Episode 4 of Progradar Recommends – Tangekanic, That Joe Payne, Toundra, Flicker Rate

Welcome to another edition of Progradar Recommends and this time I’ll talk about new releases from Tangekanic, That Joe Payne, Toundra and Flicker Rate…

Tangekanic – Hotel Cantaffordit

I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the Summers End Festival in Chepstow last October with the Prog Guru™ himself, Mr David Elliott. It was a blast, a real home grown, family friendly festival with superb acts and a brilliant atmosphere. One of the highlights was the set from Tangekanic, a touring unit that plays the music of both The Tangent and Karmakanic and features members of both, working together in one collaborative set.

Well the guys took the show to the USA and, luckily for us, decided to record at the New Jersey Proghouse and release it as a live album – ‘Hotel Cantaffordit’. What a stunning release it is, Jonas Reingold – Bass Guitar, Andy Tillison – Keyboards & Vocals, Göran Edman – Vocals, Luke Machin – Guitar and Steve Roberts – Drums  deliver a rip-roaring set full of good natured humour and enough energy and vibrancy to power a small village in deepest Yorkshire!

Opening with an incendiary version of The Tangent’s Spark In The Aether and then a spirited interpretation of the instrumental Dr Livingstone (I Presume?)  from the band’s latest long player ‘The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery’, this hybrid band play as if they’ve been together for many a year.

There’s a real camaraderie between them and a fun feeling to their energetic and lively set, the dry asides from Jonas are a particular highlight as is the wonderful version of the Swedish band’s God, The Universe And Everything Else Nobody Cares About, the closing track, Steer By The Stars with a hugely entertaining performance of the uplifting Send a Message From the Heart segued on closes the album in style.

‘Hotel Cantaffordit’ also includes the emotive Sanctuary In Music and Two Rope Swings.

Rating – 80/100

Released 22nd March 2018

Order direct from The Tangent here

That Joe Payne – I Need A Change (single release)

I’ve met Joe a few times and he is a lovely and personable young man so it was with some concern that I heard he had left his role as front man for the legendary prog unit The Enid in September 2016. He was open about his issues with anxiety and depression and thankfully, like the proverbial Phoenix, Joe has risen from the flames and reinvented himself as a solo artist with this first single release, I Need A Change.

The music, written and arranged entirely by Joe, was brought to life in the studio with the help of three other recently retired Enid members; Max Read (singer and producer), Nic Willes (drums and bass) and Duncan McLaughlan (guitar).

I’m sure Joe would be happy with my description of him and his music as being very dramatic and he is almost operatic in his vocal delivery, the lush harmonies that abound throughout the track are a beautiful highlight. I Need A Change is a musical triumph and sees this remarkable front man back where he belongs. There is real melodrama to the powerful music and there is no doubting the breathtaking emotional performance that Joe delivers on his first solo outing.

If this were a vinyl single we would call Moonlit Love the ‘B’ side and it is another superbly theatrical piece of music that shows off Joe’s talents to perfection. If you buy the single you get another five different versions of I Need A Change including piano, strings and choir arrangements which certainly give excellent value for money.

I am really excited to see what this outstanding performer comes up with next!

Rating – 78/100

Released 2nd March 2018

Order the single direct from Joe’s online shop here

Toundra – Vortex

I was very impressed by Spanish instrumental band Toundra’s last release ‘IV’ so it was with heightened anticipation that I awaited the promo of their new album ‘Vortex’, the enigmatic cover certainly helped too!

Their sound blends powerful riffs, beautiful deep melodies and intricate atmospheres, all wrapped up in elongated electric songs that emphasized their dangerous flammable live potential. ‘Vortex’ tales that as a base and then builds on it with repeated layers of powerful and in your face instrumental rock.

Monstrous riffs abound, just check out Cobra to see what I’m getting at, and the rhythm section seems like it was hewn out of solid granite. If you like your music in-your-face, direct, dynamic and, well, bloody loud then you have come to the right place. Touareg is an eight minute monster (as well as a Volkswagen 4×4), the eleven minute brilliance of Mojave does show that band can craft an excellent tune as well and is worth the entry price alone.

I have always been a big fan of instrumental rock (see the Flicker Rate review that follows this) and Toundra have just elevated themselves to the top of my recommendations with “the most straight-forward, heart-stopping, earth-shaking album of the year.”

Rating – 80/100

Released 27th April 2018.

Order the album on CD or Vinyl from Burning Shed here

Flicker Rate – Skylight

I know the exact moment when Spencer Bassett stepped out of the shadow of his illustrious father John and became a bona-fide artist in his own right. It was when I stopped considering him to be the son of John Bassett and took the merits of Spencer’s instrumental musical project Flicker Rate on their own standing.

Unlike the monstrous riffage of Toundra ‘Skylight’ has a much lighter vibe, wistful and with a easygoing vibe. The title track has an almost world music feel to it and Cloud Drop and Shimmer take that and add a lazy jazz influence to give it real sophistication and maturity.

Final track Grow has a post-rock vibe at its core and adds even more of an easy going feel to this delightful EP. With his third release and its contemplative and emotive atmosphere, Spencer has proven himself to be a songwriter and musician of some repute and not a little skill, it’s a bout time we got a full-length album from him (are you listening Spencer?).

