hushed whispers abound of another pagan tribe nearby known as Taipuva Luotisuora. On one dark misty night we ventured carefully over, and while peeking through the leaves, we listened to the tribe perform their magical brew. A small, furry group, only numbering five, armed with guitar (electric and acoustic), bass (fuzz), drums, percussion, synthesizers galore (some even fuzzed like the Farfisa’s of previous civil…

Kenso, Japan

Website
Facebook

No new updates from Kenso since 2015.

Kenso - s/t. 1980 Pam (LP); 1995 Arcangelo (CD)
Kenso - II. 1982 Pam (LP); 1993 King (CD); 2002 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - s/t (aka III). 1985 Nexus (LP; CD); 2011 King (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Sparta. 1989 Crime (CD); 2009 Pathograph as Sparta Naked (CD)
Kenso - Yume No Oka. 1991 King; 2011 Pathograph (CD papersleeve)
Kenso - Esoptron. 1999 King (CD); 1999 Musea (France CD)
Kenso - Ken-Son-Gu-Su. 2000 Pathograph (CD)
Kenso - Fabulis Mirabilibus De Bombycosi Scriptis. 2002 Nexus (CD); 2002 Vinyl Magic (Italy CD)
Kenso - Utsuroi Yuku Mono. 2006 King (CD)
Kenso - Uchi Naru Koe Ni Kaikiseyo. 2014 King (CD)

There are many other live and archival releases from the band, though I only own Ken-Son-Gu-Su. All the other entries above represent their studio albums. There's also a 14 CD box set on King that contains all their studio albums through 2012, as well as a handful of live recordings.

For a band with so many recordings, an…

Viima, Finland

News: There's been talk of a 3rd album for a few years now. The good news is the band has clearly been resuscitated and are playing live next Friday night at a local prog night in Turku! So hopefully they are back and ready to go.

Facebook Website Samples
Location: Turku

Overview: Viima play a UK styled symphonic folk, but with Finnish female vocals. The second album featured male vocals and was more progressive rock oriented.

Reviews (click on album cover)

Puppet Show, USA

News: About once a year, Puppet Show pop onto Facebook to inform us that they're still around and determined to release new material. So if they'll do that, then I'll put up a band page. Why not? I'd likely buy any new album from them.

Facebook Website Samples
Location: San Jose, California

Overview: Puppet Show are band that combine the early 90s style of neo prog with that of classic mid 70s Genesis. A very fine group that have found a small niche in a crowded marketplace.

Reviews (click on album covers)

Ozric Tentacles - Paper Monkeys. 2011 England

Ozric Tentacles - Paper Monkeys. 2011 Madfish.

Ozric's best studio album in about a decade. Paper Monkeys seems more motivated than the last few efforts. Definitely more energy, and features some fine guitar rave-ups from Ed Wynne, similar in that way to The Floor's Too Far Away (another newer Ozric album that I'm quite fond of). Electronica continues to influence their sound - perhaps even more so than prior. There's no mistaking this is an Ozric Tentacles album, and it doesn't appear they're ever going to change the formula. But for what they do, this is one of the better ones.

The Cosmic Dead, Scotland

Website
Samples

The Cosmic Dead - s/t. 2011 cassette; 2012 Paradigms (USA); 2013 Cardinal Fuzz (LP)
The Cosmic Dead - The Exalted King. 2012 cassette; 2013 Cosmic Eye (Greece) (LP)

The Cosmic Dead are a Scottish quartet who've been around a couple of years, and whose raison d'etre is improvised space rock. The Cosmic Dead are yet another one of these new bands who seem to be content to issue their albums via download, along with the archaic cassette format (which, to be fair, does allow for 90 and 120 minute albums). They have 6 albums to date but only two are on the more durable and desirable formats like the LP and CD. So those are the only two I have listed. I have heard the first album prior, but it didn't leave a mark.

"The Exalted King" is a sprawling 2 LP set of droning keys, echoed guitars, and pounding rhythms. Hawkwind and the more cosmic moments of Amon Duul II are the obvious comparisons. This is music to turn the lights off, sit back / lay down, a…

Quaterna Requiem, Brazil

Website
Samples
ProgArchives

Quaterna Réquiem - Velha Gravura. 1990 Faunus (LP); 1992 Faunus (CD)
Quaterna Réquiem - Quasimodo. 1994 private
Quaterna Réquiem - Livre. 1999 private
Quaterna Réquiem - O Arquiteto. 2012 private

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. As such, their in-depth research of 1970's progressive rock adds a dimension sorely missing from most works of this time frame. Quaterna Réquiem performs a new interpretation of a much missed genre of music - what was once known as "Euro Rock". And the only thing keeping Quaterna Réquiem from classic "retro prog" status, that which is all the rage in 2000+, is the lack of analog keyboard instrumentation. But the compositions, skillful playing, and youthful exuberance ca…

Wobbler, Norway

Facebook
Samples


Wobbler - Hinterland. 2005 Laser's Edge (USA)
Wobbler - Afterglow. 2009 Termo CD; 2009 Pancromatic LP
Wobbler - Rites at Dawn. 2011 Termo CD; 2011 Pancromatic LP

"Hinterland". Not since Anglagard, did a band receive so much attention before their debut release. There were plenty of folks trumpeting its release ("pass the torch", bla bla bla ...) and, not unexpected, a full gathering to say Wobbler are really not all that amazing - overrated, over-hyped, over whatever. Since there isn't a single album that everyone agrees is great, this point / counterpoint is bound to happen in the virtual progressive rock town hall. Personally I don't think we can have enough bands like Wobbler. It's analog keyboard heaven. It has the flutes, the woody bass, the active drumming, the loud fat acid guitar leads, the great production. It's rhythmically complex. It's dynamic with real climaxes and releases. It's an open ended style of progre…