Rating – 79/100

Released 13th April 2018

Order Skylight from bandcamp here

Keep your eyes out for the next episode of Progradar Recommends, coming soon…




Mansun announce ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ deluxe remastered reissue

Deluxe remastered reissue of the classic debut album. Kscope, June 8th

Stunningly remastered from the original multi-tracks – this incredible album will be available on all digital platforms and as a media book CD, a 2 x black gatefold vinyl, a very limited 2 x purple gatefold heavyweight vinyl (complete with original design printed inner bags) and a lavish four disc limited book (3CD+DVD) including remastered album, DVD (including 5.1 mix, original videos and hi-def mix), a 70 page book with a new extended essay on the making the record and its impact, a CD of never before heard demos, rarities & outtakes and a CD of selected Mansun BBC Sessions.

Mansun – one of the most iconic bands of the late ’90s – have announced details of a huge remastered reissue of their 1997 debut album, Attack of the Grey Lantern. It will be released via Kscope on June 8th 2018.

The album will be released on multiple formats including limited coloured vinyl, standard black vinyl, single CD and super-deluxe four-disc book set (including unreleased material on CD and a new 5.1 mix on DVD). It will also be available to stream on all digital platforms.

For most rock‘n’roll bands, the debut album is a chance to properly record their nascent songs – those scrappy, speedball numbers often written in the white heat of formation. For Mansun, back in 1996, things were a little different. Formed in Chester before coming of age at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, the band’s early ambitions marked them out as a very different prospect to their supposed peers. Their songs were mini-symphonies filtered through their perfectly British eccentricity, worked out in painstaking detail in the studio before ever being played on the stage. The lyrics told elaborate stories, followed paths and planted signposts.

When it emerged, Mansun’s debut – Attack of the Grey Lantern – was the complete picture. A record that opens with a Bond theme like orchestral overture before opening out as an interconnected voyeuristic, curtain-twitching concept album about a smalltown superhero, AOTGL was an almost incomprehensibly melodic work that embraced intelligence and nuance over the brute force and beery bonhomie of their contemporaries. When it was released at the height of Britpop, AOTGL reached No 1 (in February 1997) and achieved platinum sales thanks to a hugely dedicated fanbase.

Now twenty-one years on, the album has been fully overhauled for a gloriously deluxe reissue package remastered from the original multi-tracks by Jon Astley  and with the band and Paul’s longtime studio collaborator PDub creating the 5.1 remix. The CDs of extra material include previously unheard demo recordings, studio outtakes and long unheard BBC sessions recorded prior to the album’s release. This reissue campaign also sees the record remastered for vinyl for the first time since its original release.

Pre-order now –  http://found.ee/AOTGL_21ST_ANNIVERSARY

Attack of the Grey Lantern featured the hit singles Wide Open Space, Egg Shaped Fred, Taxloss and She Makes My Nose BleedMansun were Paul Draper (vocals, guitar, production), Dominic Chad (guitar, piano, synths), Stove (bass), Andie Rathbone (drums).

Mansun’s Paul Draper recently played a sold out tour of the UK playing Attack of the Grey Lantern in its entirety. Much of the album had never been performed live prior to these dates. Paul’s first solo album – Spooky Action – was released on Kscope to critical acclaim in August 2017, being described by Record Collector in a 5* review as “the perfect confection for the later days of the 2010s”. Paul sets off on his first ever solo tour of the States in April/May – the first time he has played US dates since the ’97 release of Attack of the Grey Lantern. Kscope took on the Mansun back catalogue in 2017, they plan to release expanded, deluxe editions of the band’s other albums – Six and Little Kix – in the future.

ATTACK OF THE GREY LANTERN (21st Anniversary remaster) tracklisting:

The Chad Who Loved Me
Mansun’s Only Love Song
You, Who Do You Hate?
Wide Open Space
Stripper Vicar
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Naked Twister
Egg Shaped Fred
Dark Mavis
Disgusting (Demo)
Rebel Without a Quilt (Original version)
Naked Twister (Demo)
Dark Mavis (Demo)
The Dutchess (Jam session)
Ski Jump Nose (Original version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed (Strings only)
The Chad Who Loved Me (Backing track take 1)
Stripper Vicar (Take 1)
Stripper Vicar (Full length link version)
Dark Mavis (Rejected version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed (Version 1)
An Open Letter to the Lyrical Trainspotter (Take 1)
The Greatest Pain (Backing track take 1)
You, Who Do You Hate? (Early version)
She Makes My Nose bleed (Demo)
Egg Shaped Fred (Mix 1)
Skin Up Pin Up
Grey Lantern
14/09/1995   Radio One Session with John Peel
Naked Twister
Drastic Sturgeon
15/05/1996   Radio One Session
Egg Shaped Fred
Take it Easy Chicken
12/11/1996   Soho Live Evening Session
Stripper Vicar
She Makes My Nose Bleed
Wide Open Space
The Chad Who Loved Me
Ski Jump Nose
16/12/1996   Radio One Session with Mark Radcliffe
Attack Of The Grey Lantern 5.1 SURROUND MIX/HIGH RES AUDIO MIX
Egg Shaped Fred
Take It Easy Chicken
Stripper Vicar
Wide Open Space
Wide Open Space (US version)
She Makes My Nose Bleed


The Wallet Emptier’s ‘Music You Should Have A Listen To’ Round-Up Pt3.

Welcome top the third outing for The Wallet Emptier’s Round Up and the music I think you should be listening to this time is from Band of Rain, Lesoir, TNNE (The No Name Experience), Novatia, Starsabout and Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards

I have also added a link to buy the album, if you are so inclined and if I can find one!

Band of Rain – The Dust of Stars

There’s some power behind this album, it may be supposedly ‘haunting, ambient and largely instrumental rock music’ but Band of Rain imbue it with a hard-edged soul epitomised by long-term band leader Chris Gill’s dynamic and strident guitar style. His partner in crime Micha Steinbacher adds the requisite haunting atmosphere and they deliver some pretty intense musical soundscapes.

Ria Parfitt adds her quirky vocals to the title track and the in-your-face Toys (where Chris really lets loose with the six string) and prog stalwart Gordo Bennett contributes a superb ethereal guitar solo to Ancient Electric, this album keeps delivering at every turn. Just check out the eclectic flute work on the ambient beauty of Indian Summer and be mesmerised by the lush musical tapestry that Band of Rain have woven.

Rating – 78/100

Favourite Track – The wistful wonder of Ancient Electric.

Released 5th September 2017 – Buy this album from cdbaby

Lesoir – Latitude

Dutch band Lesoir have lofty ambitions, they want to aim for the bigger picture and deliver something more than your average art-rock album. ‘Latitude’ delivers a fragile beauty, music that inspires and transcends, an album full of soaring soundscapes and one that majors on subtlety rather than blunt rage.

Maartje Meesen’s voice is emotive and passionate, just check out opening track Modern Goddess, to see what I mean. To quote the PR:

‘Lesoir fuse the beauty of melancholy with a rugged maliciousness of an unforgiving wasteland. The Result is music that is as impressive as it is touching.’

I see similarities with German art-rock pioneers Frequency Drift, a cinematic quality to the music that gives the music an expansive feel and the recruitment of Bruce Soord as co-producer seems to have been a masterstroke and gives the music a three-dimensional atmosphere.

Rating – 75/100

Favourite Track – The magical and mysterious In Their Eyes.

Released 17th November 2017 – Buy this album from progrock.co.uk

TNNE – Wonderland

Neo-prog from Luxembourg? No, I didn’t know there was such a thing either but here I am listening to TNNE’s 2017 release ‘Wonderland’ and a lovely thing it is too. Any album that can call on Chilean guitar legend Claudio Cordero of Cast fame has a lot going for it before even the first note is played. I then hear the great sax playing on opener My Childish Mind and I’m in for the ride.

There’s something a bit extra to this release too though, it’s not Neo-prog by numbers, there is more warmth and emotion, perhaps a product of Patrick Keifer’s sublime vocals, and sheer joy in the way the musicians deliver the powerful rhythms and playful keyboard melodies. Add in Claudio’s famed guitar solos and you have a collection of songs that connect and involve you from the start to the end.

Rating – 78/100

Favourite Track – The funky, energetic opening track My Childish Mind.

Released 26th September 2017 – Buy the album from Progressive Promotion Records here

Novatia – Flow

Novatia’s third E.P. ‘Flow’ is an artfully constructed mix of pop, rock, jazz and funk, along with more than a liberal dose of progressive rock. As the title would suggest, the band have created an album that flows from the first track to the last, each song complimenting the others. This was a deliberate part of the songwriting process where the intention was to create five songs that are both musically and lyrically connected by one theme.

Stylish guitars and a thumping bass are the base on which these tracks are built on and the impressive vocals add a polished sheen to the finished product. That doesn’t mean that they are lacking in emotion though, there’s a piece of each of the band in every track, they come from the heart and soul and that is evident as you listen and partake on this involving, flowing journey.

Rating – 74/100

Favourite Track – The acoustic jazz infused delight of Before Autumn Comes.

Released 5th November 2017 – Buy the album from bandcamp here

Starsabout – Halflights

This is the second outing for Poland’s Starsabout on The Wallet Emptier’s Round Up and, just to confuse the issue, ‘Halflights’ precedes ‘Longing For Home’ which I covered recently. ‘Halflights’ has a much starker feel, the opening track having a feel of early Simple Minds to it. The vocals have a fragility to them and the sparse soundscapes really resonate.

Haunting melodies and an absence of frippery give a genuine feel to the music with its unadorned grace. It’s not particularly cheerful though but it does what it sets out to do extremely well being different in character to the current album. In fact, if you’d only listened to ‘Longing For Home’ you would pigeonhole them squarely in the Riverside bracket, this earlier release shows they have a darker and more personal side to their music and I would love to hear a hybrid of the two styles on their next album.

Rating – 70/100

Favourite Track – The haunting simplicity and bared soul of Bluebird.

Released 6th April 2016 – Order the album from bandcamp here

Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards – California Calling

I never knew I was a fan of roots music until late last year when I got talking to Bloody Great PR main man Loudon Temple and he sent me quite a few CDs to get me going. I’m having some kind of second wind and you’ll see a lot over the next few articles starting with the wonderful Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards.

It’s roots and folk music but not as you’d know it as there are definitine touches of 70’s California around the fringes, think Mamas & Papas, Fleetwood Mac and the ilk and the delightful harmonised vocals brings to mind Wilson Phillips debut release from 1990, especially on the title track. The wonderful, fiddle, cello and bass playing of her fellow Dance Cards imbues this wistful release with a boldness and elegance that is apparent in every perfectly placed note.

These clever and inventive musicians really push the boundaries of what you’d normally consider to be folk music, check out the hip hop pulses of single Pace Myself, maybe not a reinvention of the whole scene but certainly something that refreshes and reinvigorates.

Rating – 82/100

Favourite Track – The breath of fresh air that is California Calling.

Released 6th October 2017 – Order the album from Amazon.co.uk here



Review – Yes – Fly From Here: Return Trip (Actually by “Yes – The Drama Line-Up”) – by Roy Hunter

I’ve been a fan of Yes (in it’s many guises) since I bought their 1st album back in 1969… I discovered King Crimson at The Rolling Stones’ “free in the park” concert, July 5th 1969 – and avidly sought out any music in this new as yet unidentified genre we now lovingly call “Prog”… So the ‘Yes Album‘ (the black cover) was maybe my third or fourth proggy purchase…

Oh what a joy, nearly 50 years on, to get my hands on this “new” release from one of my much-loved bands!

So what do we get here? A revamp of the 2011 release – the much maligned “Fly From Here” issue – the one with Canadian Benoît David as lead singer. I’m not reviewing THAT album per se, but obviously one can’t help compare it with this new release.

‘Fly From Here: Return Trip’ – sees the return of Trevor Horn as lead vocalist. No, his voice doesn’t have the range of Jon Anderson, Benoît David or Jon Davison, but as he wrote most of the material, I defy anybody to say he shouldn’t be the lead singer on this album! He does a creditable job, you can hear every word, and the differences in the production actually make this the better album in my opinion.

The fact that Chris Squire (R.I.P) is a feature of this line-up brings a sense of continuity from that far off ’69 Yes album… And of course the much admired (and often denigrated) “Drama” album of 1980… This re-release of “Fly…” is almost like a Drama, part II

There has been some tweaking of the tunes here and there, the production has shortened some by a few seconds, and if you listen closely you’ll pick out the changed/upgraded moments throughout the “Fly…” suite.

Also included on the album is an extra track, but the highlight for me is the doubling in length of the piece called Hour Of Need… Originally 3 minutes 7 seconds, thin voiced and low production has metamorphosed into a full-on prog track of 6 minutes 44 seconds!! Once the vocal part concludes we get Steve Howe in a display of just how great a musician he is! Brilliant, and it makes the second half of the album march on… literally!!

The extra track?? Don’t Take No For An Answer… It is a good bonus track, but some weakness in the vocal does show up here. Am I being super critical? I don’t think so, as the tune itself is so much better than a lot of pulp we get thrown at us these days.

In conclusion, of the 2 albums, this is the superior release, and I would have bought it, in my hour of need, for the re-vamped Hour Of Need.

That aside, it is a completist’s delight!

Released 25th March 2018

Order ‘Fly From Here: Return Trip here

See Yes on BBC Breakfast:

Review – Reformat – The Singularity – by Jez Denton

Many years ago, in the days before the Internet, I spent quite some time searching out a live album of German prog-rock pioneers Tangerine Dream performing in the awesome modern cathedral in Coventry. It is an immense album that you can feel filling the wondrous large spaces of Sir Basil Spence’s architectural masterpiece, with waves of sonic excellence washing over the listener.

I have been sent, by the excellent judges of talent at Bad Elephant Music, the debut album by English electronic rock bad Reformat called ‘The Singularity’. Head of BEM Sales and Marketing, Martin Hutchinson, sent it to me with the simple words that it is pretty awesome, with which I have to agree. From the moment I first clicked onto the opening track, Kosmos, I was brought right back to that Tangerine Dream album, and how this album would equally fill an amazing modern space such as Coventry Cathedral or perhaps the Turbine Hall at The Tate Modern.

The band and album evolved from a collection of songs written by main man Luke Pajak which were brought together and produced by Luke’s friend Russ Russell (Napalm Death/The Haunted) with drums and electronics being supplied by Jay Russell. Originally created and shelved in the early 2010’s, a drunken night resulted in the songs being revisited and developed further with the end product being the culmination of many years hard work and experimentation in making a sonically challenging journey into the unknown and exciting.

Immersing yourself into this album becomes an almost quasi-religious act albeit one with a heavy dose of mind screw. The build can confuse, question and indeed disturb but in a way that offers endless opportunity to enjoy a combination of themed riffs, electronic melodies and openings of perception. As Pajak comments himself, ‘…go as deep as they’re willing to go. See you down the rabbit hole.’ Certainly, on listening to this album a grin like the Cheshire Cat’s will be seen on many a listeners face.

Released 20th April 2018.

Order ‘The Singularity’ from bandcamp here



The Wallet Emptier’s ‘Music You Should Have A Listen To’ Round-Up Pt2

The second installment in our ‘Round-Up’ series sees me take a look at albums from Vantomme, Fiona Kennedy, Blind Ego, When Mary, Special Providence and Ryan Yard

Vantomme – Vegir

Dominique Vantomme is a multi-talented instrumentalist, composer, band leader, educator and producer as well as being the jazz piano instructor at the Music Conservatory in Kortrijk, Belgium. ‘Vegir’ was born out of his nomadic adventures to see Stick Men and befriending Tony Levin.

What came out of the studio sessions is a spontaneous collection of fresh and vibrant instrumental tracks that defy current convention. The sizzling, electrifying playing shows seasoned musicians at the top of their game. There’s nothing traditional or even normal about these eight pieces of music that strut and stalk their way across the sonic soundscape, in fact some of them are downright evil!

Strap yourself in, press play and get ready for a wild ride into a chaotic realm of vivid and energetic music.

Rating – 70/100

Favourite Track – The sonic powerball that is Playing Chess With Barney Rubble.

Released 5th January 2018.

An Irish woman who married a Yorkshireman and lives in Cork, Fiona Kennedy really knows how to carry a tune and her blues/roots/country rock album ‘The Beach’ is chock full of killer tunes. Take the sizzling, passionate opening song Asking Around For You with its superb guitar and Fiona’s expressive vocal and you will not be disappointed.

This talented Irish lady has the ability to change mood at at the drop of the hat and that makes for a wonderfully eclectic and emotive selection of songs that you will never tire of but, to my ears, it’s the tracks where she has a musical twinkle in her eye and a cheeky skip in her step where she really excels.

Kick your shoes off and get your dancing feet on for this album that is full of infectious chorus after chorus and more earworms than you can cope with!

Rating – 75/100

Favourite Track – The burning blues of Asking Around For You.

Released May 2017.

Blind Ego’s ‘Liquid’ was one of the stand out releases of 2016 and a live recording of their show at the Loreley Amphitheater is surely going to be something rather fantastic? Well, to cut the suspense, it is! The powerful metal tinged progressive rock that these musical leviathans produce is mercilessly entertaining.

Scott Balaban’s voice dominates the recording and legendary guitar virtuoso Kalle Wallner provides the perfect foil. To hear tracks as dynamic and potent as What If and Never Escape The Storm in a live setting is quite elctric and the interaction with the lively crowd is a pleasure to hear.

This is a live recording of musicians at the height of their abilities but also five guys who are thoroughly enjoying themselves and it really raises the hair on the back of your neck.

Rating – 78/100

Favourite Track – The utter live bombast of What If.

Released 10th November 2017.

When Mary – Tainted

Norway’s dark electro-proggers When Mary are the first artist to have signed to Summers End Festival impresarios Huw Lloyd-Jones and Stephen Lambe’s  new record label Sonicbond Music. ‘Tainted’ is inspired by the classic tale of Faust, the man who drives himself to damnation in his search for true enlightenment.

It’s not an easy ride this album but persevere and dig deep and you will be well rewarded. A lot darker and more electronic than the acclaimed debut album 2013’s ‘7summers7winters’, this new release is quite a deep and emotive musical journey that bestrides many genres to give When Mary a unique appeal. Touches of progressive rock, industrial and ambient electronica and even blues give it a life all of its own.

Dominating proceedings is the enigmatic vocal of Trude Eidtang, former vocalist of the renowned Norwegian art rock band White Willow. ‘Tainted’ is a singular release that will hopefully lead this talented trio onto grater things.

Rating – 77/100

Favourite Track – The dark, serpentine electronic grooves of Wonderful Warning.

Released 10th November 2017.

Special Providence  – Will

Hungarian prog/jazz/metal fusion band Special Providence released their latest album ‘Will’ late in 2017 and it has taken a while to come to my attention and now I’m wondering how I missed it. These guys have toured with Spock’s Beard, Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation and Steve Hackett which just shows the huge potential in their music.

Intricate musicianship combined with baroque, knife-sharp compositions and occasional soaring melodies makes for a very exciting combination where heavy guitar riffs and grooves and pyrotechnical keyboard skills forge a very unique, virtuoso but easily digestible musical style.

A hugely entertaining prospect live, it can sometimes be hard to carry that feel onto record but Special Providence have nailed it with aplomb.

Rating – 80/100

Favourite Track – The Insane musical grooves of A Magnetic Moment.

Released 23rd October 2017.

Ryan Yard – The Nature of Solitude

Ryan plays in Rob Reed’s Sanctuary band and his solo album is mastered by Tom Newman of ‘Tubular Bells’ fame so it comes as no surprise that this two track (plus an edited Rob Reed mix) is an instrumental album that will appeal to fans of Mike Oldfield and Robert Reed himself.

However, to give his album a USP, Ryan created it using just an Ipad and a variety of apps (and a keyboard, of course!). It gives the music an organic and natural feel and was crafted without using click track as well apparently.

It is music that is easy to listen to, without falling into the pit of despair that is easy listening music. Add in Justin Towell’s excellent guitar work and you find yourself comparing it to the master and his apprentice and coming to the conclusion that while it does walk a fine line, the USP makes just enough difference for it to be complimentary and not a pastiche.

Rating – 67/100

Favourite Track – Well it really should be consumed as one piece so, the whole thing!

Released 15th September 2017.









The Wallet Emptier’s ‘Music You Should Have A Listen To’ Round-Up Pt1.

Welcome to yet another new feature here at Progradar. You will get a round-up of albums that have been sent to us at the music blog that we think you should check out but ones that, for many reasons, we haven’t been able to review.

I’m starting you off with albums from Walfad, Kilbey Kennedy, Schizofrantik, Black Noodle Project, Starsabout and Atlantropa Project

Walfad – Momentum

Walfad is a young Polish band that transcends the progressive rock genre. Their third album ‘Momentum’ is an interesting mix of rock, blues and even a touch of soul, all mixed together with more than a hint of prog. The melodies are full of passion and youthful energy, and the insightful  and poetic lyrics invite the listener to think more and get personally involved with the music.

In recent years they have shared the stage with leading homegrown bands playing ambitious rock and also with Procol Harum, Marillion and Ray Wilson, rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with on the live Polish music scene.

Rating – 80/100

Favourite Track – Our Gods, Your Gods.

Released 31st October 2016

Kilbey Kennedy – Glow and Fade

Are you a fan of dream-like, Pink Floyd inspired music that transcends day to day life? If so, the fifth album from Steve Kilbey and Martin Kennedy is definitely for you. An immersive and ethereal listening experience that nevertheless has something of a darkside, ‘Glow and Fade’ is an enthralling listening experience.

With tracks that verge from the thoughtful to the intensely serious and a wonderful vocal appearance from Selena Cross on certain songs, this release rewards repeated listens and is a deeply engaging and quite highbrow musical venture.

Rating – 77/100

Favourite Track – The sixteen minute epic The Game Never Changes.

Released 24th November 2017

Schizofrantik – Ripping Heartaches

Put a  King Crimson vinyl album on at 45rpm instead of 33 and then bleed in some Frank Zappa and you might have some inkling of what this actually quite mad album from Germany’s Schizofrantik sounds like. Some of the music is exquisite and some will make your ears bleed but one thing it never is is boring.

After 30 years on stage mastermind (and vivid guitarist) Martin Mayrhofer’s compositions have reached a degree of precision that is as fascinating as it is uncompromising. Ambitious, experimental and just way out there, ‘Ripping Heartaches’ is not an album for the faint-hearted but take the time to immerse yourself and you will be richly rewarded.

Rating – 73/100

Favourite Track – The absolutely bonkers Satan And Death Seperated By Sin.

Released 27th October 2017

The Black Noodle Project – Divided We Fall

In early December 2017 France’s The Black Noodle Project returned with a deliciously dark and melancholic collection of songs that further their already impressive reputation. Originally a solo project of Jeremie Grima, he found a like minded spirit in Sebastien Bourdeix with whom he formed the ‘real’ band.

‘Divided We Fall’ is an emotional post-progressive journey full of melancholic melodies and powerful riffs where stark beauty combines with deeply pensive and sombre emotions to deliver a wistful and mournfully emotional listening experience.

Like 2013’s ‘Ghosts & Memories’, it is influenced by the movie soundtracks of such luminaries as John Carpenter, Ennio Morricone and Angelo Badalamenti and this adds a thoughtful and introspective feel.

Rating – 78/100

Favourite Track – The powerful, driving Absolom.

Released 4th December 2017

Starsabout – Longing For Home

Poland is becoming a hotbed for the nurturing of Neo-progressive rock and post-rock acts. There isn’t a week goes by without another submission for review of a band from the country that gave us the legendary Riverside. An alternative band with progressive and post-rock influences, Starsabout were formed in 2012 and, after having released an EP in 2014 and their first full-length album, ‘Halflights’, in 2016, late 2017 saw the release of ‘Longing For Home’.

An album containing tracks full of dreamlike, laid back vocals and shimmering, vibrant guitars, the band’s music is sincere and powerful while at the same time tender and sublime. Starsabout are perfectly capable of holding their own in today’s prog and artrock music scene and, despite their short-lived presence so far, they are mature and self-assured enough that we should see them going far.

Rating – 74/100

Favourite Track – The sublime Longing For Home.

Released 4th December 2017.

Atlantropa Project – s/t

The ambitious concept album can be hit or miss and the misses can often sink without a trace. It’s a risk because what is your passion may not necessarily be someone else’s.

Atlantropa Project is the sophisticated, creative outcome of a group of ambitious and experienced musicians to musically explore and honour a great, almost forgotten idea of humanity. German engineer Hermann Sörgel’s plan was to build a huge dam, dry the Mediterranean, obtain new land, unite Africa and Europe and create peace.

To be fair, his plan is no more difficult than the idea of this concept piece but this brilliantly creative group of like minded artists have just about pulled it off. It is a richly rewarding and immersive concept album with a dynamism rarely found these days. The songs have a creativeness and virtuosity that just about overcomes the bloated length of this release.

You cannot listen to this in any other way than in one sitting where the whole story and soundtrack comes together like those great adventure films that graced the silver screen, King Solomon’s Mines and the like, but, ultimately, for this listener, the ambition just outstrips the reality.

Rating – 70/100

Favourite Track – Consume it in one piece or it just won’t make sense at all!

Released 17th November 2017



Episode 3 of Progradar Recommends – HeKz, Emperor Norton, Malady & Subsignal

Welcome to the third edition of my Progradar recommendations, this time around we have the new albums from HeKzEmperor NortonMalady and Subsignal

HeKz – Invicta

From the first notes of album opener Quetzlcoatl it is apparent that the rising stars of UK prog-metal, HeKz, have gone balls out on new album ‘Invicta’. This mighty powerful five piece from Bedford certainly know how to turn the amps up to 11. The Brian May-esque guitar and Matt Youngs flamboyant vocals that slot somewhere between Freddie Mercury and Justin Hawkins combine to take you on a thunderously wild ride of progressive metal pomp and circumstance.

For Our Lives is a adrenaline fueled rock anthem with totally excessive ( and utterly addictive) riffage and vocal harmonies aplenty, this band know how to give the audience what they want. There’s a couple of ballads and The Devil’s Coin is a properly progressive fifteen minute track to prove they have the chops but, overall, what you get is an thoroughly enjoyable blast that will blow the cobwebs out of your hair and leave a stupid, inane grin on your face for quite a long time.

I have a sneaking suspicion that HeKz will be an awesome proposition live and these dynamic and energetic tracks certainly deserve to be let out of the studio and onto an unsuspecting listening public, ‘Invicta’ is a musical tornado that will flatten everything that comes before it and leave you asking for more.


Released 20th April 2018

Pre-order ‘Invicta’ from the HeKz website here

Emperor Norton – Emperor Norton

Every now and again an album comes along that makes you reconsider your musical principles and stands out among a river of repetitive and formulaic releases and the eponymous debut from York’s Emperor Norton is proving itself to be one of those gems.

To quote the band’s website;

Emperor Norton promptly donned the musical cummerbund of “Prog” and added “Rock” to sound cutting edge. The very next day, the group discovered – to its astonishment – that it had unwittingly declared allegiance to an underground resistance movement of cape-laden keyboard wizards, fiery plectrum wranglers and lead singers who speaketh like Shakespeare. Emperor Norton felt right at home.”

They bring a freshness to the whole progressive rock genre and almost seem to be the missing link between the bombast of the 70’s leviathans with their overblown Hammonds and jangly guitars and the modern breed of progressive influenced rock artists like MuseCoheed and Cambria, Mandroid Echostar and Mars Volta.

Take the Steve Howe style guitar on Act I: Portents that along with the thumping bass line and swirling keys transports you back to tracks like Yours Is No Disgrace and the ilk and then segues into Act I: Petrichor with vocals that tip more than a hat to Matt Bellamy and you’ll begin to get my gist.

It’s an incredible piece of work especially considering that this is the band’s first release and, just when you think it can’t get any better, the fifteen minute joyful brilliance of the stunning Act III: Arrow comes along to prove that we really have some genre redefining musicians in front of us.

Do yourselves a favour, buy what is possibly the album of the year already and don’t just take my word for it, have a listen…


Released 17th March 2017

Buy ‘Emperor Norton’ from bandcamp

Malady – Toinen Toista

“Modern music consumption isn’t built for looking at trees or wandering through mazes. We live in a culture of straight lines and constant motion. Malady ask that you opt out, reclaim your time, and slow the f**k down for once. Trust me, it’s worth it.”

Sage advice from Finland’s Malady, hailing from Helsinki theirs is a sound rooted in the 70’s with fuzzy guitars and Hammond organs swirling like only a Hammond can. With their debut a deserved underground hit the band return with a polished follow up that invokes all of the best things that vintage Scandinavian prog can deliver.

Lush vocals and organic instrumentation abound on title track and opener Toinen Toista, a song that leads us into an album full of questions about being human and the transient nature of things but, don’t worry, this release isn’t asking you to take a PHD course in existentialism or the like, it has strings on it for God’s sake!

Lazy, hazy nostalgic days are invoked by the acid jazz heavy Teidon Kehtolaulu and the fact that the vocals are in Finnish doesn’t detract one bit, in fact they just add to the mystic feel (along with the superb flute playing, you’ve got to love flutes!).

The best is saved for last with the epic twenty-three minutes of Nurja Puoli, one of the best Prog ‘epics’ of recent years. To put this all into context I have actually ordered the vinyl of this superb release and I know it is going to get plenty of play…


Released 30th March 2018

Order the download of ‘Toinen Toista’ from bandcamp

Order on CD or LP from Svart Records:


Subsignal – La Muerta

Germany’s purveyor’s of powerful and polished progressive rock, Subsignal, return with new album ‘La Muerta’ and (according to the press release), “…sends the listener on a proper voyage of discovery that is as complex as it is eventful. Subsignal have consciously designed the path to “La Muerta” a tad more accessible than was the case with the predecessor…”

Featuring Sieges Even luminaries Arno Menses and Markus Steffen, you get the signature involving songwriting but this time the band have decided not to hold the listener’s hand and, instead, let them make their own voyage of discovery through these eleven impressively crafted tunes. The expected superb harmonies are evident on the brilliant title track and the powerful guitar work of Markus drives the album on throughout.

I was a huge fan of the last Subsignal release ‘The Beacons of Somewhere Sometime’, each track had its place in the unfolding story that was laid before you and the band have tweaked their unique songwriting process to deliver an even more immersive and intoxicating musical journey.

Drowning sees the band baring their soul with a much more pared back approach, one that features the haunting vocals of Marjana Semkina. A beautifully stark piece of music, it will leave a mark on your soul that will stay for a very long time.

With the wonderfully lush production (courtesy of Yogi Lang and Kalle Wallner of RPWL) giving the songs enough air to breathe, ‘La Muerta’ sees the band full of self-confidence and delivering a collection of songs that, while easily able to stand on their own, are a collective force when dealt with as a whole.


Released 26th May 2018

Pre-orders will open soon at Gentle Art of Music:









(Artwork by Bianca Froese-Acquaye)

Following the release of Tangerine Dream’s latest studio album, Quantum Gate, Kscope are set to release the album as a 2CD set with the inclusion of the EP Quantum Key.

Quantum Gate released on September 29th 2017, to coincide and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the band,  was the first studio album since the passing of Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream’s visionary founder, by the remining band members Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and Hoshiko Yamane.

The Quantum Key EP preceded Quantum Gate, and both delivered an updated, contemporary development of their trademark sound: sequencer-driven electronica covering a wide range of moods and atmospheres from ambient soundscapes to energetic, upbeat moments. The Quantum Years material began as a concept and series of musical sketches by Froese before he passed away in 2015. Remaining band members Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss and Hoshiko Yamane worked together to realize Edgar’s visions and expectations of a conceptual body of work that attempts to translate quantum physics and philosophy into music. New member Ulrich Schnauss comments: “at the moment hardly any other area of science questions our concept of reality (linearity of time etc.) as profoundly as research in Quantum physics – it’s no surprise therefore that Edgar was drawn to these ideas since he had always aimed at reminding listeners of the existence of ‘unopened doors’.”

This version of Quantum Gate with the inclusion of Quantum Key EP, brings together Edgar’s vision as a 2 disc set for the first time.

Tangerine Dream have been a fundamental influence on electronic and progressive music since their formation in West Berlin, 1967. Inspiring genres, musicians and other art forms, from The Future Sound of London to Porcupine Tree, the widely popular TV show Stranger Things (for which their music also featured in) to seminal video game Grand Theft Auto V (for which they helped to write the soundtrack). The group have also received seven Grammy nominations, written over 100 studio albums and were led by Edgar Froese, who developed an instantly recognisable synth-based instrumental music based on a meditative musical experience that came to prominence in the 70s and 80s.

The current line-up are currently supporting their latest material with a string of headline events in Europe, including a two-night booking at London’s Union Chapel plus the opening event for Amsterdam’s cutting edge electronic music summer festival, Dekmantel.

13/04 – DE, Halle/Saale – Georg-Friedrich-Händel-Halle

14/04 –DE, Dresden –  Philharmonie Im Kulturpalast

23/04 – UK, London, Union Chapel – SOLD OUT

24/04 – UK, London, Union Chapel

12/05 – DE , Duisberg – Theater am Marientor;

01/08 – NL, Amsterdam – Dekmantel Festival (http://www.dekmantelfestival.com )

04+05/08 – HU – Dádpuszta, O.Z.O.R.A. Festival ( https://ozorafestival.eu )

12.08.18- FI, Helsinki –  Flow Festival (https://www.flowfestival.com ) – first TD concert in Helsinki/Finland:


Tangerine Dream online:







Band picture by JIM RAKETE

TOUNDRA – launch video for ‘Cobra’ – New album ‘Vortex’ launches April 27th

Spanish instrumentalist rockers Toundra recently announced the release of their fifth studio album ‘Vortex’ for April 27th, 2018, following the success of ‘IV,’ which reached an historic #2 in the Spanish charts.

Now they are proud to reveal the powerful new video for the first single ‘Cobra’, created by Jorge Escalona using photographic material from Pulitzer Prize winner Manu Brabo and video material from well-known Spanish journalist Gonzo.

Manu Brabo comments: “It made me feel really proud to collaborate on this considering how socially responsible the band was being as an artist and communicators.”

Gonzo adds: “The victims in every war is always the innocent, who never starts the war. They lose their lives, their homes and their dreams. Refugees escaping their homelands become ambassadors of the nonsense.”

Toundra comments: “With this video we just wanted to shine a light on those who Victor Hugo called Les Miseràbles.”

As mentioned previously, the title of the album is ‘Vortex’, as the band explain:
“On September 19th in 2012 we arrived at a venue called ‘Vortex Surfer Musiklub’ in Siegen, a small town in Germany. We played there, the venue got packed and everything about that night, including the warm welcome from everybody working there, was incredible. We fell in love with that small venue and the house next to it where we slept that night.

Since then, we played Vortex five or six times and there has always been that same great fond feeling from the people there. So, this upcoming album is called ‘Vortex’. We leave behind the roman numbers and want to use this as a way to thank all the promoters, people working in venues, labels, agencies, fans… and everyone who has helped us over the years to live this dream. We can’t wait for you to hear some of the music”

The album will be released on special edition CD digipak, gatefold black LP + CD & as digital download. Pre-order the album now here: https://toundra.lnk.to/Vortex


1.Intro Vortex
5.Kingston Falls
7.Roy Neary
8.Cruce Oeste

The first run of European tour dates were recently announced and tickets are on sale now.
04.05.18, VOID, Bordeaux, FR
05.05.18, Supersonic, Paris, FR
06.05.18, Kleine Zaal, Melkweg, NL
08.05.18, Usine, Geneva, CH
09.05.18, Dok, Gent, BE
10.05.18, Hoxton Square Bar, London, UK
12.05.18, Temple of Boom, Leeds, UK
13.05.18, Nice ‘n Sleazy, Glasgow, UK
14.05.18, Exchange, Bristol, UK
16.05.18, JUNGLE, Koln, DE
17.05.18, Keller Club, Stuttgart, DE
18.05.18, Rocas, Luxembourg, LU
19.05.18, Molotow, Hamburg, DE
20.05.18, KB18, Copenhagen, DK
23.05.18, BiNuu, Berlin, DE
24.05.18, Groovestation, Dresden, DE
25.05.18, Papirna, Plzen, CZ
26.05.18, A38, Budapest, HU
27.05.18, Viper Room, Vienna, AU
29.05.18, Le Farmer, Lyon, FR
30.05.18, Molotov, Marseille, FR

It has been an intense 3 years since the band got signed with Superball/Century Media in 2014, with whom they put out their most recent a lauded album, ¨IV¨, (January 2015), after the first 3 albums that were released independently. Since then the band has performed over 100 concerts in 17 different countries with their instrumental sound combining progressive and post rock making them one of the leaders in there genre.

TOUNDRA online: